Monday, April 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday’s letters: Arts funding pays big dividends

Spending plans

Arts funding pays big dividends

St. Petersburg continues to thrive as an arts and cultural destination, but value of the arts is far more than merely recreational. In addition to driving economic growth, the arts are important drivers for critical and creative thinking and innovation — essential skills for America’s competitiveness.

Unfortunately, arts funding is under attack this year. In Washington, there are calls to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and other organizations. In Florida, the Legislature is considering drastic cuts in arts funding.

Arts and cultural organizations get most of their support from individual gifts and corporate sponsorships, with a relatively tiny amount of support from the government. As one example, government funding may help pay for school field trips to cultural institutions — a small investment with a major payoff.

Florida’s matching grants program helps in providing such opportunities. This year, 658 Florida organizations like Jobsite Theater in Tampa, the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, and the Fine Arts of the Suncoast in Pasco County are seeking grant funds.

As of last week, though, the Florida Senate was recommending funding an astoundingly low 0.0049 percent of cultural and museum grants, with the House recommending funding only 24 percent.

Funding all arts and culture grants would cost $54.8 million, a tiny fraction of the state’s budget. And consider this: Arts investments show a 9-to-1 return in generating money back to government treasuries, according to Americans for the Arts. It’s a good investment by any measure.

Contact your legislators and let them know that this isn’t the time to cut support. Instead, we should embrace the arts as a vital, positive force in our society.

Kristen Shepherd, executive director, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

Unease hangs over Tampa gun show
Feb. 25

Reality check on guns

Let me get this straight: Florida Gun Shows has a policy that "Safety is our number one priority and can only be maintained if there are NO loaded guns in the show."

Yet the NRA, Donald Trump and a significant number of their supporters believe safety in schools will be enhanced by having more loaded guns. Anyone see anything wrong with this picture? Loaded guns are too dangerous for gun enthusiasts in shows but just fine for our teachers and children in our schools? Huh?

Suzanne Ritch, St. Petersburg

Parkland massacre

Mental health diversion

Since the massacre at Parkland, several politicians have tried to steer the conversation to mental health. Frankly, this is a transparent attempt to muddy the waters. America does not have a more severe mental health situation than other developed countries. What we have is a lunacy of murder machine availability. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed nations. Gun deaths are an epidemic here caused by the cowardice of public officials and the greed of weapons manufacturers.

In contrast, Australia passed an assault weapons ban in 1996 after a man, using an AR-15, killed 35 and wounded 18. They have not had a mass shooting since. AR-15s are not useful for hunting. They are designed and built to kill and maim as many humans as possible in a short time. No civilian needs such a weapon.

The answer is stronger gun laws. We have seen, at the state level, that strong gun laws save lives. The Giffords Law Center annually rates the gun laws of each state. The states rated an A have one-third the number of gun deaths per year as those rated F. Florida is rated F. Those states rated A have all passed universal background checks. In addition, New York, California, Washington, D.C., and five other states have passed assault weapons bans. Eight states also limit large-capacity magazines.

Florida desperately needs an assault weapons ban, large-capacity magazine ban and universal background checks. Then we must apply these commonsense rules across our nation.

Paul F. Robinson, M.D., Ph.D., Tarpon Springs

Tougher laws coming?

To gun rights advocates concerned about bump stocks and gun licensing restrictions: Be careful what you wish for. Political storms are brewing, and the Democrats may make large gains in Congress and state houses, and when they do, they may be inclined to pass much stronger legislation against guns than these minor items. Passing reasonable legislation now may take some of the heat off of guns later.

Jack Hubert, Hudson

Trump says he would have confronted school shooter | Feb. 27

No history of heroism

President Donald Trump declared that he would have gone into the school to confront the killer "even if I didn’t have a weapon." The truth is that he avoided the dangers of Vietnam by getting every draft deferment possible. He had his chance to serve his country, and show his leadership and bravery, but he took the coward’s way out.

Stephen Fulcher, Zephyrhills

Concerns dim prospects of texting bill
Feb. 27

Curb distracted driving

On Nov. 7, 2014, my son, Anthony Branca, was killed by a distracted driver in Tallahassee. He was 19. His death could have been avoided if we had a law that allowed for stricter enforcement.

Senate Bill 90 would make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida. But the chair of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Rob Bradley, is refusing to put this bill on the agenda for a vote.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, distracted driving crashes in Florida have increased 25 percent since 2012. In states that have passed a primary offense law for texting and driving, traffic fatalities drop nearly 10 percent. Please call Sen. Bradley and voice your support for SB 90.

Demetrius Branca, Tallahassee


Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18