Sunday, June 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Drug companies behaving badly

Drug firm bringing jobs | July 19

Drug companies behaving badly

There is a lot of euphoria about Bristol-Myers Squibb coming to Hillsborough and bringing 600 jobs with average salaries of $65,000. We certainly need good jobs here and especially those paying well above a living wage. These are necessary if we are to have an economic recovery.

But will this company be a good neighbor and do no harm? Apparently not if you consider that they and other pharmaceutical companies are still the largest defrauders of the federal government. Bristol-Myers Squibb's total financial penalties from 1991-2012 were $789 million (2.6 percent of the total).

According to Public Citizen report "Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties: An Update," more settlements are being announced between state and federal governments than ever before. In their findings, overcharging health programs — mainly in the form of drug pricing fraud against state Medicaid programs — was the most common violation, while the unlawful promotion of drugs was associated with the largest penalties.

The bottom line is that the pharmaceutical industry is making money hand over first while systematically defrauding taxpayers. And all the while, individuals in the United States are not getting the medicines they need because they cannot afford them.

This company does not fit my criteria for a good neighbor doing no harm.

Dwight Lawton, St. Petersburg

To vote on July's Letter of the Month, go to

Immigration reform

Rubio deserves support

Our current immigration system is defective. Washington has recognized that we need immigration reform, and Sen. Marco Rubio recently guided a measure through Senate that begins to address the issue.

Legal immigration is the unique premise that has made America what it is today, but 11 million illegal immigrants not only threaten the future of our open-armed immigration policy, they threaten the economic health of our country and our security.

If passed in the House as well, Rubio's reforms would immediately improve our immigration system as a whole. The bill does popular things like double border security and prevent the number of illegal immigrants in America from growing to an even higher number. It also addresses the less glamorous issues of legal immigration reform and an overhaul of the number of work visas that are distributed.

In addition to economic recovery and resident safety, this bill makes sense and offers real solutions. When leaders go to Washington and lead, we need to show them that we appreciate their actions by supporting them publicly. Rubio has made a valiant effort and has produced significant legislation. He needs our support.

Eric Fischman, Tampa

Arts budget

Spending on arts pays off

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would cut the National Endowment for the Arts by 49 percent. I think this is a terrible idea and call on our congressional delegation to reject this cut.

According to Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts industry (museums, theater and dance companies, performing arts centers, orchestras, arts councils and others) generates $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues annually — a yield well beyond their collective $4 billion in arts allocations.

Because the National Endowment for the Arts supports artistic excellence and improves access to the arts by granting funds to nonprofit arts organizations, I call on our federal officials to support an increase in funding for the NEA beyond its 1993 funding level of $174 million. That funding figure equals $277 million in today's dollars.

Our schools need more arts education. Schools, especially those struggling, can retain their best teachers by becoming incubators for creativity and innovation; places where students want to learn and teachers want to teach. Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade-point averages, score better on standardized tests in reading and math, and have lower dropout rates — findings that cut across all socioeconomic categories.

Across the country, the role of the arts as an economic engine is growing. I call on lawmakers to support funding and policies at the federal level that recognize the growth potential and direct benefits of investing in the arts.

Michelle Knapp, Largo

Food stamp cuts

Match the reductions

Any cuts to the food stamp program must be accompanied by proportional cuts to gigantic agribusiness entitlements.

Emiliano Quindiagan, St. Petersburg

Russia gives 1-year asylum to Snowden Aug. 2

Returning the favor

I don't particularly like Edward Snowden, who clearly broke U.S. law for reasons he apparently thought were important. But I should point out that when Moscow demanded the return of its citizens for business dealings in the past, we often decided they were dissidents and refused to extradite them.

Michael Francis, Homosassa

On Obamacare, Rubio's data is flawed July 31, PolitiFact

Low road on health care

This PolitiFact article explained that Sen. Marco Rubio's statements on Fox News about Obamacare were "Pants on Fire" lies. Rubio had stated that Obamacare would cause 75 percent of small businesses to either fire workers or cut their hours. PolitiFact determined that the truth was that only 5 to 9 percent of businesses said they would be affected.

It would seem to me that as a senator, Rubio would care to take the high road when it concerns integrity. Instead, he has chosen to take the low road and use spin and lies to make his point. And should our senator blame his incorrect figures on his research staff, that should tell the voters something about the integrity of his employees.

George Petrick, Riverview


Monday’s letters: College instructors need classes in active shooter training

Active shooter perceptions disproven | June 21We need active shooter trainingThe only guns that I had seen before coming to the United States of America were in glass cases in museums. When I came to America to get a Ph.D. in English at the Unive...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Friday’s letters: What a new Rays ballpark would mean

Rays exec hints at stadium timeline | June 15What a new ballpark would doThe Tampa Bay Rays 2020 organization is working diligently with local business leaders and civic organizations to rally support for the Rays’ new ballpark in Ybor City. The ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Thursday’s letters: On immigration there has to be a better way

‘Zero tolerance’ ignites outrage | June 20Find better way on immigrationOver the years I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. My observation of the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is not about politics. It has to do with having...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Charters and traditional public schools each have their place

Public school as public good | Letter, June 17Both kinds of schools can workAs a mother and grandmother of children raised in both traditional public and charter schools in Pinellas County (and a 25-year supporting-services employee for public sc...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18

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 ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

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