Letters to the editor for Saturday, May 6, 2023

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Local fertilizer control limited

No one can deny that Florida has a problem with red tide, algae blooms and now sargassum. It’s a proven fact that the nutrients in fertilizers make these problems worse. In the past, local authorities combated this by limiting fertilizer use during certain times of the year. Why then would the Florida Legislature sneak (“sneak” is the correct word) a law into the budget making this illegal? Local authorities are no longer allowed to limit fertilizer use. If Florida is the “freest” state in the union, why would the Legislature take this authority away from local jurisdictions?

Scott Nichols, Fort Myers

DeSantis' travel transparency

The recent move by the Florida Legislature to shield DeSantis' travel arrangements from public scrutiny reeks of a nefarious motive. Safety as an excuse is just that: an excuse. An honest, ethical politician who isn't being influenced by dark and/or foreign monies has no need to hide from the truth. Absent his willingness for transparency, we must assume the worst: dishonest, unethical, and influenced by dark money or foreign entities. Telling the public today where the governor went yesterday, and who paid for it, poses zero risk to his safety or privacy.

Kevin Shanosky, Naples

Is Paradise lost?

It took John Milton 10,500 lines of verse in 10 books to define “Paradise Lost.” Sadly, it’s not that hard today. Hungry financiers and developers, negligent commissioners and zoning boards and uninformed buyers/renters have redefined it in a lot less time. We often hear the phrase “Paradise” associated south Florida but it has become more a marketing catchphrase than an actual aesthetic. I was introduced to our paradise by family trips from New York to Grandma’s starting in 1952 -- ferry ride to Sanibel and all. In subsequent years I learned the magic of the Everglades, snowy egrets, royal palms, rural vistas, Atlantic sunrises and Gulf sunsets. It begged to be shared, and shared it was. Even 30 years ago one could find very rural country between Fort Myers and Bonita Springs right off 41. Then came more money, ever faster and larger. And those who would profit from it -- ever bolder. Now my Paradise is daily being replaced by tacky strip malls, endless apartment complexes and gated communities, and gridlock on Daniels Parkway. What’s worse, the pace continues to accelerate. Thank God for those few brave souls who shine a light on the toll it’s all taken. Perhaps, with their dedication, Paradise will not be lost. But the smart money says it will.

John Richman, Fort Myers

Hypocrisy on the left

The hypocrisy of the left keeps coming. In October 2018 more than 100 Democratic members of Congress, including current minority leader Jeffries, sent a letter to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis opposing the deployment of troops to the border, and accusing Trump of exploiting the migrants attempting to enter the country. Biden just announced he was sending 1,500 troops to the border and these same people are totally silent. Further, the mainstream media is selling it as Biden taking action on the border issue when they attacked Trump when he sent troops.

Ron Wobbeking, Naples

We don't have open borders

Last week another letter writer mentioned a "wide-open southern border" and that it "was about to be closed in 2020." Does this person realize we have search engines? Only 80 miles of new barriers were built and parts of the wall that Trump did build was costing 46 million per mile. Also, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has a really easy web page to check regarding 2023 arrests of folks trying to come across the border. They are doing their job as normal, and for crying out loud we do not have open borders. If you prefer Trump's harshness that is on you, but please quit lying about the other side. Also, when is Mexico going to pay for the wall?

Paul Fowler, Bonita Springs

Far right talking points

Regarding the letters that the far right sends: I believe they have a script of all the negatives they are supposed to regurgitate when they want to tell us how awful the rest of us are.

No rule of law for the southern border? This has continued to be a national issue for decades. Guess who can actually solve it? The Congress of the U.S. Guess who keeps "kicking the can" down the road? The U.S. Congress.

Money being pumped into "phony green policy initiatives?" Most of us see it is imperative to do something to turn this climate meltdown around.

High inflation? Not this administration's doing! There is high inflation all over the world at this time in history.

A ballooning national debt? Not one administration's "fault!" Bush sure added to the national debt! As did Mr. Trump. The one president that I can remember who helped bring it down was Bill Clinton.

"A woke administration?" C'mon, get serious! This is a made up "fact" to fuel a culture war!

Increasing crime in our cities? This has been an ongoing issue for decades. Taking assault weapons off the streets is a start.

