Friday, March 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Outmoded policing concept

July Letter of the Month

The winning letter of the month for July is from Laura Vickers of Tampa, who wrote about the phosphate company Mosaic being granted a permit to pump up to 70 million gallons of water a day from the ground.

Mosaic pumps water to dilute waste | July 21

An egregious abuse of Florida's resources

I give up. If Mosaic is pumping 70 million gallons a day from our aquifer (and returning polluted water to streams in its place), how can it matter if I turn off the water while I brush my teeth, or collect rainwater to use on my garden?

This is such an egregious abuse of public resources, and it is allowed by the fine folks at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. We have given away the farm.

Laura Vickers, Tampa

Election stirs police issue | Aug. 4

Outmoded policing concept

The term "community policing" has a nice ring to it. It's what is known as "glittering generality" — it sounds like a good idea but does not work in practice.

I am a former police supervisor, retired from a lifelong career serving on the force of a major East Coast city, and I fully agree with St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon's statements. My city engaged in the "community policing" concept many years ago when the idea first became popular. Years later it was abandoned.

Here are some of the realistic but rarely mentioned difficulties with the concept:

• Neighborhoods needing the most "community" officers (usually based on crime statistics) result in manpower resources being disproportionately distributed. The obvious result is less manpower deployed for service in other, "safer" areas of the city.

• The assignment of "regular" personnel tends to produce an almost inevitable insular feeling among the officers. The prevailing belief being that as long as "their" assigned area is under control, they are not particularly invested in the remainder of the city.

• The officers can become too comfortable (lax?) in their assignment. Being in everyday contact with individuals, groups and community leaders (or self-appointed "spokespeople"), they can become a little too understanding of the day-to-day goings on in "their" area, perhaps even too lax or complacent in the enforcement of the law.

In short: The "community" actually alters the law enforcement function, instead of the police altering the community's perception of them.

As with other outmoded concepts, the idea of community policing has not proven to be a workable model.

R. Gannon, St. Petersburg

State's higher ed boss leaving | Aug. 8

He made system stronger

After four productive years working on behalf of higher education in Florida, Chancellor Frank T. Brogan announced Wednesday that he is leaving us for a new opportunity in Pennsylvania at the end of next month.

We are extremely grateful to Frank for what he's leaving behind — a system stronger than ever. Thanks to Frank's leadership and the hard work of our Board of Governors, we have a more cohesive, efficient system of universities where there was once disjointedness. We enjoy fruitful relationships with state leaders and stakeholders where there was once acrimony. We continue to climb higher toward excellence, with our institutions improving each year in key measures of student success. Our accountability framework for tracking university and system goals has been nationally lauded.

In the coming weeks, our board will appoint an interim leader to maintain our progress as we conduct a national search for a permanent chancellor. The legacy that Frank leaves gives me absolute confidence that we will find another superstar to help lead us. Whoever that person is, he or she will be welcomed by a dedicated and supportive Board of Governors and a State University System that is poised for greatness.

Dean Colson, chair, Florida Board of Governors, Tallahassee

Spending on the arts pays off | Aug. 5

Competition and rewards

This letter brought much-needed attention to federal arts spending. Congress should not cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, a vital federal agency.

However, the accessibility of arts grants, at the state and federal level, needs to be addressed. Grant dollars are typically filtered — and their impact diluted — through institutions and stand-alone programs that only offer short-term employment for artists. For the most part, artwork is not being created as a result of NEA initiatives in Florida, including in the Tampa Bay area.

Congress needs to overturn the ban on individual visual artist fellowships and allow applicants to compete based on merit. This will result in artwork actually being created, and bring the highest benefit to individuals and to the nation's art and cultural life.

Joseph Weinzettle, St. Petersburg

Code system called broken | Aug. 2

Professional help needed

Tampa's code enforcement and DUI squad debacles suggest the city would be better managed by replacing the strong mayor model of government with the council-city manager model. City managers are hired based on formal training and prior experience in city management.

Management education emphasizes long-term planning, something that is lacking in Tampa, particularly for infrastructure and neighborhoods. As an example of how planning can accomplish major goals, in the early 1970s, San Diego (my hometown) planned to bury the power lines and accomplished the goal in 10 years. In contrast, my neighborhood in Tampa has been unable to get a left turn arrow added at a traffic signal, much less get a single power line buried.

Under Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa was transformed into a military state for the Republican National Convention. This apparently occurred because it was anticipated "the public" would show up, but most ultimately stayed home. In contrast, Charlotte, N.C., which uses the city manager model, had a street festival when hosting the Democratic National Convention. They had a festival, while we got the "halt, who goes there" treatment.

Tampa will remain stuck with debacles until it gets rid of the strong mayor model.

Barbara Langland Orban, Tampa


Monday’s letters: Driverless cars on perilous roads

Driverless cautions | March 23, commentaryDriverless carson perilous roadsHaving watched the video of the tragedy in Tempe, Ariz., I believe the police are correct. This accident could not have been avoided as the pedestrian stepped out of the sh...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Friday’s letters: Think through assault weapons ban

Gun controlThink through assault rifle banI recently emailed a Florida state representative who had pledged, among other things, to ban assault rifles in the state. I asked him if he would ban the sale and transfer of these guns or ultimately make th...
Published: 03/22/18

Saturday’s letters: Tax guns to pay for security

Million-dollar questions | March 21Tax firearms to pay for securitySo public officials are wondering where they’ll get the money for stationing an armed guard in every school. How about heavily taxing every gun? It’s the proliferation of the weap...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18