Charity bell-ringer, meet ethical dilemma | Dec. 18, commentary
Help goes to all, regardless of faith
I am a retired Salvation Army officer; consequently, I do not speak officially for the organization. However, I would like to comment on this column.
First, the money collected by the Salvation Army in the red Christmas kettles is used to aid needy people regardless of their race, sex, age, faith (or lack thereof) or sexual orientation. Everyone is welcome to attend Salvation Army meetings (church services) with the same lack of discrimination. The Salvation Army welcomes into membership all who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Second, the Salvation Army requires of all its members compliance with the biblical standards of sexuality.
Practicing homosexuals, as well as heterosexuals who are in sexual relationships outside of the bounds of traditional marriage, still are loved but their illicit sexual relationships are not condoned.
Robert E. Thomson, Clearwater
School numbers just don't add up | Dec. 22, editorial
Not everyone can graduate
Your editorial is correct that the numbers don't add up and that our school accountability systems are chaotic and generally meaningless. However, tying graduation rates to other accountability measures is not the best way to assess the situation.
A certain percentage of students should not be expected to graduate, because not all students are capable of the academic achievements required for graduation.
In fact, as we increase standards in schools, we are likely simultaneously decreasing the number of students who will graduate. In other words, the higher the standards, the fewer children who can meet them. As an example, the day our Legislature decreed that all students must pass Algebra II in order to graduate is the day that dropout rates were predetermined to increase.
Our society needs to accept that a high school degree should not be the goal for everyone. No matter how well we support them, some students simply cannot master high school-level material. The solution is not to push everyone to graduate in the traditional manner. What is really needed is more energy and funding into viable educational options for nongraduates.
Marlene Rubin, Tampa
One extra day to sign up | Dec. 24
Tweaks reveal it's a bad law
The numerous and varied delays, waivers, exemptions and so forth to Obamacare, while done for blatantly and disgustingly political reasons, point out how inherently bad the law is. Has there ever been a law that was "tweaked" so much and not just thrown out and started from scratch?
Ernest Lane, Trinity
St. Petersburg Opera
Performing arts thriving
On Saturday night, we sat with an enthusiastic audience at the Palladium Theater, wallowing in the utter joy of St. Petersburg Opera's annual "Seasonal Sparkle." Each year, the artistic director, Mark Sforzini, assembles the best musicians available, instrumental and vocal, and presents a program of seasonal music and favorite scenes and arias from world opera. For me, this is the high point of the entire performance arts year. St. Petersburg Opera has flourished and is producing music that's comparable to some of the best in North America.
On the West Coast of Florida, we can be justly proud of the pool of performance artists available to our professional opera, dramatic, musical theater and symphonic companies. Even better, we now have stable institutions that can hire those artists and who are poised to make their mark on the national scene.
James W. Patrick, Tampa
Putin's moves show he's in control | Dec. 22
Political power plays
This article could have read almost the same had it been speaking of President Barack Obama instead of Russian President Vladimir Putin:
The difference is that here the press calls it "executive privilege."
Edward Germond, Apollo Beach
Myth of Henry Ford's $5 | Dec. 23, commentary
Not only are companies "good at public relations," as this column states, they're also good at containing costs, which is a primary function of management.
Walmart and Costco are prime examples of the benefits of cost containment. Costco's staff turnover rate is less than half of Walmart's, which is hugely costly to Walmart no matter how measured.
Ford and Costco are prime examples of why well-paid and well-trained employees are both a vital company asset and a vital asset to a stable, vibrant, civilized community.
Underpaid and undertrained employees create costs that are largely subsidized by taxpayers, which is a form of "corporate welfare" that undermines communities.
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater
Atomic sailors | Dec. 22
Hold leaders to account
I am grateful to the Times for its excellent investigative reporting. Our democracy would be seriously compromised without the freedom of the press and its constant vigilance.
I am troubled and disappointed in how our governmental agencies obfuscate and deny responsibility to those who were drafted or voluntarily turned their lives over to the defense of this country. It is a betrayal of our uniformed service men and women when those in command don't protect those they are charged with.
Marilyn Weaver, Tarpon Springs
Rates should come down | Dec. 22, letter
No floods; no payouts
Of course Florida has been paying more into the National Flood Insurance Program than we've been getting out. In Florida, flooding is primarily caused by the occasional hurricane. We've had no hurricanes since 2006; ergo, few floods.
Going from that data to the conclusion that the flood insurance program discriminates against Florida is, however, a major statistical error. If we again have three or four hurricanes in a single year, or two following the same track in a 10-day span, you'll wade through the inevitable.
Rolf Parta, Bradenton