Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Higher speeds mean more deaths

Florida speed limits

Higher speeds mean more deaths

Using extreme caution, you merge onto a Florida interstate highway, where the speed limit is 70 mph. You opt for the far right lane, set your cruise control at that "maximum speed," but aren't a bit surprised to see other vehicles blow by you like a scene from Fast & Furious. The Florida Legislature is working to address this dangerous problem of flagrant speeding by … raising speed limits.

No one will say exactly why. About the only reason we've heard is that some other states did it and drivers will get places in less time. How much less time? Assuming a 20-mile commute traveling at the speed limit, going 75 instead of 70 will get you to your destination 1 minute and 8 seconds sooner. Hardly a reasonable tradeoff for what will surely be — based on crash data from other states — an increase in speed-related deaths and injuries.

In 2012 in Florida, the latest year for which complete statistics are available, 2,430 people died with the 70 mph limit in place. Is that so acceptable that we have room for more fatalities? That's a gruesome average of 46 funerals a week, every week of the year just from traffic deaths in our state. Let's ask the thousands of grieving family members if raising the speed limit is what we need to do.

But the legislation speeding through committees doesn't stop there. It also increases maximum limits on noninterstate highways in our rural areas where traffic-related deaths, injuries and crashes represent a significant percentage of the statewide total.

Even the Federal Highway Administration noted that "fatal injuries" increased when speed limits went up from 60 to 65 and from 70 to 75.

When these bills get to the House and Senate floors, our state representatives and senators should not take lightly the consequences of their votes. And should they decide that faster is better, the adverse traffic safety impact notwithstanding, Gov. Rick Scott should use his veto pen to stop this bad idea in its tracks.

Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president, AAA (Auto Club Group), Largo

Bill shielding HCA, capping fees okayed March 26

Severe emotional trauma

I am a Canadian snowbird down here for the winter. I have been a registered nurse for 50 years, with 17 years spent working in emergency rooms in the United Kingdom and Canada.

A recent car accident showed me the poor quality of your hospital trauma rooms and the greed of your for-profit hospitals. I spent five hours in a hospital mainly waiting for results for blood work, ECG and a CAT scan with dye. My name was misspelled at the outset and not corrected, and a name band wasn't put on for two hours. I never saw a doctor, and the physician's assistant only made a brief examination before ordering the tests.

My blood pressure and pulse were taken twice, on arrival and departure, during the five hours. Yet they were concerned that the car airbag may have torn a blood vessel or done further damage. I was released with some aftercare papers and left to find my own way out of the trauma unit. No one spoke to my husband.

For this, my travel insurance has been billed $44,900 for the trauma unit and two checkups by another physician's assistant in a doctor's office. The emotional trauma of the money grab is more upsetting than the car accident. I most certainly will let my friends in Canada and the United Kingdom know about Florida's trauma response fee. That may change their minds about visiting Florida.

Dyanna Gassien, Hudson

Tax season

Just making ends meet

Last week I did my taxes and had the shock of my life. My husband and I owe $1,200. That is in addition to the $5,500 we already paid through withholding. A $1,200 check is a big deal to us. I am an elementary school teacher and my husband is an automotive mechanic. We barely made $80,000 last year.

The amount of federal tax was bad enough, but then I considered all the other taxes we pay: Social Security and Medicare taxes ($6,000), the mandatory 3 percent Florida retirement contribution for public employees (I consider it a tax — $1,350), and property taxes ($1,600). Then there are other taxes and fees — on purchases, electricity, gasoline, phone, water, and on and on. Then I considered other outrageous amounts we pay out: health insurance ($5,000), car insurance ($2,500) and home insurance ($2,000). Together, taxes, insurance and mandatory fees cost us about one-third of our gross income.

We work hard and are getting older. It would be nice to retire at some point. Will Social Security be there for us? My retirement as a teacher will not be enough (a bit less than 50 percent of my average salary of the five highest years). We try to save for retirement, but money is tight. Besides, we lost a lot during the market crash (no bailout for us). Saving more right now is just not possible. We live paycheck to paycheck.

We do have our health (just some minor issues), a home, and we eat every day. For that I am thankful. I would, however, like more than to survive each day. I earned a bachelor's degree and my husband learned a trade through technical school (he makes more than I do). I work every summer and sometimes tutor after school. We go to work each day, do a good job, care for our families, care for our community, and live respectable lives.

Those choices used to equal a middle class American dream. Not anymore. What happened?

Elaine Goller, Seminole

Sign-up concerns linger | March 27

Care act's shifting goalposts

At some point the president will have to stop moving the target and divulge the "real" numbers pertaining to Obamacare: not only the raw numbers, but the breakdowns on demographics and those who had insurance previously that will finally allow a real evaluation of this program. He is running out of wiggle room.

Edward Germond, Apollo Beach


Wednesday’s letters: St. Petersburg’s culture, vibrancy impresses

St. PetersburgImpressive culture and vibrancyI recently visited Tampa Bay and celebrated New Year’s weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. I was awestruck by what I encountered and experienced. It has been several years since I last visited, and the tra...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

President Donald TrumpAchievements go unrecognizedAre Americans even aware that our economy is healthier and growing much faster, that ISIS has been defeated and lost their territory, that China and other countries are buying more American goods and ...
Published: 01/16/18

Monday’s letters: Don’t be fooled by drilling turnaround

Deal blocks drilling off Fla. | Jan. 10Don’t be fooled by turnaroundWhile I am very grateful that Florida has been taken off the table regarding offshore oil drilling, it is clear this is a political move to champion Gov. Rick Scott as he conside...
Published: 01/14/18

Sunday’s letters: Left wing late to the #MeToo cause

#MeTooDemocrats come late to the causeThe Times devoted an entire page to the #MeToo issues on Sunday. The ironies here for longtime observers are nearly boundless. Twenty years ago, folks like myself were called "prudes" and worse because we found P...
Published: 01/13/18

Saturday’s letters: A wall of towers isn’t progress

Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7A wall of towers isn’t progressFirst of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become...
Published: 01/12/18

Friday’s letters:

Gang raped at 17. Getting help at 65 | Jan. 7Help available for assault victimsEach sexual assault survivor has a unique story to tell, and Evelyn Robinson’s experience illustrates many of the emotions, and society stigmas, faced by survivors.Sex...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/11/18

Thursday’s letters: Opioid bill could do more harm than good

Opioid bill opponents line up | Jan. 6Bill’s potential to harm patientsLegislators are proposing putting more restrictions on physicians’ ability to prescribe pain medications. Yes, the addiction problem is a serious one, and the law seems well-i...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/10/18

Wednesday’s letters: Beware candidates backed by billionaires

DeSantis declares governor run | Jan. 6Beware the billionaire backingThis line says it all: "The congressman already has the support of the president and several billionaires." If you continue to vote for billionaire-backed candidates, you will g...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18

Tuesday’s letters: Drilling not worth the risk to Florida

Trump’s plan: to drill | Jan. 5Drilling not worth risk to FloridaAs a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump supporter, I am appalled by the proposal to drill for oil off Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts, whose beaches and economi...
Published: 01/08/18