Thursday, December 14, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Friday’s letters: Hillsborough school making strong progress

Hillsborough school district in financial, leadership crisis | Nov. 5, editorial

School district’s achievements

While I respect the Times’ editors and acknowledge our district is facing financial challenges (facing them head-on, in fact), I feel it’s vital to share facts with the public that show our 25,000 dedicated employees are not letting anything sidetrack them from achieving success with our students.

Working with our School Board, we set a bold strategic goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020 — and we are on track, after producing gains for two straight years (last year’s rate of 79.1 percent is up 3 percent from the year before).

Students earned a district-record 5,411 industry certifications to launch high-demand careers, and families saved $15 million on college by taking Dual Enrollment and AP classes last year (up 33 percent from the prior year).

More upward movement: 1,060 more elementary school students are proficient in reading over last year; ninth graders on track to graduate — a key graduation indicator — are up 3 percent; and we are creating fiscal stability by bringing district spending in line with revenues for the first time in several years.

Our district has its fewest "F" schools in five years. We have three this year, down from 18 in 2014-15.

Our students are making these important achievements despite our district operating in a cost-saving deficit mode for two years now. And we continue to plan for the future, launching several new efforts in early childhood learning, to make sure more of our students are kindergarten-ready.

I, along with our School Board, feel it’s important for our community to know that while we may deal with a challenge or setback, our educators won’t take their eyes off our shared vision: preparing students for life.

Jeff Eakins, superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa

Tax reform should strengthen families
Nov. 7, commentary

Corporate giveaways

Sen. Marco Rubio seems to be seeking a niche in which to hide, commenting on the impending tax bill’s impact on child-rearing and bolstering families. What Rubio fails to acknowledge is that the biggest danger to children in America’s future is the rising inequality in income and wealth, which the proposed bill will enhance, not diminish.

If Rubio is seriously concerned about the future of our children, he should be speaking against one of the biggest giveaways to corporations and wealthy individuals since the Reagan era. As recent revelations about offshore accounts have revealed, America’s biggest industries and richest citizens are not using their money to create jobs, expand the economy, or benefit the bulk of America’s citizens: They are greedily hoarding it, evading taxes, and holding out their hands for more.

I would like our senator to talk a bit about that.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

Bill not in patients’ best interests | Nov. 9, letter

Bill ends ineffective system

Patients want their doctor to focus on them rather than a computer screen, to put patient interests first, and not comply with insurance company cookbooks or rationing of care. That is why they should support Florida bills HB 81/SB 628 to bring some sanity back to medicine. The bill would stop the ineffective and corrupt system of maintenance of certification, or MOC, for board-certified doctors.

Until about 15 years ago, board-certified doctors passed their exam and then did continuous medical education in their state and as part of their medical society. However, about 24 medical boards, working under the American Board of Medical Specialties, have created a billion-dollar industry to force doctors to do MOC. For instance, Dr. Rebecca Johnson makes over $500,000 annually as the CEO of the American Board of Pathologists. Science published in the Journal of the American Medical Association proves that patient care does not improve when doctors do MOC.

The board of specialties oversees the onerous MOC process. This involves requiring doctors to waste time on pointless tests, excessive continuing medical education that enriches medical societies, and participation in "best practices" programs that are really about rationing care. MOC is like asking a lawyer to pass the bar exam every few years.

The board of specialties makes tens of millions annually and recently was discovered to have massive accounts in the Caymans and a luxury condo in Philadelphia (with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes limo for their staff)! Meanwhile, doctors spend time away from patient care, spend tens of thousands on pointless MOC and have to close their practices to be employed by massive corporations.

Patients should support HB 81/SB 628 to stop mandatory MOC so they can keep doctors in practice and keep their doctor focused on them instead of cookbook medicine and rationing.

David McKalip, M.D., St. Petersburg

The writer is president of the Florida Chapter of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

FSU bans Greek activity after pledge’s death
Nov. 7

Don’t punish everyone

FSU president John Thrasher called for "a new normal for Greek life at the university" and suspended all fraternities and sororities indefinitely following the death of a fraternity pledge at Pi Kappa Phi and the drug arrest of another student from Phi Delta Theta.

Why not just indefinitely suspend Pi Kappa Phi and Phi Delta Theta, pending a review of the facts? The other fraternities and sororities should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Whatever happened to due process?

Doug Haskitt, St. Petersburg


Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Published: 12/13/17

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Wednesday’s letters: Bill gives small businesses tax relief

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3Small businesses get tax reliefThe Senate and House have now passed their respective tax bills. Once Congress sends a final package to the White House, President Donald Trump will deliver us the most powerful tax re...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17