Today's Letters: Florida overdue for more gambling

Letters to the Editor
Published August 25, 2007

It is nice to see that our governor is considering allowing proper gambling at the Indian reservations. We Floridians should have allowed it a long time ago. Instead we picked Lotto, et al. That was a losing proposition from the word go. When you read about all the money the lottery has generated for the school system, why is it in such bad shape?

It would seem that if the revenue from this Indian gambling proposal pans out, it would put a lot of these "casino" ships out of business, which put next to nothing in the government coffers.

Let's face it, gambling is here to stay! If you don't like it, stay away from it. On the down side, all I ever see is the influx of the "undesirables." This can be controlled.

Howard R. O'Neill, New Port Richey

Crist may bet state budget on gambling Aug. 22

Let's pay our own way

Casino gambling in Florida has always been an inevitability. Why? Because Floridians are so opposed to paying taxes that questions about the ethics of funding government services with the proceeds of gambling were bound to be eventually silenced.

When it does finally happen, will we boast that gamblers and tourists pay for a major portion of the cost of government in our state? Or should we hold off on that until we can figure out a way to sock it to somebody else for our food and housing expenses also?

Back to Civics 101: Taxes are the price we pay for civilization. "We" means all of us, not just those least able to pass the buck.

Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg

A practical source of funds

With all due respect for Howard Troxler, his column Casinos are no way to balance the budget (Aug. 23) does not cut it in a "practical" sense. Floridians have "benefited" from the sheer locality of their state in this great union of ours.

First, Florida will most likely receive "new" money otherwise spent in other gambling states.

Second, unless statistics prove otherwise, gambling has not increased crime and public safety problems in other gambling states and may very well have decreased them if anything.

Third, the revenue from gambling should, if properly expended, "replace" some of each Floridian's tax burden without question.

The downside, if any, will be the misappropriation of this state's revenues with an inequitable tax structure that has been used in the past by the Jeb Bush administration to benefit more the "haves" than the "have-nots."

Russell Lee Johnson, St. Petersburg

We need to cut the fat

When will Florida Gov. Charlie Crist get serious about what he has been elected to do? In eight months, has Crist enacted anything that serves to tax our citizens equally? The threats of loss of services even by this governor are ridiculous.

There is a need to take a closer look at state- provided services and begin to cut the fat - without adversely impacting the services as they are intended to be provided. The state needs to cut the fat out of its own government along with the cuts county governments are having to make.

Gambling is a way to reap some extra tax money, not bridge the gap. Make our taxes what they should be: fair and equitable to every Floridian.

Jacqueline Campbell, Land O'Lakes

TRIM notice

Legislature gave no help to beleaguered taxpayers

Most of our lawmakers brag about this property tax cut being the largest in Florida's history.

The governor states on his Web site that:

"In signing these laws, we put people's money back where it belongs - in their wallets and pocketbooks ..."

I will save a whopping $275.32. Let's see. I will save almost $23 a month on my mortgage - hardly enough to really help me save my home. If the various proposed budgets pass, I will be paying almost $3,200 in taxes while my neighbors next door in a comparable home will pay less than $900.

In my opinion, nothing was really accomplished during the legislative session to help recent home buyers, businesses and/or people struggling to pay their insurance.

Our lawmakers appear much more interested in "saving our programs, " rather than "saving our homes." Either our lawmakers just don't get it or just don't care.

Lynne Shelby, St. Petersburg

Good grief, no relief

Well, I just got my TRIM notice and my Citizen's Property Insurance bill on the same day.

My property tax "relief" is a whopping $53; my Citizen's bill remains exactly the same - $1,400 more than I was paying just two years ago.

After all the special sessions and the press these two issues got, I guess I was expecting to feel more "relieved."

Now I think I'll invest my $53 in three pairs of thick, cushy running socks and go jog off my anger around Walter Fuller Park (if it hasn't been closed due to budget cuts).

