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AT EXECUTIONS, THE WARDEN IS IN CHARGE

A hodd doesn't mask our failures - July 27, Sue Carlton Column

I write to address issues raised by Sue Carlton in her recent column where she missed the point that the Florida Department of Corrections' written lethal injection protocol clearly places the warden in charge of the execution process.

All members of the execution team, including the executioner, report to and follow the directions of the warden during an execution. The warden makes all decisions concerning training, pre-execution preparation, the execution itself, and post-execution matters, and maintains unity of command by being the final and ultimate decisionmaker in every aspect of the lethal injection process. He or she also designates the start and end of an execution and will declare, if necessary, the temporary interruption of the process to handle any contingency that might arise. No deviation from any part of the lethal injection protocol is authorized unless directed by the warden.

Furthermore, the department categorically insists that the members of the execution team be mature, well-trained professionals. All members of the team receive continual training, including simulations of the process with the entire team the week prior to any scheduled execution, and at a minimum, once every quarter, or more, if the warden deems it necessary. This also includes training to anticipate and address various contingencies that could arise.

The executioner is an adult who undergoes a criminal background check and is sufficiently trained to initiate the flow of lethal chemicals into the inmate. The executioner - as is each team member - is only authorized to carry out his or her functions under the warden's direction, and his or her identity is kept confidential as mandated by Florida statute.

The Florida Department of Corrections is adequately prepared to carry out the solemn duty of administering executions by lethal injection as directed by court order and Florida statutes. Our foremost objective is a humane and dignified death. The department's lethal injection protocol comports with the requirements of the laws of the state of Florida and the Constitution of the United States.

James R. McDonough, secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, Tallahassee

Connecticut city helps illegal immigrants get IDs - July 25, story

New Haven is helping those who violate law

It is disturbing, but not surprising, that a movement to grant ID cards to illegal aliens seems to be taking root. Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven, Conn., has opened a door that will allow some 10-million to 12-million persons, who are in this country by virtue of breaking the law, access to community services. Simply put, the reason they do not have access to services at present, is that they are undocumented.

It has been well reported that community services have been inundated by the invasion of aliens, to the point where finances are strained, and in some cases services have diminished. Giving illegal aliens ID cards is an attempt to legitimize the presence of these unfortunates who have put themselves in this predicament by circumventing the established immigration protocol.

Mayor DeStefano may see the issuing of ID cards as a partial solution to his local problem. But he is, in my opinion, in opposition to federal law. And although this Congress and president have done little to solve the problems of border control, illegal entry, overextended travel and school visas, etc. this mayor's actions border on aiding and abetting all those who have gained entry into the United States improperly. We must not be lulled by the likes of La Raza, who want us to think of these undocumented persons as victims rather than violators of our laws.

Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole

Connecticut city helps illegal immigrants get IDs - July 25, story

ID idiocy

I had to read this article three times before I realized what New Haven, Conn., was opting to do! Normally the home of Yale University is fairly Puritan in its thinking, but offering IDs to illegal immigrants is baffling to me.

The article states that without ID cards these illegals cannot open a bank account or get other services. Like the Geico caveman says, "Huh, what?"

It further states that with these ID cards it will make the Police Department's job easier. Doesn't this send a message to those illegals that this is the first step toward getting to be legal? What part of "illegal" don't we understand?

I was raised to obey the law, and if you don't obey, you will go to jail, period. So where does this stop? I can only hope that those illegals who can read English will now hop on the bus and go to New Haven. New Haven, get ready.

Jim Hildebrand, Spring Hill

A Marine's fateful return July 26, story

Real war is here

I have to say, I was brought to tears when I read the article on young Miguel Suarez. This is a young man whose family legally came here from Mexico. He wanted to repay his new country for allowing his family to migrate to the great U.S. of A.

This young man did tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. He came home a hero in my eyes -only to be gunned down less than 2 miles from his Tampa home. A piece of human waste took his life over a gold chain because he "wanted" it.

The real war is here on our own soil. How can so many people not see this? We're spending billions (that's billions, folks) of dollars to wage war in a land where people have been killing each other since the beginning of time and will continue until the end of time. All the while people in our own country go homeless, are starving, have no health care - and I could go on.

The point I'm trying to make here is, I'm not Republican nor Democrat, I'm American. I think we need to start caring a little bit more about our own problems and stop funding the rest of the world's problems.

Jack J. Gammon, Clearwater

9 facts muddle idea that only rich get richer - July 26, David Brooks column

A paean to greed

David Brooks probably gets paid in six figures. His factoid-based version of the economic realities disingenuously supports, from his privileged viewpoint, the ascendancy of the few over the many.

He says that wages, which have been lagging, are now rising by 2 percent. But necessities like gasoline and milk and housing are up a whole lot more - not to mention taxes for those without lobbyists or who are outside "the base."

If we at the bottom end of the income scale have more leisure than supposedly the dog-like workers at the top, I can see no evidence in my neighborhood. Everything I read and see says this is just false, though those "socialists" in Europe seem on average as productive as (and better paid than) Americans, while working fewer hours.

CEO pay scales are simply obscene. They bear almost no relationship to company performance, only to the cozy shenanigans of "compensation committees" and captive boards.

Every one of Brooks' carefully selective, conservative-sourced studies confronts many less biased workups that refute his paean to greed.

Jon McPhee, St. Petersburg

9 facts muddle idea that only rich get richer - July 26, David Brooks column

Pathetic percentage

David Brooks' first complicating fact that supposedly muddles the idea that only the rich get richer: Real average wages rose by 2 percent in 2006, the second-fastest rise in 30 years.

Now, how in the world does that argue against the premise that only the rich get richer? If Brooks thinks a 2 percent increase being the second-highest in 30 years is a good sign, he is muddled.

George Bickner, Largo

Paper pleasures

After reading Today's young journalists are writing a new business model (July 14) by Joseph R. Schwartz, I felt I needed to express my feelings about our wonderful newspaper and the views of the different journalists who contribute to this excellent paper.

My day begins with my St. Petersburg Times and sometimes ends with it. I read each and every article and feel blessed to have this opportunity.

I no longer own a computer, by my choice, and it's comforting to lean my head back in my chair and read the paper. Nothing will ever replace the written word - as long as we have quality journalists and editors who make this excellent paper possible!

Jewell Miller, St. Petersburg

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