Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Put discipline in parents' hands

Corporal punishment

Put discipline in parents' hands

Florida is one of just 19 states that permit corporal punishment in public school. The Florida Department of Education defines corporal punishment as "the moderate use of physical force or physical contact by a teacher or principal to maintain discipline or to enforce school rules."

According to the U.S. Education Department, in the 2005-06 school year, 7,185 students were hit in Florida; in the 2006-07 school year, 29 school districts in Florida used corporal punishment.

Banning corporal punishment could improve the mental health and academic achievement of Florida's youth. States that have banned corporal punishment have higher test scores and graduation rates. Based on findings from the Center for Effective Discipline, a ban on corporal punishment could decrease the number of fatal school shootings in the state, decrease violence against teachers, and could lower adult incarceration rates. A ban could also decrease aggression, antisocial behavior, and poor mental health outcomes among students.

Corporal punishment teaches children that violence is a way to solve problems. In Florida, instead of the parent, schools have the power to determine how a child is disciplined. It is time to ban this ineffective method of discipline and put the rights back in the hands of parents.

Jennifer Bleck, MPH, Tampa

Clout behind medical pot | March 18

Positive outcomes

We live in a small mountain town in Colorado for four months each summer. Medical marijuana has been available there for several years. There have been absolutely no negative impacts that we have seen.

Every day the newspaper prints a police blotter report from the day before. There is the usual for a small town — noise complaints, traffic violations, the occasional petty theft, and bears in backyards during the fall. On weekends there are frequently arrests for public intoxication and DUI. We have never seen a mention of marijuana problems.

There are two clinics in town and they are carefully regulated. The products are locally grown and must meet certain standards. If a patient doesn't want to smoke (a wise decision), the product is available in various edible forms. Marijuana has been around a very long time and would seem to have few side effects if used carefully. The managers of the clinics report that they have been able to wean patients off much more dangerous drugs like Vicodin and Oxycontin. This seems like a good thing.

Supervised use of medical marijuana makes a lot of sense to me.

Faith Alford, St. Pete Beach

Detainee hunger strike spreads at Gitmo March 26

We're still fighting a war

As a family member of one our troops who was deployed and dealt personally with these prisoners more than once, I don't care if the prisoners eat or not. Why should I feel sorry for people who want to kill and destroy the United States? Why are we spending tax dollars to force-feed these prisoners? Do you think that if the shoe were on the other foot that they would try to save an American's life by hospitalization? I can assure you, they wouldn't be bothered.

I am, however, sorry that it is taking so long to decide these prisoners' fates. But I am certain they are not being detained without justifiable reason.

Don't forget: Our military is still fighting this war. In case you are not aware of this fact, pick up the paper every week and read the dead and wounded list. It isn't getting any shorter.

Wendy Wilson, Brandon

Get to bottom of bail bond abuses March 23, editorial

Bail contract basics

As a bail insurance underwriter, I would like to offer a clarification to this editorial.

First, I agree the state should crack down on agents who wrongly seek to avoid paying forfeiture when a defendant fails to appear in court. But it's not always that easy.

There are instances where a defendant is hospitalized, rearrested or otherwise in custody and is not able to appear. In these examples, any rational person would agree that the forfeiture does not need to be paid.

It is important to understand that a bail bond is an appearance bond, not a performance bond requiring the bail agent to make sure, for example, that the defendant shows up for work or avoids inappropriate behavior. To require the agent to babysit the defendant 24/7 is not only a physical impossibility, it would amount to kidnapping.

The fear is that some courts are now holding that a bail agent would be responsible for paying the forfeiture even when the defendant is already in the custody of the state. The supposed logic is that the agent should have prevented the defendant from committing another crime (or getting ill?). That is not what the bail contract says, and the only practical way to prevent someone from committing another crime is to incarcerate that defendant. Yet it was a court decision to allow the defendant to go free in the first place.

Let's be careful in painting with too broad a brush that every time a defendant "skips town," a forfeiture must be paid.

Deborah Jallad, president, Accredited Surety and Casualty Co. Inc., Orlando

Eroding the rights of 'Roe' March 23, editorial

'Roe' a conservative ruling

The political far right has long misjudged the historic Roe vs. Wade decision, which strengthened fundamental values enshrined by thoughtful conservatives. The 1973 decision limited the role of big government. It expanded both the freedom and responsibilities of individuals. It enhanced the position of women and their unique relationship during pregnancy with informed medical care. In doing so, it also enhanced basic rights of privacy.

So too did the court, after hearing much testimony from different viewpoints, strike a reasonable balance between the sometimes colliding — and often complex mixture of — roles of government protecting society and the rights of a free people living within that society.

Nor are the extremists right in misinterpreting the decision as a permit for murder. Indeed, the decision protects the fetus that is viable and capable of life outside the mother — while also protecting the life of the mother during pregnancy.

Conservatives rightly want to stay vigilant against overweening government power that intrudes into the daily lives of free men and women. Roe vs. Wade, which in no way forces any woman to have an abortion, did and continues to empower impressive time-tested conservative principles.

Laurence J. Paul, Nobleton


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: 13 minutes 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...
Updated: 10 hours ago

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