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Sunday’s letters: Tighten porous borders

After the terror | Nov. 2, commentary

Tighten borders, track entrants

Again, the New York Times has approached the difficult subject of how to anticipate terror attacks by pointing to the inadequacies of our laws in dealing with these terrorists instead of directly blaming our porous immigration system.

Currently, it is estimated that thousands of those given entry visas cannot be tracked. Only cursory action is taken in ascertaining their whereabouts, and few are located. The New York Times article should have headlined the president’s tweet pleading for extreme vetting to dam the tide of entrants who would do us harm. Until such measures are taken by Congress and carried out by Homeland Security, expect more horrific acts to follow.

Roger Oddson, Tampa

Nurse practitioners

Meeting the nation’s needs

The role of the nurse practitioner will be showcased Nov. 12-18 as NPs across the country celebrate more than 50 years of practice during National NP Week. In the United States, this distinguished group of health care professionals numbers approximately 234,000, with an additional 23,000 NP students graduating each year.

NPs provide high-quality, cost-effective, personalized health care. NP practice offers a unique combination of caring and curing focusing not only on diagnosing and managing acute and chronic illnesses but integrating health promotion, disease prevention, counseling and patient education to help patients understand their complete health picture.

In a population of aging baby boomers, it is essential to support health care providers who are educated to meet those needs and fill these care gaps. We urge our legislators to advance health care policies that will enhance much needed access to health care in our communities

Dr. Arlene Wright, president, Florida Nurse Practitioner Network, Winter Park

Penny for Pinellas

Tax has outlived usefulness

The government loss of $1.7 million in an ill-conceived real estate deal gone wrong is just the tip of the iceberg in wasting the Penny for Pinellas tax revenue.

In the Countryside area alone, a perfectly good but vacant library now sits a few blocks from the slightly larger and newer library that replaced it. Likewise, a perfectly good fire station next door to the old library was torn down and also replaced with a very similar building. The utility boxes at the traffic intersections are being painted with driver-distracting "artwork" that will incur extra maintenance costs. In 20 years this program has devolved from needed improvements to frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars. Penny for Pinellas has served its purpose and needs to be retired.

Candy Baker, Clearwater

Chinese drywall

Beware of ‘silent hurricane’

This hurricane season has been catastrophic in so many ways. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have crushed Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and many other places. For some, the rebuilding efforts are underway. But those able to rebuild need to be very concerned about a "silent hurricane" that is fast approaching.

In 2009, in the wake of Katrina, a "silent hurricane" of toxic Chinese drywall wrecked thousands of homes and lives. The economic impact for those affected was estimated at more than $650 million. Today, nearly 10 years on, many are still suffering.

From a property damage sense, this was as bad, if not worse, than an actual hurricane in some ways. Many homeowners couldn’t live with the noxious smells and alleged respiratory impacts and couldn’t sell their homes except at a "fire sale" price. Many mortgage companies refused to give homeowners a break. Foreclosures wiped out entire neighborhoods and generated further blight of abandonment. And, there was no FEMA response to help homeowners.

Now, with the widespread physical destruction from recent storms, tens of thousands of homes and commercial buildings will need hundreds of millions of square feet of drywall.

The president is traveling to China this week and the message should be clear: The president and Congress must take immediate steps to protect Americans by blocking the import of Chinese manufactured drywall and construction products until there are clear standards to ensure the drywall is not toxic and other Chinese construction products are safe. The Chinese companies must also agree to the same accountability expected of American companies, including paying for the damage to Americans they cause. Finally, there must be widespread education to warn communities of the potential for this "silent hurricane" before it is too late.

Michael Ryan, Fort Lauderdale

Republican tax plan

Small business on the hook

House Republicans finally unveiled their plan for tax reform last week and, as small business owners, we are not impressed. Despite promises that the plan would provide a boost to small businesses, this will instead benefit wealthy corporations and individuals.

The biggest proposed boon to small business owners is the lowering of the pass-through tax rate to 25 percent. But the vast majority of small businesses that are organized as pass-through entities already pay less than 25 percent, meaning this change will only benefit wealthy individuals like hedge fund managers. What’s more, cutting the corporate rate without closing loopholes will further tip the scales in favor of large businesses.

Small business owners already feel the current tax system unfairly favors big business, which was underscored by a recent opinion poll from Small Business Majority. The poll also found small businesses want tax reform to make the system more fair rather than simply handing out tax cuts.

Small business owners shouldn’t be a scapegoat to sell a tax proposal that will only benefit wealthy corporations while increasing the federal deficit. Instead, Congress should listen to small business owners and pursue tax reform that levels the playing field and makes it easier for us to compete.

Harland Henry, Tampa