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Punish the free flying lawmakers

Published November 30, 2003

Re: Lawmakers fly free on taxpayers' tab, Nov. 23.

I personally think all of the legislators who have used state airplanes for private purposes should be arrested, handcuffed and chained publicly. As your paper stated, the cost of chartering a private plane round trip for the flight that one lawmaker made frequently was approximately $4,000 per trip. If I'm not mistaken that's enough to constitute a felony. They have admitted doing it but say it's all right because everyone else does it.

If our young people see the legislators getting off scot free, there is no wonder we will have so many youths committing crimes. Our elected officials (whom we should look up to and respect) have sworn to uphold the law and our Constitution. They have committed a crime, and they should be punished.

-- Carl Friedman, Palm Harbor

Arrogance on display

When the leaders at any political level start justifying their use of government property for personal use, it is the start of corruption.

The state lawmakers who commuted home using a state plane should be required to repay the state. It makes no difference what party they are from.

The arrogance of these people just confirms the need to vote them out of office next election.

-- Jon Knudson, Spring Hill

A childish excuse

Re: Lawmakers fly free on taxpayers' tab.

-- Senate President Jim King and others who use thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to fly home knowing that the law restricts them from commuting on other than official purposes should be made to pay for their air fare. They are breaking the law with a degree of arrogance that is disgusting.

The excuse that "everybody does it" is immature and childish and does not make it right. If "everybody" put their fingers in the fire, would he do the same? I think not.

Rules and laws are made to be followed, and those in public office should abide by them just as the rest of us do.

-- Mrs. G.R. Spetz, Yankeetown

List the abusers

Re: Lawmakers fly free on taxpayers' tab.

My question is: Why aren't these people required to make restitution for these unauthorized flights? When important programs are being cut for lack of funds, this is inexcusable. If they don't make restitution, the Times could provide a valuable service by publishing a list of these abusers at election time.

-- Barbara Masson, Treasure Island

Madhouse leadership

Columbia's last flight in last Sunday's Perspective was thoroughly disheartening. Two thoughts came to mind as I read of NASA's arrogant, incompetent response to unexpected events. The immediate first thought was the old saw, "The lunatics are running the asylum."

The second thought was, as I look at the Pentagon's continuing haphazard response to the unexpected attacks in Iraq, is the Pentagon's culture similar to NASA's? An arrogant, incompetent leadership that none of the subordinates will buck for fear of losing their jobs? Are the lunatics running that asylum, also?

-- Patrick Seery, Sun City Center

A protest overlooked

There were 10,000 people protesting a military school at Fort Benning last weekend, and there was no report in the St. Petersburg Times. Was this not newsworthy - despite the editorial position of the Times in favor of closing the School of the Americas?

Known as the "School of Assassins" in Latin American countries whose soldiers are often sent to Fort Benning, Ga., for training, this school did indeed close. It reopened the following month with a new name, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. It was an obvious effort to disguise association with the documented acts of torture, kidnapping and assassination committed by graduates of the school.

Some years ago, following the discovery of a manual that describes torture techniques, the authorities, while not admitting guilt, said that they no longer use that unacceptable manual. This boils down to saying that they no longer do those bad things that they were not doing.

On Nov. 23 when 10,000 peaceful protesters gathered for a solemn "funeral" procession to the Fort Benning gate, they heard the names of thousands in Latin America who have lost their lives at the hands of soldiers trained in the United States. Ask yourself why we are training soldiers from countries that are not at war.

To call attention to the 1989 assassination of six priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador, 13 people gathered at the Fort Benning gate for that first protest. The United Nations Truth Commission cited 26 officers for those deaths in El Salvador. Nineteen of those officers were graduates of the School of the Americas. Over and over again, before that and since, graduates of the school have been cited for atrocities.

Tell your senators and representative that you don't want your tax money used to train Latin American soldiers to suppress their own people.

-- Mary Berglund, St. Petersburg

Seeing death as a right

Re: A painful example. Nov. 23.

This editorial addresses the growing phenomenon of suicide among young people. Yet how can anyone be surprised that, as the editorial pointed out, suicide is now the third-leading cause of death among those 10 to 19? After all, they have been carefully taught.

We live in a time when our laws tell us that a young teenaged girl has a "right" to kill the growing child that she carries in her womb. At the same time, she is also being told that we now somehow include among our "constitutional rights" the "right to die." Why then would anyone be surprised that the same girl who has the "right" to choose an abortion without her parent's consent sees no problem with exercising her own "right" to die if she so chooses?

And when young people, who are renowned for their fragile emotional moods and lack of self-esteem, feel they are not achieving the popularity that they believe "everyone else" enjoys, or do not meet the expectations of teenage life as they see it in the movies and TV programs, why are we surprised that they would choose to exercise their "right to die" as a way out of their teenage "angst"?

Sorry folks, you can't have it both ways. As our society slides deeper and deeper into a culture of death, our children will be among those who pay the price, because they are the ones who will have grown up believing that there isn't any reason to not commit suicide. It is their "right," isn't it?

-- Carol Swiderski, Homosassa

Don't delay

Re: Jury says lead sniper should die, Nov. 25.

This is wonderful news. Now how many years (20? 30?) will we feed/clothe/entertain this animal in prison before the sentence is carried out?

I know the judicial system doesn't believe in carrying out a sentence immediately. Tomorrow would be great!

-- Mary Voiles, New Port Richey

We all need to improve

Re: Time to redefine black culture, by Bill Maxwell, Nov. 23.

Once again, Bill Maxwell has hit the nail on the head. His advice to uplift the African-American culture applies equally to the raising of young whites. The trends toward disrespect, illiteracy, "I want mine," and overt hostility (road rage, air rage, etc.) do not bode well for our future, regardless of race.

-- Barbara Johnson, Clearwater

Muzzle the beast

Re: Editorial cartoon by Don Addis, Nov. 26.

Look out! Don Addis has clearly illustrated the grizzly dog the AARP has recently turned into. The AARP used to be a strong advocate for senior citizens, looking out for their best interests.

Not anymore! The association now would just as soon bite the hand that feeds it, as the AARP leaders look after their own best interests.

Please put a muzzle on that mean looking snarly dog.

-- JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater [Last modified November 30, 2003, 01:16:37]


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