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July 23, 2002

Breach of trust
Pinellas' economic director Rick Dodge has damaged his standing with county officials and taxpayers by making deals with private development without authorization.

A chill in the library
Under the USA-Patriot Act, passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, librarians have been made unwitting partners in the FBI's search for potential terrorists. Any records a library might retain on a patron's reading choices or Internet use are now retrievable by federal law enforcement with an easily obtainable court order. Librarians, traditionally defenders of intellectual freedom, are being pressed to become extensions of law enforcement, and many are balking at the new job description.

Doctors would do better to seek insurance reform
It is reassuring that the St. Petersburg Times' July 17 editorial Doctors in politics accurately notes that one of the major causes of skyrocketing insurance premiums is insurance industry practices instead of the unfounded claims of high jury awards. Doctors are rightfully upset when their malpractice premiums double within one year. Yet their cries of high jury awards (which is propaganda orchestrated by the insurance industry) as being the cause of the large increase in premiums is not only unfounded, it is illogical. The amount of jury awards clearly has not doubled in one year.


Columns today
Mary Jo Melone
Corporate royalty can sneer at their debt
I am putting myself on a diet -- not the kind where you count your starches and eat your fruit and drink eight glasses of water a day, but the one where you pick up the scissors and start cutting the credit cards.

Jan Glidewell
A mattress may be best bet for safe investment
When you write about current events, you always run a real risk that events will change so drastically between writing and publication that you will wind up looking foolish . . . okay . . . more foolish than usual.

Gary Shelton
Capital's club is getting perfect representative
Up there in Washington, where the visionaries live, they think they're a little smarter than the rest of us.

Elijah Gosier
The right questions can save a child
In two widely publicized cases of children in state-supervised custody ending up dead or missing, caseworkers responsible for monitoring them apparently falsified reports claiming they had made the mandatory checks on the children.


Taking jobs, alienating customers
For weeks Americans have been told that the outsourcing of high-tech jobs is good for our economy. So said Greg Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers in a recent report signed by President Bush. So, too, writes Thomas Friedman of the New York Times in articles praising the rise of call centers in India used for everything from making airline reservations and reading medical X-ray films to providing tech support for American computer firms.

Philip Gailey: Democrats fall off campaign finance reform wagon
Well, what do you know. Soft money is back, and it's making hypocrites of all those Democrats who fervently championed the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law, not to mention those Republicans who objected to the law's restrictions on issue advocacy.

Bill Maxwell: Who is for the farm worker?
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is touting legislation to improve the lives of Florida's 300,000-plus farm workers, who endure institutional and systemic injustices each day in our fields and groves and their personal lives.

Robyn E. Blumner: For some defendants, an American gulag
In Bernard Malamud's masterpiece The Fixer, inmate Yakov Bok was subjected to psychological torture in a Soviet gulag through the humiliations of constant shackling and repeated strip searches.

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