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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Today's Letters: Reform immigration on two fronts
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published May 5, 2007
To achieve meaningful immigration reform, we need to solve two separate problems: the need to prevent more illegal immigrants from coming to this country and the need to deal justly with the 12-million undocumented aliens whom we encouraged to come here.
We cannot deny that large employers willfully looked the other way on illegal immigration as this allowed them to profit handsomely from low wages and benefits given to these employees. Poor immigrants cannot be faulted for responding to wages still far in excess of what they could earn in their home countries. These immigrants must all be given a path to citizenship.
Simultaneously, we must shut down our borders to new illegal immigration. There must be a hard-to-forge national identification card. Harsh penalties must be imposed on both illegal immigrants and those who willfully employ them. Making or using false identification must bring especially severe punishment.
We also need a constitutional amendment that will deny citizenship to children born in this country to illegal immigrants and tourists.
The great bulk of our legal immigration should come from Latin America and the Caribbean. Aside from those allowed to come here because of specific technical skills, we must concentrate on taking in our neighbors. We cannot solve the population problems of Asia and Africa.
Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg
Angling for amnesty
Once again our presidente, under the guise of a so-called temporary guest worker program, is attempting to gain amnesty for millions of undocumented aliens who are currently living in this country illegally. History has demonstrated that there is nothing temporary about temporary guest workers. Once they are here, they stay!
While our do-nothing Congress continues to ignore the threat of unhindered, unregulated immigration, the immigrant population in our country is constantly devising new ways to enhance the path toward total amnesty.
It is extremely disappointing that our new Congress is as inept at dealing with the problem as was its predecessors. It is disheartening to see illegal aliens demonstrating for and demanding rights they should have no right to.
This Congress, with all its authority and with full awareness of the problem and all its well-documented consequences, still has not made a solid commitment to secure our borders or made a serious move to control the situation.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
Citizenship calls for effort
Last month, I had the great honor of watching my wife take the Oath of Naturalization at the Tampa Convention Center with 250 other people from 50 diverse countries and become a citizen of the United States.
It was a ceremony that not only brought back a sense of national pride to me, but one that also made me think everyone born here should observe it at least once. It would make people understand and appreciate what we have here (and sometimes take for granted), and would also provide an insight into the fact that all of these individuals went through at least five years, as well as money and effort, to achieve their dream of citizenship.
It also is clear to me now that everyone who wants citizenship should go through the same process.
I understand that this country was built on the idea of people from many places coming together, all with the desire of contributing their talents and skills to help make this a great nation, and I have nothing whatsoever against welcoming new citizens from south of the border or wherever else people come from.
However, I think that the time has come for this country to make a critical decision regarding immigration. We should either admit everyone who wants to come, without effort and, in the process, abolish our immigration services - or we should start demanding that everyone goes through the same process, the same trials, the same procedures, regardless of situations.
We only appreciate things that we have worked for, sincerely desired and put our hearts into.
If citizenship is handed out freely, gained without effort, it will never be fully appreciated.
Gary Aldrich, St. Petersburg
Kucinich fights from the fringe April 30, story
Don't impede voters from learning about Kucinich
As a supporter of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich's candidacy for president, I was at first pleasantly surprised to see a substantial article on him written by Bill Adair.
Unfortunately, like most profiles written in the mainstream press about the candidate, Adair's piece misrepresents the man in order to stay in lockstep with detractors who claim, wrongly, that Kucinich lacks leadership ability.
In a paragraph detailing Cleveland's default under Kucinich's mayorship, Adair fails to point out that the city was defaulted after banks called in outstanding loans made to the city. This was in retaliation for Kucinich's refusal to knuckle under to pressure from the business community to privatize Cleveland's municipal power company. Years later, when an independent study revealed that Kucinich's stand saved the population of Cleveland hundreds of millions of dollars on their power bills, the same voters who nearly recalled him as mayor sent him to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he's served since 1997. The impression created in the article is that the young mayor was incompetent, a conclusion not supported by the facts.
