Back to Jim Crow days?
Republicans in 43 states have introduced 253 bills aimed at making it more difficult to vote. The reason is they don’t like losing. Instead of encouraging all Americans to vote, they want to place obstacles in the path of those who are likely to vote for Democrats.
Their insidious efforts are transparently un-American; but in states run by Republican legislatures, they are likely to be successful.
The antidote would be a voter rights bill already passed in the House. It would, among other things, enfranchise millions more to vote and end partisan gerrymandering. The roadblock is the threatened filibuster that would necessitate 60 votes in the ultra-partisan Senate. So we’ll regress to the racial discrimination of the regrettable Jim Crow days.
Let’s envision a literacy test for the current day:
If you believe the fairy tale that Trump actually won the election, you fail the literacy test. If you think the former president didn’t seditiously twist arms and cajole election officials, including pressuring his own vice president, to change the outcome of the free and fair election, then you fail the literacy test. If you have convinced yourself that Trump had no part in inciting the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, then you fail the literacy test.
How literate are we?
Kevin McNally, Bonita Springs
A vote vs. honoring US Capitol police
A violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. It was only because of an understaffed, actively unsupported but loyal and dedicated “thin blue line” that scores of elected leaders weren’t captured or killed.
For the first time in American history, there was no “peaceful transition of power.” People died. More than 140 officers suffered injuries ranging from traumatic brain injuries to broken bones to lost fingers. The mob tried to execute a violent overthrow.
Still, on Wednesday, March 17, when the House voted 413-12 to honor the members of several police forces for their heroism and sacrifice, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, voted no. He was one of 12.
At this writing (Thursday night), Steube, who represents Florida’s 17 Congressional District, has been silent on his reasons.* But several of his God-fearing patriot peers took issue with the word “insurrectionist” and with the “sacrilegious” description of our Capitol as a “temple of democracy.” Seriously.
In 1954, Joseph Welch said to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a populist who also traded in lies: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”
Now we can say the same about Steube.
(*Editor’s note: The (Lakeland) Ledger reported Thursday that Steube’s office provided a statement blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Capitol Police chief and the sergeant-at-arms for failing to stop the attack by Trump supporters; part of Steube’s statement: “There is no reason that Congress should now award the highest civilian medal to leaders who failed in protecting the Capitol … just so Speaker Pelosi can check the box and say she supports law enforcement.”)
Kathleen Davey, Punta Gorda
Whom did US Rep. Steube represent?
U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, joined 11 other members of Congress opposing a bill that would honor the brave police officers who did their best to protect the U.S. Capitol from incensed rioters Jan. 6.
The bill passed 413-12 on Wednesday. Opponents spoke against a reference to the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol as “insurrectionists.” What nouns would they have us use for out-of-control criminals seeking to overthrow our democracy?
Whom did Steube intend to represent with this vote? It’s hard to imagine anyone in our community from either political party opposing this bill. When our elected officials fail to represent us, it’s time for us to replace them.
Michele Moe, Punta Gorda
Don’t undermine Bright Futures’ aid
The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, enacted in 1997, has been a tremendously successful program, rewarding high-achieving high school graduates with merit-based scholarships.
For many, this funding plays a critical role in their ability to afford a college education. While helping students, this program also ensures that many of the state’s finest and brightest remain here in Florida.
Contrary to the comments of state Sen. Dennis Baxley and supporters of a proposed bill, Bright Futures is funded (primarily) by the Florida Lottery, and changing eligibility requirements would not save taxpayers money.
I encourage anyone who has an aspiring child or grandchild in Florida to contact their legislators and urge them to end any discussions of changing eligibility or slashing Bright Futures funding.
(Editor’s note: Baxley, R-Lady Lake, proposed denying Bright Futures scholarships to students seeking college degrees determined to have poor prospects for jobs. After pushback, Baxley revised his bill so only students seeking “job-friendly” degrees would receive 100% aid from Bright Futures. Those pursuing supposedly less favorable degrees would get less.)
Clay W. Cone, Naples
Idea to prevent algae in rivers, canals
Algae is a recurring problem on both Florida coasts. On Marco Island, a canal where we used to observe manatee gatherings had only two. Both were hardly moving. The water was so full of green algae that visibility was but a few inches. No light could penetrate to the canal bottom, where manatees once grazed on sea grass. They are starving.
Algae nourishment comes (partly) from farm runoff water into Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf.
A similar problem exists in Ohio with farm runoff into the Maumee River and hence to Lake Erie. Farmers are asked to not farm closer than 20 feet to a runoff stream.
The same thing could be done on farms north of Lake Okeechobee, but that would cost the farmers money. What can be done?
Florida businesses hurt when tourists hear there are dead fish on the beaches.* How much money do they lose? Would they pay farmers to farm more carefully even if it would lower their harvest?
(*Editor’s note: Red tide, which sometimes kills fish, is caused by algae that originates naturally offshore. Some research indicates runoff increases it.)
George Sharp, Marco Island
Myvaccine.fl.gov ‘works well’
Almost daily, there are articles in your newspaper about some 82-year-old senior who can’t get a vaccine appointment and thinks the system is horrible.
The myvaccine.fl.gov website lets you register for an appointment call-back in any county you want. It works well.
I got a call back within days and have received both shots. Today I got emails from six counties where I had registered to set up an appointment.
If you are over 65 and haven’t gotten vaccinated, you are not using the system effectively.
Bob Williams, North Naples
Vaccine tied too much to computers
Could there have been a more dysfunctional vaccine rollout for everyone without a computer, cellphone or knowledge of social media?
It is an unmitigated failure, with enough blame to share for every politician, policy wonk and everyone else involved in the rollout for senior citizens.
The Publix sign-up “lottery” is a game of barbaric cruelty for seniors, who fruitlessly try for weeks on end to sign up. And shame on WBBH-TV for its piece informing seniors not tech-savvy on how to reach out for phone help by “visiting our app” for more information.” Really, for seniors without a computer?
Should have let an organization experienced in logistics on a massive scale handle the rollout, not a bunch of first-timers.
Edmond R. Nickerson, Naples