Sunday, January 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake Okeechobee

Reservoir project off to good start

This year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals and ordinary citizens trekked to Tallahassee to show their support for the reservoir in person.

The Legislature passed SB 10 with overwhelming support. After signing the bill into law, Gov. Rick Scott told the South Florida Water Management District to get to work, and the district is doing just that.

The law lays out an ambitious timetable for the Army Corps of Engineers and the water district to conduct preliminary planning for construction of the new reservoir. So far, both agencies have stepped up to the plate and responded with all the urgency the situation deserves.

Nevertheless, this is just the top of the first inning of a nine-inning game. The next step is critical. The water district must identify a cost-effective design and operations plan for the reservoir that will reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee and provide significantly more water to the Everglades during the dry months.

So far, the district has performed commendably. As Florida continues to reap the fallout from this yearís heavy rains, this is no time for them to stop.

Eric Eikenberg, CEO, Everglades Foundation, Palmetto Bay

Tax bill

ĎHelpí must be paid for

It should come as no surprise that any cut in federal income taxes will benefit mostly the wealthy. The reality is that the top 20 percent of wage earners pay 83.6 percent of all federal income taxes, while the bottom 60 percent pay only 5.3 percent. Itís simply not possible to give a significant tax cut to a segment of the population that pays such a little share of the federal income tax bill in the first place.

The only way the bottom 60 percent of wage earners get a tax cut is if they see a cut in payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes and/or those hidden taxes called "user fees." These taxes are the real tax bite for these individuals.

For example, while the bottom 60 percent may pay only 5.3 percent of all federal income taxes, they pay 29.7 percent of all payroll taxes. However, these are the taxes that support Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, our schools, first responders and infrastructure ó all of which are badly underfunded as it is. Any serious conversation about cutting taxes for the middle class must include the entire tax system.

The reality is that each generation expects government to solve more and more of our problems. That "help" does not come without a cost. At some point we are going to need to have a discussion about how much we are willing to pay for that "help."

Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs

Tax planís dirty little secret: AMT repeal
Nov. 14, commentary

The millionaire ruling class

Thank you for this editorial on the alternative minimum tax. I donít understand why Democrats arenít shouting from the rooftops how terrible repealing the AMT would be. Could it be that almost all of Congress would benefit from its repeal? Many members are millionaires, and if they didnít come in as a millionaire they will be one by the time they leave.

Joe Jones, New Port Richey

Legislature should ban sanctuary cities
Nov. 14, commentary

Looking at crime statistics

Most of House Speaker Richard Corcoranís piece was opinion, and while I donít share his views, so be it. What caught my attention were the two data sources he cited. The first is a University of California, Riverside paper from 2016 that concluded that between sanctuary and non-sanctuary cities there is "no statistically discernible difference in violent crime rates, rape or property crime." The second was a Fox News report that said that after Phoenix dropped its sanctuary policies in mid 2008 that crime rates fell dramatically, with murder rates falling 27 percent and other crime rates also having a significant decrease. This was attributed to enforcing the law on illegal immigration.

This made no sense. Which is it: no difference in crime rates between sanctuary cities and non-sanctuary cities, or a huge difference as cited for Phoenix?

The Fox News report used Citi-Data statistics, so I used the same source to compare violent crime rates in three non-sanctuary cities (Phoenix, Miami and Cleveland), four sanctuary cities (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta) and the national average.

From 2008 to 2009, the violent crime rate in Phoenix did indeed fall 17 percent. But it also fell 10 percent between 2007 and 2008, before the sanctuary city ban. In the period 2008 to 2009, all the other cities I looked at also had a decrease in the violent crime rate, ranging from minus 4 percent in Cleveland to minus 18 percent in Atlanta, with a national average at minus 6 percent. Between 2009 and 2016, the violent crime rate in Phoenix increased by 27 percent, worst among the cities I looked at; Miami, Cleveland and Atlanta all had decreases during that period as did the national average.

It looks to me like not only does the Phoenix experience not support the theory that sanctuary cities produce higher crime rates, but that Corcoran is more than willing to dish out false information as a scare tactic. I know ó nothing new ó but I really get tired of politicians lying to me.

John Meeks, Valrico

Counsel may look at deals by Democrats
Nov. 14

Master of distraction

Itís been a year and President Donald Trump is still campaigning. He won, so why is he still after Hillary Clinton? Now he demands Attorney General Jeff Sessions order an investigation into the uranium deal, the Clinton Foundation and whatever else he can use as a distraction from his own crooked dealings.

Mary Sims, Tampa


Sundayís letters: Bay area shortchanged on foster care funds

Opioid crisis herds kids to foster care | Jan. 9Bay area foster care shortchangedAs mentioned in this article, the growing opioid epidemic is unfortunately bringing more children into the Florida foster care system. While substance abuse has hist...
Published: 01/20/18

Saturdayís letters: Itís not the word, itís the racism

Presidential precedent | Jan. 14Itís not the word; itís the racismThe Times went in the wrong direction and printed information that is rather useless. And that is strange. You usually get it right.I am talking about President Donald Trumpís prof...
Published: 01/19/18

Fridayís letters: Help for boaters against modern-day Ďpiratesí

Marine towing and salvageHelp against modern-day piracyAs an avid recreational boat owner and sixth-generation Floridian, I know thereís no better way to enjoy our stateís spectacular waters than taking your boat out. Unfortunately, the fun of boatin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18

Thursdayís letters: All Americans need health care

Doctor: Trump got perfect score on cognitive test | Jan. 17All Americans need health carePresident Donald Trumpís extensive health exam has apparently declared him physically fit for office. As I was reading about the battery of tests he received...
Published: 01/17/18

Wednesdayís letters: St. Petersburgís culture, vibrancy impresses

St. PetersburgImpressive culture and vibrancyI recently visited Tampa Bay and celebrated New Yearís weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. I was awestruck by what I encountered and experienced. It has been several years since I last visited, and the tra...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Published: 01/16/18
Tuesdayís letters: Trumpís accomplishments unheralded

Tuesdayís letters: Trumpís accomplishments unheralded

President Donald TrumpAchievements go unrecognizedAre Americans even aware that our economy is healthier and growing much faster, that ISIS has been defeated and lost their territory, that China and other countries are buying more American goods and ...
Published: 01/16/18

Mondayís letters: Donít be fooled by drilling turnaround

Deal blocks drilling off Fla. | Jan. 10Donít be fooled by turnaroundWhile I am very grateful that Florida has been taken off the table regarding offshore oil drilling, it is clear this is a political move to champion Gov. Rick Scott as he conside...
Published: 01/14/18

Sundayís letters: Left wing late to the #MeToo cause

#MeTooDemocrats come late to the causeThe Times devoted an entire page to the #MeToo issues on Sunday. The ironies here for longtime observers are nearly boundless. Twenty years ago, folks like myself were called "prudes" and worse because we found P...
Published: 01/13/18

Saturdayís letters: A wall of towers isnít progress

Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7A wall of towers isnít progressFirst of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become...
Published: 01/12/18