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COMMISSION BLIND TO GLARING VIOLATIONS

Ethics panel clears Smith - Oct. 23, story

Clearing Pinellas Property Appraiser Jim Smith of ethics violations in last year's sorry property deal scandal reflects more on the ethics commission than on Smith's (lack of) ethics.

An eighth-grade civics class would have found ethics violations in the original (incredibly low) appraisal of the property, Smith's claim for "damages," the hyperinflated final property appraisal and the suspicious approval of the purchase by the County Commission. Too bad we can't replace said "ethics" commission with an eighth-grade civics class.

The St. Petersburg Times functioned in precisely the manner we expect of a first-class newspaper. Keep shining the light on the political roaches. We love to watch 'em scurry away and hide!

David and Rocelyn Pearce, Tarpon Springs

Cheap shots

I don't know Jim Smith or Susan Churuti or Ronnie Duncan, but I found myself sympathizing with them during the St. Petersburg Times' relentless attacks last year. The Florida Commission on Ethics recently cleared all three of misconduct in the "big land deal," but by now the damage has been done - to reputations and careers.

This whole thing probably merited a couple of news articles - not a monthslong "expose," complete with editorials, banner headlines and color photos. The Times turned it into a highly personalized attack - plus a blatant bid for a Pulitzer.

In a state where there's no shortage of wrongdoing and long-term abuse of power by elected officials, you took the cheap shot instead of going after the big game.

Carol Steinke, Gulfport

Greenspan denies blame, admits "flaw"Oct. 24, story

Greenspan forgotabout human nature

The "flaw" in Alan Greenspan's theory of "free" markets and deregulation is the propensity of humans toward greed, often accompanied by fraud, ungoverned by limits. This is why we have law and oversight.

When there are no police officers and no speed limits, people speed. What eventually results? A crash. Our economy, with low interest rates and poor oversight fueled by outright fraud, has been on "speed" for a number of years. This is not a "once-in-a-century credit tsunami," unless, of course, you disregard the crash of 1929. We must remember that freedom is not recklessness, but responsibility.

Nancy E. Moore, Riverview

Airport security

Ordeal becomes excessive

Goodbye, Tampa International. This little old grandma will be taking the train whenever possible from now on.

I've always loved flying and am a Southwest and American Airlines frequent flier. Knee-jerk security measures implemented since 9/11, though necessary and publicly endured, have become more punitive to innocent travelers than realistic in their purpose - from reasonable, albeit inconvenient, to bordering on the ridiculous. Nail files are potential weapons? Why not pencils and pens? And now, whole-body imaging! Here's where this little old lady gets off.

Traveling by air has become an increasingly unpleasant ordeal. We have been dehumanized and stripped of small considerations of any kind. We are treated like potential criminals in terminals and like mere cargo on planes. Now comes this latest assault: virtual disrobing in a public place. "Privacy enclosure" notwithstanding, the whole idea is invasive and downright demeaning! Purportedly it will be used only for "selected travelers."

I predict that if the public bows its collective head and suffers this most recent indignity in silence, it'll quickly become the norm. The first brave soul who balks will be viewed with suspicion and, in a public show, led away to be body-searched. Heaven help us!

M.J. Willis, Brooksville

Airport ready to start scans - Oct. 17, story

Skipping the porn

Reading about the new scans at the airport, I'm 80 years old and my body is all I own. I don't feel I need to display it for just anyone.

When I go into the pornography business, I'll see if I can work with the airport. I guess it's legal there.

Ann Katschka, Riverview

Mixed reviews for Backstreet Boys - Oct. 23

Disrespectful performance

We add our voices to those who are reported to have complained about the Backstreet Boys' ragged rendition of the national anthem prior to Game 1 of the World Series at the Trop. It was awful - an embarrassment, no doubt, to many of the millions who watched these paid, "professional" singers ignore a citizenship requirement to accord our national anthem the same respect with which the nation's flag is displayed.

And kudos to the Trop fans who responded by booing the Boys.

Joseph H. and Ada D. Francis, St. Petersburg

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