Friday, June 22, 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


Friday’s letters: What a new Rays ballpark would mean

Rays exec hints at stadium timeline | June 15What a new ballpark would doThe Tampa Bay Rays 2020 organization is working diligently with local business leaders and civic organizations to rally support for the Rays’ new ballpark in Ybor City. The ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Thursday’s letters: On immigration there has to be a better way

‘Zero tolerance’ ignites outrage | June 20Find better way on immigrationOver the years I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. My observation of the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is not about politics. It has to do with having...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Charters and traditional public schools each have their place

Public school as public good | Letter, June 17Both kinds of schools can workAs a mother and grandmother of children raised in both traditional public and charter schools in Pinellas County (and a 25-year supporting-services employee for public sc...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18