Theater shooting | Jan. 14
When guns backfire
More gun violence in Pasco County is not what we need, especially when it's as tragic as the movie theater shooting. The conclusion that most of us should draw is that the enormous proliferation of firearms in our communities will at some point backfire on us.
Gun rights groups have advocated for guns in the home, guns in the car, guns on the person, guns on college campuses, and even guns in bars. This clearly infringes on the safety of law-abiding citizens at some point. This has become a public safety issue despite the incessant lobbying by the NRA.
The proliferation of firearms will continue unless we make serious changes.
Tom Burke, Clearwater
What is wrong with people? I don't know whether I am more mad about the shooting itself, the fact that the shooter was a retired police officer, or the idea that the victim was texting his 3-year-old daughter.
Yes, using a cellphone in a movie theater is rude. Your screaming children ruining my dinner at a restaurant is rude, too, but I am certainly not going to shoot them.
This ex-cop had been trained to handle confrontation. If he couldn't keep his cool in a movie theater, what's next? Screaming children at a restaurant? Innocent (but annoying) barking dogs? Where does it end?
Ryan Holmes, Indian Rocks Beach
Turn off your phone
The shooting in Wesley Chapel was unfortunate. However, this would have never happened if the victim had turned off his phone, as he was supposed to do under theater rules.
This is a major problem everywhere you go. My husband and I went to see Cirque Du Soleil, at $150 a ticket. Before the show, they said everyone should turn off their phones. Right after the show started, the young woman next to me started to text. At first, she put the phone away. But soon she was texting again.
The same thing happened when we went to see the Rockettes, another expensive show where you don't want to be bothered by annoying cellphones.
It is sad that a young man lost his life. But all he had to do was put his phone away. And he chose not to.
Beverly Fromal, Spring Hill
Health care for poor | Jan. 14
Message for Weatherford
House Speaker Will Weatherford seems to be the main hurdle between Florida taxpayers getting increased value from the federal taxes they pay and them giving $51 billion in tax money away to the citizens of the 25-plus states that have agreed to expand Medicaid.
Voters in Weatherford's district and beyond should let him know that we want to put our tax money to work and we want to do that now. Expanding Medicaid is not only the fiscally prudent thing to do but it is also the humane thing to do.
Impoverished Floridians are as entitled to decent health care as anyone else.
Elizabeth Corwin, Tampa
'Bean' is a baby | Jan. 14
Not a pro-life state
A letter writer says that "we do not take human life unless we are certain of the facts."
In Florida, that is patently false.
We are the state of "stand your ground." This law basically gives you the right to kill anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
We have also turned down Medicaid expansion despite the full knowledge that it will cause some of the uninsured to die because they did not have coverage.
Given our stance on gun laws and callousness toward the poor, Florida can hardly be considered pro-life.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Transit tax effort | Jan. 12
Taxing us to death
It would appear that the mind-set of those who support this effort, including Pinellas Transit Agency CEO Brad Miller and Commissioner Ken Welch, is very much the same: those who oppose it are simply uneducated, misinformed or confused. Perhaps the opponents have genuine concerns with either the need for or the approach to the funding.
Penny-for-Pinellas, a 1 percent increase in the sales tax approved by the voters in 1989 on the pretense of lasting for 10 years, is now into its third decade. The 2010-20 Penny-for-Pinellas budget commits over $330 million for "transportation and traffic flow."
Perhaps we should reassess the original purpose of this initiative and consider redirecting some of this tax revenue for expansion of bus service and light-rail transit before giving Pinellas County the distinction of having the highest sales tax rate of all 67 counties in Florida?
Heads up voters: The ballot language on this issue mentions only the 1 percent increase in sales tax, nothing about eliminating the .75 mill property tax committed to transit.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
Bridgegate | Jan. 12
What Daley would've done
As a young man growing up in the Chicago area I couldn't help but admire Mayor Richard Daley Sr. for the way he got things done. However, the way he handled his enemies, critics and the press impressed me even more. Politicians such as Chris Christie, George Bush and Richard Nixon, among others, could have learned much by observing the way Daley responded to crisis.
When confronted with an accusation of wrongdoing, the first reaction of the first group was to Deny! Deny! Deny! Next they went into cover-up mode and then began a search for loyal minions willing to fall on the proverbial sword.
Under similar circumstances, I know exactly what Daley would have done. He would have confronted his accusers with an admission of guilt and then proceeded to criticize them for having the temerity to bring something so petty up. No expression of remorse, no apology, just an admission he is a politician and a bully and that this is what politicians and bullies do, especially when they are the big dog.
Had Christie responded in a similar fashion, the issue would be yesterday's news, not something that threatens to grow until it devours him.
Robert A. Shaw, Madeira Beach