Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Bill fixes red-light violation issues

Red-light cameras

Bill fixes red-light violation issues

The people of the state of Florida have won a victory in the red-light camera legislation that was introduced by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and passed during the 2013 legislative session.

The bill cured many of the defects that existed in the previous red-light camera law. Among many of the positive changes in the legislation is the ability of drivers to challenge a red-light camera violation using an administrative proceeding. Previously, citizens had no right to due process unless a uniform traffic citation was issued with a higher fine rate of $264. All drivers who receive this violation now have a reasonable process to follow, and local hearing officers are used to conduct the hearings. The hearing officers are restricted from imposing excessive fines, which are now capped at $250.

Under the new system, a person receiving a red-light camera notice of violation can pay the violation at the rate of $158, furnish an affidavit, or request a hearing within 60 days to avoid receiving a traffic citation. The notice of violation contains information that directs citizens to a website that provides information on their right to request a hearing as well as a standardized form to fill out and submit. Registered owners of vehicles can file an affidavit that names the person who had care, custody and control of the car at the time of the violation. That person is then duly noticed and they may either pay the violation or request a hearing. Rental car companies would file such affidavits and the person renting the car who received the violation would have ample opportunity to pay at the $158 rate or request a hearing.

The tremendous benefit from this legislative fix in the law will be realized by citizens, cities, courts and clerks of court. Now citizens can rest assured that the process has been fixed and that red-light camera violations can be handled in a fair and equitable manner.

Ken Burke, clerk of the court, Pinellas County

Boehner calls for release of Benghazi email May 10

Fictitious narrative

It is clear that the Obama administration sought to perpetuate, for electoral purposes, a fictitious narrative with regard to their success in neutering al-Qaida — facts on the ground and protecting our people be damned.

Even during the Benghazi attack and in the immediate aftermath of it, concern for the narrative trumped a proper response in real time or a forthright explanation with regard to what had occurred, lest their fiction evaporate.

The thought of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton standing next to the caskets of our fallen heroes promising the families that she would bring the producers of the scapegoated YouTube video to justice makes me sick. And for the record: The who, what, where, when and why of what happened does "make a difference" to me.

Dwayne Keith, Valrico

Golden | May 9

What are the priorities?

As I write this letter, today's major news stories are the Benghazi hearings, three missing women freed in Cleveland and the conviction of Jodi Arias. And what is the major story on the front page of today's Times? A football player retired.

It's comforting to know the relevant news is always above the fold.

Scott Whitney, Riverview

Food stamp program faces deeper cuts in House | May 9

Study in contrasts

There were two headlines facing each other in the paper on Thursday morning's pages 4A and 5A: "Food stamp program faces deeper cuts in House," and "As Syria diplomacy gains, U.S. to increase aid."

Need I say more?

Kathryn Halter, Clearwater

Stop squeezing homeless on IDs | May 8, editorial

Time to take action

Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden is to be commended for his decision to waive the processing fee for homeless individuals seeking a state identification card. It is the right and moral thing to do, and I encourage our friends across Tampa Bay to follow his lead.

In Hillsborough County and in the city of Tampa, we have come to a tipping point on our treatment of the homeless population, attempting to balance public safety and compassionate social services. Even before joining the Tampa City Council and becoming a member of HUD's Opening Doors campaign to end homelessness, I have been assisting those in need. Now as an elected official, I find too many who only speak of, or study what strategies to enact for individuals and families living on the street.

Instead, we need people working on preventing individuals from becoming homeless, before they succumb to the despair that accompanies homelessness. What I have found, more than anything, is that we need more elected officials taking the actions necessary to advance to a long-term solution for homelessness.

Belden's decision, as simple and as quickly as it was done, is an example of the actions needed.

Lisa Montelione, Tampa City Council, District 7

U.S. should use caution in Syria war May 9, editorial

Rebels and al-Qaida

Indeed, the announcement that the United States and Russia will hold an international conference regarding the violence in Syria is good news. This is more promising than the prospect of arming rebels in Syria, which is being pushed by Senate hawks, as you mentioned.

Your editorial neglected to mention a few key components regarding this situation. The first is that al-Qaida, sworn enemy of the United States, is fighting among the rebels in Syria. The leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has called on all Muslims to fight with the rebels, and he has declared that Syria should become an Islamic state.

Second, the Nusra Front, a group the United States has labeled a terrorist organization, is fighting to overthrow Bashar Assad.

Thus, it should be made clear that anyone who calls for arming the rebels in Syria is breaking U.S. law since providing material support to groups designated as terrorists violates the USA PATRIOT Act.

Chris Ernesto, St. Petersburg


Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18