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Untouched and untaxed

Jan. 31, story

Leave it to the elite of Florida to break out of this "tax-gate" full speed with Brian Yablonski, a member of Florida's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, out in front - and coincidently a vice president for St. Joe Co., the state's largest private landowner.

As noted in this story: "While St. Joe may one day benefit from the tax break (my emphasis), Yablonski and others said he pushed the plan at the behest of environmentalists and the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, on which Yablonski serves."

If these same supporters and members of this commission say "they worry about the dwindling lands available for conservation, hunting and fishing," as quoted in the article, then give these landowners this "tax break" with a dedication and deed for their property to the state of Florida!

As Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet succinctly points out, these properties would vanish from the tax rolls of counties already coping with reduced revenues.

This is just another tax benefit being carried on from policies of the Jeb Bush administration, where Yablonski was also a policy adviser.

I really have more trust in the citizens of this great state who will see that this "big" property tax break will not benefit 60 percent of them when they vote this November!

Russell Lee Johnson, St. Petersburg

Slinging slime is what Clintons do best

Jan. 27, Philip Gailey column

Clinton years were good

Philip Gailey slimed President Bill Clinton in a way that not even a self-respecting Republican running for office would have done.

Gailey likened President Clinton's behavior to a mad dog's slobber. That is not indicative of a thoughtful, wise editor of editorials but more apropos of a reporter with rabies.

And saying that slime is what the Clintons do best overlooks eight years of peace and prosperity from 1992 to 2000, during which the Reagan-Bush budget deficits were not only eliminated but also replaced with surpluses. The wealthy were made to pay their fair share of taxes, and workers enjoyed paid maternity leave, earned income credit, and many other benefits derived from a thriving, full-employment economy.

Not only were we not at war, but President Clinton also proved to be a powerful force for bringing peace to troubled areas like Northern Ireland (where he is regarded as a hero), Kosovo and even the Middle East, where today there is nothing but war and chaos.

Perhaps Gailey would prefer another eight years of that.

Henry Reni, Seminole

Slinging slime is what Clintons do best

Jan. 27, Philip Gailey column

A disgraceful duo

I do not often agree with Philip Gaily's columns, but this time I most certainly do. I have, for years, considered Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton to be two of the most disgraceful people to have ever inhabited the White House. Why some people (read: Bill Maxwell and his minions) remain enthusiastic about this lowest-end couple baffles me a great deal.

The Clintons not only have slung slime during this campaign, they have also done so regularly for many years. I consider both of them pond scum (read: slime).

David C. Cumming, Clearwater

Fair treatment for all

I would like to thank the St. Petersburg Times for supporting Barack Obama who would, if elected, I am sure make a fine president. But I respectfully ask the paper to knock off the "sliming" of the Clintons.

Philip Gailey's opinion piece was nothing more than a slimy attack on the former president of the United States and the current senator from New York who is running for the presidency.

Gailey implied that Bill Clinton's support for his wife is nothing more than owing her for his unfaithfulness rather than because she has an impeccable history of public service.

The Clintons have valid points about what the media are currently doing or not doing. You aren't holding Obama to the same standards you are holding the Clintons to, possibly I believe because it would be viewed as racist. However, it would seem it is acceptable to be sexist. For example, there are the demeaning political cartoons you have run implying that she wouldn't be a viable president but a mouthpiece for Bill Clinton.

There comes a time when you have to stand for something. George W. Bush ran with "I am a uniter" and look where it got us. I will support Barack Obama if he is my party's choice, but I respectfully ask my newspaper to treat all candidates fairly.

Ronda Baer, Seffner

Gender bias

Jan. 27, letter

There was whining

The letter writer begins by stating that he finds it "very objectionable that the St. Petersburg Times has repeatedly published material about Hillary Clinton which is clearly gender-biased." He then gives the example of a cartoon by Pat Oliphant that "depicts Hillary as a whiny little schoolgirl." Would he prefer that she be depicted as a whiny little schoolboy? I imagine the answer would be no.

So I can only assume that it is not that she is portrayed as a girl, but that she's whining. Well, she has whined. Sadly, many in Washington have whined. And that is how she is going to be portrayed.

If she becomes our president, those who oppose such depictions better get used to it because George W. Bush has put up with it for eight years. Unless of course, he would like such depictions censored. But I think that he would be against that because Democrats are against censorship. Right?

Ronald Melone, Clearwater

Pat Oliphant cartoon

Jan. 31

An insulting image

Please never publish an editorial cartoon like this again!

How dare Oliphant portray Barack Obama or any other African-American as a cotton picker in this day and age!

It is a total insult to everyone who grew up in an era when their families, both white or African-American, had to make a living picking cotton - whether as a slave in days of old or just to make ends meet, as my white Anglo-Saxon family did in the Panhandle of Texas.

Rebecca Bachman, Homosassa

Cheated by early primary

Thanks to our governor and Legislature for having the "foresight" to move up the date of our Florida primary election.

With four viable Republican candidates at the time of our primary, I found it difficult to make an informed choice, and I listen closely to what is said by all the candidates. After watching the California Republican debate the day after our primary, I feel that I made a poor voting choice.

I feel cheated with our early primary, and if I were a Democrat, I would feel even more cheated if my vote did not count.

It appears the only gain with the early primary was for our governor, Charlie Crist. It certainly allowed him to position himself for vice president. Maybe he really cares more about himself than for "his people of Florida." Good luck, Charlie. We will be happy to wave goodbye.

Robert K. Reader, Clearwater

They ought to draw a go-to-jail card

Jan. 27, Robyn Blumner column

A costly ideology

I want to thank Robyn Blumner for her excellent analysis of our present economic crisis. It seems that the current ascendent idea is that government interference with business practice violates the "inviolable" natural law of the marketplace. This is the Milton Friedman mantra, promoted by the "Chicago boys" like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and practiced by the Bush administration, with its de-fanging of the government watchdogs of corporate corruption, deception and outright fraud.

The privatization of practically everything, including education, prisons and even former military responsibilities, was supposed to save money, improve performance and guarantee efficiency. The result was that billions of dollars of public money flowed directly into private hands without sufficient supervision.

This is laissez faire. This is the square-headed ideological prison that has led us into the crisis so well described by Blumner.

Paul Lupone, Spring Hill