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    Letters to the Editors

    Public interest should precede career aspiration

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2001


    Re: Council to recount votes, March 2.

    I applaud Kathleen Ford for her gracious acceptance of Larry Williams' recount request. Had George W. Bush been equally as gracious in the aftermath of Election 2000, the country would have been spared six weeks of bitter partisan legal battles and spiteful sound bites. Had he simply admitted, as Kathleen Ford did, "I probably would have done the same thing," it would have gone a long way toward lending credibility to his claim of being a "uniter and not a divider."

    The behavior of our statesmen and stateswomen in sensitive political situations, and our reaction to their behavior, should send a clear message to Washington. The American people will support politicians who put the public interest before their own career aspirations. And we will flatly reject, with our voice at the polls, those who do not.
    -- Carol Schiffler, St. Petersburg

    Sore losers shouldn't play game

    I am disappointed with Larry Williams for requesting a recount. If you can't stand to lose, don't play the game.

    A relative called me to read me an article in the Gainesville Sun about "a candidate that came in third in a race for mayor of St. Petersburg and requested a recount." If the news has gone as far as Gainesville, I'm sure it is also in other states.

    Isn't Florida the laughingstock of the country already? Why Williams had to add to it is embarrassing.

    The poll workers put in a long, long day and an efficient one. I'm sorry someone had to question the good work they do.
    -- B.C. Baxter, St. Petersburg

    It's time to rock the boat

    This is in answer to the Times' March 6 suggestions to Kathleen Ford's election. My suggestion to her is: Never to take "any" political guidance from the St. Petersburg Times. To me, the Times has made it clear that it supports the Fischer clone, Rick Baker.

    Many of us in St. Petersburg are tired of the business-as-usual, compromise, don't-rock-the-boat, anti-Republican, white-bashing views espoused by the Times and often reflected in City Hall.

    Does Kathleen Ford ask tough questions, shake up things, anger some or even make a few feel less secure? You bet! Is she always right? No. However, more often than not, she is illuminating a problem and insisting upon solution. Personally I prefer a shaker and mover over the "Slick Willies" traditionally supported by the Times.
    -- Al Brown, St. Petersburg

    Obsessive goo-slinging

    Re: Goo still runs thick in veins of discontent, March 3.

    How interesting that your columnist Alicia Caldwell would equate voters for Kathleen Ford with "frat boys" throwing "putrid substances" at a willing target. I thought voting was an act of responsible citizenship.

    And as for the goo-throwing championship, I would nominate the Times editorialists, columnists and "completely objective" reporters for slinging what Caldwell calls "unspeakable goo" at Ford at every possible opportunity. Your attitude toward the councilwoman seems strident, overwrought and a bit on the obsessive side.
    -- Roy T. Sniffen, St. Petersburg

    Angry doesn't mean unenlightened

    Apparently one must be maniacally insightful to be anointed a Times Pinellas politics columnist. I humbly admit to neither.

    People who chose to vote for Kathleen Ford are similar to frat rats hurling chunks at some university psycho who likes the smell of outhouse in the morning? Ford and Curtsinger receive what some Eckerd academic calls the angry vote and are therefore synonymous as candidates for the unenlightened?

    Gimme a break. The only thing those two have in common is that neither sleeps with the Bushes.

    The president of a civic association is a racist because he wants a safe neighborhood? Amazing insight.

    Voters are heaving goo because they didn't vote for Williams or Nurse or the guy the Times wants to be mayor? Now that's maniacal.

    Perhaps I should have attended more hurlings in college. Maybe then I could be more like you: Full of goo.
    -- Gary Smith, St. Petersburg

    "Racist" comment was outrageous

    Re: Black vote reflects uneasiness with Uhurus, March 1.

    I've known Karl Nurse since we served together on the Community Alliance 10 years ago. That outrageous comment you published by Omali Yeshitela about Karl could not be further from the truth. Anyone who knows him, no doubt including Omali, knows it's outrageous. Karl and his wife invested in a mixed-race neighborhood by buying their home there. He invested in other vacant, deteriorated homes in the area in an effort to improve the neighborhood. His motivation was the love of his neighborhood, not monetary gain.

    I find it highly offensive, not to mention demoralizing, when one so cavalierly smears someone who has a proven track record and commitment to the improvement of race relations. I'm amazed the Times actually printed the comment.
    -- Pam Meador, St. Petersburg

    An overstatement of uneasiness

    Re: Black vote reflects uneasiness with Uhurus.

