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    Letters to the Editors

    Innovations could get voters out on Election Day

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 18, 2000


    On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the politicians will be disappointed and the newscasters puzzled by the low voter turnout and American citizens' apparent apathy toward exercising their right to vote. The following are two solutions that could make voting more convenient and patriotic:

    Combine current holidays into an election holiday. The current holidays of Columbus Day and Veterans Day, which occur in October and early November, appear to be nothing more than "token holidays" only observed by governments, schools and financial organizations. These two holidays could be combined into a national Election Day holiday observed on the first Tuesday in November. I can't think of a more appropriate way to recognize the discoverer of this great land and honor those who served to preserve it than by having a national Election Day holiday to exercise our freedom to vote.

    Move Election Day to a weekend. Since very few people work in their assigned voting precinct, more citizens will have the time to vote without interrupting their work schedule. A weekend election day would also alleviate the morning and evening congestion at the precincts. What's so sacred about the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November? If we can change to Daylight Saving Time each year, we can certainly move Election Day to a weekend.
    -- Lynn J. Nellenbach, Clearwater

    Big business creates the economy

    Re: Cheney became prosperous with government help, letter, Oct. 11.

    The letter writer places the credit for "creating superprofits for many U.S. corporations" on the Clinton/Gore administration.

    First of all, profit is the compensation accruing to entrepreneurs for assumption of risk in business enterprises. The government's only role was cutting the highest tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent, which allowed entrepreneurs more money to invest. This tax cut was Ronald Reagan's baby.

    Second, the irresponsible, big spending, Democrat-controlled Congresses of the Reagan and Bush administrations are the reason the big government surpluses were not realized during that period.

    Don't put the cart before the horse. Without big business, there would be no economy. Without an economy, there would be no government. Contrary to the view from the left, the government is not the most important body -- the people are.
    -- Terry R. Arnold, St. Petersburg

    Try a sports approach

    Sandwiched between the Olympics and the World Series we have been experiencing our wonderful presidential debates. After viewing these debates, if you wish to call them that, I have arrived at the following observations.

    The major point that should be noted prior to evaluating these debates is this: If the American people spent half as much time following politics as they do sporting events, we would have a better government and nation.

    In light of this, perhaps the presidential debates should be covered by networks the same way they cover our sporting events. Before the debates start, we have our oddsmakers set the point spread. "How many points are you giving Bush over Gore?" would be the initial theme. This would be followed by live-action coverage, with a commentator breaking in to announce that "At the end of the first 5 minutes of debate it is Bush 3 and Gore 2."

    All of this will be followed by our usual sports routines of re-play and showing the play of the day. Finally, I would expect the network to inform us who will win the Heisman Trophy or the gold medal.
    -- Paul Shein, Dunedin

    A flaw in those polls

    Re: Crunching the numbers, Oct. 10.

    Exactly who is being polled these days? And does it really matter who these people are who are being polled? I think it does!

    Polls do have an effect on any race for elected office, and I believe there is something inherently wrong with the excessive use of polling by the media today. Here is why:

    Many people in the United States have answering machines in their homes and use them to screen their calls. This means that a great number of people (registered voters and otherwise) no longer answer their telephones!

    As far as I know, polls are still taken through surveys over the telephone. That being the case, is not a large segment of the population left out of the polling because pollsters no longer have access to them by way of the telephone? And if that is true, how can any polls really be accurate? Think about it!
    -- Darline W. Eden, St. Petersburg

    Beware political civility and sameness

    Re: A better encounter, editorial, Oct. 13.

    Instead of applauding the "civility" of George W. Bush and Al Gore during their second debate, we should bemoan the fact that our two major candidates are so similar that they fall over themselves agreeing with each other. Their civility evinces a problem: the fact that Bush and Gore are not offering the voting public a meaningful choice.

    In the race for the presidency, we should prefer candidates who fight. At least in the fray we can gain some insight into how they differ, if at all. When a debate turns into a love-fest, political alarm bells should be ringing in our heads.

    We may conclude from the political rhetoric of both Bush and Gore that they are, essentially, candidates of the same party: the "Pro-Business Party." Voters who want something different must turn to the third parties: Green, Libertarian and Reform. Those who support either Bush or Gore will get what they deserve: business as usual -- with the emphasis on "business."
    -- William W. Douglas, St. Pete Beach

    Browne has solutions

    Re: Public too focused on the trivialities, Oct. 8.

