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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: New voting machines must be picked with care
Letters to the Editor
Published January 4, 2008
Hillsborough dawdles on vote switch Dec. 18, editorial
Contrary to the image portrayed in your editorial, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office is moving with deliberate speed in partnership with the Division of Elections to convert our voting systems from touch screens to the optical scanners. We are aware of all time requirements for implementing a new system, from vendor selection, training staff and properly informing the voters. We are confident that we will meet all statutory time frames and run a smooth election in August.
Quite frankly, there is no room for error in making a decision that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars and, more important, must ensure that every vote counts and is counted accurately. My staff and I have compiled research data on the current voting-machine vendors and also have spent a great deal of time testing their products. We have found no machine that is without drawbacks. And while we are appreciative of the secretary of state's staff in certifying voting machines for purchase, we also recall that the voting machines that some say created concerns in Sarasota also were certified by the state.
In our due diligence, we have thus far found that machines from two vendors have caused some serious voting problems in other states. Other machines do not have a way for people with disabilities to vote integrated into the optical scan machine, nor do they have a "ballot-on-demand" feature, which is very useful and cost-effective for early voting.
Rather than not taking the time to do this level of scrutiny of the options that could jeopardize the integrity of our voting process and create a chaotic election much like Florida's embarrassing 2000 presidential election, I hope the St. Petersburg Times will support our efforts to select a new voting system that will accurately and securely record every vote and withstand the test of time, unlike the current systems.
Buddy Johnson, Hillsborough County supervisor of elections, Tampa
Lessons of a tough 2007 Jan. 1, editorial
Resolve to abandonthe partisan bias
"Politically, all we know for certain that George Bush is in the last year of a miserable presidency," your editorial said.
One thing we all do know for certain is George Bush was a two-term president. He has led the country through a miserable period of awakening regarding the real threat of terrorism that Bill Clinton slept though or had sex through (embassies blown up, barracks blown up, ships blown up, etc.). One thing we all know for certain is extreme Islam is miserable. Ask Spain, Indonesia, London and many others who have been attacked since Sept. 11, 2001.
Your editorial acknowledges that things are improving in Iraq based on President Bush's plan. You once complained about the deficit, which has been reduced during war under the Bush plan. You now complain about an economy that has a record level of home ownership (yes, real estate speculators are getting whacked), and anyone who wants a job has one. And taxes for every single taxpayer, regardless of tax bracket and the AMT, have been reduced.
What gauge do you use to judge this miserable presidency? Is it what the rest of the world thinks? Let's ask the United Nations in Iraq what they think. Sorry, but their offices got blown up. Let's check in with France or better yet, let's place a call to Pakistan's politicians. Benazir Bhutto was a supporter of the West and proclaimed friend of Hillary Clinton - underline "was."
You write that 2008 "will be a time of choices and changes, from choosing a new president to reordering the nation's priorities." Hopefully you will have the courage to reorder your priorities beyond an emotionally thin Democratic-versus-Republican view.
We all know for certain that you are desperate for a political change next year. Will you be capable of change in 2008? Will you be able to set aside your partisan bias for what is right and wrong in 2008?
Keith Dudley, St. Petersburg
Roberts argues for pay raises Jan. 1, story
Be fair with pay
Chief Justice John Roberts feels federal judges are entitled to huge pay increases. I will admit a just and competent judicial system is critical, but so are competent firefighters, police, teachers, etc.
Under this proposal, federal appeals judges would get an increase of nearly $75,000 to $247,500. Roberts' salary would go up more than $87,000. This is on top of a health plan that's second to none and a retirement that doesn't involve "tightening the belt."
Congress will probably give them the increase, because in the overall budget it's not a lot of money, like when they give themselves a raise.
Why not do this: Every time a raise is approved for any federal position, every federal employee, in the FBI, Congress, the president and all the rest, get the same percentage raise. And include a raise in the federal minimum wage.
Why should judges get an increase of 30 percent or more? There doesn't seem to be a shortage of competent judges. Also these are plum jobs that many lower judges would be glad to advance into.
If Justice Roberts feels he's underpaid, maybe he can get a second job like many of us have been forced to do, or write a book like Clarence Thomas. The salary line must be drawn somewhere, why not make it at the top for once?
Jay Yardley, St.Petersburg
Mercy only for animals
I have been reading about the stranded whale with some interest. A recent report noted that the whale was euthanized, apparently to stop it from suffering any longer.
I hear the same thing about other animals. Horses are shot or injected for just a broken leg. A dog is put down because of an injury or a disease causing it pain. We show our love of the whole animal world by not allowing them to suffer from diseases, or injuries from which they cannot recover.
But if it is a human being who is suffering and has little or no chance to survive, we proceed to hook them up to all sorts of tubes and instruments and insist that they must live and suffer, and maybe not even be conscious, for days, weeks or years.
Why do we love our animal friends more than we do our human loved ones?
Dr. James Bardsley, St Petersburg
Why bury whale?
Why have scientists decided to bury the sperm whale at Fort De Soto instead of putting it back in the ocean? This sperm whale could provide a great feast for the sea life in the gulf. To take such a large source of food out of the food chain is ridiculous.
Nature does not bury its dead, only man does this. I recall a TV documentary where a dead whale was on the sea bottom for over a year providing food for the bottom feeders. You would think a group of marine biologists would understand this.