‘Watering down the votes’
What is it about Republicans and water when it comes to voter suppression laws?
Taking its cue from the recently enacted restrictive Georgia law, the template for others in progress throughout the country, legislation about to be enacted here in Florida includes a prohibition of providing water or other consumable to those waiting in line to vote. That proscription and other repressive parts of the bill headed to Gov. DeSantis for his expected approval are aimed primarily at diluting the vote count of Blacks and other individuals of color.
However, there is one slightly countervailing liquid feature associated with the measure: The Republican sponsors removed the “wet signature” provision that would have mandated a handwritten or pen or pencil signature on file for all mail-in voters to facilitate throwing out ballots cast by those whose signatures, in the eyes of election authorities, do not match existing records.
But even removal of this pernicious provision hardly salvages the bill from its suppressive intent and probable effect. Simply put, banning liquids for waiting voters is a fundamentally unfair — and racist — way of watering down the votes of people of color in the electorate.
Marshall Tanick, North Naples
Editor’s note: The ban on handing out water was a provision of House Bill 7041, which the Florida House tabled Tuesday, April 27, in favor of Senate Bill 90. An amended SB 90, which contains many election-related provisions, was passed 23-17 in the state Senate on Monday, April 26. It was read a third time in the House on Wednesday, April 28.
Personal encouragement not enough
I’m writing in response to the gentleman who admonished President Biden for “pandering to the left.”
First, I would like to congratulate the gentleman for being supportive of minority rights. While so many in past generations felt a woman’s place was in the kitchen, he obviously held a more progressive view of women in the workplace and supported his wife in teaching. His support and encouragement of not only his wife but also children of minorities are admirable and appreciated.
However, support and encouragement are, sorry to say, simply not enough. Educators are aware that when any child is living in a troubled environment, be it unsafe living conditions or lacking adequate food or hope, their ability to thrive is curtailed.
The gentleman should consider taking the next step to help create a fair and equal playing field for all. A good start would be to encourage the current administration, as he did with his students and their parents for those many years.
Barbara Mintz, Cape Coral
‘Fix the Florida Retirement System’
The people of Florida are lucky that the state retirement system is solvent. I maintain residences in both Kentucky and Florida. I pay taxes in both states. I do not receive a state pension from either state; I just have to pay for others in both states to get theirs. The Kentucky Retirement System is substantially bankrupt.
Defined-benefit plans are the reason. Legislators either do not understand the long-term impact of defined-benefit plans; or maybe they do, and do not care because they want to be re-elected. Kentucky legislators have had several opportunities to fix the system, but they failed to do so.
Legislators in Florida have the opportunity to fix the Florida Retirement System while it is still solvent. The funding plans for a defined-benefit plan do not adequately provide funding to accommodate rising wages over the working span of an employee and do not provide for the increase in salaries arising from inflation.
Since we can expect substantial inflation in the next 10 years and have to provide for wages to grow with inflation, the Florida Retirement System will follow in the footsteps of the Kentucky and Illinois systems.
E.W. Hoelscher, Fort Myers
A time to appreciate public service
During this past year, public servants at all levels of government and the nonprofit community have dedicated themselves to keeping our country running while weathering a global pandemic.
As they do every day, they have kept us safe, while providing additional essential services such as delivering vaccine, sending out stimulus checks, processing loans to small businesses, teaching our kids, and extending other programs to keep our economy churning and households operating in addition to doing their normal services and programs.
Of course, the health care community deserves our upmost appreciation and respect. Countless employees were sickened while at work, and thousands died as a result.
Throughout the year, but especially during Public Service Recognition Week, May 2-8, Americans should express our thanks for hard-working public servants who make the everyday and extraordinary possible.
Jerry Townsend, Naples