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  1. Letters to the Editor

Wednesday's letters: Florida lawyers know Florida law

Published Sep. 22, 2015

Lawyers blast out-of-state plan | Sept. 19

Florida law is a different animal

Last week's Florida Bar hearing in Tampa to let lawyers sound off about reciprocity, the proposal to allow out-of-state attorneys to practice law here without taking the Florida Bar exam, revealed a tacit admission from each lawyer speaking, including myself. Because of attorney overpopulation, being a lawyer is no longer a ticket to the middle class with the guarantee of a higher income. Most speakers voiced genuine concerns that since the most frequent questions asked by prospective clients about Florida law are in the areas of divorce law, probate and estate planning, real estate, and accident-injury law — where Florida law is much different from other states — an out-of-state lawyer taking a crash course to practice here could give bad or erroneous advice, and could cause clients to take improper actions to preserve their rights in a timely manner.

When I became a Florida lawyer over 40 years ago, I recalled the admonition of a retired judge who taught at Stetson University College of Law: If you go into practice by yourself without having worked in a law firm, you will be a menace to society.

David P. Carter, Seminole

Francis delivers a flamboyant, fact-free message | Sept. 20, column

Describing the pope

I will say George Will has proven one thing for certain — the right-wing is expert with projection, specifically in this case as he describes the pope as "reactionary'' and "shrill.'' This is evident regarding the terms and tactics Will used as he reconstructed the simple messages this pope has put out to the public. He ascribed details and policies that this pope knows all too well remain in the realm of politicians and government systems.

Pope Francis has no intention of dictating policy detail, development or any form of actual political activism. The only actual reforms or changes Pope Francis will or will not enact can only occur within the realm of his duties to his church. As far as the general messages the pope actually projects, these are simply some of the basic biblical tenets of Christianity, regarding today's society and its condition and direction. These assessments he graciously shares with all humanity, and perhaps it is this simple message conservatives like Will wish to ignore as they rationalize their own ideologies.

Benedict Mercadante, Odessa

A different universe

What a topsy-turvy universe George Will must live in, where fossil fuels represent "modernity," sustainability is "hostile to growth," and climate change deniers are on the side of "science" and "rationality."

Charles Morris, Treasure Island

Testing report sails by House | Sept. 19

Fantasy in testing

Do I have this right? Florida's testing program is "sailing" by in the House, despite "serious systematic issues," despite the fact that the "independent review" wasn't so independent after all since administrators were allowed to preview and perhaps alter the report before release. To make matters worse, though the test "shouldn't be used to assess individual students," parents will receive a letter this month "notifying them of where their child's results fell."

Just as the governor's report on Planned Parenthood was altered to fit his negative mind-set, the House is now ignoring a report that found more problems than "spotlights on success." To top it off, the education commissioner was handed a "thank you" note signed by every member of the House committee. Sounds sort of like the "Heck of a job, Brownie," that President George W. Bush handed out in the midst of FEMA's bungling after Katrina. The whole saga belongs somewhere in Alice in Wonderland, and the tests belong in the recycling bin.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

Rise up, teachers

Attention all Florida professional educators: It is time we took a stand for our ethical standards and our students' education. Why anyone would think that a flawed system is adequate to assess school grades and teacher evaluations is beyond believable.

Would any other profession accept a flawed system to treat patients or customers? The public would not stand for that, yet our illustrious Legislature thinks this is how to calculate school grades and evaluate teachers.

It is because we care about children and their future that we do little and usually say nothing about those who seem to think they know better about what is best for success and achievement among the thousands of children we teach.

Let us no longer be silent! The Department of Education should be ashamed of the misuse of taxpayer dollars and how they are needlessly and carelessly frittering away the education of the nation's future leaders.

Stand up for what is right for the success of the generations who will pay the ultimate price.

Carol Hess, Hudson

Syria and Russia

Putin seizes opportunity

It is one thing to lead from behind, another to be behind. The moves by Russian President Vladimir Putin to solidify Russia's military presence in Syria with an air base, personnel and equipment in support of a faltering President Bashar Assad indicates that Putin knows an opportunity and he has seized one.

When a habitat is disturbed, there is an opportunity for invasive species to use the disruption to establish themselves in a weakened ecology and to displace native species who have no defense against the newcomers. Russia, Iran, ISIS and other jihadi groups are those invasive species who plan to dominate Syria regardless of whether Assad becomes a supplicant to his saviors or relinquishes his presidency and is carted away.

The native peoples, Syrians, Assyrians, Christians, Kurds and any other minority group with a long history in Syria are now the endangered species forced to leave and getting a mixed reception.

Putin's gambit is to ensure a Russian presence and role in the future of the Middle East and a warm water port on the Mediterranean Sea. What effect this will have on Israel's security remains to be seen.

So, whither the president's policy on Syria? Democratic presidential candidates, please discuss.

Larry Grossman, Longboat Key

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