Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: On pier, bold move can pay off in big way

Don't add to pier confusion | May 29, editorial

Bold move can pay off in big way

The debate over the design for the new St. Petersburg pier is reminiscent of the controversy that occurred in Milwaukee when that city was planning a new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2000.

That project, too, was controversial. It was over budget and took longer to build than planned. But if you ask people in the city today, most are happy with the results, which pushed the city into the international spotlight.

The architect was Santiago Calatrava from Spain, and the building he designed is simply the most beautiful building I have ever seen. It is perched on the edge of Lake Michigan and the roof panels open and close like the wings of a bird.

Since I worked for a nonprofit organization in Milwaukee at the time, I know that the $150 million final budget (three times that estimated) sucked the life out of nearly every other nonprofit organization. But it was a very bold move for a conservative Midwestern city that has paid off in a myriad of ways.

Jim McGinity, Dunedin

IRS scrutiny of some groups looked legitimate, experts say | May 27

Trying to enforce the law

Thanks for publishing this news story. I have been concerned that politicians and pundits seem to have piled on those IRS staffers who were finally, I think, trying to do what is right.

Social welfare organizations were first exempted from federal income tax by the Revenue Act of 1913. It was quite clear then that "civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare" would be exempt from federal income tax. These are the suddenly famous 501(c)(4) groups.

Congress has never changed the law, but during the hundred years since 1913 the law's criterion, "exclusively for the promotion of social welfare," was loosened within the IRS so that some political activity was permitted. That was not in itself a serious problem because the organizations in question were not very wealthy and did not have powerful voices.

However, gradually corporations were coming to be seen more and more as having the rights of natural persons. These trends climaxed in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Congress had no right to restrict corporate spending on politics because the court found money to be equivalent to speech, and speech is constitutionally protected.

The Citizens United decision opened the way for big corporate money to come in through tea party organizations funded by the very wealthy.

That gave rise to a startlingly new complex environment in which the IRS staff had to decide how much political activity a "civic league or organization" like a "tea party" could engage in and still be judged to be "operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare."

I think they had good reason to give such organizations closer review when they claim tax-exempt status.

Alvin W. Wolfe, Lutz

McCain slips into Syria for meeting with rebels | May 28

Undermining U.S. policy

Sen. John McCain's trip to meet with Syrian rebels is nothing but a bald-faced attempt by the GOP to subvert our nation's stated position on the Syrian civil war and our State Department's attempts to support our friends in the area like Turkey, Jordan and even Lebanon.

The senator's action has shown to the world and our allies in Europe just how divided politically and as a nation we are. President Barack Obama was re-elected president last year by a majority of the voters of our great nation. We did not elect Mitt Romney or McCain to be our leader.

If McCain's visit did not have the blessing of the State Department or the office of the president, his actions have undermined and harmed our president's efforts to keep this nation out of harm's way. Remember what happened the last time we gave weapons and support to Muslim rebels, in the Balkans against the Serbs who were intent on slaughtering them? What we received from the Muslim world in return was Sept. 11, 2001.

John J. Johnson, Pinellas Park

Pasco may get bill for cat care | May 28

Make cats' owner pay

The woman mentioned in this article abandoned 50 cats over the county line from Pasco to Hernando, and Hernando wants Pasco to pay the bill for euthanizing most of them. If it is so well known who did this horrible thing, why not make her pay? Why should anyone else have to pay the bill? This is her responsibility, and she should be billed for the cost.

I live in a community of seniors where neighboring residents routinely dispose of their unwanted cats. This is abuse of innocent animals. There should be some cost to the people who do this.

Althea Brandon, Zephyrhills

Fast and furious along Interstate 10 May 28, Daniel Ruth column

An officer's discretion

Let me put to rest once and for all this notion that a police officer has to issue a traffic citation to every violator he encounters. He does not. The officer may give a pass for any reason he chooses short of bribery.

I have written thousands of tickets in my 30-year police career; I also have given hundreds of passes. Example: I always had a soft spot for young teenage drivers. Whenever I had to pull one over for some reason and they produced a valid driver's license, I would lecture them on the evils of whatever violation they committed and hand them back their license with the stern warning that "I'm keeping my eye on you" with a smile on my face as I walked back to my car.

You don't have to write up everyone you stop. I'm sure that young driver gained more from that encounter with the police than from any ticket he would have received.

John Waitman, Palm Harbor

Insurer gets $52M deal | May 23

Lead by example

Note to the governor, Cabinet and Legislature of Florida: You first. When everyone of you has switched to Heritage Insurance for every single thing you own, I will consider switching my policies from Citizens.

Julie Wert, Aripeka

Comments

Wednesday’s letters: St. Petersburg’s culture, vibrancy impresses

St. PetersburgImpressive culture and vibrancyI recently visited Tampa Bay and celebrated New Year’s weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. I was awestruck by what I encountered and experienced. It has been several years since I last visited, and the tra...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Published: 01/16/18
Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

President Donald TrumpAchievements go unrecognizedAre Americans even aware that our economy is healthier and growing much faster, that ISIS has been defeated and lost their territory, that China and other countries are buying more American goods and ...
Published: 01/16/18

Monday’s letters: Don’t be fooled by drilling turnaround

Deal blocks drilling off Fla. | Jan. 10Don’t be fooled by turnaroundWhile I am very grateful that Florida has been taken off the table regarding offshore oil drilling, it is clear this is a political move to champion Gov. Rick Scott as he conside...
Published: 01/14/18

Sunday’s letters: Left wing late to the #MeToo cause

#MeTooDemocrats come late to the causeThe Times devoted an entire page to the #MeToo issues on Sunday. The ironies here for longtime observers are nearly boundless. Twenty years ago, folks like myself were called "prudes" and worse because we found P...
Published: 01/13/18

Saturday’s letters: A wall of towers isn’t progress

Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7A wall of towers isn’t progressFirst of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become...
Published: 01/12/18

Friday’s letters:

Gang raped at 17. Getting help at 65 | Jan. 7Help available for assault victimsEach sexual assault survivor has a unique story to tell, and Evelyn Robinson’s experience illustrates many of the emotions, and society stigmas, faced by survivors.Sex...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/11/18

Thursday’s letters: Opioid bill could do more harm than good

Opioid bill opponents line up | Jan. 6Bill’s potential to harm patientsLegislators are proposing putting more restrictions on physicians’ ability to prescribe pain medications. Yes, the addiction problem is a serious one, and the law seems well-i...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/10/18

Wednesday’s letters: Beware candidates backed by billionaires

DeSantis declares governor run | Jan. 6Beware the billionaire backingThis line says it all: "The congressman already has the support of the president and several billionaires." If you continue to vote for billionaire-backed candidates, you will g...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18

Tuesday’s letters: Drilling not worth the risk to Florida

Trump’s plan: to drill | Jan. 5Drilling not worth risk to FloridaAs a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump supporter, I am appalled by the proposal to drill for oil off Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts, whose beaches and economi...
Published: 01/08/18