Monday, May 28, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Lawmakers let down Floridians in need

Assisted living facilities

Floridians in need let down

Florida lawmakers closed the books on the 2012 session two months ago, and with it, quite possibly, the best chance to radically improve the state's protection of those in assisted living facilities.

Last year's scathing investigation by the Miami Herald showed how bureaucrats, industry representatives and policymakers all had a hand in fracturing a system that had been revered as America's "assisted living gold standard." The headlines sparked Gov. Rick Scott to immediately ramp up enforcement and launch a statewide task force to outline possible solutions. The Senate's Health Regulation Committee quickly followed suit and recommended sweeping changes to Florida law. And a Miami-Dade grand jury demanded new safeguards.

It seemed reform was a foregone conclusion. Then the industry flexed its muscle. During the closing weeks of the session, Republican Rep. Eddie Gonzalez of Hialeah Gardens proposed a version of reform that favored providers over residents. Senate champions — Republicans Ronda Storms of Valrico and Rene Garcia of Hialeah Gardens and Democrats Nan Rich of Sunrise and Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood — rallied for the stronger Senate bill.

But there would be no late-hour compromise. The House killed assisted living facility reform and the governor abandoned it as well. He was non-committal on any action he would take to motivate Senate and House leaders to finalize a deal.

No news conferences, no news releases and no stumping for a stronger bill. The only promise he made was to continue the ALF task force "over the next year," but no meetings have been scheduled and inquiries to his agencies have been met with silence.

Anyone who cares about Florida's elderly and disabled should not let this reform die. Voters this fall should demand answers from incumbent House members as to why they let this happen. And they should tell the governor they expect him to make good on his word.

Brian Lee, executive director, Families for Better Care, Tallahassee

Pinellas tackles its code system | April 25

Step up the punishments

Why do code enforcement fines get so large? Because there are no teeth in the enforcement regulations. Make the homeowners responsible. Make them do community service — working in the parks, mowing medians, etc. If they don't comply, a few weekends in jail may motivate them.

Just as in foreclosures, there must be a penalty if you don't take responsibility for your obligations. Today it's just too easy for homeowners to load up and walk out on their obligations. Citizens must accept their responsibility and comply with the law — to include codes — or face a penalty.

Uncollectible liens are not enforcement action. Inconvenience violators, suspend their driver's license — it's an act of financial irresponsibility just like not having car insurance. I don't understand why stealing a six-pack of beer is a criminal act but not paying millions of dollars in legitimate fines isn't. People must be held accountable.

Dale Carnell, Redington Shores

Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test

Tests miss the point

As this year's FCAT testing cycle comes to a close, I once again shake my head in disbelief. As a teacher, I think of the enormous influence the penciled-in dots on the test bubble sheets have on a student's life.

The FCAT has become an educational monster that has little to do with the betterment of our youth and preparing them for what lies ahead. Our children have not been educated in the realm of risk-taking or thinking out of the box because all they have been taught is that there is only one correct answer. The positive aspects of taking risks are foreign to them.

Each educational proposal should be made to answer the following: "Will this have a direct correlation to producing a fully functioning adult in today's society?" If the answer is "no," then it has no place in our educational system.

Maureen Stearns, St. Petersburg

Criminal background check policy is updated | April 26

Misguided policy shift

According to this article, one policy change is asking companies to discontinue asking about previous criminal convictions on job applications. The employment commission, controlled by Democrats, is concerned that current practices limit job opportunities for minorities "because they have higher arrest and conviction rates."

Really? This is another blatant attempt to equalize everyone into a socialist environment and further change our ethical and moral values. It is no wonder that government cannot be trusted by its citizens to govern fairly.

Edwin Ashurst, St. Petersburg

Don't undercut citizens' right of self-defense April 27, commentary

No license to kill

Rep. Will Weatherford's warped sense of fairness is a calamity in the making. He states, "Florida's comprehensive and robust gun rights laws are not rooted in partisanship or secured by lobbyists." The fact that the "stand your ground" law was promoted by lobbyists for the NRA seems to have escaped his memory.

Yes, the Second Amendment provides for the lawful purchase of a gun by the citizenry. But nowhere does it state that an individual can fabricate a story that absolves him of murder when a lethal weapon is used to gun down a supposed antagonist.

David Patrick, St. Petersburg

State drug test rejected | April 27

Testing times

If U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro, as well as the Supreme Court, has declared that the drug testing of state employees amounts to "unreasonable search and seizure," it makes one wonder how private industry is able to get away with it.

Teresa Willoughby, Tampa


Monday’s letters: NFL finally listens to its fans

NFL moves to endanthem protests | May 24NFL’s action comes too lateThe NFL owners are, after two years, finally growing some courage.Before these kneel-downs became the elephant in the room, team owners could have taken action to minimize the imp...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Sunday’s letters: As Jews, we should not be afraid to criticize Israel

Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Saturday’s letters: Bayshore fatalities didn’t have to happen

After two fatalities, speed limits cut | May 25Cameras needed on BayshoreOnce again, two pedestrians have died as the result of careless drivers who were speeding. Once again, the Times and other media outlets are filled with opinions about the c...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Friday's letters: Thanks to jurors for fulfilling civic duty

May is Juror Appreciation Month Thanks, jurors, for your service Trial by a jury of one’s peers is among the bedrock guarantees that make our representative democracy exceptional. Without it, the courtroom fates of defendants and civil litiga...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Thursday’s letters: Heated chemotherapy won’t treat most ovarian cancers

Heated chemotherapy has promising results | May 16Cancer treatment not a cure-all While we were pleased to see the story about ovarian cancer treatment, we are concerned that the article could mislead many patients. The treatment described has be...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Wednesday’s letters: A princess gives us a lesson to live by

Royal treatment | May 21Princess offers advice for us allThe radiant and joyful Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, recent Eckerd College graduate, has given us a huge gift in her parting words. "If people have a negat...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/23/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Central High School bomb threat suspect to be tried as adult | May 4Angry mob rhetoric not helpfulWe have observed the public discourse surrounding the case of Mizella Robinson with increasing unease. A sampling of the more common sentiment...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Proposed TECO Solar Plant Opposed to the TECO solar plantAs a 21-year resident and property owner, I am writing in opposition to the proposed Tampa Electric Company solar plant in rural northeast Pasco County.The solar plant will be .2 miles from...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Tuesday’s letters: If you don’t like the Electoral College, then amend the Constitution

The popular vote | May 20, letterIf you don’t like it, amend ConstitutionA recent letter supports the idea that a state should be able to change its Electoral College vote to match that of the national popular vote winner as opposed to the result...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18