Scientists warn climate's worst changes still to come | March 31
Focus on climate change solutions
Thank you for your article summarizing the latest report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A discussion of solutions would have been a good addition to its bleak forecast. Briefly, a revenue-neutral carbon tax (also known as a carbon fee and dividend program) is the best available solution because it uses already existing government structure and market forces to solve the problem, and with border adjustments (tariffs) it becomes an international solution.
John E. Darovec Jr., Bradenton
Police sound off on leader | April 1
Police divisions unhelpful
The Tampa Bay Times has the duty to report allegations of racial turmoil and preferential treatment within the St. Petersburg Police Department. The Times did so admirably in its article summarizing the concerns expressed during Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin's meeting March 11 with concerned community, church and police representatives. Since the initial Times' coverage, and based on the reasoned remarks of Sgt. Ricardo Lopez and police union president Mark Marland, as reported in the Times' April 1 followup, I question the significance of those allegations.
Consider the remarks of Lopez as he views the environment of the department, stating, "The last few weeks have been a giant leap backwards in our progression and we need to move back forward." Plus, "To come out and hold meetings privately and bash each other over topics and accusations based on race and unfairness because of race is absolutely childish, unprofessional, embarrassing, and hindering to the progression for change and equality."
The Police Department is made up of men and women dedicated to the public safety of all citizens. These dedicated public servants depend on the support of their comrades. The citizens of St. Petersburg need to know that when the safety of any one person is at risk, race is not and never has been a condition of service.
Meetings like the one held March 11 erode citizen confidence and unnecessarily divide department personnel who rely on each other to protect the public, as well as each other. Further, to have a high-ranking official such as Assistant Police Chief Luke Williams play a major role at the meeting further divides the department. As Mark Marland told the Times, "When law enforcement officers respect their chief they will go out every day and give 110 percent."
What the St. Petersburg Police Department needs is a chief who represents equally each and every one of these public servants regardless of race, i.e., a chief who attends to the concerns of all of the ethnic groups of the community.
Mack Vines, former St. Petersburg police chief, Seminole
Voucher proposal revived in House March 27
A conflict of interest
According to this article, "The education savings account provision (in HB 7099, the voucher bill) is important to incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, who has a child with special needs." Gardiner has a clear conflict of interest. He should not use his office to act upon a companion voucher bill in the Senate. Further, he should abstain from all voting in committee or on the floor of the Senate on this issue.
For that matter, similar ethical behavior demands that any representative or senator whose children attend private or parochial school recuse himself or herself from the voucher/school choice legislative proceedings.
The Tampa Bay Times should hold all our legislators accountable for ethical education policy votes in two ways. First, let the public know whose children go to private or parochial schools. Second, as voting goes forward in committees and on final bills, publicize each legislator's schooling choice along with his or her vote.
Ruth L. Barrens, St. Petersburg
A mark of success in health coverage April 2, editorial
ACA a boon for millions
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That is 7.1 million newly insured people who don't believe that the ACA is a disaster. In fact, for many, the ACA is a godsend. The ACA, just like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, will grow and continue to get better over time.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, of course, disagrees stating, "Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, they are discovering, of course, higher premiums, a higher deductible. Many of them are losing their jobs and so it really is a catastrophe for the country both for the health care providers and the consumers."
My son signed up and didn't lose his job, and he didn't discover higher premiums or a higher deductible. Some 7.1 million people signed up. Where is the catastrophe?
Doug McClaugherty, Sarasota
Racing to gain health plan | April 1
800,000 Floridians left out
This article about the massive last-minute signup for Obamacare was great. The sad part was at the end, where the individual was not able to get insurance because of Florida's failure to expand Medicaid. Here was someone trying to do the right thing and the state denied him the opportunity.
He and 800,000 more like him will be denied a chance to catch life-threatening illnesses early. He and the others will be mired in the anxiety of not knowing if the next illness will bankrupt or kill them. Florida hospitals stand to lose $640 million this year because the rates were cut for treating people who can't pay. The ACA was designed with the intent on making all states expand Medicaid, but the Supreme Court changed that. It is past time Florida did the right moral and fiscal thing and expanded Medicaid.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Turmoil on Scott team | March 26
Learning the hard way
Gov. Rick Scott fundraiser Mike Fernandez just learned a very hard lesson. When it comes to the GOP, just because you can set the table does not mean you can attend the banquet. It is amazing to me that people of color and women would stay in such a party.
Leslie Sisto, St. Petersburg