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Letters to the Editors

Voters deserve better coverage of Ralph Nader

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


I was very disappointed in the Times' coverage of the nomination of Ralph Nader for U.S. president by the Green Party. The item, Green Party nominates Nader, was given only 3 column-inches on the back page of the June 26 A section, under the label The nation in brief.

In contrast, the front page itself contained a color photo and a detailed story of a recreational vehicle salesman who built an $8-million home on Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard, as well as a photo and story of a woman (not even in the Tampa Bay area) who has kept her dead husband in cold storage for 12 years, pending investigation of the cause of his death.

A recent poll indicated that Ralph Nader already has the support of some 7 percent of U.S. voters, but the Times deemed the success of one entrepreneur and the plight of one widow to be vastly more newsworthy than the presidential candidacy of a well-known champion of numerous worthy causes.

Apparently, not a single sentence of Nader's two-hour acceptance speech was worth printing in Monday's paper, in spite of the fact that it covered such issues as social justice, governmental and corporate corruption, urban poverty, health care and environmental protection -- all of which I believe I have seen reported upon by the Times in the past.

It disturbs me that the Times has devoted such a high level of coverage to the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, who appear to frequently struggle with how to distinguish their platforms from one another's, while the emergence of a credible candidate with a dramatically different perspective, who has repeatedly (and successfully) pushed for changes to positively affect the lives of tens of millions of Americans, is announced below a story about gasoline prices rising 4 cents in two weeks in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the Times is not the news paper I thought it was.
-- Douglas J. Durbin, Valrico

Don't ignore other candidates

I would like to request more coverage of the other candidates for president. Whenever George W. Bush or Al Gore make some pronouncement, you report it faithfully. You also report on Democrat and Republican fundraising and other major-party activities. But you almost ignore the other candidates.

Ralph Nader's nomination as the Green Party candidate got only a couple of paragraphs on the back page and no quotes from his inspiring acceptance speech. Nader has by far the best ideas to cure the ailments of corporatized America. He speaks frequently about them and has already campaigned in all 50 states. But your coverage of his campaign has been minimal. Nader is a true "man of the people." He is perhaps the best qualified man to ever run for the presidency. He accepts no PAC money and no "soft" money. He deserves to be included in any presidential debates (as does Pat Buchanan) and he deserves more coverage in "Florida's best newspaper."
-- Norman Davis, Pinellas Park

Greens merit more attention

The readers of the Times are once again impoverished. Are we to think that the Times staff is fond of the bland and abjectly pathetic excuses for the two major party candidates in this year's election? One might think so by the coverage.

On June 26 there were three articles surrounding the meager but dominant political scene: two on Al Gore (Election 2000: Gore's energy proposal and Reno likely to decline investigation on Gore) and one on the minutia of George W. Bush and Gore's Social Security musings (Social Security plans must be scrutinized). However, amid all that excitement, there remained only 3 inches of room for reporting on a significantly historical step in the right direction for American politics: the Green Party convention, where Ralph Nader was nominated as the presidential candidate (Green Party nominates Nader).

The two major parties are discussing ways to provide prescription drug coverage. The Green Party is discussing universal health care. The two major parties want to cut welfare, acting as if the poor are themselves the sole reason for their class stratification, while the Green Party is discussing cutbacks to corporate welfare.

I suggest that the Times do us all a favor and widen the political spotlight to reveal the party that deserves far more credit and attention than is ever given -- the Green Party.

And while that is all well and good, how about the Libertarian, the Reform and other parties out there? Has the Times already judged for its readers that these parties wouldn't better represent the American people?
-- Lindsay Logan, Largo

Candidates have everything to prove

In Tim Nickens' June 18 column, Senate GOP primary decided, but not by voters, there is a very curious quote from Florida Republican Party Chairman Al Cardenas. In supporting his case for why we did not need a primary race for the U.S. Senate seat, Cardenas said, "In the case of Bill McCollum and Tom Gallagher, neither had anything to prove to anyone. They have both been in public office for 20 years. Everybody knows their philosophy."

Excuse me, but these men are (or were) contending for a seat in the U.S. Senate, and they have everything to prove to everyone. One candidate is the state education commissioner and the other is a congressman. These men are public servants and as such, must prove themselves to the public every day.

