Department of Children and Families
Deaths point to faults at agency
Advocates, guardians and attorneys who represent and protect the state's most vulnerable children from harm were horrified by the deaths of four children in four months — all of whom were known to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
It appears that was a fraction of the real number. Twenty children died during that period. All were known to DCF; some were known to the community-based care providers it has contracted services to.
The figure reveals one stark fact. DCF and its agencies lack transparency, quality assurance and accountability. Furthermore, that the deaths were revealed only after a major news organization made a public records request is an abomination that smacks of a cover-up.
How will DCF respond? DCF administrators have promised a "transformation" to right their wayward ship. Many advocates aren't convinced, and neither are lawmakers.
State Sen. Eleanor Sobel is holding a town hall meeting to learn more. What attendees will discover is that these deaths are the tip of the iceberg of systemic problems stemming from a failed experiment. Privatization has resulted in too many providers in each community, with too little accountability and too many children falling through the cracks.
In life, the abuse suffered by all 20 of these children was known or had been reported to DCF. Only in death has their situation become clear to the public. This is wrong. Hopefully, Sobel's town hall will further shed light on these practices — and improve the care and safety of Florida's most vulnerable children.
Howard M. Talenfeld, president, Florida's Children First, Fort Lauderdale
Seattle debates raising minimum wage to $15 an hour | Aug. 20
Effort is rewarded
I have a solution for all who are working for minimum wage and think they deserve more per hour: Prove that you are worth it.
The best employees are ones who are self-starters, come to work on time, and work when they are there. If your employer doesn't realize how hard you are working, I guarantee you that some customer will. Employers are always on the lookout for good employees.
Here is an example of hard work and its benefits. My youngest daughter works for me at my business. A while back one of our customers offered her $30 per hour starting wage to come and work for them. Why? They saw her work ethic and recognized that they wanted an employee such as her.
A good employer will do his best to keep hard-working, dependable employees. Too many employees will never get paid more because they are not willing to put forth the effort required.
Jim Byers, St. Petersburg
Egypt's violence leaves no winners Aug. 19, commentary
Rule of the dictators
Congratulations to Frida Ghitis and her excellent analysis of the violence in Egypt. Both Republicans and Democrats ought to realize that the United States made a major mistake in backing the "so-called" democratic election of President Mohammed Morsi.
Since the times of the pharaohs down to the present day, Egypt was ruled by a single king, leader, dictator. Only the Muslim Brotherhood had any form of a political entity. Once they got in power, Morsi pushed a sharia law agenda and the United States backed it even though under sharia women have no rights. Where were Hillary Clinton and the women of Congress when it came time to stand up for women?
It was the Muslim Brotherhood that attacked the Christian Catholic and Coptic Churches. In countries under Islamic law, such as Saudi Arabia, there is no freedom of religion.
John Edgerton, Tarpon Springs
Parents' turn to say it's too early | Aug. 19
Adding insult to injury
A 6 a.m. automated call on Sunday morning is one thing; but an apology call at noon, too? Yes, a bit much.
What I want to know is why our district is paying a California-based company to make these or any robo-calls. Shouldn't we keep the money within our own boundaries? Our tax dollars are going straight to California.
I just don't get it.
Judy Lavaron, St. Petersburg
Selig: MLB may get involved in Rays stadium talks | Aug. 16
Seas of empty seats
A new ballpark will not be the answer to the lack of attendance at Rays games. In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles opened up Camden Yards to rave reviews and sellout crowds. To this day, that ballpark is used as a model for what a modern major league park should be. And yet, this week in the middle of a pennant race, with the Rays in town, the Orioles drew only 25,000 people, leaving 20,000 seats empty.
If you have two teams fighting it out for the playoffs in one of the best parks in the majors and still fall 20,000 people short of a sellout in the Baltimore/D.C. metro area, how can anyone possibly expect the Rays to draw well in ours?
P.J. Jaccoi, Sun City Center
Sending the wrong message to kids | Aug. 20, John Romano column
Sentences too light
John Romano wrote a very good column regarding the beating of a 13-year-old on a school bus. We want our children to tell us when things happen, but we sometimes neglect to protect them from any possible consequences.
Giving light sentences to the perpetrators seems to undermine the seriousness of the crime.
What troubled me the most is, at the very bottom of this well-thought-out piece, in dark type, we are invited to actually view the beating on your website. It is appalling you would post such a video. Do you need to exploit this child's pain as well?
Karin Sobelman, Hernando
Protesters leave Capitol | Aug. 16
Next time, rent a tent
I would like to thank the Dream Defenders for their commitment and perseverance, but more importantly for ending the waste of large quantities of our tax dollars. Maybe in the future, to further their cause, they could rent a tent, toilet facilities, etc., outside of public buildings.
Tom Colbert, Dunedin