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Voters should know the price of ballot initiatives

Re: Once again, politicians are meddling busybodies, by Howard Troxler, July 17.

Howard Troxler mistakes good government for "dirty pool" in his critique of my support for cost estimates on proposed constitutional amendments.

California is one of many states that mandate cost estimates be attached to all proposed constitutional amendments. This is because good government involves more than merely voting initiatives up or down, each one in a vacuum. We only have one state budget, and funding anything impacts how we fund everything.

Voters will have a chance this November to make cost estimates standard for all future initiatives. The supporters of the class-size amendment rushed to get their measure on the ballot this year in part to avoid the scrutiny and analysis that cost estimates provide. That's the only "dirty pool" being played here.

Nobody buys anything without knowing what it will cost. Whether shopping at the grocery store or purchasing supplies for a business, all buyers know the cost before they commit themselves to the purchase. Voters should see the $27-billion price tag on the class-size amendment before they decide whether or not to buy it. That's not only fair, it's also responsible self-government.

Jeb Bush, governor, Tallahassee

Districts are a joke on the voters

The detailed map showing how Pinellas County has been redistricted into its new congressional seats (For 6 House incumbents, it's a shoo-in, July 20th) was a real eye-opener.

The 10th District, now represented by Republican Bill Young, loses many of its St. Petersburg residents to another congressional district for no other reason than it serves Republican political interests _ which are not necessarily the interests of those residents, the city or the county.

For the coming election, the Tampa-centered 11th District of Democrat Rep. Jim Davis will now for the first time include a chunk out of southeastern Pinellas, a piece surrounded by the 10th District. Adding to the outrageousness of this line-drawing, a northern portion of the 10th District becomes an island surrounded by the 9th District (represented by GOP Rep. Mike Bilirakis) cut off from the major part of the district to the south. So much for logical, compact and geographically contiguous districts.

This is textbook gerrymandering at its most blatantly obvious and worst. With boundaries zig-zagging up and down streets, portions of St. Petersburg that are majority black are artfully carved out of the 10th District so they can be placed in the majority Democratic 11th. The city did not have to be broken up as it has been except that it served the political interests of the Republican legislators in Tallahassee who drew and approved the map.

What makes this so sad for representative government is that elected officials and political observers know why this has been done and with the court's concurrence allowed it to happen ("Well, it's just politics").

The creation of the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts is too important to be left in the hands of state legislators when the end result is a joke like this _ where the joke is on the voters. And St. Petersburg and Pinellas residents will now have to live with the fruits of this party-politics-as-usual joke for the next five congressional elections.

Rick Carson, St. Petersburg

A persistent label

Re: Chuck Kalogianis.

First, let me make it clear that this letter is not meant to be disparaging to strippers of either sex. Chuck Kalogianis, who is running against Mike Bilirakis for the U.S. House has been an attorney for a good number of years. Why does the St. Petersburg Times persist in referring to him as a "former male stripper"? Interesting.

Marjorie Kapaun, New Port Richey

What is Reno afraid of?

I find it hard to believe that Janet Reno is refusing to debate her Democratic opponents for governor more than once. She has grudgingly agreed to the one debate but has refused the offer of two additional debates, one to be held in Tampa.

What is Reno afraid of? Why is she ducking the offer to debate her ideas against her opponents? Is she afraid of the Elian Gonzalez issue? Is she afraid of the Waco issue? Is she afraid of the Ruby Ridge issue? Or could it be that she has no original ideas she can present?

I think it will be interesting, if she wins the Democratic nomination, to see if she insists on multiple debates with Gov. Jeb Bush and cries foul play if he refuses to debate her more than once. I think that to Reno, fair play only applies if it is to her advantage.

If Janet Reno has any fresh new ideas, she should be willing to present them to the voters now and quit hiding behind generalities.

Thomas Williams, Port Richey

Beyond the realm of ethical

Re: Don Addis' Welcome to Florida cartoon,

July 20.

To call Republicans criminals is, in my opinion, going beyond the realm of being ethical.

There are skeletons in the closets of people of all walks of life, including members of the Democratic Party.

President Bush outshines far and above any other aspirant to the presidency.

It's a little early in the game (2004 elections), and I hope we won't have to listen to such criticism for the next 28 months. I'm sick of it already.

Robert Vollmer, Spring Hill

Riling the Republicans

Re: Don Addis' July 20 cartoon.

