Lawsuits run amok | Sept. 11 column
Attacks on the courts
This is another example of a series of attacks on our state's judicial system. It unfairly attacks the integrity of our judges and the judicial branch. The general theme was that our state has "lopsided courts" because "plaintiffs' lawyers have a monopoly on how judges are selected." It warns, "Until Florida has fairer judges, it will likely have an unfair lawsuit climate."
Florida's judges are appointed by the governor or elected by the voters. But these are the kinds of gross misrepresentations in partisan position papers bought and paid for by corporate interests hell bent on destroying the judicial branch and preventing citizens from asserting their rights.
The coordinated campaign to attack the judicial branch continued when incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced a proposal to limit the terms of judges to 12 years. This radical proposal, which is a direct attack on the good judges who honorably serve the interests of justice, is another dangerous attack on our judicial system.
Floridians must recognize that the most dire threat we face in a state overwhelmed with the corrupting influence of unlimited corporate cash is a judicial branch that is withering under constant attacks from the executive and legislative branches, doing the bidding of their corporate handlers. Our entire state court system is funded by less than 1 percent of the entire state budget. That alone illustrates just how dire the plight of our judicial branch really is, but the continuing campaign of attacks we continue to suffer truly demonstrates the crisis every single one of us faces.
Matthew Weidner, St. Petersburg
GOP presidential debate
Wrong on vaccinations
As a University of South Florida internal medicine resident, I found the Republican candidates' stance on vaccination and autism troubling. Drs. Rand Paul and Ben Carson did our patients a disservice by perpetuating misinformation. Vaccines prevent life-threatening disease and protect our nation's health. In point of fact, the only potential cause of autism to be ruled out is vaccination. The voters should see these individuals as either uncaring for our children or pandering to the ignorant. It is apparent that they need a vaccine to boost moral courage.
Mindy Sampson, DO, Tampa
More than Mostly False
If I put together a video of the Republican presidential candidates during the debate and interspersed video clips of zombies from The Walking Dead eating brains and say Carly Fiorina did nothing to stop the disgusting zombie attack, would my comment be rated Mostly False? What exactly does it take to make an outright lie rate Pants on Fire? Fiorina's outrage over a phony propaganda video she pretends is a documentary about Planned Parenthood is the worst type of distortion that PolitiFact was created to expose. And it says a lot about Fiorina's character—or lack thereof.
Martin Peters, Tarpon Springs
Wall is no solution
President Ronald Reagan stood in Berlin and famously said. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." For 30 years, this wall was the flashpoint for World War III. Some of the presidential candidates are proposing the ridiculous and dangerous solution for our illegal immigration problem is to build a wall on the Mexican border, and to find and eject all illegal immigrants. We need to keep in mind that if a person puts 10 deadbolts on their front door they have not only locked unwanted people out but they have also locked themselves in.
Walls work both ways. A wall would lock into the United States potentially millions of illegal immigrants. Voila! We now have created a de facto Berlin Wall in our own country. Another harebrained solution is to round up all illegal immigrants. Even if this could be done it would create one of the greatest refugee crises since the end of World War II. It would destabilize the nation, create civil unrest and sink our economy. But it also would destabilize the entire Americas, with unpredictable consequences that include wars, civil or between nations. The only way this could be accomplished is to, essentially, go house to house with roving federal squads hunting down undesirables to round them up and deport them. Have we forgotten our history?
While millions of illegal immigrants in this country is a problem and needs a rational solution, let us not succumb to the fantasies of demagogues and their dangerous "solutions," playing to the passions of fed up Americans so they can be elected to the highest office in the land.
Michael S. Greenberg, Clearwater
Bureaucracy brings fear, failure | Sept. 17 letter
Confusing fire alarm law
The letter writer blames the timid bureaucracy of fire officials for the failure to use "common sense" when stopping the distribution of 9-volt battery smoke detectors. It really is the writers of the law who are to blame.
Florida Statute 553.883 opens with a heading indicating that it applies to all one and two family dwellings and townhomes. It then indicates that 9-volt batteries can't be installed in these dwellings when undergoing renovation. It then indicates that 9 volt batteries are forbidden in all such dwellings.
Fire officials, according to the letter writer, should have used common sense to interpret the law as forbidding 9-volt batteries only in homes undergoing renovation. But that is not what the law says.
The "history" footnote to the law leads to Chapter 633 of the Florida Statutes, which states the legislative intent behind the fire prevention laws. But instead of clarifying, the chapter suggests that local officials are responsible for interpreting the law to ensure statewide conformity.
The problem here is not bureaucracy. "Local officials" are not people who have statewide authority. "All dwellings" are not just dwellings undergoing renovation.
The obscure way the law is written and the contradictory legislative guidance on how to interpret the law are the problem. I teach logic at Hillsborough Community College and used this as an example of how processes and laws containing contradictions, ambiguity, and vagueness can lead to awful, unintended consequences such as a grandma and her three grandchildren perishing in a fire.
Robert Silverman, Wimauma