Friday, February 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Be on guard against teen drinking

Underage drinking

Be vigilant about teen drinking

Underage drinking and binge drinking among Florida's high school students are at historic lows, according to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is encouraging news that should be shared with your teenager. By hearing that fewer of their peers are drinking, teens might feel less pressured to drink to "fit in." This is supported by several "social norming" studies.

Summer is a time to be extra vigilant. Research shows most teens are not purchasing their own alcohol, but rather get it from their parents' home or from other adults. As a physician, here are some useful tips I share with parents of teens: Be aware of the alcohol products in your home; keep close tabs on your teen's whereabouts during the day and at night; ensure that there is adult supervision at all gatherings, and make clear to those adults that you do not approve of underage drinking.

Importantly, always be a responsible role model for your teen if you consume alcohol.

Raymond Scalettar, M.D., professor, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

Board: Expedite wetland permits | May 21

Improving public service

A recent article and editorial egregiously misrepresented what occurred at a Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board meeting.

The article states, "The … district wants to make it faster for developers to get permits to destroy wetlands, the governing board members said Tuesday." That was never said. What was discussed was the time frame under which permits are being reviewed and approved. The review and approval process shouldn't exceed 90 days. Why would we not responsibly improve how government does business? I do not support any change in how closely a permit is reviewed. My exact words: "If it deserves a permit, and it used to take nine months, all we want to do is get it done in 90 days. If it doesn't deserve a permit, then just turn it down.''

The article contemplates a high level of destruction of wetland habitat throughout Florida. Since 1984, 3,943 acres of habitat have been impacted through water district permitting. During the same period, 30,787 acres of habitat have been restored/created through the district's efforts. The result is a net gain of 26,844 acres of restored/created habitat. Through the district's efforts, nearly 8 acres of habitat have been restored or created for every 1 acre of habitat impacted.

The taxpayer, regardless of occupation, should expect efficient service. WhiteHouse.gov states: "The framers of the Constitution hoped to form … a government that would … serve the people." Government has a service-oriented fiduciary duty to taxpayers. Duplicative reviews by government agencies should be eliminated as they're wasteful. A more efficient review benefits all applicants and taxpayers.

There was an underlying theme of anti-development and opposition to business growth in these previous editorials and articles. I respect that position, even if I disagree. But please don't try to cloud the community's minds with conspiracy theories to promote anti-development and anti-business growth philosophies.

Carlos Beruff, Governing Board chairman, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Parrish

Keep funds for mental health care June 6, editorial

Citizens shut out of process

Instead of emphasizing the inequity that pits county against county, the Times should have publicized the insufficiency of statewide funding for mental health services and other health and human services in Florida. The Times says that "state agencies — not private vendors — should be making these funding allocations." Philosophically, you are right, but in Florida since 2000, "state agencies" have represented the public very poorly.

It is the Legislature and, even more, the governor who are responsible for the inequities. Under Gov. Jeb Bush, the legislation that privatized services to children and families in the first decade of the 21st century also dissolved citizens' health and human services boards, which were composed of local citizens representing the counties affected. This left to the office of governor control over the contracts for services, with no citizens' board involvement.

Alvin W. Wolfe, Lutz

Writing scores questioned | June 19

End the excuses

This article reporting that school officials are questioning FCAT writing scores sounds familiar to me. I still have copies of articles from May 2011 published in the Sarasota Herald. The first reported that FCAT writing scores for Sarasota schools had plunged from the 70s and 80s to the 30s and 40s and that local school officials had made strong complaints to state education officials.

After an investigation it was reported that the cause of declining scores was that the writing test had been made more difficult. The mind numbing-definition of "more difficult" as reported by the Herald was that for the first time writers were required to spell words correctly and use proper punctuation and grammar.

Despite self-serving claims to the contrary by school officials, Florida consistently scores below national averages in SATs and other measures. Perhaps school officials need to spend less time looking for excuses and more time fixing the problem.

Bill Allen, Longboat Key

University prepay may hurt quality June 20, editorial

A break for the middle class

Did you really just write an editorial lecturing us that lowering the cost of Florida's university prepaid program may hurt the quality of college education? Instead of an editorial celebrating the fact that many more average Florida families are now more likely to purchase a prepaid plan, or the fact that the children of Florida have a better shot at a quality education, did you really warn us that our state colleges and universities will probably not be funded adequately by our elected representatives?

This editorial belongs in the Wall Street Journal, where doing anything for middle class America is always disastrous policy or going to bankrupt the country. You have, obviously, decided it is too difficult to take on the politicians or the even the colleges and universities. Much easier to lay a guilt trip on hardworking Floridians who would like a chance at upward mobility for their children.

Bob Carroll, Palm Harbor

Comments

Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/22/18

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18