Sunday's letters: Take a stand against big money in politics

Published June 23, 2017

Campaign reform not city's job | June 21, editorial

City should take a moral stand

It is time for cities to take a stand on big money in politics. The editorial states that Congress and state legislatures should correct the problem. If we waited for Congress and state legislatures to get big money out of politics, we'd probably be waiting until way past my grandchildren's time. And super PACs have already entered the St. Petersburg election process. Big money buys elections, those elected redistrict and gerrymander, and it will not be in the interest of those in the majority in Congress to fix this problem. Legislators interested in fixing the problem are a minority now, and that minority will only shrink.

At the city's budget forum last week, Mayor Rick Kriseman waxed eloquently about a moral budget. A moral budget leads to a moral city, and a moral city takes moral stands. State and national incumbents and candidates are awash in money; the NRA literally buys legislators and we can't pass gun safety regulations in this city.

The only place left to fight big money is within our cities. There may be costs, but if we spend $1 million, is that too much of a price for democracy? There are election and constitutional lawyers working pro bono on this ordinance. Legal costs may come if we lose; but this is not definite. To offer this as the main reason for not passing the ordinance — a tiny piece of city money to fight big money — is not a moral stand.

St. Petersburg prides itself on being first in so many ways. Taking a stand against big money should be one of those. It will be a step forward for this city, the state and the nation.

Karen Lieberman, St. Petersburg

Corrosive cash | June 21, commentary

A cause worth supporting

I agree with Ellen Weintraub: If many local governments try to control foreign and PAC money in their local elections it may very well catch Tallahassee's, even Washington's, attention. A Supreme Court challenge to Citizens United will need lots of precedent to happen and have a chance to succeed.

Yes, the St. Petersburg City Council has other things to do, but what is really more important than attempting to start a local movement to save our democratic election process? Concerned citizens and progressive donors need a tangible cause to unite behind.

Jane Sellick, Palmetto

Hysteria should not drive gun decisions June 20, John Romano column

Sensible talk on guns

John Romano is be congratulated for providing a sensible article concerning gun violence and personal reasons for keeping a firearm. If people would only heed this advice it would keep senseless acts of violence even lower.

As Peggy Noonan said in a recent essay: "The gunman did the crime, he is responsible, it's fatuous to put the blame on anyone or anything else."

Robert L. Simister, Largo

Rain stalls finish of Gandy project | June 20

Excuse doesn't hold water

Recent rain is causing the finish of a 3 ½-year road project in Florida to be delayed? After the long drought that we experienced? That convenient excuse is absurd and offensive. Driving through this construction zone daily for the duration of the project, the days I've seen no or little work being done far outnumber those when there are actually workers present. This is poor, profit-driven planning, and the contractor should be fined accordingly. Sadly, this is what Floridians have come to expect from FDOT.

Eric Burks, Safety Harbor

Russia investigation

In his own words

The question is: Did Donald Trump collude, which means conspire or plot, with the Russians during his campaign? Of course he did. On July 17, he said, "I will tell you this, Russia: If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." The only remaining question is did he collude at any other time.

John Hayes, Sun City Center

Middle East

Disastrous misadventures

In 2006, we removed Libya from list of terrorism supporters; they'd paid $2 billion in compensation to the Pan Am bombing survivors and were cooperating with U.S. intelligence. Libya was a secular country with the highest standard of living in Africa. Yet based on false intelligence, mostly from the French, we and NATO destroyed Libya.

Syria's Bashar Assad is no saint, but before the war, Syria was mostly secular, and Syrians were better off than most of our "allies" in the region. At the behest of the Saudis, we helped create another disaster in the Middle East, misled by false intelligence about the "moderate" opposition.

Now we are assisting the Saudi genocide in the world's poorest country. The United Nations calls Yemen "the world's greatest humanitarian disaster" with over 150,000 cases of cholera since April.

Is this who we are?

Michael Kyle, Lutz

Civil rights

Wrong pick for key post

President Donald Trump's appointment of Thomas E. Wheeler II — who was Vice President Mike Pence's former general counsel when Pence was governor of Indiana — to the position of acting head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department is an affront to the concept of civil rights in our country. The head of the Civil Rights Division should work to advance criminal justice reform and constitutional policy protecting people's rights and combating discrimination. Wheeler devoted his career as an attorney doing just the opposite as he time and time again represented corporations and governmental entities in defending them against people's civil rights claims.

When Trump ran for president he said he was going to drain the swamp. He infested the swamp by appointing Wheeler to this position.

Brian Vukadinovich, Wheatfield, Ind.