State leaders say prescription drug deaths down, crackdown working, story, Oct. 24
Department of Health failed
Given as a reason for reduced deaths, Florida's Surgeon General John Armstrong states that the Department of Health "has stepped up its efforts to identify and penalize doctors who enable drug addicts" (by writing illegal narcotic prescriptions, profiting outside the scope of legitimate medical purpose).
While this has surely impacted the problem in a positive way, it begs the question: Why wasn't this done five or six years ago and since, before the thousands of prescription drug deaths directly enabled by the doctors licensed by his department?
Why was the problem allowed to become so large that Sen. Mike Fasano and the Florida Legislature and Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Justice Department and thousands of hours of police resources had to bring forth a concerted effort to take the first initiative? Corrective action should have started with the Department of Health, whose members are appointed to serve and protect the patients in Florida who deserve proper medical care.
Anthony S. Comitos, Palm Harbor
Clearwater Jazz Holiday
Pop critic Daly misses the point
This is a copy of the letter I sent to Tampa Bay Times pop music critic Sean Daly. It reflects my reaction to his piece, "A genre-defying romp," Oct. 22, and to the Clearwater Jazz Holiday this year:
Dear Mr. Daly,
This morning I was very disappointed to read your piece on the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. It is, of course, not surprising that a "pop music critic" in Central Florida would think that those who prefer jazz to country rockabilly music would be "jazzbo boobirds" or that loyalty to jazz is somehow misguided and/or "elitist."
Let me just say, however, that the festival in question is the "Clearwater Jazz Holiday." It is not a pop or rock or bluegrass festival. It is not even a blues festival. It has been presented as a jazz festival. And last year, the festival included many jazz musicians who played a wide variety of jazz styles.
There are many festivals in this area for the types of music which you apparently prefer. For example, during the spring and summer months, there are several weekend festivals at Coachman Park for just these kinds of music. There is also WMNF's Tropical Heatwave, which usually comprises over 20 acts of just this nature.
You and your contemporaries may not appreciate the only truly American music genre, but it is safe to say that many Floridians do. Jacksonville has the second-largest jazz festival in the United States. Local venues such as the Palladium in St. Petersburg have many jazz artists performing throughout the year. Quite a few of these performances are by local jazz musicians who have national recognition.
It would not be very difficult to put on a three- or four-day true jazz festival at Coachman Park with significant numbers of accomplished local artists as a major part of the program.
I should note that the one afternoon and evening of this year's Jazz Holiday which actually featured jazz artists (Saturday) was extremely well attended. Those who were there may not have been the same folks who attended Sunday night, but they certainly had a great time listening to wonderful musicians such as El Nino Garcia and the Latin Knights, Kurt Elling and Esperanza Spalding.
The unfortunate thing is that those who organized the Jazz Holiday this year decided to make it a general music festival, when most every type of music except jazz already has one or more festival-type events in the Tampa Bay area each year. Jazz is the only one which does not.
It would be a sad day if the type of festival which we just witnessed at Coachman Park became the norm for the Jazz Holiday.
Charlie Laird, Belleair
Clearwater Jazz Holiday
It was just wrong, and blaring, too
They should have renamed it the Clearwater Jazz Goes on a Holiday.
Saturday's lineup — Tia Fuller, Esperanza Spalding and especially Kurt Elling — was a winner. But otherwise, rock 'n' roll dominated. Sometimes at ear-splitting volume.
I've been coming to the Jazz Holiday nearly every year since 1990, but if this represents its future, count me out.
Sandy Ingham, Morganville, N.J.
Walmart traffic spells disaster
Since Walmart opened its doors here, the traffic problems have escalated at Tarpon Avenue where it separates the two shopping areas. With the snowbirds coming, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are going to be many accidents at this four-way intersection if there are no left-turn signals installed.
Drivers coming out of Walmart and trying to turn left to reach U.S. 19 are held up so long they have to sit through two lights with traffic piling up behind them and then many dash across at great risk out of frustration.
Drivers going west from U.S. 19 and trying to make a left turn into the south mall cannot safely do so because of all the traffic from the beach, which will get worse and worse.
Drivers coming from Alt. U.S. 19 and trying to make a left turn to go to Walmart are unable to do so because of all the traffic. And to compound the risk at this junction, a driver cannot see a car coming fast from U.S. 19 and heading west to the beach because of the cars stacked up trying to make a left turn into the south mall.
Frustration, road rage and violence will compound unless something is done and quickly.
I have lived here many years and have experienced all of the above problems and am hoping this letter will wake up somebody who is able to do something about it. That person will know that the cost of a left-turn signal in each direction will more than pay for itself and save the city many lawsuits by the safety it will bring to drivers and their families.
Pauline Browne, Tarpon Springs
Mystery Monkey wakes in cage today | story, Oct. 25
An idea for who should be caged
I was wondering if it would be safer to leave the monkey loose and put people in the cages. Who does the most damage to the world and society, animals or people?
When I am elected president, the following Monday I plan to let all the dogs out of the SPCA cages and in their place put all the politicians. Which has done more damage to the country?
Jeff Mikres, Palm Harbor