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Letters to the Editor

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 31, 2012
  • Longboat Key
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+ In need of clarification
Dear Editor:

Please clarify the basis for your recommendation (Oct. 25, page 9A) to vote “no” on the three Supreme Court justices seeking retention.

You cite, apparently with approval, Major Harding’s position that “merit-retention votes for judges are not intended to be votes on judges’ decisions.” Yet, you then recommend a “no” vote because Justices Quince, Lewis and Pariente decided three cases in ways other than you would have decided them: Gore v. Harris, school vouchers and Obamacare.

Decisions with which you do not agree are not proof of “judicial and behavioral improprieties.” Your recommendation reflects, at best, careless and self-contradictory reasoning. Your readers, and the justices, deserve better.
Joseph Bartel

Editors Note: Sorry for the confusion. The whole merit-retention vote for judges is a seriously flawed process, in large part because most Floridians have no clue on what they are voting — the judges’ decisions or their ethical conduct? Harding says it’s a vote on ethical conduct. Yet, Jesse Phillips of Restore Justice 2012, a Central Florida group opposed to retaining the three Supreme Court justices, told a reporter for The James Madison Institute that, “Justice Quince said it best, ‘We have a merit retention system to determine if justices are doing their jobs.’” According to the institute’s fall edition journal: “Phillips contends that the only way to tell whether they are doing their jobs is to ‘look at their decisions; are they living up to the Constitution?’” We support the type of judicial decision making that emphasizes judicial restraint and fidelity to the original meaning of constitutional text, not that style that makes inferences and is regarded as judicial activism — judges making laws. In our view, Justices Quince, Lewis and Pariente’s decisions too often fit the latter.

+ Series is helpful
Dear Editor:

Kudos and many thanks to The Observer for the excellent series and general coverage on ballot items for the Nov. 6 general election. Your amendment-by-amendment opinion series was especially helpful. I happen to agree with your recommendations and expressed logic for all but Amendment 6 — I felt that your analysis, and your stated principles for amendments in general, didn’t support your conclusion and recommendation on that particular amendment. Even there, however, your analysis was, as with all the others, very useful in reaching my own voting decision. As we might say or signal in the Navy: BRAVO ZULU!

Your critical jabs at the absurdity of much of the amendment language — and all the legalistic garbage built up in laws by the legislatures over the years — were also not only spot-on (res ipsa loquitur for sure!), but reminded me of my days as a government student at The American University in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1960s. 

In one state and local government course I took, we examined various state constitutions and had many laughs over who could find the most useless and ridiculous “statutory” language in those documents.
So how about an Observer piece on when we can expect Florida Constitution referenda on roundabouts and parking meters in Sarasota?
Dan Knauf

Important ballot choice for city voters
Dear Editor:

After reading up on it, I have to agree with the professionals on the subject of the questionable structure of the Sarasota city administration. The last amendment on the ballot for city voters may just be the most important decision made in a decade for Sarasota. Three city managers have chimed in and some of the county managers have agreed in newspapers or at meetings. I questioned the wisdom of shifting the IT department under a clerk when it happened.

Now understanding the audit failures that have happened and realizing that an auditor cannot conduct an audit of a boss’s departments without possible compromise, I do think it boils down to creating a strong auditor and returning or placing service departments under the city manager.
An auditor should be assuring that all departments do their jobs correctly and looking for evidence if they are not, making arrangements for corrections. That is what the auditors I have worked with in businesses and nonprofits have done. It is a heavy responsibility if followed professionally. It needs to be independent and report only to the governing board (the commissioners). I am going to vote for the restructuring of the city manager and city auditor and clerk departments.
B. L. Cookson

+ Carafelli understands board decisions
Dear Editor:

The Oct. 19 editorial regarding the Sarasota Hospital Board Candidates was correct in saying this race should be nonpartisan; skills and talents of board members matter.
Teresa Carafelli has absorbed the issues and challenges of Sarasota Memorial Hospital and know what is ahead for our hospital.

However, the comment of taxpayers needing all the business expertise at the board table they/we can get is captured in Carafelli. She partners with her husband in a successful architectural firm. This expertise combined with her exceptional understanding of hospital culture, vast experience with hands-on patient care and patient advocacy makes her uniquely qualified for the hospital board.

The issue of having more representation on the board with strong business experience begs the question: Isn’t the board already well-represented with those who only have a business background? Carafelli understands how board decisions can directly impact the delivery of patient care.
K. Randall and D. Larson

+ Republican Party did not provide reasons why
Dear Editor:

Thank you for providing voters of our area with a comprehensive Voter Guide. It will help voters be well-informed about the candidates. The parts of the Voters Guide which I found very interesting were the views of Rita Ferrandino and Joe Gruters, chairs of the Democratic and Republican Parties of Sarasota County, respectively.

Ms. Ferrandino’s endorsement of President Obama gave the voters an excellent summary of the president’s record of his accomplishments in his first term. Her entire statement gave many persuasive reasons why President Obama deserves a second term.

On the other hand, Joe Gruters engaged in a diatribe against President Obama. What is even more shocking is that his entire statement had only two sentences as to why anyone should vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Mike Donohue



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