Tuesday, June 19, 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


Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18