Letters to the editor for Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Gun Rights


Our readers share their opinions on a variety of topics

Affordable housing in Collier

My sincere thanks to Collier Commissioner Dan Kowal (District 4) who made the following comment in a recent interview:

“Even in projects that aren’t required to have (affordable housing), we’re asking for it, that’s the goal,” Kowal said. “We do see the writing on the wall. If we don’t keep our teachers, nurses, firefighters and police here within the community, our way of life is going to change.”  

One suggestion, sir. None of the essential workers you mention can afford apartments in the 100% and 120% AMI (area median income) range, where monthly rents begin at over $2,000. Up to now this has been the focus of the BCC. 

To fulfill your stated goal we need rentals that our workers can actually afford to pay — at the 30%, 50% and 80% AMI levels. 

I enthusiastically applaud your goal. You’re on the right path. 

Joe Trachtenberg, former chairman Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, Naples 

Help save Yacht Club Ballroom

Sending out a personal appeal to all past and present residents of Cape Coral, or anyone who may have been impacted by the Yacht Club Ballroom and who cares about historical significance. On June 7 at 4:30 please come to the City Council Chambers to demand the ballroom be saved. If you cannot attend, please contact the mayor and City Council via email and phone.

The structure survived Ian like a champ with a broken window and sheetrock replacement resulting from the window — no surge flooding.What has caused issues is the neglect by city leadership to fulfill their responsibility as stewards of the resources of our city. Years of deferred maintenance are what have led to the need for a new roof and HVAC, and upgraded electrical system. All other costs presented were smoke to justify this irresponsible action.Additionally, the city has the ability to declare this historically significant example of mid-century architecture exempt from the 50% rule. There is zero evidence that ONE building will trigger massive increases in our flood insurance premiums as suggested by one council member. Other municipalities across the nation have done so without any change in rates.Time is running out as they race to demolition at extensive financial and cultural cost.Please help.

Kari Lerner, Cape Coral

Shameful Collier school lawsuit

Alfie Oakes’ recent lawsuit against the Collier County School Board is a bit like a clown looking for a circus in which to perform.Oakes is challenging the actions of the school board re its recent national search for a new superintendent. The board retained a reputable academic search firm to assist in its search process, and that firm collected all the applicants, did their due diligence and recommended the best-qualified candidates to the board. That’s what search firms are hired to do. Most major academic institutions retain search firms for their key positions using this very same process.This is where Oakes’ claims become somewhat laughable. He claims that the board should have interviewed all 40+ candidates. Shame on Oakes. If he were to run his business with the same broad-based philosophy for all of his decisions, he wouldn’t make any money.Let’s face it, Oakes backed three school board candidates, hoping to change the board’s philosophy. All three candidates won, giving them apparent control of the board. But somewhere along the line, one of those candidates thought that Dr. Ricciardelli was the better choice and cast the swing vote.Oakes is not happy. Had his candidate won, there would be no lawsuit. He is going to cost Collier County voters precious tax dollars to argue this suit in court if it goes forward. Why doesn’t he just sit back and buy the other two seats in the next election? That would then give him control. No taxpayer dollars spent on lawyers.But let’s all hope, for the good of the county, that that never happens. The education of our children is far too important.

John Johnson, Naples

DeSantis imposes religious beliefs

Our dictatorial governor is not content to eliminate abortion rights for Florida women. He’s now attacked the front end of birth control. His new “Medical Freedom” act permits any health care worker to refuse to provide standard care to patients. While this is obviously aimed at the LGBQT population, I wonder how many of our citizens are aware that he’s now allowing health care providers to use their religious views to dictate treatment options for everyone. For example, this means that any doctor can refuse to write a prescription for birth control pills, put in an IUD, or perform vasectomies. And pharmacies can even refuse to sell condoms or morning-after medications to customers.

It is significant to understand that DeSantis is Roman Catholic, a religion that expressly forbids use of any birth control method except for the rhythm method. He increasingly uses biblical references as he campaigns around the country. In Michigan, he said, “Put on the full armor of God. … You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida, we walk the line here.” Wow! What message is he sending?

