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Let people decide if our lawmakers deserve a raise

Re: Senators vote to raise their pay 3.1 percent, Nov. 14.

I would like to address the recent 3.1 percent increase in salary the U.S. Senate has given itself.

Social Security recipients will find a 1.4 percent increase in their checks. Does the inflation rate change for our leaders?

The ordinary employee working in most industries must have an annual review to determine whether a pay increase is justified. Since Congress works for the people, perhaps there should be a board of citizens reviewing the accomplishments of our elected officials to determine if or how much they are worth before giving them more money.

It seems unfair to this citizen to have them decide for themselves and vote for their own pay raises.

David Mowder, Brooksville

Ready to respond at the polls

Re: Senators vote to raise their pay 3.1 percent.

Our Congress has selfishly voted itself a 3.1 percent raise while limiting Social Security recipients to a mere 1.4 percent raise. The House members cleared their raises in July and now the Senate has joined them.

I wonder why I have kept voting for these people? I think I have been apathetic too long! It's time I start a list of those voting for these raises and respond to them at their next elections.

Mary Jo Oldham, Largo

Americans should be incensed

Re: Senators vote to raise their pay 3.1 percent.

This should have been front page news in large letters. It should have been the leading story on television news, as well.

If this isn't our lawmakers thumbing their noses at the American people, I don't know what is. This is "in your face" brazen elitism. How dare they vote themselves a raise, year after year, when the economy is in the dumper? When so many people are losing their jobs, and those that are lucky enough to have one, are often agreeing to "take less" so that the company can survive and they won't lose their jobs?

Why aren't the American people incensed about this overt act of theft from the pockets of the people they are supposed to represent? Why don't the American people hold their feet to the fire? After all, they do work for us. Sadly, I'm afraid, the American people have forgotten that fact.

When will the American people wake up?

Janice Miller, Oldsmar

Where is the fairness?

I really find it frustrating that our senators and representatives, who already make $150,000 per year, will be getting a 3.1 percent pay "adjustment" while the common retiree on Social Security will have to make due with a mere 1.4 percent cost of living adjustment!

Where's the fairness in that? If 1.4 percent is good enough for the little guy, it should be adequate for those in the high-income levels!

Barbara Purtee, Gulfport

A story of questionable value

Re: It takes 5 to fetch sheriff's helicopter, Nov. 14.

Most of the time I think articles in the St. Petersburg Times are interesting, informative, relevant and timely. This article was none of the above. Five guys go to Dallas, spend less than $3,000 in taxpayer money, and it makes front page news? Give me a break.

With 20 years of aviation management experience, I can tell you that it is critical that operators and manufacturers of aircraft develop a strong working relationship. One way to accomplish that goal is for the folks who will be maintaining and flying the aircraft to visit the production plant. That appears to me to be exactly what happened here. Could they have stayed at the Beau Rivage because it was less expensive than other hotels? Heaven forbid they should actually enjoy themselves. Are these people not human?

With all that is going on in our community, and the world, I find it hard to believe that this "story" was worth publishing. My hope is that the Times will exercise better judgment in the future. If these cops shoot an unarmed man, I want to hear about it. If they stay at the Beau Rivage for $85 while delivering a $1.7-million helicopter, that's something you can keep to yourselves.

Daniel W. Anderson, Gulfport

A better job could have been done

Re: It takes 5 to fetch sheriff's helicopter.

The five spent $2,858 on the trip and used the final night to stay at the Beau Rivage casino-hotel in Biloxi.

It's good to see the media keeping an eye on the public's money and letting us know when public servants are abusing the use of it. Reading through your article, your mix of facts, innuendo and unrelated events to paint a picture of abuse of funds comes off way too critical and poorly supported. If the facts point to a misuse of public money because five employees traveled to pick up the helicopter, your facts should support that. There was certainly good reason for the pilot to be there and probably the mechanic and least one other representative. Those costs were proper.

The issue, if there is one, isn't the $2,858 in travel expenses, it's the expenses for one or two unnecessary people who went along on the trip. Spending $85 for a night in a hotel is not a lot of money. The fact that the hotel had a gambling casino is irrelevant unless you have evidence that these employees gambled with public money.

