An old theme
Regarding "Sprawl stalls public transit" (front page, July 16): The story by Ted Jackovics laments the city lagging in the bottom 10 percent of the nation's urban areas in public transportation (again). Tribune editors have been wearing out that theme for years. Here's my analysis:
Let's begin by noticing that the Brookings Institution is a famously liberal think tank, not mentioned in Ted's report. Let's also agree that Tampa, Orlando and Lakeland — three Florida cities that ranked near the bottom in the study — are all towns that bloomed in the era of the automobile. In contrast, towns like Philadelphia and Boston were born in the days of horses, buggies and shoe leather — people walked a lot in those days. A very key consideration not noted in the report.
Brookings is consistently pro-union, and you can't build or staff an urban transit system in America anymore without a public employee union to create inefficiencies and guarantee coffee breaks, pensions and extravagant benefit plans. Of course, none of these expensive perks does anything to improve transportation.
Lastly, the story gave Tribune editors yet another opportunity to blast Florida's union-busting, cost-cutting senior executive, Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Prove it, Mitt
Poor Mitt Romney wants President Obama to apologize for the Bain attack ads. Yet the GOP and its far right have attacked Obama and pledged to destroy him at all costs since Day One. Calling the president a "Muslim," a "socialist" and Bozo, and saying "you lie" and "you're not American," and the birther lies — all totally unfounded attacks. Did the president call foul? Did he ask for apologies? No. He showed the broad shoulders necessary to carry out his office for America. I'm sure the president would apologize to Romney — Romney should just show the American people his tax returns and prove he is who he says he is.
Regarding Johnnie Byrd's letter outlining his belief that he should be a circuit judge ("Byrd responds," Your Views, July 14): I say keep your religion out of my courtroom. Citing his strong Christian beliefs does not make him qualified or desired to sit on the bench. Yes, having strong core values are positive qualities, but those values don't need to be based on any specific religion and may even be based outside of religion completely.
As a voter, I want someone who will uphold the Constitution and make the tough decisions, even if they're unpopular when it comes to public opinion or the values of certain religions. By introducing himself as a Christian and focusing on his religious beliefs as the underpinnings of his qualifications to become a circuit judge, Byrd is, in fact, engaging in judicial activism.
I have the utmost respect for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn but cannot fathom his desire to put the city in deeper debt ("Mayor wants to borrow to cover budget shortfall," Metro, July 15). I recently read in The Wall Street Journal the tale of Stockton, Calif., now in bankruptcy. In Stockton, like much of the country, property values have fallen the past few years, straining city budgets. In Tampa, past mayors went on spending sprees perhaps thinking the pot of gold was at the end of every rainbow in Tampa and Hillsborough County. Thanks to lavish spending, the city is now looking down at more than $800 million in debt. I, for one, do not see a big turn upward in property values and therefore no big gain in tax revenue to the city and county any time soon.
Borrowing would be fine in one of two circumstances: 1. Borrow now to pay off higher interest on current debt, using the borrowed money to retire existing debt. 2. There was some indication a drastic turn of events were on the horizon for the economy. The first seems to be a non-player by the city. The second does not seem likely any time soon.
The bottom line is the city is still spending, or projected to spend, more than it takes in. When are we to stop putting the burden on the next generation? Is it not time to just stand up to the fact that bad decisions were made in the past, and we need to shoulder the responsibility for a balanced budget now rather than later? As Tampa goes, so goes the county and the region. The time has come to only spend what is there to spend. That $800 million-plus in debt has to be paid off, as well.