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Published Oct. 22, 2008

Reading program at risk - Oct. 16, story

Cutting funding for reading specialists is absolutely the worst place to try to fix a budget. Reading skills are the foundation upon which all learning is built. If a child struggles with reading he or she cannot understand mathematics. He or she cannot study geography to identify places in the world's current events. He or she cannot begin to understand history and thus will be doomed to repeat it. In other words, he or she will fail to live up to full potential, although the student may move up to the next grade because of "social promotion."

When I was young, I was an extremely poor reader with difficulties in comprehension. However, I was lucky because my mother found a remedial reading teacher for me. Because of that experience, I taught two of my children to read before they started kindergarten. The other (middle child) taught himself to read. All three are college graduates. I still work at comprehension, but now that effort is in complex ideas.

Students can survive with worn clothing, worn books, worn buildings. However, they cannot survive without basic skills.

Cutting funding for reading specialists is a simple idea, which is wrong. Poor foundations make for weak structures, especially in education.

Judi Larson, Sun City Center

Two-year schools would benefit from measure - Oct. 21, story

Don't open door togovernment tax games

People are not confused about Amendment 8 (which would give Florida counties the authority to levy a local-option sales tax to help fund community colleges in their area).

People are completely aware that once you give taxing authority like this, local governments wait for some obscure midterm election to place these tax hikes on the ballot.

Pasco County did it with their Penny for Pasco, and other counties did it too. They had this vote when they knew the fewest voters would turn out to get it passed. If these issues are so important and affect everyone in the county, then these votes should be held during the November elections when the turnout is higher.

People are not confused and they are not stupid. We've been left holding the tax bag for this type of stuff for way too long. Pinellas County keeps renewing the so-called temporary penny tax and they do it in the same manner. It is put on the ballot when they know voter turnout is at its lowest. This is not majority rules, it's government playing games, just like always.

Catherine Matthies, Spring Hill

Colin Powell's backing of Barack Obama

Look beyond race

Thank you, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan, for your "enlightened" views on why Colin Powell chose to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. We can just forget Powell's clearly stated reasons for his decision - John McCain's erratic behavior during the economic crisis; greater movement of the Republican Party to the far right; the negative personal attacks by the McCain campaign which reduced the focus on major problems; McCain's selection of a poorly qualified running mate. Rush and Pat reminded us that it is all about skin color. Gen. Powell could not possibly have any deeply held principles which led him to this decision.

Of course, how do Rush and Pat explain the other significant Republicans who have endorsed Obama? There is Lincoln Chafee, former Republican senator. What about Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley? The latest convert is Ken Adelman, who held important posts in the Ford and Reagan administrations. Skin color does not appear to have been a motivating factor for these gentlemen. Nor should it be for any of us in the 21st century.

Rod Palmateer, Clearwater

It's time to unite

As I listened to Gen. Colin Powell carefully go through the reasons he would be voting for Sen. Barack Obama, I realized that I had come to the same conclusion. I know it was very difficult for him to announce his choice. He could have not said anything and just voted for Obama. However, to his credit he felt that America needed to know.

As a nation, more of us should stand up and say that what Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin are doing is wrong. This great nation does not need to be divided with the massive problems we are facing. Everyone should stand up and say we are America, and we stand together. It is not going to be easy to overcome the massive problems we are facing, but we can and will do it.

As a young college student I heard President John F. Kennedy say, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It is that time again, America, and I have no doubt that we will stand together and bring this nation to its greatest again.

LaTreetha E. Sharpley, Spring Hill

Early voters mob polls - Oct. 21, story

Less time to think

I read in this article instructions from Barack Obama, to voters: "Don't wait until Nov. 4. You don't know what might happen on Nov. 4. Your car might break down. You might have an emergency."

He left out one other important reason: "You may change your mind."

James Di Piazza, Seffner

Everyone wins

Tax cuts for the middle class help everyone including the rich. One way or another the rich end up touching every dollar I make. My spending helps their companies make money. My savings become loans for their expansion.

No matter how we "redistribute" the wealth with a 3 percentage point increase in the top bracket, and a decrease in the lower brackets, the rich will benefit.

If Republicans are right, their benefit will also help the middle class by trickling down as spending and job creation. So creating a tax cut for the middle class gives the economy a double dose of stimulus. Stimulus is what we need right now.

Mark Stephens, Land O'Lakes

Hello, world! - Oct. 20

A welcome boost

Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, for your uplifting front page in Monday morning's edition. It's in times like these that we need a celebratory front page, something that lifts the spirit and distracts us, even momentarily, from the turmoil around us. You delivered. Again, thank you.

The Rev. Desmond Daly, Tampa

Hello, world! - Oct. 20

Our town deserves a salute

As a boy, my dad took me to the St. Petersburg Saints games at Al Lang Field. I grew up knowing about the rich baseball history of our city. But from the very first televised Rays game, the national broadcasters have put our team in "Tampa Bay" or across the bay in Tampa.

Thanks to TBS for getting it right more often than not in the playoffs and the nice aerial shots of the city.

With the World Series set to open today at Tropicana Field, just maybe, you think, the rest of the world can say "Hello, St. Pete!"

R. Wayne Bowen, St. Petersburg