Sunday, June 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Bill helps keep small businesses thriving

Tourism industry

Bill helps small businesses thrive

From the charming downtown of Tarpon Springs to the award-winning beaches of St. Pete Beach, it's no surprise that Pinellas County is one of the top tourist destinations along the Gulf Coast. With more than 15 million visitors each year that create more than $10 billion in economic impact, the tourism industry is the backbone of the region's economy.

However, a 2015 decision by the National Labor Relations Board that expanded what it means to be a "joint employer" has these businesses in a state of confusion.

Part of what makes our tourism industry so successful is the ability of business owners to contract with companies outside their areas of expertise. For instance, if a restaurant's dishwasher breaks, the owner will bring in a mechanic to ensure a speedy fix. Or a resort owner might hire a laundry service to wash all of its napkins, tablecloths, towels and sheets.

Previously, businesses were only joint employers if they exercised "direct" or "immediate" control over another company's employees. But with the NLRB's new standard, even "potential" or "indirect" control of an employee could entangle an owner in a labor-related complaint. Now, these mutually beneficial relationships could put a business owner at risk of a hefty lawsuit.

Luckily, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have banded together to provide clarity to our small businesses by introducing the Save Local Business Act (HR 3441). Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has always been a friend to the travel and tourism community in Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida. Hopefully, he will add his name to this commonsense legislation and help our community continue to thrive.

Keith Overton, president, TradeWinds Island Resorts, St. Pete Beach

Hurricane Irma

Power preparations

With Hurricane Irma approaching, Florida Power & Light Co. has activated its emergency response plan, and we urge our customers to finalize their plans. Despite the fact that last year FPL customers in Central and North Florida were significantly impacted by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, we estimate that approximately half of the nearly 10 million people we serve have yet to experience a Florida hurricane.

Here's what we're doing to prepare:

• As of Wednesday, we have several thousand workers dedicated to planning and preparing to respond to Irma, and this number will continue to grow.

• We are working actively with other utilities across the country to secure and preposition additional resources for Irma's projected landfall in our service area.

• We have activated backup suppliers and equipment vendors, as well as more than 20 staging sites where restoration crews, trucks and equipment are stationed.

Since 2006, we have invested more than $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter electric grid, and we continue to leverage new technology to enhance our storm response. The investments we've made in recent years have placed FPL in the best possible position to restore power to our customers faster following a storm.

Even so, hurricanes are devastating forces of nature, and the winds, torrential rain and storm surge that Irma is forecast to bring are likely to cause widespread and prolonged outages. Additionally, should Irma's worst fears be realized, our crews will likely have to completely rebuild parts of our electric system. Restoring power through repairs is measured in days; rebuilding the electric system could be measured in weeks.

With Irma close to our doorstep, I want to emphasize keeping safety top-of-mind before, during and after the storm. We can help with safety and preparation tips at Stay safe, heed the warnings of local, state and federal elected officials, and know that all of us at FPL won't stop working until everyone's power is up and running again.

Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach

DACA's end confirmed | Sept. 6

Congress makes the laws

In this country, the legislative branch makes the laws and it is the duty of the executive branch to enforce them. Even though President Barack Obama said several times that "I'm not a king," his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order did change current law after he failed to get immigration reform passed in Congress.

President Donald Trump has simply rescinded this unconstitutional act and has given Congress six months to create legislation that properly defines the status of "Dreamers." At least this will finally give voters clarity on where D.C. politicians stand before the midterm elections.

Lou Christodoulou, Lutz

Silencer bill undermines safety | Sept. 5, letter

Rules would still apply

Several misrepresentations were made in this letter. First, they are not "silencers" but sound suppressors, which only reduce the noise of the shot below the pain level to help prevent deafness. Second, all suppressor sales would still be conducted through federally licensed firearms dealers and treated the same as a gun purchase — requiring filling out Form 4473 and submitting to a background check. No felons, domestic abusers or those committed for mental treatment would be allowed to purchase them.

Gerald Keller, Dunedin

University overreacts | Sept. 2, editorial

Higher authority

Until Pat Robertson weighs in on the real causes of the damage of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, no one can be sure that Kenneth Storey's "instant karma" explanation is incorrect.

Larry R. Bush, Tampa


Monday’s letters: College instructors need classes in active shooter training

Active shooter perceptions disproven | June 21We need active shooter trainingThe only guns that I had seen before coming to the United States of America were in glass cases in museums. When I came to America to get a Ph.D. in English at the Unive...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

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 ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

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