Prison industry influence | Aug. 23, letter
Police will respond to voters' will
This letter makes the point that law enforcement will enforce antidrug laws to enhance their own self-interests, not necessarily to reduce drug addiction. The opposition of the Florida Sheriff's Association to Amendment 2 is an example, according to the letter.
I agree. But I am also an optimist. I believe that when voters put Amendment 2 into the Florida Constitution, as polls indicate they will, the sheriffs will innovate. They will shift money around to do more on-foot community policing, for instance, and less pot-busting.
This happened in Massachusetts after 2008, when the state voted 65 percent to 34 percent to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The change was so profound that in 2010, counties in the Boston area made one-sixtieth of the arrests, per capita, that Pinellas County made that year. Sheriffs in Florida are elected and will respond to voters. It's true that money speaks, but votes speak louder.
John G. Chase, Palm Harbor
Records limit parent roles | Aug. 24
Background check essential
No excuses, no exceptions — if one cannot or will not allow a background check and pass it, that person simply cannot be in our schools.
A parent who has turned his or her life around can be most helpful to the child and to the teacher by just being a parent: helping with homework and sending the child off with a full stomach.
It's unfortunate that things young people are doing on social media come back to bite them. Employers are checking. And social media is forever. But I don't care how long ago the offense was — it's just too bad.
I can admire their desire to help, but they need to do it away from other children and teachers, and stay out of our schools.
Judy Lavaron, St. Petersburg
Little League World Series
A tale of two cities
Over the past couple of weeks we witnessed the very best of young African-Americans in Williamsport, Pa. The chant of "U.S.A." brought us together in a way that would have made Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King proud. We were not "black America," "white America" or any other "dash America." We all were simply "U.S.A."
In Ferguson, Mo., a small group of young thugs took advantage of a tragic situation to reinforce racial stereotypes and spit on the grave of Dr. King. Those few turned what should have been a "Selma-to-Montgomery" protest into a week of violence. One can only wonder what would have happened if the police, dressed as for war, had been met by children bearing flowers instead.
Two cities, two images. The question is, which one do we want to be?
Ed Niklas, Tampa
Challenged to conserve
In a determined effort, from January to August, I reduced my daily kilowatt-hour usage every month except for February and June over the usage for those same months in 2013. Even in February and June, when I didn't do as well as in the other months, my usage was well under the 1,000 kilowatt hours required to keep the lower charge.
Recently I received the Duke Energy letter stating I would be one of the lucky ones to have 10 days added to my current billing period.
Am I angry? You bet. The challenge is on. Can I conserve enough energy to stay under 1,000 kilowatt hours for a longer billing period? I am motivated by anger at Duke's lack of respect for its customers as well as our environment.
And angry at the legislators who don't care that this is happening. My vote will reflect their accountability.
Ginny Nelson, Largo
More kids killed accidentally by guns than in bathtubs | Aug. 26, PunditFact
Gun deaths vs. drownings
It is understood that the Times' liberal views will be expressed in its editorials. However, when this PunditFact article presents numbers in support of its rating, I expect the presentation to be fair.
In comparing deaths by drowning in a bathtub versus accidentally by guns, I cannot believe that you included 17-year-olds in bathtub drownings. Using your figures, Tucker Carlson's claim is accurate up to the 15- to 17-year-old category. Beyond that point, the number of accidental gun deaths far outweighs the number of drownings. By the same token, the number of drownings in the 0-4 group is more than double the number of gun accident deaths.
These breakdowns are only used to support your view. This is a complete distortion of the numbers to support a "Pants on Fire" rating.
Joseph Corvino, Clearwater
At Trop, new citizens send up cheer | Aug. 22
The photo of soon-to-be naturalized citizens taking the oath of allegiance lifted my spirits in a week filled with reports of hateful political lies, the Ferguson killing/riots and the KKK in Florida. We gained about 250 new citizens from 53 countries.
All of the people pictured had expressions of seriousness and dedication. All were dressed properly. These are people who appreciate the United States and will work hard to contribute to society as well as themselves. We should welcome these immigrants who will help restore our country morally and economically.
Perhaps there should be more concentration on attracting this type of person, and less on the impossible idea of a closed Mexican border.
Joye Gasser, Sun City Center
U.S. complicity in deaths | Aug. 27, letter
The reason so many innocent children are killed is because Hamas is using them as human shields. They hide among the Palestinians and send rockets into Israel from residential areas, knowing that Israel does not want to kill innocent people — but has to in order to defend its own people.
The letter writer's question, "Why is the U.S. paying for this?" is a good one, and more people should demand an answer.
Shirley Lawrence, Spring Hill