1. Archive

Why fix the primaries? They weren't broken

Re: A "universal vote" today, editorial, Sept. 5.

I wholeheartedly disagree with your editorial advocating the universal primary now in place in Florida. This idea destroys the whole reality of what a primary is or should be. A primary is a party election where members of the Republican and Democratic parties choose their candidates who will appear in the fall election. A primary is not a mini-general election where voters of all parties can participate. The new law in Florida that permits crossover voting is just wrong.

As a Republican, I don't like the idea of Democrats and Independents having a vote about who the Republican candidate should be.

Just as the new law requiring a picture ID at the polls has made the voter's card inconsequential, this law concerning the primary voting has muddled the way Florida's primary is conducted. Why must the legislators change things when they had it right to start with?

Barry Sleesman, Spring Hill

Embracing term limits

Re: In Pinellas, incumbents walk away victorious, Sept. 6.

This makes me wonder about the true intentions of the voters in this state, primarily the voters in Pinellas County.

My point is this: Why did the people of Florida initiate term limits? Why dopeople tolerate the fact that if an incumbent has no opposition, the position isn't even put on the ballot? And finally, why do the voters continue to vote for solidly entrenched incumbents? Doesn't anyone want to see things change?

Aren't there enough issues that people are disgusted with that should make a voter want to throw out the incumbent? The politicians have really stacked the deck against the voter (especially Independents) and yet life goes on and you see all the same faces back in their old seats doing the same old things that voters complain about.

Wake up! Write your senators, representatives, and anyone else who can change things. Democracy is a right we take for granted _ even at election time. It should be defended against the stereotypical politicians we so eagerly put back in office.

Let's get these issues changed so that everyone can have a say in the electoral process. All positions should be on the ballot, whether an incumbent has a lock on it or not. Don't vote for any incumbent, and let term limits take the toll they were designed to take _ freeing the electorate of career politicians who do nothing more than fatten their own causes.

Paul Lukacs, Seminole

Taking the blame for his loss

Re: Nelson edges Petty for tax post, Sept. 6.

W. Fred Petty should not be blaming the St. Petersburg Times or his opponent for his defeat at the polls on Tuesday. The blame lies squarely on his shoulders for lying to the voters of Pinellas County in 1992, and again in 1996. Did he really think the voters would not recall the very big deal he made out of O. Sanford Jasper's tenure in office when he defeated him in 1992?

Fred Petty said that if elected, he would serve only two terms as tax collector, period. He said it again in 1996. He didn't tell us that he had his fingers crossed behind his back. Congratulations to his opponent, Diane Nelson. We know that she will serve only two terms.

Larry Geiger, St. Petersburg

Times recommendations not helpful

Now that the primary elections are over, some thought should be made as to the action of the editorial staff and reporters of the Times and the method of recommendations.

It is a fact that the voters supported some recommendations and shot down others. The voters, in most cases, had a pretty good idea who they wanted to support.

What appears not to be realized is that a recommendation slows down both winner and loser and causes a lot of ill will. This is especially the norm at city elections. What the Times needs to take into account in city elections is that the candidates are more than likely going door to door, trying to prove they are the candidates who should be elected.

What the Times editors need to do is forget the recommendations and let the candidates face the voters and convince the people to get out and vote. The recommendation defeats the purpose of true campaigning and the need of good politics.

Jerry Walters, Oldsmar

Who are the gulf war heroes?

Gulf War heroes? I really didn't know we had any. If we do,I believe they would be all the poor soldiers debilitated by Gulf War Syndrome _ and certainly not the leaders of this ill-advised mission-to-nowhere, Colin Powell and Norman Schwartzkopf.

Further, the biggest bungle of this whole mess was President George Bush's wimp-decision not to finish the job and rout Saddam Hussein for good. As it turns out, Hussein is stronger and more powerful than ever, the son of the wimp is running for president, and the leaders of this mission still claim it as a victory. I suppose they think Vietnam was a victory, too.

Thank God that after eight years of wise Clinton/Gore stewardship the public has largely forgotten about Bush's "loss" in the gulf, but surely Powell and Schwartzkopf are no American heroes, not in my book. Now President Clinton . . . .

