Friday's letters: We need a constitutional amendment on gambling

Published June 8, 2017

Legislature neglected gambling | Editorial, June 6

We need gambling amendment

The Times correctly pointed out in a recent editorial the dysfunction surrounding gambling policy in Florida. The problem is that in Tallahassee, a comprehensive solution to gambling has become a euphemism for expansion. It seems that in the eyes of some legislators, controlling gambling somehow requires expanding it. Solutions to serious problems are held hostage to unwanted expansion.

We saw that yet again in this year's legislative session as a so-called comprehensive bill passed by the Florida Senate included the biggest expansion of gambling in state history.

Luckily, the House did not bite. But if it had, rest assured this would not have been the final word. Given unlimited resources and unlimited time, gambling interests tend to get their way in state capitals.

The only way to manage gambling without expanding it is to return decisions over gambling expansion to voters. That's the way it was for decades, because Florida's Constitution includes a ban on most forms of gambling. But recent murky case law has given rise to the notion that legislators can ignore the Constitution and do whatever they want.

This is why we are moving forward with plans to place the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment on the 2018 ballot. The amendment provides a much needed bright line as to what forms of gambling are authorized in Florida by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized in Florida, it must be approved by voters through citizens' initiative.

It removes legislators, lobbyists and gambling industry political contributions from the process of authorizing casino gambling. In doing so, it also closes gambling loopholes that have been exploited over the years.

This amendment is the only approach that will create a comprehensive and transparent solution to gambling expansion in Florida.

Paul Seago, Orlando The writer is executive director of No Casinos.

Mayors join climate pledge | June 5

Coastal Florida is at risk

Studies have shown Florida is more at risk from climate change than any other state. Still, some residents do not believe sea level is rising here. Plan a trip to southeast Florida or the Keys during an expected period of seasonal high tide. You will observe the ocean roll onto roads and sidewalks and gurgle up through manhole covers. Localized nuisance? Not really — this has resulted in salt water getting into drinking water wells for cities and damage to other infrastructure. A one-foot rise can move the shoreline inward by more than a thousand feet.

Scientists at Ringling College carried out a demonstration to allow people to visualize what this would mean over time to Siesta Beach, recently voted "best beach" in the United States. Using NOAA predictions, by 2030 hundreds of feet of the beach will be underwater. By 2040 the beach will be gone, the current parking lots and a portion of Beach Road will be underwater.

An estimated $69 billion of Florida property sits on land less than two feet above high tide. By 2030, they will likely all be affected by sea water rise. The economic impact on this state will be enormous. Unless strong, immediate steps are taken to reduce further harmful emissions Florida's economy and people will suffer catastrophic damages.

Joseph Valenti, Tampa

Vote hack took aim at Florida | June 7

We're under cyber attack

I am furious that a foreign government intruded into the U.S. electoral process. Our country was isolationist in the late 1930s and early 1940s as our leaders watched the Axis roll across Europe. It wasn't until bombs rained down on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, that we began to move away from isolationism. The country came together to fight the enemies that attacked us. I lived through those years.

Today our country is attacked by a foreign power not with bombs but in cyberspace. We are in the early stages of isolationism reminiscent of the 1930s. We are pulling away from our friends and are not banding together to face the enemy. Some of our political elite are more concerned about leaks than defending our country and its values.

Robert Bucklin, Zephyrhills

Water agency withdraws rule for rewrite | June 7

Residents need the water

Local "leaders" have finally admitted we have too many people for the water resources available. The only problem is the local "leaders" never implement building restrictions. The politicians tell us there are too many people using the water so you citizens stop using water. But they won't tell their real estate, development and construction buddies to stop building.

We citizens have to suffer for it. We can't use our water, we're stuck in the traffic jams, and the infrastructure continues to degrade, even with the insufferable, continuous (assuredly boondoggled) construction that never seems to end.

I do understand that if we don't progress we regress. But for us in the limited available acreage of most of Tampa Bay, shouldn't the politicians represent us current citizens in safety and quality of life? When do we stand up and say enough is enough? When they hand us one bottle of water and a loaf of bread?

Steve Krall, Seminole

Trump embarrasses himself — and America — again | Column, June 5

The math of bullets

President Trump tweeted "Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!"

But we should be having that debate. The three terrorists in London killed eight using knives and a van. A single terrorist in a crowded bar with an assault rifle in the United States killed 49 and wounded 53. England has strict restrictions on gun ownership. The math is easy to do. If assault rifles were as easy to get in London as in the United States the three London terrorists could have killed 147 instead of eight.

Peter Stecher, Brandon