The proper laws can save lives
Crash statistics for teen drivers are sobering. Crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and they are three times as likely to crash as more experienced drivers. In 2010, 356 Floridians died in crashes involving teen drivers. Using cellphones while driving, driving or riding with their peers, or driving late at night all significantly increase teen drivers' already high crash risk.
Laws prohibiting these practices will reduce that risk and make our roads safer for everyone.
As the leader of the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, an initiative of the National Safety Council and the Allstate Foundation, I implore state lawmakers to become strong advocates for teen driving safety. The first year of licensure is the most dangerous year for new drivers, and strong driving laws are proven to reduce crashes. Let's make the next few years the safest for Florida teen drivers.
Danielle Branciforte, Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, Tallahassee
Morsi tries to soothe U.S. anger over slurs Jan. 17
Egypt, Israel gain; we suffer
Now it is $480 million for President Mohamed Morsi and Egypt, after other hundreds of millions to his predecessors and similar hundreds of millions to his adversary, Israel. They have a good thing going, wringing huge sums from Congress.
People here in the United States are homeless and hungry and are denigrated for wanting help. How did my country come to this?
What must be done to change the focus?
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
Crunched up | Jan. 18
Sweetbay, please reconsider
I have lived in south St. Petersburg for almost 20 years, and recently moved to a 62-plus retirement community in this area. I am dismayed at the rather cavalier announcement by "corporate" Sweetbay that our local Sweetbay store on 62nd Avenue S is slated to close next month, along with the Midtown store.
I was present at the grand opening of the latter and fully understand what a boon it was for that neighborhood's ongoing community development. It is more than just a grocery store there — it is where people meet their neighbors and friends. Likewise, the store on 62nd Avenue S is the only one within walking or a short driving distance of our community.
Please, Sweetbay, reconsider your decision and keep it open at least a while longer. Many of us "boomers" and other south St. Pete residents-by-choice are still healthy and active, and as our generation continues to retire to this community, we will certainly treasure and enjoy the pleasures of grocery shopping for ourselves in our own neighborhood Sweetbay store.
Catherine L. Smith, St. Petersburg
Give Sweetbay an incentive
Pinellas County should look into the possibility of offering Delhaize incentive financing to make the Sweetbay store in Midtown profitable, similar to what is done locally to influence outside companies to locate in the area. Considering the millions spent to acquire the land and steer millions to the area, maybe state Rep. Darryl Rouson and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster could be persuaded to work with Delhaize, especially considering the elderly and somewhat disadvantaged people who live in the area.
Art Roset, Palm Harbor
Gun plan tackles a daunting task Jan. 17
Rubio defies logic on guns
I am frankly baffled by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's remarks about gun control. Rubio's logic holds that any regulation regarding gun ownership is equivalent to abrogating the Second Amendment. Rubio needs to review his notes from Constitution Law 101. Even the First Amendment that protects free speech is subject to regulation. "Shouting fire in a crowded theater" is a popular illustration and frequent paraphrasing of Oliver Wendell Holmes' opinion in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States in 1919. In essence, it is a limitation of our First Amendment right, yet preserves the underlying principle of free speech.
Rubio and his NRA supporters are clearly using faulty logic when they ignore precedent and argue that sensible gun regulation is equivalent to violating the Constitution.
Richard C. Horowitz, Palm Harbor
Tampa aims to expand WiFi | Jan. 13
WiFi for park is a waste
I find it astonishing just how out of touch Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is with the reality that is the downtown homeless population after reading his proposed plans to expand WiFi. While adding more expansive WiFi capability to Curtis Hixon Park is a no-brainer, his mention of expanding coverage to the Lykes Gaslight Park is mind-numbing. Mayor, have you taken a walk through the Lykes Gaslight Park in the last 18 months? No one traverses — let alone stops to sit on a bench — in that park unless they don't own a change of clothes, much less a device that needs a boost in WiFi connectivity.
As a young professional resident of downtown for three years and half a block away from that park, I have stopped promoting all that downtown has to offer to my suburban friends and begun my own exit plans. There isn't a bench in that park that isn't occupied from sunup to sundown with someone half-drunk or brushing his teeth or throwing beer cans on the ground. I understand this topic is not one with a simple solution, but the city and its council had better prioritize the issues and act fast before the only purpose that soon-to-be beautiful Tampa Riverwalk will serve will be a place to bathe and wash clothes.
Jason Hurley, Tampa
Pension levy is upheld | Jan. 18
A good argument unused
I think that the reason the state Supreme Court ruled for Gov. Scott on the issue of the state workers' being charged 3 percent is that the state workers are using the wrong argument. They argued collective bargaining, but here is what they should have said: Since the money being taken was used as tax money (it plugged a budget hole) and it is taken from wages, it is an income tax, which is prohibited by the state Constitution. And it is a discriminatory income tax on a select portion of the population.
Thomas Sarsfield, Valrico
Report hits Citizens' execs | Jan. 18
Why far-flung flights?
Not being familiar with how insurance companies operate, I am confused as to why leaders of Citizens, a Florida state-run insurance company, travel to London and Zurich for meetings. What is the connection and why the need for these meetings in a foreign country?
Mary Jane Callihan, St. Petersburg