I am appalled at the damage wrought by the Florida Legislature during this past session. Gov. Rick Scott also must accept much of the blame as he signs the legislation into law.
Trying to decide which of their actions is of most concern is not easy, but here are my top 6 pieces of bad legislation of the 2011 session:
No. 1: The enactment of leadership funds, which are nothing but political funds that have no accountability and that make ordinary citizens impotent to influence our legislators and governor.
No. 2: The all-out assault on women and their right of choice.
No. 3: The dismantling of the protection of our fragile environment. Will the big landowners just write all the rules now?
No. 4: The very significant limitations put on elections in an effort to discourage poor people and students from voting.
No. 5: Education - I don't even know where to start, but I do know that education is probably the only hope we having in meeting the challenges of the coming years.
No. 6: Giving Gov. Scott his corporate tax break, even in the absence of data that says tax breaks will help anyone but the corporation.
I can only hope that other ordinary citizens will not give up and give in to these actions. Using Scott's mantra - "Let's get to work" - let's get to work to elect different leaders.
Martha Hodge, Tampa
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Lawmakers' loyalty is not to the voters
I hope what Republicans have done during this Florida legislative session can finally be a catalyst for change in our state and that voters understand where their elected officials' loyalty lies - certainly not with their constituents.
Most egregious is their legalizing open "payola" for themselves. And for a party that claims to be in favor of less government, Republicans have legislated the personal lives of women. Most women in the Legislature, except extremists like Ronda Storms, were thankfully not in agreement with so-called Christian males whose bodies and finances will not be affected by their most recent invasion into women's personal rights. As a practicing registered nurse for many years, I applaud these women's actions.
I want my legislators to use their time wisely in their short two-month window, not on foolish bills dealing with droopy pants or expensive, last-minute pork projects for their districts. I want them to deal with the difficult issues of fiscal responsibility, i.e., jobs, appropriate taxes and good education that might draw business to Florida. How silly of me. I forgot that politics in Florida is all about the politicians and big business. And this view is from someone who lived in Chicago.
Barbara Sweda, St. Petersburg
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Trivia, not jobs
I am amazed that we have a legislative body in Tallahassee that went in with the idea of creating jobs for citizens of this state. Yet none have been created.
On the other hand, less government is actually a joke. This group has done more to be involved in the day-to-day activities of the citizens of this state than any time in my life.
I retired after 39 years as a teacher. If I felt a student was dressed inappropriately, I took care of it. In this span of time, I never knew of a student who had issues with bestiality.
There are more important issues facing this state and nation.
Ken Henderson, Tarpon Springs
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Voters got what they wanted
To all my fellow Floridians who voted last year, I say: Congratulations; you got what you asked for. To those of you who were too apathetic to vote, I say: Shame on you.
Just remember that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Think of that when you vote in the next election.
Lou Bader, St. Petersburg
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Osama bin Laden
No need to see photos
Regarding the release of Osama bin Laden photos: President Barack Obama has it right in saying, "That's not who we are. We don't trot this stuff out as trophies." He's a classy guy. Everything else smacks of salaciousness. Unfortunately, that's who the media is, and they'll bawl and squall until they get their way.
Gail Burke, Hudson
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Reducing his impact
The May 6 Times editorial, "Make public photographs of bin Laden," makes a good point that we haven't heard a compelling argument for not releasing photos of a dead Osama bin Laden, but it nonetheless is the right decision. By burying him at sea and refusing to show photographs of the body, the potency of a bin Laden martyrdom is greatly reduced. This is because there will be a faction that will stubbornly insist that bin Laden escaped and is still alive. Even crazed jihadists can't have it both ways; lingering doubt about his death will effectively prevent the elevation of bin Laden to martyr status.
The editorial failed to make a compelling case. Other than the standard line about transparency of government, only one reason was offered: "The photographs ... might serve as a clearer message ... that there will be consequences for (terrorist acts) killing innocents."
Is there really anybody who is unclear on the U.S. government stance on punishing and defeating terrorists?
Arlin Briley, St. Petersburg
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Getting Osama bin Laden has proved that we do not need to mass armies and invade countries and lose thousands of lives to fight the "war on terror." As John Kerry said as a candidate in 2004, this needs to be handled as a intelligence issue and in a Special Forces-type approach. Maybe this takedown of bin Laden will help prevent future wars.
Shirley Copperman, Tarpon Springs
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Poor service - May 6, letter
Cuts have consequences
A letter writer complaining about poor government services should understand that Florida government workers have been cut every year since at least 2008 and have had no pay raises for the last five years.
Gov. Rick Scott is going to cut thousands more and has already cut their pay 3 percent. Expect a lot more voice mail and long waits.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach