Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Clerk's offices get shortchanged



Clerk's offices get shortchanged

The midpoint of the legislative session is a good time to remember the price we pay when basic government services are cut. For nine straight years the Legislature has cut funding for Court Clerk's Offices like mine in Hillsborough. Our court budget has been cut by 25 percent and my staff by 25 percent, or 230 people. Although we collect more than enough fines, fees and court costs in Hillsborough to meet our needs, the Legislature diverts $13 million of that every year to pay for things unrelated to courts. I believe money collected locally should be spent locally.

The result: My hardworking staff struggles to meet the rising demands. Last year, we served nearly 900,000 people in person and by phone. Despite increasing efficiency through a major reorganization and investments in new technology, our customers are waiting up to two hours in person and an hour or more on the phone for basic service. I am working with my fellow clerks across the state to persuade the Legislature to adopt a more predictable, sustainable funding method that keeps more of the money we raise locally for services delivered locally. I have met with Hillsborough legislators to discuss our budget challenges and they are sympathetic. As a former member of the House and Senate, I know the demands on our lawmakers are great. All I ask is they not forget the basics. After all, our customers are their constituents. And they are waiting.

Pat Frank, Tampa

The writer is Hillsborough County clerk of court and comptroller.

The blessings and challenges of growth March 25, editorial

Cooperation on climate

The Sunshine State is an attractive destination for new residents, and the diversity that comes with an increase in new arrivals is not only welcomed by Florida's coastal cities, it's a major attraction. There is an irony, however, that the state that ranks among the highest in influx of migration is also the region most affected by climate change.

There are elected officials on both sides of the aisle who are trying to do the right thing. State and federal legislators are standing up against fossil fuel interests and advocating for high-capacity renewable technologies.

Dana Young, a Republican state senator, filed a bill to ban fracking in Florida's already delicate limestone foundation. Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wrote a letter to the Trump administration, signed by both Republican and Democratic Florida members of the U.S. House, urging a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has been a longtime advocate for the solar industry and for integration of renewables into the energy grid. The bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, committed to exploring solutions related to climate change, was founded by a pair of South Florida U.S. representatives.

There is still a lot to do to address and minimize the catastrophic affects of our warming climate, but the good news is that both Republicans and Democrats are taking part in the conversation, and they are starting to come to the table together.

Caroline Liberti, Tampa

Single payer

Benefits in health, savings

Donald Trump said it: "Health care is very complicated." He was correct, but there is an answer. It is called a single-payer system. The biggest obstacles to achieving a single-payer system are greed and misinformation.

There are too many pigs feeding at the trough of the current free market system. The free market health care system has failed and continues to fail. Medicare is a single-payer system that has been very successful over the past 50 years.

Let me dispel some of the myths surrounding a single-payer system:

1. People will lose their choice of physician. In the free market system this is very true. In Medicare it is not. I have had Medicare for 15 years and can go to any doctor I choose or to whom I am referred. And I can get any test that I need.

2. A single-payer system is socialized medicine. It is not. Under socialized medicine the government owns hospitals and physician practices. Under a single-payer system the government does not. It simply arranges the financing and controls cost.

3. A single-payer system will ration health care. There may be some rationing, but it will be based on need and not on the financial status of the patient as it is now.

4. A single-payer system is too expensive. This is a huge myth. The savings in administrative cost alone would be $400 billion a year. Our current system is so complicated that hospitals are now hiring financial counselors to help patients to figure out how to pay their bills. The system could negotiate with Big Pharma to bring down the price of drugs.

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

Mass transit

Bus lanes as an option

Like so many people, I would like to see mass transit in the Tampa Bay area. There have been several people who have written about the benefits of building light rail (Denver, Atlanta and others). This is true, but it is only half of the story. What they don't mention are the projects where the cost overruns and maintenance runs into the tens of billions of dollars.

For example, when I visited Washington, D.C., there were three incidents where the trains broke down, with one having toxic gases. News articles put the cost of yearly repairs in the billions. Then there are the massive overruns for the line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Last, but not least, are the massive cost overages in Honolulu. Not only has the price multiplied but it is now projected that it will only get 2 percent of the traffic off the streets.

I have talked to a few civil engineers who said that there is a better and much less expensive option. They suggested we build three-lane expressways similar to the Selmon Expressway and Veterans Expressway that are for buses only. During non-peak times, these buses could also be used on city/county streets. A final advantage is that these same highways could be used in times of emergency evacuations (such as a hurricane).

Bottom line — it is time that we started thinking outside of the box.

Tom Craig, Riverview


Tuesday’s letters: Disgraceful tax proposals

Tax billDisgraceful, harmful proposalsThe very fact that the Congress of the people of the United States would propose, not to mention pass, the current tax bill is nothing short of disgraceful. What sort of representatives of the people support cutt...
Published: 11/20/17

Monday’s letters: Doctors should speak up on harassment

Sexual harassmentDoctors need to speak upThe recent widespread recognition, followed by disapproval, of sexual harassment across many workplaces signals a paradigm shift in social attitudes toward abuse of power that is long overdue.The male-dominate...
Published: 11/17/17

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake OkeechobeeReservoir project off to good startThis year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals a...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Sunday’s letters: Roundabout way to help the rich

Senate GOP’s tax plan to kill ACA mandate | Nov. 15Devious way to hurt middle classSo, let’s see if we have this straight. The proposed amendment to the Senate tax plan, to kill the individual mandate, will cause young people to not buy health in...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Friday’s letters: Stop laying blame on teachers

Hillsborough teachers are set to protest | Nov. 14Stop laying blame on teachersI am a veteran teacher, coming up on 30 years of service to public education. My mother was also an educator, clocking over 40 years of service in public education. Sh...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Nov. 17

Questioning fees draws snarky responseYou are probably aware of the new Pasco utility fees that became effective last month.Under the dubious title of "convenience fee" for making utility payments by credit card or e-check, Pasco Utilities adds $2.75...
Published: 11/15/17

Dollars need to stay at home if south Brooksville is to survive

As a member of the Moton High School Class of 1967, I grew up a poor but very happy child because of the love given to me by all. So all I had to do was be a child and not rush to be an adult.There were many black businesses along a four-block area o...
Updated: 27 minutes ago

Wednesday’s letters: Generosity makes all the difference

National Adoption MonthThe difference generosity makesAs a football coach, I always had to be ready to overcome unexpected challenges. With injuries, crowd noise and especially weather, the game plan is always adjusting to overcome adversity.Our stat...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17

Monday’s letters: Moore is not fit for public office

Woman: Candidate pursued her as a teen | Nov. 10Moore is not fit for public officeIt is sad that Roy Moore, a self-professed religious man, is running for a Senate seat when he is clearly unfit for any job involving the public for so many reasons...
Published: 11/10/17
Updated: 11/13/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t fall for the tax cut ruse

Tax billDon’t take your eye off the ballThe rush is on. The Republican Congress is rushing to pass a modest tax cut for the middle class while giving corporations a massive tax cut. While taking away some of the tax deductions from ordinary taxpayers...
Published: 11/10/17