Scott leads dramatic turnaround in Florida | March 6, commentary
Defense of governor full of holes
I read with interest state Sen. John Thrasher's column in which he defended Gov. Rick Scott. How can he possibly attribute the national recession and its parallel in Florida to the actions of then-Gov. Charlie Crist, and similarly praise Scott for bringing us out of it? This was a national crisis, and the effects were everywhere. Did Crist cause the tourists from Michigan and New Jersey to stay home? Did Scott persuade them to return? Did Florida's economy crash while the rest of the country flourished? Why does the senator espouse positions that any thinking person knows to be untrue?
Scott's big push is to cut taxes and regulations, and jobs will appear. Did he ever hire someone because he saved money on taxes? No, businesses hire people because there is a demand for their goods or services and they need additional manpower to fulfill those opportunities to make a profit. That is business.
Thrasher points to Florida's unemployment rate as being among the best in the nation, but ignores the influence of this state's hostility to people reporting and collecting unemployment benefits. The state statute that forced all applicants to apply online and then the subsequent disastrous website implementation with no backup plan was so bad that the federal government had to intervene. These are facts. There are so many uncounted unemployed that the statistic is meaningless.
How can the senator and Scott tout the state's educational budget as being the highest ever? The real story is that spending per student is down in real dollars. Florida continues to rank very poorly compared to other states in this area, despite the fact that we are soon to be the third-largest state.
Don Feldhake, North Redington Beach
House clears medical pot bill | March 6
Spread the caring
Your article on medical marijuana had an interesting quote from state Rep. Dane Eagle, who said, "I don't want to look into their eyes and say, I'm sorry, we can't help you. We need to put the politics aside today and help families in need." Now if only we could apply that same logic to Medicaid expansion to help the 760,000 Florida residents who are too rich for Medicaid but too poor for subsidies.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Red-light cameras out | March 7
Politics trumps safety
The cynics were right all along: Apparently the red-light cameras were all about revenue, not safety. The cameras have proven to enhance safety and, with fewer red-light violations, they have contributed to positive behavioral changes in our drivers.
Unfortunately, in the world of politics it is more important to be on the winning side of the vote than to have courage in your convictions. Since crosswalks do not have a positive cash flow either, will they be removed too?
Bob Hopewell, St. Petersburg
Golf wagers draw eyes | March 6
The article about the criminal investigation into the practice of golfers wagering $20 each on friendly bets brought to mind a legal maxim I learned in my first year of law school: "De minimus non curat lex," or "The law does not deal with trifles." For the police to investigate, and the state attorney to consider such a case for prosecution is beyond absurd. It is a complete waste of taxpayer money and a silly misuse of criminal justice services. I hope someone comes to their senses quickly.
Paul P. Carlucci, Valrico
Take preventive steps
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. This year nearly 137,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Worse, more than 50,000 people will die from the disease. In Florida alone, 10,230 people will be diagnosed and 3,560 will die from colorectal cancer. Don't be a statistic. Talk with your health care professional about colon cancer screenings and preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk.
Screening can both prevent colorectal cancer and find it early, when it is more treatable, and the five-year survival rate is 90 percent. Experts recommend both men and women over 50 of average risk get screened. There are a variety of screenings available. A colonoscopy, considered the gold standard, allows medical professionals to examine the entire colon and remove any precancerous growths, called polyps, before they ever become cancerous.
For some, screening should start earlier than age 50. People at higher risk for colon cancer may have other health risks or a family history of colon cancer, polyps or inflammatory bowel disease. If you are African-American, are obese, have Type II diabetes, smoke or have more than two drinks a day if you are a man or more than one drink a day if you are a women, you may need to be screened earlier. Have the conversation with your health care professional.
No matter your age, you can get started on colon cancer prevention today. Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and eat a nutritious diet low in red meats and processed meats (such as bacon or sausage) and full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Do not smoke, and drink alcohol in moderation.
Colorectal cancer is preventable, beatable and treatable. But more people need to get this message and act on it.
Bill Lewis, Tampa
Flood relief clears House | March 5
Factor in claims history
The flood insurance controversy seems to be missing a key factor. Most of us would agree that buildings in locations that flood frequently should pay higher premiums than those that don't, and that worst-case flooding scenarios need to be considered. But the only underwriting tool being used by FEMA appears to be elevation maps of debatable accuracy that were developed quickly in response to a congressional mandate.
Even if the elevation maps were accurate, they are really only applicable in a worst-case scenario such as Hurricane Sandy or Andrew. A history of claims paid provides a much more accurate measure of the risk associated with specific properties in typical storms. This data should be readily available. I recommend that FEMA develop rates using a ratio of 25 percent for risk based on accurate elevation maps, and 75 percent for risk based on claims paid history for specific properties for the past 25 years. Flood abatement projects completed since the last claim should also be factored into final rates for specific properties.
Robert More, Riverview