A grant for a genius
Congratulations to Desmond Meade for winning one of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship “genius grants.”
Desmond is the president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and served as chairman of the committee that sponsored the 2018 Florida constitutional amendment to restore voting rights for those who completed their sentence for a previous conviction. His personal story is inspiring.
Having worked with Desmond on building the statewide coalition and the successful ballot campaign, I can attest that no one worked harder and is more responsible for bringing an end to the injustice of Florida’s Civil War-era racist lifetime voting ban.
Of course, there is more work to be done — no civil rights victory stays won! Gov. Ron DeSantis and leaders of the Florida Legislature — both demonstrably hostile to voting rights — put in place what a federal judge called a disgraceful “pay to vote” system. (Other states, Illinois for example, separate the right to vote and the ability to pay debts by restoring the right to vote upon completion of the term of a sentence while forwarding any outstanding debt to a state collection agency.)
Knowing Desmond, I fully expect that this national award (and the resources it provides) will ensure that his passion will continue to be a source of leadership in the struggle for voting rights and racial justice here in Florida.
Howard L. Simon, Sanibel
The writer served as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida from 1997 to 2018, and was one of the authors of the voting restoration constitutional amendment.
Biden’s going big and getting things done | Column, Sept. 29
Columnist Eugene Robinson enthusiastically praises Joe Biden’s accomplishments as president. Really? What about the obvious communication gap between him and his top military advisers? He “can’t recall” a crucial conversation with them about troops during the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Has he even bothered to visit our increasingly leaky and troubled southern border? And what about his extreme reluctance to take questions from the press? In a democracy? What is he afraid of? I submit that he is failing (”going big”) on major issues for America. I suspect that his mental abilities are in decline to a worrisome degree. And I think that the Tampa Bay Times should pay more attention to these important issues.
Paul Leaverton, Tampa
The nurses will come
Not to worry. I’m expecting an influx of health care professionals who were fired from their jobs in mandate-happy states to start any day now. They’ll vote with their feet and move to the Sunshine State and other areas that still respect individual freedom.
John S.V. Weiss, Spring Hill
Blocking the debt ceiling is a reckless move by Senate Republicans | Editorial, Sept. 29
I’m a conservative with liberal beliefs. We cannot continue down our current path without raising our taxes. The Republicans spent a lot of money when President Donald Trump was in office and now they don’t want to pay for it while blaming the Democrats for it. I’ve seen this happen every time the parties change from Republican to Democrat in the White House. The Republicans spend like crazy, give money to the rich and expect it to be paid for by the people who can’t afford it. The Democrats then take the heat for it. I’m willing to pay more taxes as long as the Republicans don’t just give it to people that don’t need the extra money.
It’s time for the rich to pay their fair share. They lead lifestyles that are incomprehensible to regular people. They buy politicians to do their bidding for them. It’s time to wake up and get rid of these politicians who only want to make their owners richer.
James Harazin, St. Petersburg
Let’s get busy
The ugly truth | Perspective, Sept. 26
Americans across racial groups, classes, and gender are stressed out. America’s future is the No. 1 cause of today’s stress. Citizen concern has increased from 63% in 2017 to 77% in 2020. “The ugly truth” is that historians, political actors and those in private sector often define America’s problems but have not identified and acted on tested options. This requires teamwork, a strategy, and commitment to our pledge of allegiance’s “freedom and justice for all.” Crises are not new. In 1776, America’s crisis was described in the Declaration of Independence’s second paragraph, as a “self-evident truth.” Other American crises followed — the Civil War, Great Depression, World War II and onset of Cold War. No one needs to prove that these were true crises as they were self-evident. All required a massive mobilization of financial and government assets — domestic, natural and industrial resources, as well as comprehensive military and world affairs strategies drawing on robust “we the people” support. Each time the outcomes and results dramatically changed America. It is time that we get busy.
Harrison Fox, New Port Richey