Electors have a moral obligation | Dec. 19, letter
Follow the law in U.S. elections
I have been astounded and deeply dismayed by reports of the inability of a large number of liberals to accept the results of our presidential electoral process, but none has been as unsettling as this letter's comment: "In effect, (the Electoral College electors) have an obligation to save the populace from itself." What a frightening assertion.
It comes as a conclusion to a hollow argument that begins with references to the Constitution (the law), but quickly shifts to the Federalist Papers when law does not take the writer where he wants to go. When this tack also leaves him hanging, he settles on a "moral obligation" as the rationale for skirting the law, a slippery slope that fortunately is trumped (no pun intended) by "black letter law" every time.
Kenneth Beckham, Tampa
Tax credit scholarships save Floridians money | Dec. 20, commentary
Profit motive problems
What the writer neglected to say is that those Floridians saving money are not Florida taxpayers. What the tax credit scholarship program does is divert tax dollars that would otherwise go into the state treasury into the pockets of for-profit charter school corporations while seeming to enable children from poor families to obtain a better education than that provided by public schools.
Those diverted tax dollars amounted to $418 million for the 2015-16 school year and will be up to $559 million during the 2016-17 school year.
Here's how the program works. Every dollar a business donates to the scholarship program reduces that business' Florida income tax and other tax liabilities by the exact amount donated. So it isn't a donation; it is a transfer of business tax money from the Florida treasury into the pockets of for-profit charter school owners. That converts what appears to be a noble endeavor into a profitmaking endeavor.
Supporters of the program hide behind pretty words (scholarship), branding promises (Excellence in Education) and accounting sleight of hand ($5,886 vs. $7,178 means a taxpayer saving of $1,300 for each student). Part of that per pupil difference is taxpayer underwriting of charter school capital investment, which is suspected of being the main reason that major real estate investors love taxpayer-subsidized for-profit charter schools.
The issue that needs to be addressed is the evisceration of our public schools in order to enrich the owners of for-profit charter schools under the guise of improving education through school reform. A 2009 Stanford University study showed that 17 percent of charters reported academic gains better than public schools, 46 percent reported no significant difference and 37 percent showed academic gains that were worse than public schools. That is not a valid basis for dismantling our public school system or diverting tax money into the pockets of for-profit charter school owners.
Len Deadman, Clearwater
You won, now welcome to hell | Dec. 22, commentary
When will whining end?
Just when you think the whining is about over, you publish this column by Kathleen Parker. She starts by acknowledging her absolute disdain for Donald Trump. She is even blames recent terrorist incidents on Trump who, in case she hasn't noticed, is not yet president.
She claims as fact that Trump will not fulfill any of his campaign promises and she sees no reason he would even run for the office. Could it be he has witnessed the past eight years of stagnation with President Barack Obama's administration? Obama's only accomplishment was the abomination of a health care program headed for the trash heap. He has succeeded in dividing the country as never before, has stifled the economy, has set the Mideast on fire and virtually killed the morals of our country.
This is Trump's starting point. Keep that in mind as he tries to right the wrongs of the past eight years. I'm sure you'll have an open mind.
Don Niemann, Seminole
We can't do this again
Among the many nightmares in the future that face us, perhaps one of the most terrible is the certainty that in just four years, the whole hideous political drama will be repeated.
It's bad enough that our people are so savagely divided by ideas and opinions. To have that division exaggerated by our states' division into red and blue only turns that distrust and hatred up a notch, like a return to the bad old days of slave states and free states — and we all know where that led.
We need to get rid of the Electoral College and enter an era where each person's vote will have equal value. We need to commit to honoring the popular vote and attempting to heal our country.
Travis Sherman, St. Petersburg
2017: fiery Florida | Dec. 22
Sound the alarm
Climatologists say we are very dry and in danger of severe fires. I wonder how much help we will get from Gov. Rick Scott on this. After all, climatologists are the same people who say climate change is happening. And Scott's reaction is to say he is not a scientist, deny it's happening and call sea level rise in Miami "nuisance flooding."
If Florida starts burning up, is he going to call that nuisance dryness?
Russ A. Johnson, Hudson
Constitution Revision Commission
Learn about the process
The Leagues of Women Voters of the Tampa Bay area support citizen involvement in the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, scheduled to begin in the summer of 2017. Citizens can request to be appointed to the commission, testify at public hearings around the state, and be active in the campaigns regarding passage of the amendments that are finalized.
The leagues are sponsoring a public forum to learn more about the commission on Jan. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Ave. We welcome you to join us.
Karen Marie Karinja, Clearwater