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State needs Amendment 8

Letters to the Editor
Published October 31, 2006


When Florida property owners head to the polls on Nov. 7, they will have the opportunity to vote on state constitutional Amendment 8 - a measure designed to protect private property rights.

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature wisely took action following the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial 5-4 split decision in the Kelo vs. New London eminent domain case. In Kelo, the court ruled the city of New London, Conn., could lawfully use its power of eminent domain to seize the homes of Susette Kelo and several neighbors, not for a specific public "use" such as a road or school as provided in the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, but for the public "purpose" of economic development.

In response to the Kelo decision, lawmakers forged a two-track legislative solution designed to reverse Kelo in Florida.

First, the Legislature enacted strong and meaningful changes in the state statutes governing the use of eminent domain. These statutory reforms were signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush in May and prohibit the taking of property under the guise of blight or slum eradication and prevent government from selling or transferring properties taken through eminent domain for a period of 10 years.

However, legislative leaders also saw a need to create a second long-term layer of protection. They understood without any safeguard in our state Constitution, a future Legislature might take away the hard-won property rights recently restored.

The Legislature proposed Amendment 8, which will require a three-fifths supermajority vote of both houses of the Florida Legislature to make changes to the legislation governing the transfer of properties taken through eminent domain.

Any Floridian who believes in the sanctity of private property ownership and that government's power of eminent domain should be limited to true public uses should strongly support Amendment 8.

Carol Saviak, executive director, Coalition for Property Rights, Orlando

Reject Amendment 3

As animal lovers, we voted no on Amendment 3 because it would make citizen initiatives, including those relating to animals, virtually impossible to pass. We realize that it is a handful of wealthy special interests, primarily developers and Realtors, who are trying to change the rules by passing this amendment and making it harder for ordinary people to pass laws through initiative petitions. And this is all under the guise of protecting our Constitution.

But what is Publix Super Markets' problem with this amendment? We are already boycotting Pepsi products because of their sponsorship of greyhound racing in Australia, so I guess adding Publix to the list would not be that hard.

Chuck and Mary Danielian, Naples


Use plain English

The wording of the amendments to the state Constitution that will be on the ballot is like the emperor's new clothes: No one wants to admit it is entirely perplexing, lest one seem the simpleton. However, I fear for democracy that I, a well-read learned adult with advanced degrees, cannot understand the amendments as they are worded on the ballot.

Stop the insanity: State the amendments in plain English for regular people. Otherwise democracy is surely impeded.

Amy Sauers, St. Petersburg


Consider snowbirds' taxes

I wish to thank you for the great assistance you give to many of us in explaining where candidates stand on different issues. For the most part I believe you are impartial in assessing candidates and giving us some background.

However, in respect to your Sunday editorial about the relative merits of the two candidates for governor, both of whom I agree are very capable gentlemen, I think you have left out a very large and important group when you only refer to putting a 10 percent cap on businesses and investment properties.

A big percentage of homeowners are nonhomesteaders and this is where the biggest differences in property taxes occur, between homesteaders and nonhomesteaders, distorting and disrupting the real estate market.

Florida depends on the "snowbirds" for a large part of its economy, and this unfair distribution of property taxes has many of them looking to move elsewhere.

The system is broken, and yet neither candidate has addressed this issue. Nor have you raised it. Yet for thousands it is a reality, just as serious as home insurance. It has to be addressed.

John G. Bassett, St. Petersburg

Paul de la Garza, 1961 to 2006 Oct.30

A reporter and friend

As the wife of a Republican member of Congress, I would like to say that Paul taught me that there could be a working, honest, friendly relationship between the media and politics. Paul was not only a great investigative reporter, he was a kind and compassionate man who loved his family and also shared a love for our troops.

Bill and I will miss him, not only as a reporter with the Times, but as a friend.

Beverly Young, Washington, D.C.

[Last modified October 31, 2006, 01:59:12]

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