Friday’s letters: Let’s train the workers we need in Florida

Published January 31 2018
Updated February 1 2018

Actions mean more than single speech | Feb. 1, editorial

Train the skilled workers we need

Americans are ready to rebuild our neglected infrastructure ó schools, highways, bridges, dams, public transit. But we also canít neglect the big challenge ahead of us: filling a shortage of 500,000 skilled construction workers ó a number that could double if the promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill from Washington becomes a reality.

February is career and technical education (CTE) month, and it comes at the perfect time to celebrate the students, teachers and industry partners who are growing the career readiness of Americaís construction workforce.

Here in Florida, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is training the next generation of skilled workers through various statewide apprenticeship training programs. Unfortunately, policymakers, administrators and educators too often subscribe to the "college-for-all" mentality. Policymakers at all levels of government should help bridge the skills gap and build the trades workforce of the future.

According to the Association of Career and Technical Education, the federal government spends more than $80 billion to assist students pursuing higher education. At the same time, the federal government only spends $1.1 billion to support CTE programs that lead to high-wage careers in industries like construction.

CTE availability needs more funding and program support. CTE works, and we need to invest in providing more young Americans with educational opportunities that align with the careers that build and rebuild our communities.

Steve Cona, Tampa

The writer is president of the ABC Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.

A second wave of reflection | Jan. 26, column

Life at the union hall

I grew up in northeast Ohio. Like columnist Connie Schultzís father, my dad was a union member and officer in the local steel workers union in Warren, Ohio. The union hall was my favorite place to go as a young girl. We had potluck suppers, the adults played bingo or cards, and the children just played together. We were family.

With the absence of unions in so many states, it saddens me to see this dying breed of people and their values being tossed aside. I hope the columnist continues to share these personal experiences as they are invaluable pieces of history for the hardworking union people of this country.

Nanette Standfast, St. Petersburg

Florida reaction to State
of the Union | Jan. 31

A presidentís patriotism

Why wonít the president of the United States implement sanctions approved by Congress punishing Russia for interfering in our presidential elections? Why would he defend the Russian government and praise its autocratic leader, Vladmir Putin? Why would he attack the reputation and credibility of our own FBI? Instead of vilifying NFL players as unpatriotic for protesting racial inequality, maybe the president should demonstrate his own patriotism by condemning Americaís enemies for meddling in our democratic process.

Anthony Edl, Odessa

The case for impeachment | Jan. 31, column

No law was broken

Columnist David Leonhardt lays out 10 arguments in favor of impeachment of President Donald Trump. His sole argument, repeated over and over, was that Trump has obstructed justice. That argument is wholly without merit unless the Mueller investigation reveals that collusion with Russia occurred. Without an underlying crime, there is nothing to cover up. Unfortunately, many Americans are ignorant of the historical facts and may be convinced by this misleading column.

In the two examples cited, special prosecutors were appointed to investigate a presidentís involvement in real crimes. Richard Nixon was charged with obstruction because he tried to cover up the real Watergate burglary and the factual involvement of his administration in its planning and execution. There clearly was a crime tied to Nixon that he sought to cover up. Bill Clinton was investigated for his connection with the real Whitewater land bank fraud, a crime for which Clinton associates were convicted and jailed. However, the special prosecutor failed prove Clinton committed a crime with Whitewater. Instead he brought obstruction charges because Clinton committed perjury and suborned perjury to cover up his extra-marital affairs. The illegal acts by Clinton were incidental and not connected to the original charges so the Senate chose to acquit him in the impeachment proceedings. Both of those outcomes were just.

At present, the Trump investigation appears to be a witch hunt. To attempt to charge him with trying to cover up a crime that never occurred is scandalous and dangerous to our democracy.

Roland St. Marie, Clearwater

Deportation looms | Jan. 31

Immigration and reality

A frequent complaint by President Trump and his anti-immigration followers is that Democrats want open borders, but they cannot provide one shred of evidence that any Democrat has advocated an unregulated immigration policy, which is what "open borders" means. The hard-liners need to abandon labels and face reality: What to do about millions of undocumented individuals living here?

Many of these folks are hard-working individuals occupying low-wage jobs that most Americans avoid. If all of them were deported ó at an enormous financial and humanitarian cost ó who would be picking our crops, cleaning our hotel rooms and offices and working construction? It is time for pragmatism, not the knee-jerk calling all undocumented immigrants criminals.

Crossing the border without papers is technically a crime. But when we label someone a criminal without explanation we place an undocumented individual in the same basket as rapists and murderers. This then becomes the justification for linking immigration with the "law and order" mantra and shifts the agenda away from tackling the problem in a rational and practical way.

Richard Horowitz, Palm Harbor