It’s obvious he’s adopted shocking ignorance of the constitutional separation of church from state for his own political benefit. He and his state legislative toadies are desperately imprinting DeSantis’s personal and religious beliefs on all the people of Florida. Just think what he might do as president.

Karen Evans, Cape Coral

Saving Social Security

Doctor Gena Hernandez’s op-ed in this paper on Mother’s Day hit the nail on the head. Social Security is not like a mutual fund or a pension fund. It does not hold investments. Social Security is a “pay as you go” system. It is a surplus or deficit program.Social Security is more self-reliant than government as a whole. This past year Social Security spent 8% more money than it collected. However, the rest of the federal government spent 34% more money that it collected. In spite of the fact that Social Security expenditures have exceeded revenues from payroll for every year since 2010 putting Social Security into black ink does not require overhauling the entire system. It requires only tweaking several facets to keep Social Security solvent for the next 75 years

What are these corrective facets, They are (1) boosting the payroll tax gap on higher income workers, (2) hiking the payroll tax on all workers thereby spreading the burden, (3) increase payments to people having the payment as their sole income ($0 AGI) and lowering the payouts to people with large adjusted gross income (AGI). A combination of taxing annual wages over $400,000 and a 1% overall tax rate would exceed a 100% coverage target. Plus, (3) the federal government can pay back the $2.7 trillion that it has borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund for use on other projects.Combining these revenue and benefit adjustments creates outcomes which are tolerable for many politicians, but we need die hard politicians to convert from greed to compassion. As Doctor Hernandez points out, one way to accomplish this conversion is to take Congress out of the Civilian Service Retirement System and put them into our citizen Social Security System. Then Congress will realize how easy it is to keep Social Security alive and healthy as we move into the future.

Mary Taylor, Naples

Thank you Mr. Hilliard

Mr. Hilliard’s guest column on Sunday established elemental parallels here to the authoritarian events in Europe nearly 100 years ago. I commend both Mr. Hilliard’s service and his clarity of thought. I want to explore further an additional feature of the rise of authoritarian leadership. Benito Mussolini, Italy’s leader in the late ’30s and early ’40s (and, friend of Adolf Hitler) was fond of claiming that he made the trains run on time. Efficiency is always heralded by those tilting toward authoritarian rule. Hitler was far more strategic about this than Mussolini: he employed scientific innovation to build a war machine. This affords a claim to excellence; indeed, superiority over others.

We have something similar going on today in Florida. First, stack the deck in your favor; redraw voting maps to favor your party. Second, win big in the election. Third, claim that your success (“Red Wave”) provides assurance that you know what the voters want. Finally, run for higher office (Chancellor in The Third Reich) with the promise that you will repeat this same approach nationwide. It is clear to me that we have reached this final step in Florida.

Mr. Hilliard justifiably raises the question of “Who is responsible for the authoritarian takeover in Florida?” I believe Hannah Arendt, the German-American philosopher, offers an answer: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.” — Hannah Arendt

Please take note of Arendt’s argument that “the ideal subject” exists on both the left and the right of the political order. Thank you Mr. Hilliard.

Joseph Curran, Naples

Opinion piece a disgrace

We honor Robert Hilliard for his dedicated and courageous service in World War II. Somehow, given his noble service in defense of freedom, it is difficult to imagine that he actually wrote this disgusting piece. To rebut all of the Florida issues that he equated to actions in Nazi Germany is a waste of the readers’ time. It would be lost on anyone who is so ill informed as to agree with this opinion. This perfectly illustrates why we subscribe to the absolute minimum of the Daily News to have some idea of what is going on in our local community. This opinion piece is a disgrace.

Bruce Foster, Naples

Religion in politics

Since man has been on earth, he has invented religions.

The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Mayans all had Gods and in our current world there are at least 500 different Gods being worshiped.

All of these religions are made up by humans, they are not real.

Our founding fathers were aware of this fact and made it clear that government should be separate from religion.

The current governor and his followers have enacted many laws based on Christian religion. A religion based on the premise that God, the same one that they believe created Adam and Eve, had to find a married virgin and impregnate her to make a son on earth. This so-called immaculate conception was a Jew and the Jews that he lived among saw nothing in him to worship, but some 400 years after he died the Christian religion began in what is now Turkey. None of the first person books written about Christ came out until 60 to 70 years after his death, so the people that wrote them were not alive with Jesus, making the whole story hearsay.

