Work to keep young drivers safe
Memorial Day marks the beginning of the 100 deadliest days of the year on our nation's roads for teen drivers. Hundreds of teens are killed in car crashes and their families devastated. These deaths are unacceptable, especially because many are preventable. I implore parents to remain vigilant and play a role in the fight to end these tragic crashes.
School might be out, but teens still need to be off the roads by 10 p.m., when teen crash risks sharply increase. Although teens may spend more time with friends during the summer months, they should not ride with or carry other teen passengers. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver's crash risk by as much as 48 percent. Parents, please don't ever sacrifice safety for convenience. If your teen is out late or with friends, make other travel arrangements. The risk is not worth the potential consequences.
I lead the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, established by the Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council to raise awareness about why teen crashes occur and what we can do to prevent them. I encourage parents to get involved and become advocates for their teens' safety on our roadways. By doing so, I'm confident this summer can be the safest yet for our teen drivers.
Danielle Branciforte, Tallahassee
Paying for health care benefits, getting none May 20, commentary
Alan Green's opinion piece was a brilliant example of holistic thinking: the ability to see how all the different parts of a system (think health care or economics) affect one another, and how poor decisions on one input can favorably or negatively impact the entire system and the people in it.
Unfortunately, this intellectual skill far exceeds the ability of the majority of our state legislators, whose most common thinking process is more narrowly focused. So unfortunately, many of our state's lower-income citizens already lacking health care will continue to go without. And you, my fellow Florida taxpayer, will continue to pay for those in other states who had the intelligence to make the right decision.
Donald Ruths, Brooksville
Even in surplus, few mercies | May 21
I am deeply saddened by Gov. Rick Scott's decision to veto $1.3 million in funding for a Metropolitan Ministries transitional housing facility. Scott's campaign motto was "Let's get to work," and his priority during the budget process was, "Is it going to help our families get more jobs?" The construction of the facility would have created hundreds of jobs for the struggling residents of Pasco County. The facility would also have provided job training, which would help the homeless to obtain gainful employment in our communities.
The issue of homelessness is very near to my heart. For over two years, I was part of a homeless ministry in Port Richey. Our ministry was small, which allowed us to really connect with the homeless on a personal level and minister to them.
I believe the general public has an overall negative and tainted view regarding the homeless. Most of them are just looking for someone to talk to and for someone who would recognize that they are real people just like the rest of us, but who were unfortunate enough to have been dealt various life challenges.
Judy Prine, New Port Richey
Hillsborough County Commission
For better representation
All Hillsborough County residents should have better representation on the County Commission. There has been a significant increase in population since the structure of the commission was last determined, and the structure needs to be revised.
However, changing an at-large commissioner to a new district commissioner is a shortsighted and unacceptable. It will reduce the representation and power of all residents.
The makeup must be an odd number to avoid tie votes. More importantly, the proportion of at-large representatives must be retained so residents in any district have the opportunity to gain approval of their issue by combining their district vote with votes of at-large commissioners who do not have a district bias.
My suggestion is to change to a nine-member commission with four at-large commissioners and a new district, thereby giving all districts a representative for a smaller population.
Joye Gasser, Sun City Center
On scandals, no sale | May 21, commentary
Public entitled to know
Since when should the pursuit of facts and the investigation of an issue be based on whether or not it "resonates" with the public? For one, the public may just be plain tired of the continuing misadventures coming out of Washington. In any event, the public is entitled to know what happened there.
As to Charles Blow's assertion that Republicans hate the IRS, I didn't know that all Republicans thought in lockstep on this, or any issue. I am a reluctant Republican (based on the alternative), but I do not hate the IRS or paying my fair share of taxes. Taxes, and the many vital governmental functions they pay for, are not an "absolute evil" as Blow believes all Republicans think. It may be the excesses of government that people object to. Blow uses "tea party" and "Republican Party" interchangeably. They are not the same.
Getting to the truth about Benghazi is important if for no other reason than to prevent it from happening again. And yes, I can find Benghazi on a map as I am sure many Times readers can.
Sam Levine, Tampa
Governor steps up inmate deaths | May 20
Voters are watching
It would be fun to watch Gov. Rick Scott's moves if they weren't so tragic. He bought and paid for his election four years ago with promises of jobs. First he destroyed many existing jobs. Now he claims credit for any new jobs in the state, even those he had nothing to do with.
In addition, he is trying to play nice with all those he insulted and deprived of help, such as teachers. They are not fooled.
Now he seems to think that he can win over some people by ordering more and quicker executions. He should look around and see that more states are dropping the death penalty, and that Florida has a terrible reputation for putting innocent people on death row and allowing only a jury majority, rather than a unanimous decision, to ask for execution.
I hope not only that Scott will wake up to reality but that Florida voters will too.
Lucy Fuchs, Brandon