Roger Smith, Clearwater

Dowd column was major-league

Maureen Dowd's column, The inner frat boy slips out (Sept. 7), is definitely in the major-league category and Dowd's flair for pointing out the foibles of George W. Bush is right on the money _ big time. My only regret, however, is that Dowd's column was not on the front page, where it could have easily attracted more readers.

If it had not been the expletive remark, which was accidentally picked up by the open microphone, I knew that sooner or later, Bush would expose the inner spiteful side of himself. While taking the bitter taste out of his mouth from putting his foot inside, maybe next on Bush's agenda, a little contrition may give him the vantage point.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

Cheney's money is his own business

Re: The inner frat boy slips out, by Maureen Dowd.

Dowd states that reporter Adam Clymer's mission on the day in question was "asking Cheney why he had given such a piddling amount of his oil windfall to charity."

First, Cheney's "windfall" was actually a severance package, also known as compensation. Second, as long as Cheney doesn't break the law, then what he does with his money is not news. Third, the only possible reason for Clymer to ask such questions would be an attempt to embarrass a candidate who is obviously not going to be "ordained" with an endorsement by the New York Times.

In summary, if that was Clymer's mission then he is, in fact, "a major league (expletive deleted)." And Mr. Bush was "plain speaking."

Terry R. Arnold, St. Petersburg

Pass the Hunger Relief Act

The Hunger Relief Act needs to be passed this year and should not be deferred, buried in committee or lost to Congress; it is of critical value in allaying poverty.

Among a number of things, it reinstates assistance to immigrants who, like all other workers, are federally taxed on their income. We should not lean on individual immigrant sponsors for assistance, then, when immigrants pay taxes into a system just as citizens do.

Please contact your representatives and ask that the Hunger Relief Act not fall to the wayside, that it be passed this year not in the next century.

Robert O. Wirengard, Tampa

A waste of taxpayer's money

Re: Man arrested, charged with bookmaking,

Sept. 8.

Will anyone sleep better knowing that this 65-year-old man was arrested for taking bets? I'm sure he is a huge threat to our society and should be locked up with all the rapists, murderers and drug dealers. Give me a break!

I wonder how many of us bet on the Super Bowl last year. I also wonder how much it cost us taxpayers for all of the undercover agents who have made our streets safer in light of this arrest. I, for one, would have liked to have spent that money at the dog track.

Sandra L. Nash, So. Pasadena

Redefining "free speech'

The Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of speech. However, this applies only to politically correct language; raunchy lyrics and foul words are acceptable. Innocent words such as "deviant" and "niggardly" are forbidden.

Freedom of speech indeed!

Edward J. Marcin, St. Petersburg

Scout values apply to many gays

Re: Scouts epitomize integrity, letter, Sept. 7.

I would like to ask the letter writer where, in his high-minded letter on the virtues of Scouting, he said or implied anything that could not equally be said of a gay Scout.

Did a gay student go to a local high school and "pepper his classmates with semiautomatic machine gun fire"? Was some errant gay person arrested for "selling crack to younger boys on some sleazy street corner"? Was the person he referred to as having had an "inappropriate relationship" with an intern gay? Do the examples the letter writer cites have anything at all to do with a person's sexual identity?

Of course not. They are behaviors that no sensible person would justify. However, being willing to stand up and be counted as a gay person seems to me to demonstrate exactly the integrity and honesty that the letter writer so ardently supports. Does he have any idea of the strength of character it takes to subject oneself to scorn, ridicule and misguided judgments for the sake of truth? If he did, he would know that gay Scouts and Scout leaders may well possess the traits that have defined this organization over the years.

The letter writer says that Scouting teaches boys who are becoming young men to have honor and integrity. Apparently that honor does not extend to accepting who you are or integrity in being true to yourself. Perhaps, in these areas, he would prefer shame, dishonor and lying to uphold his particular idea of morality.

When the "gays in the military" issue was a hot topic, Barry Goldwater said he didn't care if a soldier was straight, so long as he or she could shoot straight. Likewise, the letter writer should not be concerned with whether or not a Scout is sexually straight, simply whether he or she is morally straight in the conduct of their lives as a person of integrity.

Mark Davis, St. Petersburg