I'm glad the Times is keeping our public servants in the limelight and on their toes. I think you could do a better job of assembling your indicators.

Mark R. Kolman, St. Petersburg

Fundraising should have been the focus

Re: It takes 5 to fetch sheriff's helicopter.

In your Nov. 14 article concerning the collection of the new helicopter for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, you concentrated upon the "excessive" manpower to collect the new machine. In my view it is entirely reasonable to involve five people in the collection of a $1.7-million machine including, as it did, the pilot and mechanic who were to operate the aircraft.

What was not questioned was the propriety of a member of the Sheriff's Office, who was part of the team, raising "thousands of dollars" for the sheriff's re-election campaign and then being promoted afterward. Surely this is the important detail of the article and should be worthy of your greater attention.

Frank Styles, Tampa

Don't be so negative about WMNF

Re: WMNF turns from Hispanic listeners, Nov. 13.

I found your article about the proposed programming changes at WMNF, and its (mis)placement on the front page, offensive. Your story was inflammatory and took legitimate programming issues completely out of context. I don't know half of what the program director's job entails at WMNF but I do know Randy Wynne has to make a lot of tough decisions every couple of years. For every person pleased with a programming change there are probably more who are not. If the station fails to connect to its audience, it will also fail in its fundraising. And WMNF would not be on the air if it wasn't for listeners' monetary support.

Why was your paper so quick to run such a negative, devisive story about WMNF? Why not run a story about what a valuable asset WMNF is and has been for the last 23 years, to the progressive community in the Tampa Bay area? Put that on the front page.

I was sitting in my car the other night listening as the station pre-empted a very popular show to bring an open public debate to its airwaves. Randy and Rob Lorei, the news director, explained the changes that were being considered. Then they encouraged people to phone or e-mail the studio with comments, complaints and support, and they got all of the above. I caught myself thinking, "This is democracy in action." If you don't think public opinion is listened to or acted on at the station, think again.

I feel you did a great disservice to both your readers and the people who work so hard at keeping WMNF alive and thriving. I expected more from the St. Petersburg Times.

Lisa Marzilli, Riverview

WMNF better wake up

Re: WMNF turns from Hispanic listeners.

We have watched how over the last 10 years WMNF has made a real shift in its focus, programming and outreach to the "community."

My wife and I have voted with a reduction in our volunteer time and dollars against the removal and shifting of many programs that truly represented the "community" and the eclectic base of music that should be represented by it.

Unfortunately the trend that seems apparent is a focus on fundraising as a popularity contest and a real polarization of political opinion toward the radical left.

If WMNF wants to continue to exist as a community resource and treasure, it better wake up, stop the anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric in its news and current affairs programming, and continue to embrace its strengths.

There is no excuse for its arbitrary strategy of alienating its broad base of support other than the focus of the vocal minority that runs the station. This does not bode well for longevity and plans for growth.

Richard M. Orlan, St. Petersburg

How low can he go?

Re: Fed shocker, Nov. 7.

My question: How deep is Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan going to keep cutting interest rates?

I am asking the question because at this rate (no pun intended) it won't be long before the banks will start charging us interest for doing business with our money.

E.H. Angelescu, St. Petersburg

Kahlo is known on her own

Re: "Frida Trail" maps out brilliant, tragic life, Nov. 3.

I'm very happy Hollywood is making a movie about Frida Kahlo's life. As a Latin-American person and admirer of the arts, I try to keep informed about great Spanish artists, and I could say Frida is someone who should be admired and glorified, simply because she overcame her disabilities and transformed the ugliness in her life in simple beautiful art.

The article quoted a man who said that "most Mexicans only know about Kahlo through her relationship with Rivera, whose gigantic murals are among the most popular art works in Mexico." But personally I can say that not only Mexican but also most Latin-American people do know about her work and her life, and it's because of her, not because of Diego Rivera. That's a "macho statement."

It's great to see Frida on the big screen. It was about time!

Evelyn Rodriguez, St. Petersburg

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