Julie Latimer, St. Petersburg

We need new leaders

I hope I am not the only taxpayer in Pinellas County who was outraged by my TRIM notice for the 2007 property taxes. My total savings if the proposed budget is passed will be $85.43.

Wow! What a deal! Hard-working people are losing their jobs, families will be devastated or uprooted so we can pay our elected officials their salaries and perks, like paid golf trips and trips to exotic resorts. They are closing existing schools, and building new ones. This is ridiculous.

I hope every voting citizen in Florida feels the way I do. We need to vote out every elected official and vote in a new group. They are supposed to represent us and not special interest groups.

M. R. Moser, St. Petersburg

Ready for a hurricane Aug. 22, letter

Beware of changing rules

I'm glad the writer of this letter was able to get a check from CFO Alex Sink. I think the My Safe Florida Home program is wonderful, and we should all harden our homes. I have already spent $6,000 on my own. I applied 11/2 years ago and was one of the original 50,000 applicants. They finally inspected me on June 2 and I received my report on June 10, telling me to fix this and that.

In little print on the bottom it said if your home was inspected after May 1 new law went into effect on June 1 that your house could not be insured for more than $300,000 nor could it have been built after 1992.

I'm screwed. My house is insured for $325,000 and was built in 1994. They changed the rules in mid-game. The only original requirement when I signed up was it could not be insured for more than $500,000.

For anybody else waiting for an inspection, I figured I'd give you fair warning. Oh, I did try calling Alex Sink's office. Same old B.S. It's just like when they fixed my insurance - up $1,000. The new tax bill is down $59. Yeah, that helped. Yep, they are looking out for us folks.

Steve Janus, New Port Richey

For Sale: One state, everything must go Aug. 19, Howard Troxler column, and Wildlife appointees all Crist boosters Aug. 21, story

Old Florida is gone

It's hard for me to get past the outrage I feel after reading these two articles. Like developer Ron Bergeron, I too am a native of Florida, grew up here and have watched this beautiful state become an asphalt highway, filled with money-grubbing, do-anything-for-a-dollar morons.

I am proud to say I did not vote for Charlie Crist, but hoped that my concerns and reservations about him were untrue. Well, I was wrong. I imagine it is too late to stop these appointments to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I suppose we will have to wait another three years to voice our concerns through our votes the way we did last November.

On another note, there's the Panhandle airport. Well, how about that St. Joe Co.! They are a real asset to the state of Florida, wouldn't you say? Aside from the fact that we pay for everything in one way or another, now we are paying for an airport when they already have one.

The Florida that I grew up in - spending every summer on Indian Rocks Beach in the same big house - is gone. It will never be back, it will never be the same, and it will never be as great. These people that move here and think this is paradise, don't have a clue what paradise really is.

Kathie Hatton, Tampa

Wildlife appointees all Crist boosters Aug. 21, story

Crist is like the rest

Gov. Charlie Crist has been leading Florida for only a short time, and he deserves praise for trying to straighten out some of the mess that he inherited. Until now that is, when he decided to appoint to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission people whose sole agenda is to pave over every last acre of the state.

One appointee says that he likes to fish, which I assume qualifies him to watch over one of our dwindling precious resources. These people were chosen strictly because of their allegiance to the Republican Party and their cash donations to Crist's campaign accounts.

I am a Democrat who voted for Gov. Crist because I thought he was the best man for the job. Now I see that he is no different than many of the politicians that talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. Dollar signs seem to be the ultimate decisionmaker where our disappearing wildlife and public lands are concerned. Shame on Gov. Crist for appointing these developers while rejecting environmentalists who would have done a better job of protecting our wildlife.

James Cocca, Homosassa

Wildlife appointees all Crist boosters Aug. 21, story

Public loses again

Gov. Charlie Crist just lost a lot of points with this lifelong Republican voter by his appointments to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

It's a very sad day when the public's best interest loses to contributors to a campaign - again. This one action by the governor causes me to lose a great deal of respect for him that I previously held.

