Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Basic military benefit not affected

Budget deal hits military retirees | Dec. 16, letter

Basic military benefit not affected

I differ with the letter writer on her view of the "military retirement benefits we worked so hard to earn." The basic benefits are not changed in any way by the recent budget deal. What changes is the increase in the cost-of-living adjustment to military retired pay that has been linked by Congress to the Social Security COLA. For retired personnel under 62, the COLA is reduced by 1 percentage point.

Is it significant? It could be over a 20-year period; I have not figured it out. After I retired from the Army, I was too busy building a second family and a second career. The Army held its end of the bargain and I held mine, even when it activated my hip-pocket orders during Desert Storm.

The COLA is not, and never was, an integral part of the military retirement benefits. COLA increases are completely discretionary and Congress has the right, and duty, to change them as the fiscal conditions of the country require.

Army Maj. Silvio J. Romero (Ret.), San Antonio

Job swaps cloaked in smoke, mirrors Dec. 17, Daniel Ruth column

Columnist nails it

I normally find Daniel Ruth's writings amusing or annoying, but this time he nailed it dead-on regarding the St. Petersburg Fire Department's policy — or nonpolicy — of shift swapping by the firefighters with virtually no oversight.

My father was a career firefighter for over 35 years in Buffalo, N.Y. His shifts were always subject to keen oversight by the chain of command. I cannot imagine the antics that have happened in St. Petersburg being allowed in other fire departments across the country.

Paul Rooney, Tarpon Springs

'You can keep it' | Dec. 13, PolitiFact

Going by the book

Webster's defines "lie" as "an assertion … believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive."

President Barack Obama did not lie because he had no intention to deceive. If he said that the public would continue to be able to buy stone crabs at Joe's, and later Joe's decides not to sell any more stone crabs, the president did not lie. This was simply an unintended consequence of the free market.

The Times needs to use more common sense in reaching its conclusions.

Judy Vogel, Tampa

Administration tries to prevent new sanctions against Iran | Dec. 11

Give Iran deal a chance

On Nov. 23, President Barack Obama announced a historical deal between the P5+1 group (United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany) and Iran regarding Iran's nuclear program. While this deal has been heralded by some as a significant diplomatic achievement toward a peaceful halt to Iran's program, others see it as little more than a ploy.

This deal involves a six-month agreement in which the international community will relieve Iran of some critical sanctions in return for some concessions such as daily inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the limiting of uranium enrichment to no more than 5 percent, and the halting of the use of certain new centrifuges.

In the United States, the power to levy sanctions resides in Congress. Since the announcement of this deal, Congress has appeared divided and hesitant. In order for this deal to succeed, or even progress, it is imperative that the United States displays a consistent message with Iran.

Backsliding on this arrangement by levying new sanctions will not only harm U.S.-Iranian relations but cause Iran to more aggressively posture itself against the international community. If sanctions were meant to bring Iran to the table, they have succeeded. Increasing sanctions during this fragile time will not yield a diplomatic advantage. Rather, it will worsen the United States' already poor image among Iranian citizens.

The election of President Hassan Rouhani and Iran's willingness to discuss its nuclear program signal a historic moment. Congress should urge restraint to allow diplomats their due time to see this deal through.

Stephen Strenges, Tampa

School meals

There's no free breakfast

I noticed a banner hanging on the fence of a local elementary school this week touting "free" breakfasts for all students.

I appreciate the importance of proper nourishment and its undeniable link to improved student performance. Furthermore, I enthusiastically support the provision of breakfast to schoolchildren who would otherwise start their day without one.

However, to advertise that such breakfasts are "free" is disingenuous; and frankly, such a claim denies those of us who pay for those breakfasts the credit we are due.

Another — and equally egregious — consequence of such careless advertising is that those who benefit from this program are not informed as to whom they should be grateful. That generous donor is the American taxpayer. And … you're welcome.

Mike DeWitt, Tampa

Tampa water project okayed | Dec. 18

Risks of pumping water

Pumping of groundwater from Blue Sink in the Forest Hills area may be a good idea for environmental conditions below the city of Tampa's dam on the Hillsborough River. However, it has some problems that have not been effectively considered, or ignored.

First, the conceptual model used by Swiftmud is marginal, for it does not include a mechanism for the network of open conduits (not sand) within the limestone. Many of these conduits (essentially pipes) are connected to other sinkholes and lakes in the area.

Second, many sinkholes in the surrounding area are what are known as relict sinks. They are dormant, filled with sand, and can be reactivated by pumping of groundwater, such as occurs with the on-off pumping that occurs in the strawberry-producing areas of east Hillsborough County.

Third, no consideration has been given to the potential impact of sinkhole formation or a rise in insurance rates for the Forest Hills area if sinkholes start to form because of pumping.

I suspect that the city of Tampa and Swiftmud may face multiple lawsuits because of a regional rise in the money people will have to pay for insurance because of sinkhole formation. This does not even take into account the loss of property values.

John C. Miller, professional geologist, Tampa


Wednesday’s letters: How we plan to improve foster care in Hillsborough

Improving foster care inHillsborough | April 19, editorialOur plans for helping kidsThis editorial poses many good questions. The Department of Children and Families’ peer review report is expected to be released soon. And while we welcome the an...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for April 27

Stop Ridge Road extension, reader saysWhen I spoke at the Dade City meeting of the Pasco County Commissioners on my opposition to the Ridge Road Extension, three of them responded, but only when my three minutes of free speech expired, and I could sa...
Published: 04/23/18

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 ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18

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

Tuesday’s letters: Student journalists push to save their newsrooms and independence

Save student newsroomsAs professional newsrooms shrink, student newsrooms have become an increasingly important source of local coverage, holding not only our universities accountable but also local government. We write these articles, attending meet...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

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