Where are these people getting their information? I suggest it may be from a certain TV outlet that fuels cultural animosity. And for those who continue to watch only Fox, my warning is: "You will get Fox Pox!"

Sarah Wilmarth, Fort Myers

Blame for Afghanistan tragedy

We can argue this point ad infinitum as to who sold out Afghanistan but we can't argue what a debacle the withdrawal was under Joe Biden.

Yes, President Trump had a withdrawal date of May 1, 2021 and President Biden extended it to August 31. Afghanistan was becoming a quagmire for us as it was for the Russians from 1979 to 1989. And we should have withdrawn our forces and civilians (including Afghanistan civilians) but why couldn't it have been done in a more orderly fashion? What was the rush? Since we had already extended the date once, extend again. But Biden wanted to check this one off his list.

To see the amount of military equipment and piles and piles of money left behind was beyond comprehension. And how about the Afghan people clinging to planes in an effort to get out. We left so many Afghans behind who had helped us over the last 20 years. You can guess what fate befell them. Or how about the 13 brave American servicemen and women who died in that suicide bomber blast? Beyond sad.

But the most tragic thing of all might be the CIA's assessment in stark terms that there might be a rapid and total collapse of the Afghan military and the government if we pulled out. Right on the money.

Why might that be the most tragic? Because the White House either didn't know about the assessment or just ignored it. And therein lies the bigger tragedy.

Rick Manuel, Dade City

Echoes of Franz Kafka novel

Franz Kafka, the notable Prague, Czech born author, had his novel “The Trial” published posthumously in 1925. It is a story about a man who is accused by the administration of a dysfunctional society of an undisclosed crime. He is brought before the judge with a presumption of guilt and with marginal evidence against him must then prove his innocence.

This century old fictional tale sadly mimicked reality when former President Donald J. Trump was recently indicted, and then arrested and arraigned in New York City on April 4, 2023. He was apparently accused of 34 incoherent misdemeanors which could be elevated to underlying and undefined felony charge(s).

Let’s hope that Lady Justice is “truly blind” and Mr. Trump will receive a fair trial based on the facts and evidence, unlike the main character in Mr. Kafka’s novel. It would be most unfortunate for the 45th president, if we have to conclude with one of the author’s famous quotes from this historic tale:

“It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”

Leonard J. Schuman, Marco Island

Greed in politics, business

Although not a fan of communism inspired Senator Bernie Sanders, this man is spot on when he proclaims that greed may lead to America's downfall. He points out that the three richest Americans possess more wealth than half the U.S. population combined. If true, that reflects poorly on this nation's values. He also rants about giant pharmaceutical firms that are responsible for the elderly having to choose between their medications and food. Moderna made billions off its COVID vaccine after the U.S. government largely funded the experimentation and production. Pfizer also raked in record profits from the COVID plague.

Alas, the Vermont senator neglected to point out the unmitigated avarice of his fellow politicians. Joe Biden's beloved Scranton, Pa., abode pales in comparison to his current digs in Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Del. Additionally, his son and brother have become millionaires riding his coattail. Likewise, Nancy Pelosi's husband benefited from her "insider" stock tips. On the Republican side, Donald Trump boasts of an accumulated fortune that may eventually bite him in the tush. Bottom line? Capitol Hill is a cesspool of greed.

Perhaps greed reared its ugly head in Naples recently when an upscale estate went on the market for $26 million over its 2021 purchase cost. Is this a case of high expectation on speculation or blatant gouging? Real estate "flipping" is a proven way to make fast money but this exorbitant markup takes it to a new level of greed.

America was founded on the concept of "the sky's the limit" but with the unspoken stipulation of "do no harm to others." This dual premise has proven to be a conundrum for those who seek to accumulate wealth. While entrepreneurs are lauded for their initiative and sweat equity, elected public officials who use their position to pad their personal bank accounts are no better than bottom feeding scavengers.

Gerald Ponder, Cape Coral

Governor's bad judgment

Ron DeSantis may be viewed by some as an Iconoclast -- a person who attacks cherished beliefs and institutions, like Disney World. But, he did not set out to destroy Disney, the largest employer in Florida. He began a “don’t say gay” movement and Disney disagreed with it. Then he retaliated against Disney. He merely reacted to Disney’s disagreement, and he continues to react against Disney. But he is not iconoclastic.

