On second thought …

Your article "Pulling strings" `May 7` left me with an unusual uneasiness after reading it. At first reading, it seems like state Rep. Darren Soto's quasi-crucifixion was mitigated by ample space for him to "defend" himself.

Then, upon reflection, the whole article smacks of unseemly, behind-the-scenes string-pullers who are not the Republicans, but so-called progressive groups and individuals who are jealous of Soto's success and personal behaviors that they simply covet.

The article criticizes him for having and acting on a strong libido, which ironically is exactly the thing that many progressives publicly claim to support and defend.

You criticize him for his stand on vouchers, but leave out several key points. I personally gave Soto (and his legislative aide) hell for the stand on vouchers. They were receptive, but not apologetic. Subsequently, I saw and reviewed literally hundreds of letters from constituents who clearly stated their preference for voucher programs. While I do not support public money going to non-public schools, I can tell you that the votes Soto made were what his constituents asked for.

As a board member and treasurer-elect of the Classroom Teachers Association, I can also tell you that Soto, appropriately, sponsored the teacher-friendly House Bill 955, which would have required the school system to be notified for any student accused of felonious behavior. I can also tell you that our state union asked for broad support for Soto because he does, in many ways, represent his district and is generally open to an education-friendly agenda.

I personally made requests for local teachers unions across the state to join me in my support for him, and many did just that. While Soto doesn't have a 100 percent voting record with what I consider to be an education agenda, his votes are far better than most in the Florida House. Not being afraid of criticism makes him a stronger, not weaker, leader.

It almost seems that certain Democrats in the area with big egos and even bigger tears falling from their faces are jealous of Soto's attention and affection from his own constituents, the Hispanic community, federal politicians such as Bill Nelson (who campaigned for him), Hillary Clinton and others.

This article, highlighting differences among progressives and containing thinly veiled personal criticisms, shows hints of not only being petty itself, but plays perfectly into the perceived plan of conservatives by trying to divide progressives and keep us busy fighting.

Soto is correct in suggesting that Democrats are largely politically irrelevant in the Florida House, and that relationships, not partisan rhetoric, are what help us achieve any semblance of a progressive agenda.

Carl Howard, Orlando

Kudos to us, part I

Great article on Not Them `"24-hour party people," April 30`! I saw them at the Back Booth a couple weeks back and was really impressed with what they were trying to do with their music. It's refreshing to hear this type of hip-hop and it's nice that it's receiving press.

Another person who played that night at the Back Booth was a drummer who played under the name the Brian Fowler Project. It was like Girl Talk with live drums and a video projector that plays an edited movie that is completely syncopated with the performance (very original). Keep up all the good work in promoting local music. Thank you.

Chris Stritmatter, via the Internet

Kudos to us, part II

Great story on the Dungeon `"The devil's music," April 30`. I've been hearing about this for a few weeks now and props to you for giving it some exposure. The Dungeon may not ooze "class," but it's a fun little place and everyone is always very nice. Well done.

James McCourt, via the Internet

Meet me in BumCo

We started off with ViMi and now there's a NoMi `Comments, April 23`. Why stop at just two? May I suggest the corner of Bumby Avenue and Colonial Drive be named BumCo? Magnolia Avenue and Orange Avenue could be MagOr; not much is going on over there but it is the home of our greatest statue, miniature Lady Liberty, and MagOr sounds like the name of a Dungeons & Dragons character. OraMa works too.

And finally here's one for the tourist corridor: International Drive and Kirkman Road could be InterKirk, party central.

Nadeem Khan, via the Internet

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