Valor worthy of a star | April 3
A grateful nation gives its thanks
I applaud the Times and staff writer William Levesque for calling attention to Sgt. Ralph Morgan's act of heroism in Vietnam some 40 years ago. It's unfortunate that so many others like him remain unrecognized for their acts of valor in a most unpopular war.
Your newspaper knows how to do it right, with a full picture in the local section of Sen. Bill Nelson pinning on the award. For all those who returned torn, battered and unrecognized for acts of valor, this is a small token that a grateful nation does indeed know how to say thank you for service.
John Osterweil, Tampa
NRA-paid plan: armed guard at every school April 3
Schools as shooting galleries
Only the National Rifle(makers) Association could advocate more guns in schools in the wake of the massacre of 20 children in a Connecticut school. The plan could make schools into veritable shooting galleries.
When will this nation realize that the Second Amendment was written at a time of the simple musket, when there was no standing army nor law enforcement agencies? It's inconceivable that the founders would have penned the same 27 words, citing the need for a "well-regulated militia," if they had been confronted by the arsenals (high-powered assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition magazines) that exist today.
Donald Rosselet, Dunnellon
Soaring cost killing sales
When I moved into my home in 2008, I paid $1,395 for Citizens homeowners insurance. My house was assessed at $159,000. Now my home is assessed at just under $100,000, but my Citizens Property Insurance Corp. premium has soared to $2,379. Moreover, my sinkhole deductible has gone from $2,500 to just over $20,000.
Taxes have declined and are now much less than property insurance, but homeowners insurance continues to soar. The soaring cost of insurance is why we can't sell our condos and houses in Florida.
Frederick L. Roth, Hudson
Families need more options
Pet owners have the choice of hundreds of providers for end-of-life care for a beloved pet. However, there is little choice of providers for end-of-life care for a family member in Florida. The state has created a monopoly of only one hospice provider in Hillsborough County, LifePath. That monopoly duplicates costs and in my experience does not serve the patient well.
Florida's hospitals are in the best position to provide quality hospice services in a cost-effective manner. Allowing hospitals to provide hospice services would allow patients to continue care with organizations and physicians that they know and trust. The hospitals already have the physical plant and administrative overhead necessary to operate a hospice, thus saving a good portion of the overhead that LifePath reported in its 2011 IRS documents.
The state of Florida needs to end this monopoly and allow its Medicare recipients free access to this federal program. Free market enterprise will drive the cost down while forcing quality to improve.
Randal Ruge, Swanton, Ohio
Fewer to get tuition award | April 3
Judge potential, motivation
I strongly oppose the proposed changes to Bright Futures and strongly support the proposed "sliding scale" program that would better balance both potential and documented motivation.
Extensive experience working with people in a goal-oriented environment has taught me that these attributes are of equal value.
James Williams, Tierra Verde
You reported that the raising of standards for the awarding of Bright Futures scholarships will result in a decrease in the number of awards for minorities.
It would appear that contained in that contention is an assumption that minorities are unable to measure up to ethnic-neutral standards.
Is that not, by definition, racism?
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
School chief seeks deputy | April 3
Too much overhead
Pinellas school chief Mike Grego wants to hire a deputy and associate superintendent to oversee elementary, middle and high school. These "strong leaders" are going to "help students learn." How? By tutoring them? Or will they help administer the myriad of ludicrous tests Florida is fond of giving?
My guess is they will spend the entire day emailing each other to schedule meetings to talk about changes that will never happen. Get rid of these petty bureaucrats and their inflated salaries. These positions are filled with politically ambitious people and lifelong self-promoters.
Let principals run their schools and hire quality teachers. The deputy superintendent's salary with benefits will be $113,740. With the average pay of Florida teachers starting around $35,000 to $40,000, this is another slap in the face to hard-working teachers. What is needed is more educators, not more administrators.
Leslie Sisto, St. Petersburg
Stop the housing shell game April 3, editorial
Raids on housing fund
Thank you for your editorial in support of not robbing the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund again.
Our nonprofit corporation processes down payment assistance loans for many governmental agencies in the Tampa Bay area, and it has become clear that many of them do not have funds for down payment assistance due to the Sadowski Fund being raided the past several years.
While this should not have occurred in the first place, it is clear that with the state budget improving, it should stop now.
Robert Kinney, chairman of the board, Tampa Bay Community Development Corp., New Port Richey
Obama unveils $100M program to map human brain | April 3
A good place to start
Since President Barack Obama has proposed $100 million for human brain research, can he please start with Congress? It would certainly be money well spent.
Stan Sofer, Belleair Beach