Today's Letters: Safeguards, incentives make bill smart for state

Published May 24, 2007

Transportation bill deserves veto May 16, editorial 

I disagree with the assumptions that House Bill 985 will cause sprawl and "roads to nowhere." The concerns you expressed related to Florida's growth-management principles and our environment are important to me, and have been addressed through safeguards included in this bill.

As the author of HB 985, I worked closely with Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, in coordination with Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos to develop and pass this legislation.

HB 985 is a comprehensive transportation package that addresses all modes of transportation and will improve Florida's multimodal mobility and economic competitiveness. Your editorial addresses only a small portion of the bill, public-private partnerships and turnpike bonding, and you missed the mark.

As passed, HB 985 limits FDOT's broad authority to enter into public-private partnerships by adding new restrictions to current law. Additionally, all transportation projects, including public-private partnership projects, must be consistent with Local Government's Comprehensive Plans and Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Improvement Plans. Projects must comply with all local, state and federal laws related to environmental permitting. This has not been weakened or changed and will prevent the unwanted roads you refer to. Public-private partnerships may also enable us to build transportation projects earlier than available funds allow.

Further, turnpike bonds may not be issued to fund projects until the Department of Transportation makes final determination that the project is economically feasible. This bill does not alter these requirements or the definition of economically feasible.

This transportation legislative package includes meaningful safeguards, policies and incentives to promote smarter, more efficient transportation in Florida. It gives us the tools to plan now for tomorrow's future.

Rich Glorioso, state representative, District 62, Plant City

Bill is bad news

The so-called compromise immigration legislation in Congress rewards lawbreakers and compromises only the integrity of our borders.

Supporters of this bill are describing the issue as one of realistically recognizing the reality of 12-million to 20-million potentially productive citizens already here while castigating those who oppose the bill as racist. This does not justify the very real burdens placed upon our society by the influx of millions of uneducated, unskilled people.

The notion that they do jobs Americans won't do is nonsense. What they've done is lower the value of these jobs in a competitive labor market with their willingness to perform them for below-market wages. This has a significant impact on our own working poor and young people who would otherwise compete for these entry-level jobs.

The consequences of the loss of these workers would not be a national economic catastrophe as claimed by some. But the current drain on our economy created by their disproportionate consumption of taxpayer-funded social services far exceeds their contribution.

Moreover, unlike previous waves of immigration from European and Asian countries, much of their earnings are not redistributed in our economy but are sent back to their home countries. They have consistently demonstrated an indifference and even hostility to assimilation, contributing to the ongoing balkanization of the country.

Supporters of amnesty often cite the impossibility of rounding up 12-million illegals for deportation. This is a disingenuous red herring. Heavy penalties on employers along with rigorous enforcement and denial of all social services including primary and secondary education but with the exception of life-saving emergency room care will ultimately result in the self-deportation of most of them.

Then and only then can we assess our labor needs and design a guest worker program that could result in the creation of new Americans that share our love of the American dream.

Timothy S. "Mac" McDonnell, St. Petersburg

No citizenship

The current immigration bill has all sorts of flaws, but it is clear that something must be done. (Enforcement of existing laws would be a nice start, but politicians on both sides of the aisle have too little willpower for that.)

Since compromise is a must to get some sort of immigration reform passed, I accept the fact that a new law will not meet all of my ideals. However, I think two points are absolutely necessary:

1.) Illegal immigrants can become legal and stay in the United States indefinitely as long as they are law-abiding and employed, but as punishment for breaking the law, they are barred from ever becoming U.S. citizens. The immigrants win because they get to stay here and make a better life for their families; the critics of amnesty win because the path to citizenship for illegals is blocked; and the millions of people around the world who have respected our laws and waited patiently to come to the United States win because they are not displaced or surpassed by those who came here illegally.

2.) English is made the official language of the United States. No one is saying that residents of this country cannot continue to speak their native language at home. No one is saying states and counties and cities with large non-English speaking populations cannot pass legislation to require their documents to be in additional languages other than English. Moving English from de facto to official status as the national language clarifies its importance to the fabric of the United States.

Alan Wilcox, Dunedin

Make military service a condition of citizenship May 22, letter

An American war

I must take issue with the letter writer. There are enough men and women born and raised in here the United States to fill the ranks of our armed forces. I reject the notion that anyone who is not a citizen should be forced to serve and perhaps fight for this country when so many Americans have refused to do so.

If we need more men and women in the military, and we do, Congress should go back to the military draft. Let's call it a "rite of passage."

I too am against the amnesty bill being considered in Congress. But President Bush started this war with the support of most Americans, so let rich Americans as well as the poor fight the war.

Keep it an American war, not an immigrant war.

Bobby McGill, Valrico

Student refuses to testify against teacher-boyfriend May 17

A minor issue

Here's a solution for the case of the 28-year-old teacher having a consensual sexual relationship with his 17-year-old student and facing 15 years in jail for his actions.

Many times, if the crime is "bad enough, " our courts will decide to charge a minor as an adult. If that subjective action works, why not charge this adult man as a minor? No harm, no foul.

Oh, yeah, for all those 19- and 20-year-olds returning from battle with one leg or blinded in one eye, or even emotional injuries, don't forget that it's illegal for you to buy a beer.

Let's decide once and for all what an adult is and what a minor is.

Tom Ogle, Clearwater

No fear in dating governor May 22, story

Not newsworthy

With the myriad of problems affecting our community I'm surprised that your paper considers a story about the governor's girlfriend to merit publication on the front page of the Local & State section.

I think I speak for most of your readers when I say: Who cares? Let's stay focused on the news that really matters to the people of this area.

James C. Thomas, Tampa

Football player accused of robbery, beating May 19, story

What consequences?

A New Port Richey high school student was arrested on a charge of strong-arm robbery. The story stated the student had stolen a gold crucifix from another individual and broken the person's jaw.

The victim was evidently beaten so badly that the robber was asked why he landed so many blows. He said he was angry.

Near the end of the story the article states that the robber's senior year of football "could be in jeopardy."

Could be in jeopardy? They must have a very lenient code of conduct for participants of sports activities at Gulf High School.

I wonder how the victim's upcoming year will be affected.

James Williams, Tierra Verde