Today's Letters: Make military service condition of citizenship

Published May 22, 2007

I propose a possible solution that could help tremendously with both the immigration crisis and the war in Iraq.

It's a simple concept, but it would require a constitutional amendment. All illegal immigrants wanting to stay in our country should "serve" our country first.

We should make it a requirement that they have to serve in the military for a period of time and if that means sending them to Iraq, so be it. After they serve our country in an honorable manner, then they can return to this great land of ours and apply to become citizens.

In the words of the late President John F. Kennedy, they should: "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Lynne Shelby, St. Petersburg


Naivete rules 

After 4 decades, changes coming in immigration law May 18, story

The problem of illegal aliens, euphemistically described as "undocumented workers, " is the result of (1) the dereliction of duty by the politicians and bureaucrats in failing to finance, implement and enforce border security; (2) the exploitation of cheap, unskilled labor by unscrupulous business interests; and (3) political correctness.

The article fails to inform us of the projected additional costs that will be imposed upon the American citizens and taxpayers who will have to underwrite the health care, education and social programs that will ensue from this new proposal.

The rhetoric forthcoming from the politicians that this latest proposal will resolve the problem rests on the premise that the American public is gullible enough to swallow such silly nonsense. Are we expected to indulge in the naive assumption that these illegal aliens who have been moving within our society with the aid of forged and fraudulent birth certificates, Social Security cards, green cards and other documents will turn over a new leaf by now complying with these new immigration standards?

This problem was supposed to have been fixed with the enactment of the so-called "Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986, " which included an amnesty provision. Since then, more than 12-million illegals have crossed the border.

The enforceability of these new standards is dubious when considering that compliance will be based largely on an honor system that will have to be overseen by vast legions of administrative personnel and the allocation of onerous financial resources. In the final analysis, a meaningless charade will transpire (as it did after the 1986 legislation) when the government administrators and employees are overwhelmed by the concrete realities of what the politicians so blithely and abstractly characterize as a workable solution to resolve the problem.

Jack B. McPherson, New Port Richey


Not head of state 

For the last time, Bush and Blair defend war May 18

The blurb says, "The pair meet as heads of state for the last time in Washington."

As any schoolboy knows, the prime minister of the United Kingdom is not head of state. Our nation just entertained the head of state, Elizabeth II of the house of Windsor. Tony Blair has merely been head of government for the last 10 years.

The United States is most unusual among nations in that the head of state and head of government are held by a single individual. Other nations divide the roles so that citizens can oppose the policy of the government without being branded as antistate.

This is why we hear that persons opposed to Bushism are accused of being anti-American. You never hear about persons in the United Kingdom being labeled anti-British. Maybe anti-Labor or anti-Tory, but not un-British.

C.D. Chamberlain, Spring Hill


Focus on the issues 

Clinton, Obama lead the pack in diversity of campaign staffs May 18, story

I am fed up with continued emphasis on race and gender as issues for deciding on which candidates to support for high office.

TV personalities, columnists, editorial writers and others would serve the public better by focusing on the important issues, rather than how many "people of color" or "Spanish-speaking persons" or "old white guys" are in a candidate's entourage.

A government for the people should be concerned with issues of education for all; health care for all; housing for all; nourishment for all; protection of civil liberties and the like.

Show me the candidate who has plans for these issues and he/she will have my (and millions of others') support.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz


Stability for renters 

Slap at Florida's renters May 17, editorial

The editorial urging the governor to veto a consumer-friendly bill giving renters the option of agreeing to pay a penalty of up to two months' rent if they break their leases missed the point.

The bill actually provides stability for renters who need to break leases because they are buying a home or need to move for other reasons. Under current law they can be held liable for all the remaining rent on their leases if they leave early. The bill gives them the option of agreeing in advance to limit the penalty if they break the lease.

The Times erred in saying the bill proposed by the Florida Apartment Association would allow landlords to charge rent twice on the same apartment. It costs apartment owners an average of $1, 200 to prepare vacant apartments for the next tenant. The penalty compensates landlords for those expenses and for the time apartments sit vacant until the next tenant moves in. If the landlord and the tenant agree (and it is optional) to put such language in the lease, the clause must be signed as well as the lease itself.

The bill, HB 1277, gives renters the choice of limiting their liability if they break their leases and compensates landlords for the cost of preparing vacant apartments for the next tenant. It's a fair bill, and Gov. Crist should sign it into law.

Mark Decker, CPM, president, Florida Apartment Association, Maitland


False accusations 

Everglades' poor stewards May 21, editorial

Your editorial inaccurately says I aided with the permitting for a controversial Collier County development opposed by many people on environmental grounds. The fact is: A member of my staff based in Orlando - in late 2002, not 2005 as your editorial states - had a routine meeting with a representative of the developer and the federal government to address a complaint about the slow pace of the process. After that, the government acted and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the project - denied it, not approved it. Now, nearly two years after the denial - during which time my office has had no other involvement whatsoever - the Corps suddenly has reversed itself. Even though I had nothing to do with this decision, your editorial falsely accuses me of "allowing decisions such as this to be made, " and doing so while the development would harm a portion of the Everglades I and many others are trying to protect.

Bill Nelson, U.S. senator, Washington


The power of words 

Poorly chosen words add to trauma of rape May 15, story

Thanks to the St. Petersburg Times for addressing the need for compassion toward rape survivors with such honesty and sensitivity. Unfortunately, rape survivors often encounter disbelief from family and friends, co-workers and others in their community.

The widespread minimization of sexual violence often results in the blame being placed on the victim, rather than where it belongs - on the rapist, and the consequences are devastating.

At Family Service Centers' Rape Crisis Program, we often treat rape survivors who feel minimized, disrespected and abandoned by people who don't realize how powerful their words and actions can be. Educating the community about how to respond appropriately to survivors is key to helping them heal.

Anyone in need of assistance on matters regarding sexual violence may call the Family Service Centers' 24-hour rape hotline at (727) 530-7273 (RAPE).

Mary Jo Monahan, president and CEO, Family Service Centers Inc., Clearwater