Letters to the editor for Sunday, April 16, 2023


Our readers share their opinions on a variety of topics

Book bans have no place in democracy!

As a parent, grandparent and retired librarian, I cherish free speech! And I will defend it! Books present a universe of ideas, they grow visions, they challenge and support inquiry and promote knowledge.

But in Florida, school librarians are being fired for refusing to pull books from library shelves. School districts are mandating the removal and/or the labeling of certain titles. This scares me! It dims learning and sundowns the expansion of ideas. It changes the future!

I believe that book bans have no place in a democracy! Yet, at least 32 states have issued book bans in schools. Do remember though, it’s all out there on the internet.

Suzanne Nossell, CEO of PEN, asks in a Feb. 23 blog, “Book bans and democracy — can they co-exist?

Let’s make sure democracy holds on! And let’s be firm in sharing our resolve that book bans have no place in a democracy!

Patricia Linhoff, Bonita Springs

No water, no sewer, just bills

Since Hurricane Ian I have seen and learned a lot. Having lost our primary house and a rental the learning curve has been brutal. But the best was yet to come.

In January upon completion of the mitigation on both properties we contacted the utilities to have them shut off. FPL was no problem. When I contacted the City of Naples, I was informed I can’t have my water and sewer shut off. A nice lady informed me that I needed a certificate from Collier County that the properties were non-livable. But when I got that, they would refund the basic fees. 

I then contacted several county departments regarding this. No one seemed to know what I was talking about. I put the issue on the back burner while still dealing with lawyers and the flood insurance company trying to see what if anything we will get.

Imagine our surprise when we received our most recent bills. With no water used (no plumbing) and no sewer (no drains, sinks or toilets) our house was charged over $101.00 while the duplex next door got billed for $110.00. 

I emailed the city as to why so high. Was told that I still had to pay for the equipment and the county’s sewer meter would not be refunded. The city will refund after they receive a “Certificate of Demolition.” That’s a no-win situation. I have to tear down a building to shut off the service. I know that I am not the only one in this situation, many cannot afford to keep paying out for nothing, while they wait to see what is going to happen.

Wonder if I don’t pay my bill if they will shut it off?

Jim King, Naples

Outright racism, appalling hypocrisy

Recently another school shooting occurred, this time in Nashville, Tennessee.  As usual, the public reaction was outrage and an outcry to ban assault weapons.  Well, somewhat.  While politicians indicated, once again, that the victims were “in their thoughts and prayers,” Republican legislators were quietly saying “but the NRA and gun industry are in our hearts and souls.”  In some cases, not so quietly.

Immediately after the shootings in Nashville, a peaceful demonstration was held opposing the lack of gun control at the state Capitol in which three Democratic representatives joined.  Two of the Democrats were Afro American, one was white.  Within a day or two, the Tennessee House of Representatives (overwhelmingly Republican) voted to expel the two minorities, leaving their districts without representation.  The white participant narrowly escaped expulsion.  

It seems the more Republicans gain control politically, the less they show interest in achieving any programs benefiting their constituents, but are more interested in restricting individuals’ rights.  While one newscaster alluded to the Tennessee Legislature having the cumulative IQ of a peanut, I see their actions for what they are — outright racism and a total rejection of any criticism of current gun policy as well as an appalling hypocrisy about their allegiances.

Robert F. Tate, Naples

DeSantis and his banana republic

Would somebody please wake this guy up and remind him that he is living in the USA and not some banana republic, where you have to defend your fiefdom every other day. Or do you think that with the new “concealed carry” legislation that he just championed and is now the law in in the “Free State of Florida,” has given the governor cause to hire a state guard at the cost of $100 million.

Perhaps he should be reminded that we already have a federally funded National Guard. Is it possible that, like Disney, if the National Guard disagreed with the governor, could DeSantis call on the state guard to disband the National Guard?

Why doesn’t he just enlist the help of what friends he may have in the likes of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. On the other hand, for the past two years, DeSantis has attacked anyone and everyone that disagreed with him, or was a liberal. Maybe 1,500 won’t be enough.

Roger W. Quagliano, Estero

Going in the wrong direction

The appalling expulsion by the Tennessee Legislature last week of a pair of young Black legislators, Justin Jones, who bas since been reinstated, and Justin Pearson, cast that body in the national forefront for the first time in a century. 

