Help choose the letter of the month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for April 2014 by visiting the website listed below by Monday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style.
The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three April nominees and vote, go to tampabay.com/opinion.
Cars for hire must put safety first | April 23, editorial
Support transit innovations
While I agree that Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission rules stifle innovation and we need reform, I am deeply concerned with your characterization of current service and your recommendation to remedy it.
I am excited that Lyft and Uber's ridesharing service, UberX, have begun operating in Tampa Bay. Both companies operate at the highest industry standards and are not fly-by-night operators, but rather international companies with hundreds of millions invested in changing the way we travel. People are increasingly combining different modes to get around, and services like car sharing, frequent transit and bike share are just a few of the options from which we can benefit. We need to give Tampa Bay residents the same freedom to move around that other cities enjoy.
Both services have been operating successfully across the country to meet natural demand and do so under sound business practices. They do background checks on drivers, facilitate trainings and vehicle inspections, and Lyft even carries an additional million-dollar liability policy. Furthermore, both companies use driver rating systems to ensure that employees maintains the highest standards.
Asking innovators to sit back and wait for government to create new regulations to provide options is absurd. We have been promised action before, but no movement has happened in the past two years since the issue came to prominence.
We applaud Lyft and Uber's tenacity and encourage the PTC to be open to dialogue and move quickly to collaborative solutions. This is how we will grow as a community: not by closing doors, but by exploring and embracing new technologies.
Brian Seel, co-founder, Connect Tampa Bay, Tampa
Transit should progress | April 28, letter
Winners and losers
The letter writer states that good technology disrupts the market, increasing options for consumers and providing new economic opportunities, leading to more prosperity.
It is the claim of more prosperity that I dispute. Uber is a technology that allows the consumers to hire a car for rides to their destinations. Instead of calling a taxi, you use Uber. So the Uber company, the Uber driver and the consumer who pays a lower fare becomes more prosperous while the cab driver becomes less prosperous because he has fewer fares and tips. As a result of fewer people using taxis, the taxi company may not require as many dispatchers and may lay off people. This is not prosperity for all.
There are examples of technology reducing prosperity all around us. If you go into a big box store you may see self checkout lanes with one person servicing four lanes. Before there were two or three checkout people to serve the consumer. Technology has reduced employment opportunities, which does not contribute to prosperity for all.
Technology has also allowed many higher-paying jobs like computer programming to be outsourced. This lowers prosperity for U.S. programmers while increasing it for the non-U.S. developers.
I personally like technology. I probably spend too much time on my computer now. But I realize that technology does not increase prosperity for all.
Dennis J. Blaha, Wimauma
When player goes down, all is not lost April 28
That was a top-notch headline on page one of the Tampa Bay Times. How special is was to be able to read something as heartwarming as what the pitcher, Chelsea Oglevie, and second baseman, Leah Pemberton, from the opposing team did for injured Kara Oberer. It was proof that goodness and kindness do still exist in our world.
We need more of those headlines on page one. And those two young women need to be officially recognized for their sportsmanship.
Marcia Kay Dahlstrom, Dunedin
U.S. vows aid to Ukraine, sends troops to E. Europe | April 23
Take a look in the mirror
Perhaps Vice President Joe Biden should be applauded for challenging the Ukraine political class to confront "the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system," but this aspersion hits close to home when considering campaign financing in this country.
Until a change is made in the United States making it illegal for any lawmaker to take more than a standard, fixed amount of campaign money, we run a high risk of hypocrisy in directing comments at others regarding the cancer of corruption.
C.E. Henderson, Palm Harbor
For benefits, military vets cross the line April 28
Appalled and ashamed
Speaking as a Vietnam War veteran, I am appalled and ashamed of any fellow veterans who purposely defraud the VA in receiving undeserved benefits, especially when there are veterans denied deserving benefits.
Veterans who are found guilty of fraudulent benefits should not only serve prison time and pay restitution but be dishonorably discharged from the branch of service they served, stripping them of any benefits whatsoever.
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City