To supporters of Rep. Kucinich, journalistic setups of this kind are sadly typical. If the American people are to make well-informed judgments about candidates looking to represent them in the White House, it stands to reason they must first be well-informed, a goal undermined by your story.
Robert Mortellaro, Tampa
Independent and honest
I'm disappointed but hardly surprised that the St. Petersburg Times did a hatchet job on Dennis Kucinich in this front-page article. It's a shame that your Washington bureau chief chose to quote other inside-the-beltway types and political operatives in ad hominem remarks disparaging Kucinich for being out of touch, lacking in leadership qualities or not to be taken seriously.
The fact is that plenty of Americans appreciate Kucinich's leadership on critical issues and appreciate his independence and honesty. Kucinich may not have raised much corporate cash (he doesn't want any) but he has a surprisingly strong network of volunteer supporters in every state.
He drew plenty of attention in last week's debate, and so, of course, the mainstream media have to knock him down, lest someone who is not a safe, brand-name, business-as-usual candidate might get some traction with the public.
Dennis' proposals to withdraw immediately from Iraq without any further funding, to initiate impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney and to create a Department of Peace to address international problems in a constructive way all resonate with large segments of the American public, even if the politicians and pundits in Washington don't like them.
Dennis Kucinich is guilty of being a good man who thinks outside the box and is not afraid to lead. Come on, let's have some substantive reporting on the issues and let the American people make up their own minds about the candidates.
Andrew Rock, Tampa
The article states, "Voters want someone with a commanding presence who can take charge, run the federal government and be the leader of the free world. They say Kucinich doesn't fit that bill." So are they saying that George Bush does?
R.G. Wheeler, Lealman
Veto sets up Iraq showdown May 2, story
Give Iraqis a timetable for controlling their country
There is a corollary to George Bush's comments that "it makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing."
It probably doesn't. On the other hand, it makes good sense to tell your friends.
The president justified his veto with, "All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars ... to overthrow the government and take control of Iraq."
Well, we are talking about a country where we have trained the police and the military and given them billions of dollars to crank up their capabilities - against "all" the terrorists.
If the president had signed the bill, as he should have, then the Iraqi people, army and police, would know for sure when the battle for Iraq really begins. If they cannot beat a bunch of ill-trained insurgents and Arab infiltrators with the support of the most powerful nation on earth over the past four years, then it obviously means it is time for a change and we should get out, which the majority of Iraqis are demanding.
F. Patrick Butler, St. Petersburg
Veto sets up Iraq showdown May 2, story
End the impasse
The fiasco in Iraq continues to worsen every day. The president, like a juvenile bully, smugly boasts he has no plans for making any changes in this doomed, pointless bloodbath, and there's nothing you can do about it before January 2009.
Well, he's wrong. If Americans take a few minutes away from Dancing With the Stars, they can contact their U.S. representatives and senators and demand they start doing what the electorate wants: stop this slaughter by cutting off funding for this terrible waste of human lives. They have the power as well as a duty to do this.
The world will not end if we bring our servicemen and women home now. There are logical alternatives. If we announced our plans to leave now, we would be in a position to convene a conference of regional neighbors and the United Nations and honestly develop a security and stabilization force that would replace U.S. troops.
Sure we will be expected to fund this peacekeeping mission, but it has a 100 percent better chance of succeeding than the idiotic approach we have followed for the last four years and plan to continue for years to come.
Congress seems content to play the "blame game" and ignore the mounting numbers of dead and maimed. We must do more to convince them we just won't wait until 2009 before serious plans are instituted to end this crime against humanity.
Ron Bennett, Belleair
Pushing Arabs off the fence May 3, Thomas Friedman column
Our troops deserve more
I think this column goes to the heart of my dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq.
1. We went to war for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time. 2. We went to war without the support of key nations. 3. We have alienated and insulted those who should be helping. 4. We have badly mismanaged the conduct of the war.
