Friday, April 20, 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

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18

Saturday’s letters: Health Department should butt out

Judge: Grow pot, Mr. Redner | April 12Health officials should butt outThe Times reports that the Florida Department of Health filed an appeal to the decision allowing a man who is a Stage 4 lung cancer survivor to grow pot in his backyard for his ...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Friday’s letters: Open and shut: Enforce the law

Sheriff’s ICE aid policy blasted | April 10Open and shut: Enforce the lawPeople and institutions that insist on the using the euphemism "undocumented immigrant" do nothing but affirm their lack of objectivity by using such a phrase to support an ...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/12/18

Thursday’s letters: Focus on offender, not weapon

Use data to curb gun deaths | April 8, commentaryFocus on offenders, not weaponsThis article tiptoes around the issue: human violence. The authors point out that automobile manufactures were pressured by regulation and law to make automobile coll...
Published: 04/11/18