Their evictions, depriving some 200,000 Tennesseans, primarily Blacks, of representations at least temporarily, seem surrealistic.  Reeling from the tragic slaying by a “high powered” firearm of three school children and three adult school employees in Nashville, the Legislature refused to even consider, let alone enact, sensible gun safety legislation. It opted to stick with the recently adopted, extremely permissive, unrestrained gun purchase and possession laws, incidentally now emulated here in Florida under the auspices of Governor DeSantis. 

Instead, the state’s General Assembly kicked out two Black protesting lawmakers, ostensibly for their lack of “decorum” in a body that has been notable for its deviations from proprietary over the years. This is the same legislature that was in the national spotlight 100 years ago for its anti-evolution law barring teaching of that topic in schools, a prohibition that led to the infamous Scopes “monkey trial” immortalized in the highly acclaimed play and memorable 1960 movie “Inherit the Wind.”

The forced removal of those two legislators by the Republican dominated body is reminiscent of what the GOP is doing in the nation’s capital, too.  The Republican speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, has exercised his authority to bar several Democratic lawmakers from serving on various committees, purportedly because of the stances they have taken in the past that have offended the GOP. To his credit, McCarthy swung his ace in an equal opportunity way, knocking off Congress members of both genders and diverse races. 

But the Tennessee Legislature wasn’t always that regressive.  A few years before the prosecution and conviction of evolutionist teacher John Scopes, the Tennessee Legislature, by a single vote, ratified  the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing women to vote, which was tottering before Tennessee became the necessary 36th state to approve the measure, making that  long-term aspiration for equality a reality.

The way the Tennessee solons have waltzed backwards signifies, to borrow a phrase from the 1970’s cigarette ad aimed at women: “You’ve come a long way, baby,” but it’s in the wrong direction — and Florida, regrettably, is  going the same way. 

Marshall H. Tanick, Naples

Best cities criteria questioned

Recently a ranking of the top, and bottom, cities in the United States came out and Naples ranked number one, for various reasons. It seemed to not take into account the trash and litter that is found almost everywhere, especially on the side of the roads, traffic issues (rude and speeding drivers, traffic jams and traffic lights at every three blocks), lack of affordable housing, high prices for merchandise and overall sour mood of residents. I could blame it on snowbirds but the last several years, that case is flimsy. It’s time to reevaluate the criteria for “best cities in the United States.”

Philip Weaver, Naples

A common-sense civilization issue

Our lack of significant and effective action on gun control is a ticking time bomb. Our response to date on these horrific acts has been condolences, prayers and sympathy followed by silent insouciance until the next mass shooting. How many warnings must we receive before realizing that stringent legislative action is an absolute and unequivocal necessity? How many more innocent bystanders, school children, teachers must be murdered by military style weapons before they are banned for public sale? This is a common-sense civilization issue not a constitutional issue. It has nurtured a cycle of tolerating devastating sorrow as a priority over taking preventive action as if gun owners and the NRA have a monopoly on patriotism and democracy. Those who oppose meaningful common sense gun controls fail to recognize that they are vicariously accessories to murder using the Constitution to shield their guilt.

Leo Boghosian, Bonita Springs

Time to face the music

It’s The Battle of the Bands. Another whack job blows away another bunch of innocent people, and the singing begins on cue. The Second Amendment Absolutists, a super group and well oiled machine, break into their greatest hits. Thoughts and Prayers … Good Guy with a Gun … Constitutional Guarantees … Big Brother Wants your Guns and Your Freedom … yada … yada …yada … And The Other Side, a popular act in their own right, chimes in with another oldie but goodie: “What’s It Gonna Take?”Well, I can answer that one. It’s gonna take action at the ballot box. There is no limit to the carnage MAGA politicians can ignore in their quest to win the game and own the libs. If that wasn’t evident to you after Sandy Hook, you haven’t been paying attention. Far be it from me to suggest that Democratic politicians are inherently superior to Republicans, but on this issue, they’re singing a better song. If common sense gun legislation is a compelling issue for you, you cannot, in good conscience, vote Republican in the coming elections. This may run counter to your every political instinct or predilection, but a rational, honest take on our current reality demands it. It’s time to face the music.

