Thursday, June 21, 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

Thursday’s letters: On immigration there has to be a better way

‘Zero tolerance’ ignites outrage | June 20Find better way on immigrationOver the years I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. My observation of the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is not about politics. It has to do with having...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Wednesday’s letters: Charters and traditional public schools each have their place

Public school as public good | Letter, June 17Both kinds of schools can workAs a mother and grandmother of children raised in both traditional public and charter schools in Pinellas County (and a 25-year supporting-services employee for public sc...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18