    Bill Maxwell's excellent column ends with the words "an informed and engaged citizenry protects our cherished freedoms." As an informed and engaged citizen, I am, of course, a Libertarian. The bulk of the citizenry, uninformed as they are, will once again try to choose the lesser of the two evils of George W. Bush and Al Gore. It is sad that the one candidate for president who has real solutions for our problems, Harry Browne, is ignored by the media.
    -- Daniel Vogel, Tampa

    McCollum's deeds remembered

    Re: McCollum: Clinton is driven to "defeat me," Oct. 4.

    It did my heart good to read this story and hear Bill McCollum whining about Bill Clinton being driven to defeat him.

    I am a registered Republican and have been all my life. However, I was one of those who helped to elect Bill Clinton to the presidency both times and am so happy with his performance in the office. His personal life is his own business.

    But McCollum was very verbal about impeaching Clinton -- and he lost. Does he think we voters -- the ones who won't help him to win over Bill Nelson -- will vote for him?
    -- Gloria P. Solinski, New Port Richey

    Playing politics with schoolchildren

    Re: Bush school reforms get mixed grades, Oct. 11.

    Gov. George W. Bush makes much of his educational achievements in Texas. I'm glad Diane Rado has pointed out some of the truths about his program:

    Although Texas schoolchildren have improved on state tests, the nationwide test that really counts, -- the SAT -- shows no improvement. In fact, average scores are lower.

    Donna Haschke, vice president of the Texas State Teachers Association, pointed out that even though Gov. Bush approved a $3,000 raise for teachers, the union is supporting Vice President Al Gore.

    The conclusion is obvious: Teaching to the test may give politicians paper grades to help their campaigns, but the children are still being shortchanged. They are not learning.

    And when I read about cutting out some of the harder questions on the FCAT, making it easier for kids and thus raising their scores, I wonder about Gov. Jeb Bush's plans for Florida. Are our children a political tool, too?
    -- William F. Sutschek, New Port Richey

    USF investigation not limited

    Re: USF basketball not investigation target, Oct. 11.

    This article about my review of allegations regarding the University of South Florida women's basketball program created a false impression about the university's response to the situation.

    The article's first paragraph reads: "The University of South Florida is not actively trying to determine if racial discrimination took place in the women's basketball program." That is incorrect.

    The University of South Florida's Office of Equal Opportunity Affairs is actively engaged in an investigation of a former student athlete's allegations that she suffered retaliation because she had made an earlier charge of racial discrimination.

    My inquiry focuses on the policies the university has followed in the handling of allegations of racial discrimination. At my first meeting with President Judy Genshaft, we discussed the scope of my inquiry and decided that the university should not have simultaneous, duplicative investigations. President Genshaft has not attempted to limit my inquiry but, based on my advice, has authorized me to focus on areas where my training and experience may be the most helpful.

    Once the Equal Opportunity Affairs Office has completed its investigation, President Genshaft and I will determine whether any further investigation is required.
    -- Joseph W. Hatchett, Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson, P.A., Tallahassee

    Nursing homes need volunteers

    Thank you for your continuing coverage of the nursing-home industry. As a nursing home social worker, I appreciate the information that is being shared with your readers.

    Each day I am grateful to the nurses, nursing assistants, housekeepers and all the staff who contribute to the care of our elders. We have many dedicated people who work above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis.

    Rather than curse the darkness (the easiest thing to do), I encourage your readers to volunteer just a little of their time at a nursing facility. Some of the most meaningful things you can do include: taking a resident or two for a weekly walk outdoors in the beautiful autumn weather; feeding a resident to allow the nursing assistants time for other duties; calling bingo; typing a weekly report for the administrator; typing the monthly news and activity calendar; serving hors d'oeuvres at happy hour; reading a chapter during Bookworms group; supervising residents who smoke; rolling silverware in napkins to prepare for meals; making room visits or leading a gardening group.

    Whatever your interests or skills, there is a need for you in our nursing facilities. Please come. Light a candle.
    -- Christina Boulding, LCSW, Palm Harbor

    Share your opinions

    We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

    They can be sent by e-mail to letters@sptimes.com or by fax to (727) 893-8675.

    They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.

    Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

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