Geremy Spampinato, Naples

Constitutional contradiction

Every week we face contradictions in opinion about our constitutional rights, particularly the Second Amendment. An abortion pill is under scrutiny because it causes the end of a pregnancy interpreted as abortion although we support the right to own weapons that kill many. We seem to support the Second Amendment to mean we can possess and purchase many weapons without any clarification or potentially need of permit. I wonder if this conflicts with the constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So many die, at all ages, because of the perceived right to bear powerful weapons that are used to kill people. I acknowledge the user’s right to hunt, complete target practice and perhaps to defend their home. We all must consider the line between the opinions. Do we err on the side of life or right to own?

Willard Sass, Naples

AI must not make decisions

The way to reduce, or eliminate, the concerns about artificial intelligence is to not allow AI to make decisions. AI is really just another search engine. It is more useful because it can combine data from different subjects into one response. Example: What can drinking a lot of alcohol in one sitting do to you. “It will make you drunk.” “Continuing that type of activity, can cause mental and physical harm, such as liver damage and mental defects.” That was of course a simplification. However, it depicts that the engine can only cite what it finds in its database.

What must not happen with AI is making decisions and having control of a trigger. Like, monitoring radar of  approaching planes and having the ability to shoot them down or launching missiles instead of just alerting the proper personnel. AI will be very useful in many ways but must not make decisions or activate switches.

John Piccolo, Estero

Let’s be real

I read with great interest the description of the Stop Woke Act that was in the Naples Daily News on Sunday, March 26. Who would not want to live in this Free State of Florida where everyone will advance on their own merits, no one will be made to feel bad about the misdoings of the past, and no one will be accountable for anything solely on the basis of what ethnic or societal group they belong to? It’s Utopia of the highest order!

Then I realized that all of those rights were already granted to us by our founding fathers when this country was established, and it is only because racism and discrimination still exist more than 200 years later, that we need to continually remind ourselves that all people are created equal.

If you are going to deny that we need reminders about how bad some people and some groups have been treated in the past, solely on the basis of what they represent and not as individuals, then you might just as well outlaw racism and discrimination instead. Oh wait, we’ve already been there! If you don’t teach it or discuss it we are doomed to keep repeating it.

So let’s be real. All the programs of the past have had minimal impacts, relatively speaking, but if we have learned anything, it’s that discussion and education are more fruitful than denial and violence. Where will we be when we pull our heads out of the sand? Will this really be the Free State of Florida?

Steven Hemedinger, Naples

Quit being sheep

Mr. Trump is no different than anyone else who breaks any kind of law. If you break the law, you pay the price. The average Joe doesn’t get Congress members obstructing justice when he or she breaks the law and gets indicted. We pay taxes that pay for them to cheat, lie and steal and still they do nothing for us but take away the books, our right to our own health decisions. They love killing our kids in schools or making sure they go hungry and die due to no health care.  So why do we keep voting for the people that harm us?

If not for ourselves then for our kids, stop voting for these crooks. Quit being sheep to the crooks that will lead you only to the end.  Use your own mind, because it really does work. Get your kids vaccinated for all the childhood vaccines, get the big guns off the street, get your rights back to use your own wonderful mind and give your kids the same chance you got.

Love and not hate will make you happier and healthier.

Best of all save the lives of our beautiful children.

Lynne Sparrow, San Carlos Park

School superintendent decision

Collier County’s budget is $1.9 billion. About 75% goes to our public schools. 50,000 kids attend. Our schools are a complex system. A new superintendent will be hired soon. It’s a key decision.

While it is challenging to understand what one can speak about, three-minute comments from the public are a component of each board meeting. Each of 45 candidates described their vision and values. I asked questions relevant to this topic:

1. What do you have to say to taxpayers like me who don’t want to see funds siphoned off from accredited public schools to pay for quasi-private and home-schooling options that include religious indoctrination?2. Do you consider classic works of art like Michelangelo’s David to be pornographic?

3. Do you agree with proposed legislation that would prevent students under 12 from discussing menstruation with teachers?4. Do you agree with proposed legislation that would enable a single parent to ban allegedly “offensive” material from all students?5. Does the fraud conviction of Former Florida lawmaker, Rep. Joe Harding, who authored the law dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” cause you to question the legitimacy of this law?

I was interrupted twice and told that my reference to the DeSantis Republican agenda was a “tangent.”

