Today's Letters: Tax crisis could lead to much-needed change

Published May 25, 2007

The current tax and insurance crises are having a very positive effect on Florida politics. Because of our anger and frustration, we are becoming informed and involved, and the more we learn the more we see the dramatic need for change, not just in the taxing systems but in state and local government as a whole.

We are seeing how inefficient and wasteful the state and local governments are, and how they have created taxing systems that shield the cost from the majority while masking the real financial impact. The truth is, our state and local governments no longer represent the people, and, because we have not been involved citizens, we have allowed that to occur.

So let's use our frustration to work toward positive change. Let's do what's right and be willing to pay our fair tax burden, and at the same time let's elect and support officials who represent us, not corporations, lobbyists and special interests.

Who knows? If we truly move toward those goals in Florida, it could spread as far as Washington.

James Crumley, Dunedin


Tax the churches

Florida is in a big tax crisis right now. I have read countless articles, editorials and letters from people with ideas to solve our problems. Each plan has good ideas, but ultimately some group will get the bad end of the stick. Here is a new idea.

Let's tax something that has not been taxed yet: religion. Why is it that in our times, religious organizations still get this huge break? Are they being pushed out of homes and put on the street by Florida's rising living costs? No, they get donations and they get income, yet they pay no taxes on their gains. I propose that Florida taxes them something equal to what small businesses are taxed.

This could solve the tax crisis in our beautiful state without financially harming its citizens or visitors.

Jeremy Beau, Clearwater


Excessive force 

Police target road racing May 22, story

With some two dozen police officers bringing road racing to a standstill on the Courtney Campbell Parkway on Saturday night, are we to assume that crime in Tampa was also at a standstill? Did the criminal population of Tampa agree to take the evening off?

I really don't believe that this event had anything to do with the two young folks being killed at a previous race. I think it had everything to do with revenue. With impound fees, towing charges, heavy fines and who knows what other costs and fees, the money generated by the arrests will be considerable.

It seems to me that 24 police officers and their cars might be sorely needed on the streets of Tampa on any Saturday night. This was a complete waste of manpower, while one uniformed officer in a police vehicle could have cruised the race area every half hour, which would have stopped the racing.

This is why I never vote for a tax increase of any kind.

Larry Fox, Largo


Coach will be missed 

Popular basketball coach Wells dies May 22

As a high school referee (long retired), I had many encounters with Mike Wells. The ones on the court often were heated, but never personal. When the game ended, nothing that preceded the final horn affected the respect Mr. Wells showed to referees, opponents and anyone else who was lucky enough to be around him.

Even those heated on-court "discussions" were motivated by his passion for high school basketball and his players. With him, it was always about the kids and making them better players and better human beings.

He will be missed in untold ways. High school basketball and sports in general will never have enough Mike Wellses. Every child should have a coach with his knowledge of his game, his ability to coach and motivate, his passion and most of all, his commitment to good sportsmanship and respect for everyone on the court.

Ron Stuart, Palm Harbor


Ballplayer needs help 

Ballplayer's wife: He threatened me, kids May 23, story

Have we learned nothing from the O.J. and Nicole Simpson and Virginia Tech tragedies? As much as I love sports, these professional athletes have to be held accountable for their actions. Society treats them as spoiled children and then wonders why they have temper tantrums.

Due to large amounts of money being involved, the rules get tweaked and stretched so no one loses a dollar in the interim. Scott Pucino, Elijah Dukes' agent, has clearly stated that money is indeed a factor in his estranged wife's bringing their situation to the attention of the media. Well, yes, when you have five children with four women, money is a factor; it's called child support and people making a heck of lot less money have to pay it as well.

Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, states that Dukes has made a lot of strides. He must be talking about on the baseball field, because his personal life is a train wreck. For these executives to watch this young man derail his career, and possibly his life, is a travesty.

I urge the Rays administration to do better. Get this young man some professional help. If it means he doesn't get to play baseball for a while, then he doesn't get to play. If he can learn how to be a good father and role model to his children or learn some tools to control his temper, it will be well worth the time spent away from the field.

Linda Flack, Seminole


Story overplayed

The headline and article about the ballplayer threatening his wife does not belong on the front page. Important stories about Iraq, taxes, insurance rates and other calamities do. Not the problems of an overpaid, immature athlete. Another example of the decline of our newspapers.

David Weber, Sun City Center


News went missing

Following the front-page Elijah Dukes story on Wednesday, it was apparent that all St. Petersburg Times and tbt* newspapers were pulled from the distribution bins at Tropicana Field for Wednesday's Devil Rays game.

I contacted members of both papers and was told by tbt* distribution manager Craig Holley, "We made the choice not to distribute at Tropicana Field yesterday. Naturally there is a fine line we have to walk at times and that seemed like the best choice."

This was a very disappointing choice. I believe that controlling distribution points based on the content of the day's paper is unethical. It would be no different than choosing to pull your papers from the courthouse based on an unsavory article about a judge. The St. Petersburg Times distribution decision was a choice to censor who reads your paper.

In this instance, you failed to deliver the news.

Aaron Peter, St. Petersburg


Many thanks for food

On May 12, Religious Community Services Food Bank in cooperation with the U.S. Postal Service was able to collect 183, 500 pounds of food in one day. We were able to accomplish this only because of the efforts of local mail carriers and more than 500 volunteers.

This food would still be sitting in our parking lot if not for the wonderful volunteers who unpacked, sorted and boxed the food as it was unloaded from the trucks. Our volunteers make it possible for us to serve over 4, 000 clients each month.

This thank you is for everyone who contributed by donating food, collecting food, sorting and receiving it and organizing and planning. Thanks!

Bill Trautwein, director, RCS Food Bank, Clearwater


Troubling practice 

Scams targeting old get a shameful assist May 22, editorial

Was I asleep when the time-honored requirement for a signature on a check was rescinded? I felt I had just gone through Alice's looking glass when I read the following:

"While it is legal for a bank to accept unsigned checks, few do. ... Wachovia has accepted $142-million worth of unsigned checks for unauthorized withdrawals, federal prosecutors told the New York Times. It's a troubling practice for a bank that also markets a free checking account to attract older customers."

Troubling practice indeed! Once the word gets out, I would imagine bank customers might react faster than federal prosecutors.

Elizabeth Noone, St. Petersburg