Religion was necessary before there were laws. Now, it only serves to separate us humans and add to the fact that we are all different in the way we look, but genetically 99.95% the same. I lived in a town of 2,500 that had 17 different Christian churches , the Realtor told me they like to go to church, just not with each other.

A lot of the laws and voting changes in Florida bear close resemblance to laws and voting changes enacted in Germany by Adolf Hitler.

Making laws based on religious beliefs is a bad idea, and hopefully most of these laws will be found to be unconstitutional,  just like our founding fathers envisioned.

William Ochiltree, Cape Coral

Donalds an embarrassment

Byron Donalds is again embarrassing Southwest Florida voters. He is co-sponsoring a bill in the House with Lauren Boebert. Among other things, their bill would repeal federal gun laws requiring background checks for juveniles and the mentally ill and repeal the 10 day waiting period for those checks to to conducted. Donalds does not represent the voters of Southwest Florida; he represents the National Rifle Association.

The National Rifle Association was established in 1871 to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens and to promote the sport competitively. It became a popular sport in the Olympics, in colleges, organized by the NRA. In the 1930’s the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons, prevent possession by criminals, require all dealers to be licensed and require background checks. NRA backed the National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act.Then in the mid-1970s, a faction within the NRA moved the NRA away from sports into opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and for the first time ever the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate.

In 1981 a gunman shot and paralyzed President Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady. Then the Brady Bill, endorsed by Reagan, appeared requiring background checks before gun purchases. After the Brady Bill passed in 1993, the NRA paid for lawsuits in nine states to strike it down. In 1997, the Supreme Court declared parts of the legislation unconstitutional. The NRA was awash in money from gun and munitions manufacturers. By 2000, it was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. It spent over $40 million on the 2008 election. In 2012 the NRA spent $9 million in the presidential election, and in 2014 it spent $13 million. In 2016, it spent over $50 million on Republican candidates, including $30 million on Trump’s effort to win the White House. The NRA spent more money on Trump than any other outside group.

And now the NRA is spending money on Byron Donalds seeking his contribution to the mass murders of innocent children by way of automatic weapons and no background checks. This is beyond embarrassment; it is a disgrace which mocks rational thought and human compassion.

Joe Haack, Naples

Free tax assistance

Regarding the May 18, 2023 Naples Daily News entitled “Free e-filing system moves ahead.” The irony of this story is that a free system that allows millions of taxpayers to input their taxable information directly to the IRS has been available since 1968! The system is a joint program of AARP and the IRS. AARP provides volunteers who are accredited (by the IRS) tax preparers to be available in locations throughout the U.S. to input taxpayer’s data into the AARP database and then transmit it to the IRS. There is no charge to the taxpayer to utilize this service.This system is called AARP Tax-Aid. Their website is aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp taxaid. The information you’ll find there gives statistics about the regular tax season which closed last month. It states:

“With the help of 26,163 volunteers, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide had a very successful season by filing 908,767 federal returns with a value of $813,370,409 serving 1,212,894 people.”I will admit that not everyone can utilize this service. For one thing it’s for personal returns, not businesses. The other downside is that AARP Tax-aid only operates from the first Monday in February to April 15.I have been an AARP Tax-aid volunteer for 6 years and I am proud of what we have done for many of our Naples clients.

Duane Moyer, Naples

Voter conundrum

It is being reported that 70% of Democrats do not want Joe Biden to run again. Biden’s appeal is even less popular among independents and moderate Republicans. Clearly if Democrat leaders insist on nominating a candidate who doesn’t even appeal to Democratic voters they will only have themselves to blame on Election Day. Policies and platforms aside most voters see advanced age and cognitive decline as primary concerns. Obviously the leader of the United States must have mental acuity, and astuteness in the business realm. Clearly America is “the biggest business in the world.” Any reasonable person would agree that no board or group of shareholders would be comfortable with Biden running a Fortune 500 company. He most likely wouldn’t even be considered in any leadership position, yet 25 to 30 percent are happy to see him run the country until he is 86 years old. This is truly astounding.John McWilliams, Fort Myers

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