    To suggest the black vote in the mayoral elections "reflects uneasiness with Uhurus" is a bit of an overstatement. The black community voted for the candidate of their choice based on media exposure and campaign spending, which seems to be becoming the American way. Campaign finance reform is one of the biggest issues in American politics and it doesn't matter if you are black or white.

    Omali Yeshitela is by no means radical in his thinking or his actions. If people had heard Omali's message of "St. Petersburg united in shared prosperity and social justice," perhaps the outcome would have been different.

    Money talks. I hope whoever becomes mayor does more than "talk the talk" and includes St. Petersburg's south side in the future development of the city so we can erase the dividing line called Central Avenue and truly become an "American city."

    I got to spend some time with Omali and learn a little about the Uhuru movement over the past few weeks. No, the "community" need not fear the Uhuru movement. We need to fear apathy and fear itself. The Yeshitela message was to promote unity and social justice. Let us hope that the new mayor pursues what was Omali Yeshitela's "dream" and includes him in that process.
    -- Michael Golden, St. Petersburg

    Try a more egalitarian approach

    Obviously, Gov. Jeb Bush, Rep. Diaz-Balart and the Council of 100 feel very strongly about the need to "overhaul" the state's civil service system, and no doubt a majority of the state's 125,000 employees would agree that the system needs overhauling.

    However, speaking from a vantage point of approximately 25 years in two state agencies, it would appear that my observations as to remediation are strangely at variance with those of our governor.

    His recommendation that state workers in supervisory and management positions could be hired or fired "at the sound discretion of an agency head" runs quite counter to what our nation is all about, sounding ominously whimsical and dictatorial.

    More in keeping with our nation's fundamental precepts would be a program "authorizing the termination of an agency head upon the recommendation of his workers and after due process had established the validity of such recommendations."

    As to the governor's endorsement of "more pay raises and bonuses for good performance," most employees would be quite content to receive a wage commensurate with their responsibilities, nor do we perceive any problem with the extant process whereby those incapable of good performance voluntarily resign or are terminated for cause after appropriate hearing.

    Finally, we would offer two observations.

    1. Most state employees are civic-minded. They like being in a "helping" mode, which is why they soldier on with impossible caseloads and short pay.

    2. On matters of correcting program ineffectiveness, we would do well to recall the truism that "Bottlenecks are always at the top."
    -- Ben Tutoli, St. Petersburg

    Column belongs on editorial pages

    Re: With this GOP bunch, Florida stands to lose, by Mary Jo Melone, March 6.

    Mary Jo Melone once again expresses her very biased opinion on a subject she does not understand. She states, "That is why Republicans want to cut the tax on the income Floridians make from stocks, bonds and other investments." She is referring to Florida's intangibles tax, and she has it all wrong. The intangibles tax is levied on the value of the stocks, bonds and other investments owned by Floridians (not the income from them) and is collected even if they have no income or lose value.

    Melone's column is so obviously an expression of her liberal Democratic bias, it should be on the editorial page, not on the first page of the City & State section. But then it would be asking too much to expect the Times to restrict their editorial comments to the editorial pages.
    -- Arthur M. Richard, St. Petersburg

    Florida voters are hard to figure

    Re: With this GOP bunch, Florida stands to lose, by Mary Jo Melone.

    Hooray for Mary Jo Melone telling it like it is about our largely Republican Legislature. If the people in this state don't wise up and start writing to them and complaining, there won't be much of anything worthwhile left of it.

    They have used up all the surplus they had when they took office; now they want a useless tax cut, which will be on the backs of the poor.

    It's hard to figure how the voters in Florida think when they go to the polls. It's obvious that at least half of them voted for Al Gore, and they elected Bill Nelson, a Democratic senator. Then they moved over to the Republican column and voted for all those Republicans. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but they obviously don't pay a lot of attention to what the Legislature has been doing the past two years.

    Too bad there aren't more Melones and Troxlers. Maybe at some point the voters would get it.
    -- June Einboden, St. Petersburg

    A lost sense of value

    Re: Foes of "Choose Life" plate ask court to recall 13,000, March 2.

    I never hear of anybody objecting to auto tags to protect life of all kinds of animals, especially turtle eggs on the beaches along our coast. We are threatened with jail time and heavy fines for disturbing turtle eggs along the beaches.

    Apparently, we have lost our sense of value when it comes to human beings. We think nothing of destroying fetuses at any stage. People really get upset when someone tries to save human beings, but they think it is fine to save any kind of animal lives.
    -- Leo L. Robillard, Port Richey

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