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Convention arrests story deserved more prominent coverage

Re: Unrest stirs over convention arrests, Sept. 20.

Finally, several weeks after the GOP convention in New York City, the Times ran a Washington Post article about the unprecedented number of arrests and the appalling treatment of those swept up in "the largest number of arrests associated with a major party convention in U.S. history." Tucked into Section A on Page 7, the article was not given the placement such startling news deserves.

To the readers: If you missed the article, find it, read it and start worrying about what is happening in this country. Then start thinking about what we can do about it.

To the Times: You are an independent publication, not under the thumb of giant corporate media. We expect better of you than this skimpy coverage of what was unacceptable, illegal, unconscionable treatment of not only protesters who were exercising their First Amendment rights, but uninvolved bystanders. Some were swept up in nets. They were detained in filthy, unsanitary conditions and most were held more than two days before arraignment.

When the lawsuits regarding the illegal arrests and treatment begin, on what page will that news appear?

Mary Berglund, St. Petersburg

Recipe for disaster

Re: McDonald's patrons protest bad milkshake with bomb, police say, Sept. 20.

What were you thinking when you allowed this article to be printed with a recipe for disaster? Alright, print the article _ but did you have to tell everyone how to make the bomb? I hope there aren't any children out there who would try this just to see if it works. Shame on you!

Sindy S. Todd, Palm Harbor

A disrespectful display

Re: U.S. flag on railing gets fans booted from Bucs game, Sept. 21.

Kenneth Hill would show his patriotism far better if he would be respectful of rules made by property owners and obey the law. He and too many other Americans seem to feel that the law only applies to the other guy.

When I choose to fly the American flag, it is on property that I own and I make sure the flag is properly displayed. Hanging the flag on others' property is not only illegal, it is disrespectful to the flag and it is un-American.

If, as Hill promises, he brings his flag to another game and again breaks the rules, they should revoke his season tickets.

Sam Copenhaver, Palm Harbor

Situation was badly handled

Re: U.S. flag on railing gets fans booted from Bucs game.

Good For Kenneth Hill! I hope he stands by his word and shows up with a flag next game, and I hope that everyone else with seats that permit show up with U.S. flags also.

The first officer on the scene overreacted or did not handle the situation correctly. The officer should have asked to speak with the owner of the flag, taken him aside and explained the situation. Never, never (especially in a crowd) take a stand against an American emblem.

Ann Ceccarini, Port Richey

Let leaders take the first shot

Re: The shots of war, Sept. 17.

After reading the lengthy article concerning the various shots endured by the military, especially the shots for anthrax, I have a solution for the health problems encountered by members in the services that should end any controversy.

Those experts who make the decisions for the necessary shots to avoid diseases in foreign wars should be the first ones to volunteer to endure the shots and prove that their decisions are correct and all military are safe.

It would be a patriotic act and one that would ensure that the military are safe from disease, while protecting us all.

Sarah T. McAfoose, Port Richey

Stealing from Social Security

Re: Fed chief: Economy picking up, slightly,Sept. 9.

Alan Greenspan has stated that the Social Security system is in financial trouble. When the "baby boomers" start drawing their Social Security checks, there won't be enough in the "trust funds" to cover the expected needs.

Greenspan thinks that the solution requires reducing benefits, increasing the Social Security taxes on both workers and employers and increasing the retirement age. He doesn't mention that the shortage has come about because the government spent the trust funds for other purposes. This could conceivably be thought of as embezzlement. "Trust fund" in government doesn't seem to have the same meaning as "trust fund" in the civilian world.

Of course, the government put IOUs in the trust funds. That seems to indicate a sense of honesty, but the IOUs can't be paid without taxing the workers and employers a second time for the same taxes. The entire shortage problem could have been avoided if government had not been allowed to commingle trust funds and general tax revenue.

The Social Security system was set up as a paid-in-advance annuity. The workers and employers should have been paying only into the employees' own personal accounts. Of course, the funds should have been invested, but only in sound investments, and definitely not in government debt. Government debt is out of control and unpayable. Greenspan's "solution" to the problem is to make Social Security almost worthless.

A better solution would be to turn the trust funds over to several large private insurance companies. The private insurance companies would be subject to civilian trust laws and embezzlement laws. They would be subject to auditing. They would set up annuity programs for each worker, and each worker would have his, plus his employer's Social Security taxes, paid into his own separate account.

However, in that case, there would be insufficient funds available to pay the present retirees' benefits. The federal government now gives away many billions of dollars to other countries all around the world and also to local governments in each of our states. This must be stopped, and that money must be used to replace the missing Social Security trust funds.

Charles Derer, Hudson

The facts about new overtime rules

At this point in the year, it's not surprising when special interests at odds with the Bush administration spread misinformation about the Department of Labor's new overtime security rules. But it is surprising that your Sept. 19 editorial (New rules threaten workers) would repeat these distortions verbatim at the expense of American workers. Workers and employers need the facts about the new overtime security rules _ not political spin.

