Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday’s letters: Working to help veterans

October Letter of the Month

The winning letter addressed school start times.

Pinellas starts classes too early

In Pinellas County, the high school start time is 7:05 a.m. This is just plain wrong. There is good evidence that adolescents need eight to nine hours of sleep and evidence that their circadian rhythm for sleep is different. This entire scenario is further complicated by eight months of daylight saving time, when 7:05 a.m. is really 6:05 a.m.

I have worked in health centers in some of our high schools for the past 20 years and have witnessed firsthand the negative effects of the early start time. Students do not eat breakfast because they have to get up so early and rush to catch their bus. Students in the magnet programs may be more negatively impacted because they may travel long distances. Students arrive at school tired and hungry.

Studies have shown that in areas where start times are later students use this time to get more sleep. Academic performance improves, absentee rates and bad behavior rates decrease.

Three times while I was chair of the School Health Advisory Board, we petitioned the School Board to change the start time for high school students. No action was taken. The reason repeatedly given was budget and availability of buses. We now see that the Hillsborough County School Board has accepted the fact that the early start time is not in the best interest of educating our youth. They have come up with a plan to change the start time to 8:30 a.m. and say it will save money. It is time for our School Board to act in the best interest of the students.

David A. Cimino, M.D., St. Petersburg

The writer is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Veterans Day

Helping those who served

As we celebrate Veterans Day this weekend, I am reminded of the words of President John Kennedy. He said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." Throughout my tenure in Congress and as vice chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I’ve worked to make veterans my top priority.

I am particularly proud of the fact that the passage of my bills, the COVER Act and PROMISE Act, is helping improve mental health treatment and will hopefully reduce the tragic suicide rates among the veteran community. Through the CHOICE program, Congress has ensured that veterans receive care in a timely manner at a facility close to their home. If the VA is unable to meet these requirements, the veteran has the option to seek private care. Unfortunately, there have been many problems with CHOICE implementation and we are rectifying them in legislation under consideration.

I understand that accessing the veterans’ health care system is difficult for some who have been exposed to dangerous conditions during their service. I am concerned about veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals in burn pits and are experiencing health problems, especially since other federal agencies have already established a nexus between those toxins and various illnesses. These veterans cannot afford to wait for the VA to conduct its own lengthy study to replicate these findings within the veteran population. Similarly, I am pushing legislative efforts to extend benefits to our Blue Water Navy Veterans.

I have also filed legislation to expand veterans’ access to dental care.

While improvements continue to be made in health care, the VA is still woefully inadequate in processing veterans’ compensation claims and appeals within a timely manner. However, Congress is taking action. We passed the VA Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act this year, which should speed up the process. Additionally, we have provided substantial increases in VA funding, more than a 70 percent increase since 2009. However, we have seen that more money doesn’t always translate into better results, which is why we remain committed to providing ongoing oversight and accountability.

I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure the promises made to our veterans are kept.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor

Campaign finance

Put limits on money

Campaign finance is the most serious problem our country has. I’ve had an idea for many years of how it can be fixed.

1. No one is allowed to contribute money or anything else to any federal election, period.

2. Each politician running for an office will be given an equal amount of money from our national treasury. This money is to be used for their campaign with government oversight.

3. All radio and TV stations using the nation’s airways will be required to donate a certain equal amount of free airtime to each candidate.

In a government "for the people, by the people" shouldn’t we at least give it a try? Of course we’ll have opposition from politicians, corporations and probably the legal system, but I think a determined people like us can win.

David Anderson, St. Petersburg

Hundreds more leave class in protest
Nov. 9

Students stand up

Kudos to you, high school kids. Adults could learn a lesson from you. This is what protests should be about: righting a wrong, standing up for something that is worthwhile and meaningful, standing up for someone who has been hurt, and doing it peacefully and without destruction.

And I know your teachers thank you for all your support. Good luck to you all.

Lisa Fackender, Spring Hill

Editorial cartoon | Nov. 9

A disgusting image

As a veteran I was totally disgusted with the depiction that we would honor the fallen only if he were a Republican. I understand Jim Morin’s bias, but to suggest this is repugnant. If his intent was to honor our fallen heroes, better to show Uncle Sam presenting the wreath — no comment necessary.

Irv Kline, St. Petersburg

Comments

Tuesday’s letters: Leave fireworks to the professionals

Nobody is scaring birds with fireworks | Editorial, July 16Leave fireworksto the professionalsThe situation with fireworks has gotten completely out of control. I was at Curtis Hixon Park on the Fourth of July, and numerous people were exploding ...
Published: 07/16/18
Updated: 07/17/18

Monday’s letters: Make investment in the Rays an actual investment with an actual return

Paying for ballpark will take teamwork | Editorial, July 12An actual return on investmentMuch attention has been given to the cost of the proposed Rays stadium in Ybor City and who will foot the bill. The three-legged stool of the Rays, the busin...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/16/18

Sunday’s letters: Stop burning of sugar cane near the Everglades

Florida’s land of black snow | Bill Maxwell column, July 1Don’t burn sugar cane, periodIn this column, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King got a lot of things right about how sugarcane burning negatively impacts the Glades communities w...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18

Saturday’s letters: The dangerous days before Roe vs. Wade

The reality of back-alley abortions | Column, July 11The dangerous days before RoeI am a 71-year-old retired nurse. I still remember when abortion was illegal and birth control was restricted to married women in the United States. In 1983, I set ...
Published: 07/09/18
Updated: 07/14/18

Thursday’s letters: The Rays’ Ybor City stadium will be magnificent

Rays’ big dream is small ballpark | July 11The new stadium will be gorgeousI had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of the Tampa Bay Rays "next-generation, neighborhood ballpark." I was blown away. As an 18-year resident of Tampa Bay, and ma...
Published: 07/09/18
Updated: 07/12/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let’s prepare Florida’s next generation for the jobs that have been created yet

Make Florida’s workforce globally competitivePrepare for jobs not yet createdIf you aren’t amazed by the speed at which technology is changing our world, just think back 20 years. Would you have imagined cellphones with the capabilities of a laptop c...
Published: 07/09/18
Updated: 07/11/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for July 13

Re: School meals for all students | July 6 storyParents should pay for their ownThat article really got me to thinking ... why can’t parents feed and care for their own children? When did it become others’ responsibility to do this? No one fed our th...
Published: 07/09/18

Tuesday’s letters: It’s great that Tampa’s Democratic mayor works with a Republican governor

Dems wary of Scott, Buckhorn bromance | July 8It’s not partisan to look out for TampaThe focus of a mayor should be on success in his jurisdiction, no matter the partner, for the citizens who live in his area of responsibility. Mayor Bob Buckhorn...
Published: 07/06/18
Updated: 07/10/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for July 13

Scaring birds with fireworks is a problemThe justification of buying fireworks to scare birds is the biggest problem with fireworks. My wife and I retired to a small pond across from a nature preserve. On a recent holiday, we were enjoying watching b...
Published: 07/05/18
Updated: 07/09/18

Monday’s letters: Let’s keep plastics out of the ocean now

Is a ban on plastic straws a step too far? | July 4 Plastic in oceanis not fantastic As a Tampa Bay native, I am thrilled to see a concerted effort to eliminate plastics pollution in the area, and encouraged to see small business and restaurant ow...
Published: 07/05/18
Updated: 07/09/18