There are good reasons for being in Iraq and we need to finish the mission. I support the troops. I support them by calling for competent political and diplomatic leadership. I support them by recognizing that Gen. David Petraeus is making progress and is following an effective military strategy. I support them by recognizing that an effective military strategy is not enough.
The issues are larger than making Iraq secure. We must establish credibility with and partner with Islamic nations. We must listen to them and be willing to help with solutions that undercut Islamic extremism.
My dissatisfaction with President Bush is that he continues to show an unwillingness to change his direction on how to manage Iraqi participation in securing their country, on how to manage the world's participation in helping us to re-establish Iraqi sovereignty and on how to work with Islamic nations to undercut Islamic extremism.
Mr. President, you are right that we need to be in Iraq and that we need to support our troops. But that is not enough.
Mark Stephens, Land O'Lakes
Felon drives dizzying web of house deals April 29, story
Dealings were honest, ethical
I have represented my buyers and sellers with integrity and honesty throughout my career. Being mentioned in this story has been an especially upsetting ordeal for me.
At the time I spoke with your reporter, I had been instructed by my broker that it is against office policy to discuss office transactions with a third party.
The transactions mentioned in the article were regular resale purchases. The only common link to the few transactions I was a party to was that I was the listing agent. It is neither customary nor required to do background checks on mortgage brokers, buyers, sellers or appraisers prior to working with them.
I will continue to give all my clients the same expert and skillful representation that I have always provided. I will not allow the self-serving actions of one misguided reporter tarnish a reputation built with integrity over a lifetime of ethical and professional practice.
Tammy Brophy-Wenzel, Brophy Real Estate, St. Petersburg
Gas price outrage is due
After seeing a full-page ad from big oil in Tuesday's paper telling us what good things their profits are doing for us, I wondered if anyone but myself was concerned about being gouged at the pumps again.
Last year when gas prices hit $3 a gallon, the outrage from the public was huge. This time I don't hear or see anyone griping. With this coming just in time to hit families trying to take summer vacations, some say that gas could hit $4 per gallon soon.
Naturally, high gas prices only really affect those who can afford it the least, while oil company executives are swimming in cash with the blessing of President Bush and some in Congress who favor any business over the plight of the average person.
One can only hope that when the White House changes residents in 2009 that Joe Average will get a break instead of the superrich.
Jim Cocca, Homosassa
Deputy suspended in traffic stop May 3, story
Deputy gets slap on wrist
After seeing the video of the actions of Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Kevin Stabins, I think the five-day suspension is hardly punishment enough.
His behavior was outrageous. There was no reason to manhandle that woman as Stabins did. What is even more a sign that this man should not be in law enforcement is his comment: "I feel my actions were fine that night. I did what needed to get done."
There should be outrage that this officer got off with a slap on the wrist, and according to his comments he probably has acted in this manner before and more than likely will do so again.
Frank Ferreri, New Port Richey
Deputy was doing his job
I am so sick of watching Hillsborough sheriff's Deputy Kevin Stabins be prosecuted by the media. That woman (Melissa Langston) was told to stay put, but drove off. How was the deputy to know her story was true? Doesn't anyone realize the stories law officers and other people who deal with the public hear?
The bottom line is she was told to stay put and drove off. If she was so concerned, why did she not contact the emergency room, her sister or mother to see if her father had made it? Obviously she was breaking the law. Now there's another person who wants the world to know how horrible this deputy was. He was doing his job.
Cathy Churney, St. Petersburg
Truth is on the video
I just read about Deputy Kevin Stabins suspension and saw the video of his apprehension of Melissa Langston. It was not nice. His statement in the newspaper says he "assisted Ms. Langston out of the vehicle." This was an understatement. He had her feet completely off the ground.
Police officers have a tough job and have to make quick decisions, but the word "compassion" comes to mind. I don't know how he can say, "I feel my actions were fine that night. I did what needed to get done." How would he like it if one of his family was having a heart attack? Sorry, the video told the truth.