The field has been winnowed to four. Millions of dollars and Collier County’s future are at stake. Few people follow the School Board closely.

Michael Sales, Naples

Colonial history or today’s reality?

Gun rights defenders point to the Second Amendment to “bear arms” in the Bill of Rights in 1791.The amendments have been found erroneous and changed over time. Remember in 1791 women and African-American people were not allowed to vote. Prohibition was created and ultimately reversed.In 1791 the country was a new republic when wars were decided by cannon and flintlock rifles. People needed guns to shoot game for survival.Today we see daily, yes daily mass shootings in this country. Long rifles that can destroy a child’s body so bad it can be determined only through DNA.Let’s get away from the ancient Colonial history into today’s reality.It is time to protect citizens and all first respondersSome seem to support weapons that kill our children in their schools. The “mental health” aspect starts with allowing weapons of war, high capacity magazines, and open carry.We can do it and protect children!

Glenn Mueller, Naples

More indictments possible

On Sunday, April 2, Rex Huppke had a tongue-in-cheek column titled “Trump’s indictment can help his campaign.”  He suggested however that maybe not since only one indictment might not be sufficient.  He suggested that GOPers give other members of the party who choose to run a “fair shake”– in other words, the opportunity to exceed the level of the current bar.

However, he forgot that Trump has three more possible indictments waiting in the wings; there is the attempt to “fix” the election in Georgia, then the Jan. 6 insurrection, and finally the pilfering of government documents, all of which are much stronger cases than the current one.

Ken Brindle, Cape Coral

GOP hasn’t changed tactics

Here we go again. After the midterm election drubbing, the GOP hasn’t changed strategy or tactics to attract or retain voters, leaving us helpless and hopeless. Fox News anchors whining about Biden didn’t work in the midterms and will not work in 2024. Meanwhile, the Democrats are actively seeking new ways to attract and retain more votes to maintain their power. They are targeting specific voter demographic groups with tailored messages using specific media channels. The GOP remains silent, letting the Democrats define the issues and the messaging and control the channels. The GOP must get to work to attract voters. Why is fiscal responsibility important to millennials? Because inflation will erode their current and future economic health. This means smaller houses, older cars, less exciting vacations, and insufficient savings for their retirement or their children’s education.

Why is woke culture bad for millennials? Because government agencies should not be indoctrinating their children with neo-Marxists values. What is climate change? Alternative energy may contribute to 10% of our energy needs, but will never entirely replace fossil fuels. Deliberately reducing domestic fossil fuel production only creates energy shortages and higher consumer prices to run cars and households and produce food. What about abortion? The Supreme Court has ruled on Roe v Wade. Now abortion is a states rights matter. So let’s declare that we are pro-choice and support the state laws. We need to reverse the tide of indoctrination into neo-Marxist values on college campuses by articulating a better future to this emerging voter group. One more thing. The MAGA, Inc. SuperPac must stop bashing DeSantis. I hope you’re listening Mr. Trump.

Michael Mainelli, Estero

Uneasy about visiting Florida

My parents, long time “snowbirds” visited Florida upwards of 15 times to escape some of the long Wisconsin winter. I visited them many times during their stays and have made multiple trips myself for cold weather breaks.

With the current political climate in your state I have grown increasingly uneasy about making a return visit. For a state that thrives and relies on the tourist dollar for its very existence, your governor, state legislators and U.S. congressional representatives are scaring me away. Believe me I am not alone.

I sure do not feel safe visiting your state when any gun control legislation is vehemently opposed. And as a senior I certainly take heed when I see and hear how Florida is all about individual choice with the COVID-19 vaccine and any precautions on its spread. Seniors do not want to risk contracting COVID-19 in an uncontrolled environment.

Your Florida Legislature seems to take pride in making voting difficult and one of your U.S. senators wants to make Social Security undependable. Neither are welcoming to snowbirds and their travel dollars.

The “libs” do not own Wisconsin, but neither do conservatives. Wisconsin has a Democratic governor, Republican legislature and one of each for U.S. senator. Checks and balance that Florida is missing.

Florida beware. The buyer is aware of what you are selling and at some point, you, the seller may lose your market. F.Y.I., I sent a note along this line to your state tourism office and have received no response.

William Walters, Fitchburg, WI

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