DeSantis has placed himself in a dilemma. If he continues his attacks on Disney, he is perceived as anti-business, he hurts Florida economically and he offends an icon of fun and joy for young and old alike -- Disney World. If he capitulates, if he backs off his attacks on Disney, he comes up as a weak leader. The governor has put himself in a bind.

But, he has not done so as an iconoclast; he has done so because he lacks good judgment. That is obvious with respect to the Disney dilemma. His bad judgment goes beyond Disney. His bad judgment showed itself as he banned mandatory masking and vaccines when thousand of Floridians were dying from COVID. He showed bad judgment again with his anti-woke movement to prevent minorities from telling their story of bondage and humiliation after they were captured and enslaved in America by Americans. His bad judgment manifested itself as he flew migrants from Texas to Massachusetts at Florida taxpayer expense and at the degradation of amnesty protected human beings in poverty and bad health just to retaliate against compassionate states, much like he retaliated against Disney.

As Americans, we look to leaders for good judgment. Ron DeSantis exhibits lots of bad judgment, The proof is in the pudding.

Joe Haack, Naples

Democracy in peril

Even as we near the country's 250th birthday we need to be reminded nothing lasts forever without work and goals of generations.

Who would have ever thought the U.S. Capitol would look like a third world country with a president leading an attempted coup.

Who would expect a major news network paying three quarters of a billion dollars for lying to their viewers about election results.

Who would imagine the "land of the free" would openly attack Jewish people, side with neo-Nazi's, attempt to restrict voting of minorities and college students, side with Russia over democratic Ukraine or ban books from LGBTQ to Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente.

Nothing is forever but the cracks of democracy in the USA are as obvious as the crack in the Liberty Bell.

Glenn Mueller, Naples

Understanding the Second

I have always been appalled by the availability of guns in America, especially more powerful weapons which surely belong only in the hands of our military and law enforcement personnel. Until we reach that level of civility in our society, America will continue to lead the world's richest nations in gun deaths, aided and abetted by the misunderstood Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment is comprised of only one sentence, and contains one subject noun: "Militia." Two back to back phrases-in-apposition, within that one sentence, should not allow for misinterpretation, and consequent misrepresentation, either deliberate or otherwise. Despite the intent of this language, misinterpretation prevails, and as a result America is awash in personal weaponry. The Second Amendment does not convey a right to an individual, but rather to our free state, and this right has been realized and satisfied by our state without infringement -- we call it the armed forces of the United States of America (i.e. militia). I believe it is time to abandon our frontier mentality and join the rest of the civilized countries in our world. The gun problem can be solved by correcting the misinterpretation of the Second Amendment (the cause) and thus removing the gun fascination it has created on the mindset of America's citizenry (the effect).Sensible gun sale controls could conform with a corrected understanding of the Second Amendment.

Patrick Downey, Naples

Enact meaningful gun safety laws

Backed by the NRA, some proponents of the Second Amendment believe that it is the only amendment of our Bill of Rights that should have no restrictions, that Americans have an absolute and unregulated right to own and use guns.

NRA-backed legislators have blocked reasonable regulation of gun ownership and usage and failed to ensure the safety of the rest of us.

We are all suffering the results of those policies: people who feel they can carry whatever gun they want anywhere they want, shoot whoever they want, and for whatever reason. Shooters defend themselves with some political ideology, or a stand your ground law, or a mental health excuse.

If you are afraid that gun safety regulation will lead to a repeal of the Second Amendment, here is another way to look at it: The more Americans feel afraid to worship in our church, mosque or synagogue, shop in a store, pull into the wrong house, peacefully demonstrate, attend a concert, drop our children off at school, the more likely it is that we will demand that the Second Amendment be repealed.

If you value the Second Amendment and want to save it, vote for politicians who will enact and enforce meaningful gun safety laws.

Judy Freiberg, Naples

DeSantis: What are you hiding?

You are our employee and we have the right to know where and when you are travelling! Why are you not telling us? What did you do in Japan for the state of Florida? I see on CNN that you signed a document in Jerusalem! What did you commit the state of Florida to do with Israel?

Why are you hiding the fact that you are out campaigning and having our Legislature (elected representatives), proposing a bill that would make you free to go out and campaign while still getting paid as governor of our state?

Become honest and level with the people of the state!

Franklin Warner, Fort Myers

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Letters to the editor for Saturday, May 6, 2023