As individuals, we regularly examine our priorities to make decisions as we manage our checkbooks. As citizens, we expect our elected leaders to do the same with our government checkbook. The effects of sequestration are dramatic and far-reaching across all sectors of government. Some are inconsequential, some are cause for concern, and a few are downright dangerous. The drastic budgetary cuts that face the FBI pose a clear and present danger to national security and to the citizens of the United States. If these cuts remain in place it will not be a question of if, but rather when disaster will occur.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has been at the forefront of protecting us from terrorist attacks, including the interdiction of plots to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank; a Portland, Ore., public park; a Cleveland bridge; a Bronx, N.Y., Jewish community center; the U.S. Capitol building; the Chicago Sears Tower; the Fort Dix, N.J., military base; jet fuel tanks at New York's Kennedy airport; and scores of other critical targets. At the same time, the FBI has continued to address its other responsibilities including detecting espionage; investigating public corruption; protecting us from cyberattacks; addressing civil rights violations; and investigating major criminal matters.
FBI director James B. Comey recently assumed office with the promise of a continued, vigorous commitment to the bureau's responsibilities. But how can he fulfill that promise with one hand tied behind his back? Sequestration has cut $700 million from the FBI budget, necessitating the furlough of 36,000 employees; reducing the FBI's workforce by 3,500; imposing a hiring freeze until at least 2015; canceling interagency, law enforcement training; eliminating on-board employee training; and imposing countless other restrictions that impede and degrade the FBI's ability to address its responsibilities.
Although the general public may not yet fully appreciate the danger it faces from FBI budget cuts, law enforcement professionals do. Police leaders attending a recent International Chiefs of Police Conference emphatically deplored the budgetary problems confronting the FBI as "a body blow to law enforcement."
Do something for your country and those you care about. Now is the time to tell your elected representatives to re-examine their priorities and restore funding to the FBI. Tell them we are not content to wait until the next disaster occurs.
Ellen Glasser, president, Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, Jacksonville
Tea party factions due to collide Oct. 30, letter
Judging from this letter, there appear to be a lot of misconceptions about libertarianism. Since libertarians are part of the nation's fastest-growing political faction, I think we are due at least a fair portrayal of our beliefs.
We certainly do not "scorn" compassion or charity; we revile the "forced compassion" that redistribution of wealth represents. We believe in the power of private citizens and groups to do good as they see fit, without being told by the government which causes are more worthy. And although we believe government should be limited to constitutional duties, the fact that we favor limited government does not mean that we favor zero government.
As a Christian, I can tell you that, far from alienating those who believe in God, we are more religiously tolerant than either of the two "major" parties. Freedom of religion is one of the core values for libertarians.
Most importantly, at the heart of our beliefs is that liberty and economic freedom are by far the best ways to achieve prosperity for all.
Chris Johnson, Clearwater
12 words you should stop using right now Oct. 30, commentary
I enjoyed Alexandra Petri's commentary on improving American English. It was witty and cute, and if spoken, it would have been a fine crepitation indeed.
It brought to mind a related vexation I have involving sentence syntax; it's something that I hear ever more frequently, and it is driving me crazy. It goes something like this, "Me and him went to school and slept through English class." Would you say "me went" or "him went"? No. You would say "he and I went." You use the subjective case and put yourself last in a series of pronouns.
It is not just in personal conversation that I hear this, but increasingly on TV and other media emanations; it comes from adults as frequently as from kids. What I want to know is: Ain't no one learning students good English in school no more?
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
Affordable Care Act
Problems will pass
When Medicare Part D (a Republican idea) rolled out, it didn't work, either, and eventually it got worked out. The problems with the Obamacare website will pass as well.
The witch hunting and scapegoating and finger-pointing is tiresome.
Congress, how about working on the budget issues and immigration, and fix that horrible flood insurance bill you passed, while the geek squad fixes the website?
Oh, and one more thing: Go ahead and print some paper forms so people who don't have computer access can mail in a health insurance application.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
Transit on right track | Oct. 30, editorial
Missing a connection
Clearwater to St. Petersburg? Our emphasis on light rail should be Tampa to St. Petersburg.
There are three destination groups to be considered: South Tampa/MacDill Air Force Base; sports venues (Bucs, Lightning, Rays); and the St. Petersburg Pier and Pinellas beaches.
Please do not leave out our brethren across the bridges when considering light rail.
John Evans, St. Petersburg
Bro Bowl's new status senseless, mayor says Oct. 30
As one of the historians who wrote a letter in support of adding the Bro Bowl to the National Register of Historic Places (and a former skater who practically lived at the Bowl for many years in the 1980s and early 90s), I could not disagree more with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's comments.
Throughout the entire public discussion of the Bro Bowl's status, the mayor has seemed bent on manufacturing conflict. It is not only unnecessary but frankly disappointing to witness. A measure of good leadership is the ability to bring constituencies together, not pit them against one another needlessly.
The mayor's assertion that the Bowl's history is "not historical" and "marginally significant" by comparison with the longer history of African-Americans in the area needlessly inflames groups against one another. Moreover, it is a straw man argument that ascribes views that do not exist to the supporters of preserving the Bro Bowl. Nobody who has supported the preservation of the Bro Bowl is opposed in any way to preserving the African-American history of the area; nor are they claiming that one history is "more important" than another.
A redevelopment plan that honors the important and deeply rooted African-American history of the area, while also preserving the nationally recognized historic site that is the Bro Bowl, should be possible. But it will require thoughtful leadership to make it happen, one that brings people together, as the Bowl itself has done for decades. It would be great to see evidence of that leadership at some point.
Dr. William S. Bush, associate professor of history, Texas A&M University-San Antonio