Thursday, March 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Letters: EMS model is a crisis in the making

Kindling a crisis

Rahm Emanuel once said, "You never want a crisis to go to waste." While not a crisis yet, the continued escalation of fire/EMS costs and the raiding of county reserve money combined with tax increases to cover those costs ensures that it will become a crisis, probably sooner than later. The Times suggests that the Legislature mandate through law that Pinellas County create a countywide fire/EMS system to eliminate systemic inefficiencies, redundancies and turf battles. That would be one step in the right direction, but I propose a bit stronger medicine. It's time for our political leaders to comprehend that firefighting makes up only 20 percent of all calls for service. We are now running an EMS health care system, with a side dish of fire.

The amount of equipment, training and staffing that goes to firefighting needs to be significantly shifted to an EMS/transport role. When was the last time a 15-story building needed ladder trucks to rescue folks? The past 30-year-plus effort by fire marshals and code designers has pretty much eliminated that event. Older wooden homes and mobile homes are, unfortunately, death traps with firefighters usually arriving too late to do much but protect surrounding structures.

Consultants have been hired to "analyze" the system and make recommendations. These recommendations invariably end up supporting one or the other status quo. While I am not endorsing Sunstar, if you check out their service trucks you'll see the future of EMS saving lives — far cheaper than a ladder truck and more dedicated to today's priorities. The whole structure of EMS/fire service needs to be re- examined. A change in the system will gore many oxen, but the crisis is coming. Why wait?

Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg

Make sober choice

St. Pete Beach is one of the hot spots for spring breakers, yet it is marred by the reports of more than one fatal accident. People need to be more responsible. There are so many affordable options available when people want to enjoy the nightlife other than getting behind the wheel of a car. There's the shuttle, Free Beach Ride or cabs. They are experienced, safe and sober drivers. Enjoy yourselves, but be safe.

Cynthia Gaffrey, St. Petersburg

Sign law largely ignored | March 16

Let logic rule

My church is in a purely residential area of Largo, as are many churches. Our church was built over 57 years ago on a street that was virtually a dirt road. At that time there were apparently no restrictions governing the location of a church sign, and ours happened to be built on the right-of-way abutting our property line. Since the church was built, no code violations or notices were ever received about the location.

We are now wanting to upgrade this sign with an LED system. However, we have been told that the sign (as it is now stands) must be moved off the right-of-way and placed inside the property line and be no higher than 8 feet, with a monument base, all to conform with the new law.

Over the past 57 years we have seeded, watered, trimmed, fertilized and mowed over 500 feet of beautiful grass in the right-of-way. When the sidewalk was paved they intentionally curved it away from the sign, for some reason. It is not an obstruction to traffic or pedestrians.

The new law should also be of major concern as it relates to businesses. I would imagine the effect it will have on these establishments will be devastating. To the powers that be, all we are seeking to do is, upgrade the existing sign to an LED type and in the process lower the height to meet the required 8 foot maximum and have a monument base. Is anybody listening or understand our situation?

Peter B. Ferrara Sr., Belleair Bluffs

Can CONA heal after drama? | March 16

Courageous tenure

As a longtime Council of Neighborhood Associations of South Pinellas board member and past president, it pained me to read the recent article. The article explores reasons for two neighborhood associations leaving CONA and some not joining, and for the CONA executive committee taking actions that prevented immediate past president Kurt Donley from running for public safety chairman. Particularly mentioned in the article as a reason for some not supporting Donley was his focus on the vast increase in incarceration of minorities, especially young people, for nonviolent offenses, and his use of the bestselling book The New Jim Crow to document the issue.

While I disagree with some of the book's assertions, I agree with its central theme, which is that the huge increase in incarceration is a major societal problem about which we all need to be concerned. Since the 1970s the U.S. prison population has exploded from 250,000 to more than 2 million, with a significant proportion of the increase due to relatively minor drug possession convictions disproportionately involving minority young men. Society is paying a heavy price for this, including the dependency created.

CONA has traditionally concerned itself with building codes, land development and historic preservation, signage and beautification, community policing, neighborhood building and similar matters. While Donley and the independently elected executive committee addressed these, Donley's efforts to raise consciousness regarding minority youth and young adult incarcerations was somewhat novel, and some association representatives had difficulty with it. But this was done with the full knowledge and approval of the board. Not mentioned in the article was that at the April 2013 board meeting Donley addressed those concerns head-on. He then called for a standing vote of support from the board to approve discussion of this issue as part of CONA's educational activity, although this was not to be a primary activity. The vote was unanimous in support.

I respect Donley's courage and leadership on this issue. Being president of CONA, an all-volunteer organization, is a tough job. I thank Donley for his service, and also sincerely wish the new president and officers well in striving to make our city an even better place to live as they begin their new terms.

Will Michaels, St. Petersburg


Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18