The facts are that the department's rules _ which are now in force _ guarantee overtime protection for 6.7-million low-wage workers. Employers began complying with the rules on Aug. 23, and media accounts have reported that many workers are now becoming eligible for overtime for the first time. Despite a political misinformation campaign designed to scare workers into thinking that millions will lose their overtime, just the opposite is happening.

Workers who want to learn about their new rights and employers who want to understand their responsibilities should visit www.dol.gov/fairpay.

The new overtime security rules guarantee stronger overtime protections for millions of workers. Sadly, because of this irresponsible scare campaign, some in Congress have proposed legislation that would strip away these workers' new overtime rights. Your editorial only increases that risk.

Alfred B. Robinson Jr., acting administrator, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC

An outrageous charge

Re: TIA traveler's crime? Toting a bookmark, Sept. 17.

What more compelling evidence do we now have that our national paranoia about terrorism has driven us one long step closer to a police state? The Tampa International Airport office of the Transportation Security Administration should be ashamed of itself for this overreaction. A 52-year-old school teacher and mother is handcuffed and charged with carrying a concealed weapon because she had a weighted bookmark in her purse _ it's an outrage!

I can see the wisdom, perhaps, of a stern warning and confiscating the bookmark, but it was wrong to treat this woman as a criminal. It leaves one to wonder just how frequently this sort of thing does happen. Will it end only when some innocent person ends up actually having to do some jail time? This is the kind of thing one would expect in National Socialist Germany in 1940, not in the United States in 2004.

John Feeney, St. Petersburg

IRS action was long overdue

Re: IRS tells churches: no politics, Sept. 15.

Finally! All my adult life I have read about politicians, mostly Democrats, pandering for votes from the pulpits of black churches.

I never thought I would see the day when I would approve of any IRS action, but this one was long overdue. Preachers, priests, bishops and rabbis have a right to support any candidate they choose but not in church or from the pulpit _ period!

John Hungerford, Palm Harbor

We weren't asked about this raise

Re: Pay raises, Sept. 15.

Senators and representatives are not hired by the government. They are ""hired" _ elected _ by the people. I do not believe we, the people, were asked if our employees could have a raise. Real federal employees probably deserve a raise, but the members of Congress should not ride on their coattails.

Joanne Willis, St. Petersburg

Beware of new utility approach

Re: Utility regulation bears rethinking, says group, Sept. 15.

It is pathetic that Florida consistently appears to be leading the parade when the needs of the average citizen are overlooked in favor of corporate gain.

In my opinion, anyone, including the Florida Public Service commissioners mentioned in the story, who sincerely believes a market-driven approach to utility regulation will benefit Florida consumers lives in La-La Land, not in Florida.

Lou Hunter, Clearwater

Bahrami, BearingPoint followed law

Re: The privatization game, editorial, Sept. 14.

I would like to respond to issues raised in your editorial regarding BearingPoint's recent hire of Kimberly Bahrami.

Kim Bahrami, former chief information officer for the State of Florida, has joined BearingPoint as a managing director in our federal health care practice. Prior to her work in Florida, Ms. Bahrami possessed outstanding health care sector credentials including large-scale enterprise information technology strategy and transformation experience and is a remarkable addition to our health care practice.

Discussions with Ms. Bahrami were initiated after she had resigned from the state and was actively interviewing with other firms. As a condition precedent to hiring Ms. Bahrami, she obtained a legal opinion confirming that she was in compliance with Florida law. Ms. Bahrami will have no involvement with any BearingPoint contracts with the State of Florida, will not work in the BearingPoint State and Local government practice and has relocated outside the State of Florida.

Given BearingPoint's and Ms. Bahrami's conscientious compliance with Florida law regarding the hiring process and Ms. Bahrami's exceptional qualifications for her position, your editorial's conclusions about her are unsubstantiated, cynical and offensive. As always, BearingPoint remains committed to the state of Florida, implementing solutions that save the state as well as its citizens money.

Bob Sullivan, senior vice president, health care, BearingPoint Inc., Tallahassee

Running scared in St. Petersburg

Re: Storm's havoc would be intensified here,Sept. 21.

Did somebody from St. Petersburg shoot Max Mayfield's dog? His comment that "St. Pete is on borrowed time" was both unscientific and inappropriate.

Hurricane seasons don't have memories. Each hurricane season acts independently of the last. Where and when a hurricane strikes has everything to do with a myriad of weather and climatic conditions that interact dynamically.

Tampa Bay could take a direct hit from the next hurricane to enter the Gulf of Mexico, or 50 years could pass before the area does experience a direct hit. No one knows, not even Max Mayfield.

It would be a shameful waste of time and energy for a major metropolitan area to walk around in a perpetual funk because we are all living "on borrowed time."

Mark Gianinni, Tierra Verde

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