1. Opinion

Floridians have all the rights that money can buy

Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.
Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. [LAWRENCE MOWER  |  Times (2019)]
Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. [LAWRENCE MOWER | Times (2019)]
Published Jan. 23

All the rights money can buy

Without license, without hope | Jan. 22

I am a conservative Reagan Republican, but the shameful behavior of both parties has me in despair. We, the voters, approved Amendment 4 overwhelmingly, as written. Politicians have decided that the voting public was not qualified to make that decision and added their own caveat. By deciding that the terms of completion of the sentence include payment of all fines and restitution, we are saying that those with money may regain their constitutional rights. Those who are without the means to do so, do not deserve the rights of other Americans.

And it doesn’t stop there. We suspend driving privileges for those who are unable to pay fines, tickets or child support, thereby ensuring that they remain in the hole we have dug for them. If this person does then not have the transportation to get to work, they fall into a deeper hole or in many cases into homelessness. We prevent employment to enforce payment? In what world does that makes sense?

While I grieve for the deaths of those lost on Bayshore Boulevard, that there is a discussion of closing Bayshore to traffic smacks of elitism. How many deaths in a year on some of our other roads? Most often, those pedestrians are not using those roads for pleasure but to get to work or to the grocery. This is not an America that works for all people.

Carole Thompson, Zephyrhills

Tired of double standards

Why white guys think they rule | Column, Jan. 23

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and President Donald Trump [Associated Press]

An angry black man tells us white men how lucky we are. How we can actually open a bag of cookies before we pay for them? Or run for political office when we aren’t qualified for it, unlike most people of color when they run? You mean like Barack Obama, who had only a few years of political experience and no military experience before he ran and became commander in chief? Columns like this one are why our races are so divided. I know of many white men like myself who are sick and tired of the racial double standards these days. We can’t say anything about a person of color without being told we are racist. I know the past was bad, but why does that mean we are so bad now?

Scott Shimer, Land O’ Lakes

The official can’t see you now

Elected to serve, not to be reachable | Jan. 23

SB 832, which professes to protect the security of elected officials and their families by hiding information about them, looks like another step toward creating a protected class of politicians in Florida. If you have the guts to run for office, you should accept the responsibility and risks that come with it. Floridians who express their beliefs every day accept the same responsibility of citizenship by speaking out publicly. Why should politicians be exempt?

David Rettig, St. Petersburg

Court stands up for people

What rights will high court gut next? | Editorial, Jan. 22

Justices of the Florida Supreme Court attend a joint session of the Florida Legislature. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]

I voted for Amendment 4 because I thought it was the right thing to do, and I understood all penalties would have to settled. This editorial seems to imply the Florida Supreme Court doesn’t represent the wishes of the people. On the contrary, the people of Florida have been electing Republican governors and representatives for 20 years now only to have the court overturn what they passed. We finally have a Supreme Court representing the will of the people.

Bill Armstrong, Ellenton


  1. This photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.
  2. A boy named Jamal, 12, looks for an item in his new room at Joshua House in Lutz in 2016.
  3. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  4. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  5. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.
  6. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is advocating for a statewide policy of paid family leave for all Floridians.
  7. Pasco County community news
  8. Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  9. Our democracy is under unprecedented attack from overseas, but the federal government has been unable or unwilling to protect our campaign-finance system.
  10. Cars sit locked in evening rush hour traffic on Dale Mabry near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The Hillsborough County Commission will discuss Wednesday whether to prepare a transportation tax for the November ballot now that the fate of the current tax rests with the Florida Supreme Court. [ZACK WITTMAN  |  Times]