In the public school where I work we teach children to compare and contrast, notice similarities and differences among and between people, thoughts and ideas. This is how we teach people to make informed choices, not by cutting off the debate.

McCollum and Gallagher could try to show the voters, how they would propose to make our state, our country, our world a better and safer place to live for everyone. They could accomplish this by providing a dialogue between themselves and with the other candidate, Bill Nelson.

Oh yes, Mr. Cardenas, candidates of all parties always have everything to prove to everyone -- or they should at least try.
-- Jim Duffey, St. Petersburg

Republicans were working together

It really does upset Democrats and the Democrat press when Republicans work together for the good, not only of the Republican Party but also for their community as a whole!

It is not back-room politics when the state party and the candidates agree for the public good that a candidate should not waste his constituents' money in a "blood-letting" contest with another good candidate. Believe me, I know back-room politics when I see them because I came from Democrat Georgia where they are kings of "graveyard voters and smoke-filled rooms." The Florida Republican Party did not hide the fact that it has had worked to get Tom Gallagher to drop out of the Senate race. True back-room politics would not have been upfront with that fact.

Of course, we all know nothing would please the press more than for two good Republican candidates to go after each other so that there might be one less good Republican around after the battle is over.

We often hear all the guff about "why can't politicians get along and not waste money and time squabbling among themselves?" Well, that is exactly what occurred with Gallagher and the Republican Party.
-- Bernice Furrow, Port Charlotte

Don't feel sorry for this teacher

Re: One less voice for black students, by Elijah Gosier, June 20.

I find it a slight prevarication on the part of Elijah Gosier and Veronica Williams when they state they don't know why she won't be rehired to teach at Gibbs High School.

Williams was hired to teach math, but instead she decided she would become politically active at the expense of the taxpayers who pay her salary to teach math.

Look at the bright side. Now she will have time to devote her resources to the National People's Democratic Uhuru Movement and its newly acquired "civic credibility."

If Gosier and Williams want the dropout rates of black students reduced, then promote the cause of family unity -- you know, fathers who do more than produce children, fathers who actually stay with the family and become role models and take an active part in raising the children.

Please stop insulting our intelligence by insinuating that students are suspended or expelled based on race. I don't think so. Students are expelled or suspended for antisocial behavior that is unacceptable to the majority of society.

Williams could have done more for "her" people had she joined the system, taught the course she was hired to teach and set an example for her students as one who works within the guidelines, demonstrating discipline and self-control.

But she didn't, and now Gosier wants us to feel sorry for her and consider her a cause. She is not a cause... she is just typical.
-- R. Padgett, Clearwater

Another part of the story

Re: One less voice for black students, by Elijah Gosier, June 20.

Once again Elijah Gosier writes one of his one-sided columns.

I am somewhat surprised that Gosier didn't go into a full explanation on the case of the teacher who slapped a student. The teacher was patrolling for smokers in a girls bathroom. She was confronted by the student, whocalled the teacher a "fat a-- b----." That's when the teacher slapped the student.

What ever happened to personal responsibility or respect for teachers (especially when the student was wrong)? Don't African-American students believe in this?

Since Veronica Williams is now unemployed, let the National People's Democratic Uhuru Movement hire her. At least she will be active doing what she believes in with her own people. This will allow her to pursue her beloved teaching career. Good luck, Miss Williams.
-- Joel Sensenig, Seminole

Many teachers do care

Re: One less voice for black students, by Elijah Gosier, June 20.

Since I am a teacher, I read this column with great interest. And although I can only speak from my own experience, Gosier's statement, "The [black] students are largely on their own" is grossly inaccurate. There are many, many teachers at my school who encourage, teach and care about all their students every day.

Mr. Gosier, please read what Felita wrote in my yearbook: "Thank you for being a loving, a caring teacher. I've known you for 4 years straight and you've always been the sweetest teacher I've known. Thanks for encouraging me to do right and guess what -- we've succeeded. You succeeded in encouraging me and I've succeeded in taking your encouragement. Remember me always, Mrs. Mathis, and I'll do the same."

When I think of Felita in the years to come, I will remember her smile, her warmth, her intelligence -- not the color of her skin. And when she thinks of me, I am confident that she will do the same!
-- Carol Mathis, St. Petersburg

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