Many of my friends are asking, "Where is the third party?" We must get back to placing the best interest of the public, as well and basic values of this country, at the top of the agendas.

Judith E. Jones, Largo

Wildlife appointees all Crist boosters Aug. 21, story

The kind of people we need

What is "balanced" about all builders and real estate people on the board? All members of any environmental or wildlife board should be required to take an accredited ecological course and at least 10 field trips with the Audubon Society.

Why couldn't Gov. Charlie Crist have appointed people like St. Petersburg Times writers Jeff Klinkenberg or Terry Tomalin, who give us such wonderful essays on "Natural Florida"?

Joanne Willis, St. Petersburg

Getting hot, bothered over global warming Aug. 18, Robert Samuelson column

Beyond our control

I read once that an individual's life expectancy was programmed into DNA, much as are hair and eye color, height, weight, propensity for disease, etc. There are any number of ways to shorten one's life span, but very little can be done to lengthen it.

I believe Earth has inherent characteristics as well. I believe the effects of these characteristics -hurricanes, tornados, flooding, etc. - can be alleviated somewhat, but there is nothing we may do to alter them.

Global warming and cooling are examples of these characteristics. They are cyclical in nature. Heroic measures may delay their coming, but they will not preclude it.

One must wonder if things were reversed and we were predicting global cooling whether we would be looking for ways to increase the production of things that cause the greenhouse effect.

We need to be worrying about things we can affect - like keeping liberal hands out of our pockets - rather than things we cannot.

Dave Highlands, St. Petersburg

Suspicion rides into town Aug. 17, story

No one is immune

While I do not deny the iniquities suffered by minorities in America, I do not believe their plight is always unparalleled.

Recently, we have witnessed the detainment of two USF students by South Carolina law enforcement. There has been much speculation that their lineage factored into the arrest. I cannot say if this case involved profiling, because I was not present. Would it surprise me if their only offense was exceeding the speed limit? No. It is hard to escape the conjecture.

In this Times article, Youssef Megahed's defense attorney, Andy Savage, says, "What has happened to these two young men would not happen to two Irish-Americans." In essence, he means two white guys.

As a white male, 32, I wish to dispel this myth. After graduating from high school, I was struck by wanderlust. My adolescent urges led me to every corner of the continental United States, as well as throughout Canada. And in my travels, I experienced firsthand the xenophobia that plagues small-town America. I learned that heritage is inconsequential. It was then and it is today. I have been questioned, searched and interrogated - one time in Nowhere, Texas, twice within 30 minutes. And this is from a quiet, unassuming, law-abiding, white male.

The time that I was looking into the eyes of a black bear a few feet in front of me was not the scariest moment in my travels. It was all the times I was looking into the eyes of men in uniform.

If you think that being white means a life without persecution, drive a few thousand miles through America, take the less beaten path, and only sleep over in small towns. See what happens.

Corey Myers, Tampa

Immigration activist deported Aug. 21, story

Deportation deserved

It is about time that Elvira Arellano was deported. Just because she had taken refuge in a church and spoken out for immigrants does not mean that she is exempt from deportation.

When people do illegal things, including cross the border illegally, they have to face the consequences. And they must do so knowing that their family will have to live with those consequences.

Elvira Arellano is not a great activist for immigrant rights. She is merely another illegal immigrant who must be deported under our laws.

Andrew Szarejko, Palm Harbor

Revamp citizenship policy

Much has been in the news lately about illegals being deported while their children, who are U.S. citizens, remain in this country. Are these children U.S. citizens simply because they were born on us soil?

Perhaps it's time to rethink our policy of granting citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil, especially if the parents are here illegally. How does the policy of granting this citizenship compare with that of other industralized/Western European countries?

Things and times change. Have any of our legislators even thought about this?

Diane Wayne, Tarpon Springs