Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: Virgin Mary painting and felons’ voting rights

Don’t disturb Virgin Mary painting

I am disappointed Bradenton Tropical Palms trailer park has decided to require the removal of Millie Francis’ lovely exterior painting, Our Lady of the Guadalupe.

For this decision to be actionable, my research indicates the park’s governing documents must include restrictions against the display of theologically significant symbols since religious expression on one’s private property is a protected right — and individual trailer units are private property. This would effectively create a “religion-free environment” throughout the park which can be enforced. To that end all religious displays would be treated equally. That would include all religious references including garden statuettes of fairies, Buddha, the Madonna, “Smile God Loves You” signs and Christmas decorations. You get the point.

Without covenant restrictions against the display of religious symbols, an owner should be permitted to freely erect a religious display on their living unit. This allows the painting of Our Lady of the Guadalupe to remain.

Additionally, should the park management vandalize Our Lady of Guadalupe by forcibly removing or desecrate it, the responsible parties might be charged with criminal mischief or more.

Jackie Freeman


Felons’ voting rights amendment was clear

If state officials are “unclear” about restoring felons’ rights and are threatening to wait until the legislature can weigh in, perhaps they have not read the amendment passed by voters overwhelmingly.

The amendment was written to be very clear and is a “self-implementing” amendment. This means that NO legislative action is required. As of Jan. 8, all returning citizens (individuals with a felony conviction) are able to register to vote as long as they have completed everything the court required upon conviction (incarceration, probation, parole, and restitution or fines which are a requirement of finishing probation) and as long as they have not been convicted of murder or a sex offense. The court clerks and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement know who these people are and can provide that information to the supervisors of elections, just as they currently provide information about felony convictions.

So, here’s a thought: just slightly change the wording of the second box that people must check when registering to vote. The first check box says that I am a citizen. I don’t have to prove that, they take my word for it (and of course run me through several data bases before adding me to the rolls). The second box can say: “I affirm that I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, I have completed all terms of my sentence (including probation and parole), and I have not been convicted of murder or a sexual offense.” Period. End of story. Again, no documentation needs to be provided. The supervisor of elections simply runs the person through the various data bases, sees that they have completed the terms of their sentence and adds them to the rolls.

It’s not rocket science. The state needs to abide by the will of the people.

Jenni Casale