Friday, December 15, 2017
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


Monday’s letters: Tax plan bad for the country

Trump, GOP make good on tax cuts Dec. 14Tax plan is bad for the countryUnless senators such as Susan Collins, R-Maine, and our own Marco Rubio develop some backbone, the Republican tax bill could well pass.The bill would inflict harm on the people wh...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Sunday’s letters: Rule of law at stake in Mueller inquiry

Sunday’s letters: Rule of law at stake in Mueller inquiry

Justice official parries attacks | Dec. 14Rule of law at stake in inquiryConservative media outlets and a number of Republicans in both chambers of Congress have launched an all-out assault on special counsel Robert Mueller and his team in an eff...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Saturday’s letters: Project silent on rising sea levels

Updated: 7 hours ago

Friday’s letters: Put yourself in a business owner’s shoes

GOP plan favors owners | Dec. 11Perils of small business ownersI wonder if the author of this article has even a clue about owning a business. Businessmen — especially small business owners — risk it all. They risk their savings, their car, their...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Published: 12/13/17

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17