Ouch! Criminal! That was a real zinger. Nice job.

You must have anticipated a slow day Saturday in the Opinion page and had Don Addis conjure up something to rile the Republicans. I predict it will work. (Heck, it worked on me.) Not only that, it does give you lefties at the Times another chance to rehash "The Count," which was refigured six ways to Sunday, massaged, then sliced and diced several times, and still says that George Bush won.

Get over it! Your liberal slant is what is criminal.

John Cannon, St. Petersburg

What's wrong with being fair?

Nobody can deny that the Times is a good newspaper. I could belabor your good points, but I did not come to praise you. The obviously biased, slanted and overdone political cartoons by Don Addis are a bit too much for me.

I suppose for me to expect balance would be asking too much. You do your best to obviously and deviously portray Republicans in a bad light while depicting Democrats as the good guys. Neither of them is all good or all bad, so what's wrong with being fair?

Frank B. Hill, Homosassa

White uniforms are dreary

The two letters you printed on July 17 were aghast at the new image of nurses and upset about the article Hospital workers scrub the ho-hum (July 13). I take exception to the "whites only" uniform image and to the writers' assessment that we are unprofessional when we wear scrubs with prints.

I worked in a nursing home and a hospital for nine years, wearing white-only uniforms. To be sure, those experiences were valuable and treasured, but the professional image was lacking in something extra, maybe a quality of enjoyment.

Since moving to my present job in another hospital three years ago, I have become more expressive about my personality at work. I wear prints on my scrub tops, comfortable beige trousers, and off-white Rockport shoes. I also have a neatly trimmed beard and a sapphire stud in one ear. My rapport with my team is fantastic; the professionalism we bring to the hospital is enhanced by job satisfaction and the wonderful response we get from the many patients and their families and friends.

Hospital work is clinical, requiring technical and interpersonal skills. I am proud to be a nurse and proud to be able to be expressive about myself as an individual, to bring some cheerfulness to an otherwise challenging situation. My professional image includes a quality of presence, joyfulness and caring, as well as ability. I am glad to see a picture of nurses having a moment of fun at work, because the joy we give each other is the main reason we are able to cope and carry on in this occupation of caregiving. We love our doctors and we love our printed scrub tops. So do our patients, adults and children alike. White uniforms are sterile and clinical and dreary. Oops, where is my white cap?

James Willingham, R.N., St. Petersburg

Good nursing is about patient care

Re: Nurses should take pride in appearance and Maintain a professional image, letters, July 17.

Could someone please remind these nurses what a patient really cares about?

I am recently home from an eight-night, nine-day stay at Countryside Mease Hospital. I currently have a home health nurse. Every one of the R.N.s, L.P.N.s, and techs introduced themselves to me at shift change or when I had to have tests completed. They took every opportunity to relieve my fears and to listen to my concerns. They earned my trust and I relied on them to be smart, intuitive, honest and patient with me when I was not my most pleasant self.

Whenever I was transported for testing, I heard, "Hi, I am Heather" or "I am Matt and we are from transport and we are bringing you to" wherever for whatever, and they confirmed who I was and the procedure being ordered. Even the lab techs who drew blood in the middle of the night told me who they were. What they all have in common is not the uniform, it is that they wanted to make sure I was aware of what was going on around me and that I knew who they were. They all had name tags and they all verbally introduced themselves.

I could not care less if Garfield or SpongeBob was the print of the day. What patients care about most is competence and who is taking care of them when they are unable to take care of themselves. If sprucing up the plain white uniform makes them feel better about themselves or brightens up the day a bit, then by all means dress however you choose to. I am very happy that there are people out there who take care of us when we need them the most. I believe that is what nursing is about. Not the color or print of your uniform.

Valerie Powell, Tarpon Springs

The traffic is just too much

Re: Event conscious, July 17.

It's funny the local politicians and planners don't get it. I know I am speaking for many (if not most) Tampa area suburbanites. After five days of white-knuckle driving to and from work, it's going to take a pretty monumental event to get me to drive to downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg on a weekend.

Super Bowl? Sure, if I could afford a ticket. Gasparilla? Sure, every few years. Tall ships? Don't think so. Especially when you have to read the information like a detective to figure out where to be and when.

Various park and beach festivals? Forget it. Not even if they were free.

So go ahead and continue to be in denial that uncontrolled growth and the associated traffic are real, here-and-now problems.

Doug Tway, Tampa

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