Saturday, March 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Less for foreign aid, more for infrastructure

Infrastructure spending

Less on foreign aid, more on roads

Congress appears to be at an impasse on whether to fund desperately needed improvements to our infrastructure. If the issue is offsetting spending increases with spending cuts, I would propose that they look to the money being spent by the United States in Germany and Israel. Combined, the two countries account for over $11 billion spent by the U.S. government annually.

The United States supports over 20 bases in Germany at a cost of almost $8 billion annually. Fewer than 30 percent of the Germans deem the United States trustworthy, according to the latest polls. That is their prerogative, but it prompts the question as to why are we there and spending such an exorbitant amount of money. If it is to defend Germany from Vladimir Putin and the Russians, I would suggest that Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany do not believe they need to be defended.

The federal fiscal year 2015 budget shows the United States will pay Israel more than $3 billion. In 2013, Israel established a sovereign wealth fund in part due to a strong currency and the surplus of money Israel was generating from offshore energy discoveries — a rainy day fund, so to speak. While the United States is deep in debt, Israel apparently is not. If true, why are we spending this money?

The next time Congress is searching for money on how to pay for programs that directly benefit Americans, I would suggest that they look at these particular financial outlays closely. It is, after all, our tax money being sent overseas for unnecessary and questionable purposes.

Jeff Thofner, Tampa

Utilities: Lower conservation goals will aid ratepayers | July 24

Utilities' argument is a joke

The argument put forth by the utility companies that relief for the downtrodden ratepayers rests with eliminating the subsidy for solar panel installations is so laughable the Public Service Commission should publicly chastise those companies for such an outlandish claim.

In the current political climate in Florida, I would not hold my breath. Here in Florida, "business-friendly" means, as I see it, "consumers as fish in a barrel."

John O. Chico, St. Petersburg

Scott should come clean on rail project July 24, editorial

Taxpayers railroaded

Thanks to your editorial and Carl Hiaasen and Daniel Ruth for shining a light on the shadowy and sinister machinations of our Florida politicians, especially Gov. Rick Scott and his chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, who probably don't want the bright lights.

After summarily dumping the carefully considered plan for a government-supported rail system, Scott has embraced this secret plan that would provide profit to all the pols and businessmen involved, at taxpayers' expense.

First we need to get rid of all the politicians playing this game, then we need to rename the train the "Politicos for Profit Power Train."

Lorraine Madison, St. Petersburg

Fundamentals plan shelved | July 23

Parents want fundamentals

The Pinellas County School Board's decision to not expand fundamental schools is perplexing. If you analyze the data, fundamental schools have achieved everything our district aspires to, touting a long track record of being the highest-performing, lowest-cost schools. Furthermore, and most importantly, the demand for fundamentals is huge with a history of long waiting lists. Yet the School Board has decided to ignore the pleas of its stakeholders and expand magnet schools instead.

While magnets make perfect sense in high schools, where the dropout rate is high, I can't figure out why anyone would want to prematurely establish one track for elementary students. After all, I've never heard of an elementary school dropout, but I could certainly predict a student burning out on a particular field of study after 12 years of engineering (before even entering college) or a rigorous International Baccalaureate program from the tender age of 5.

Isn't it just common sense that a child's primary education should be focused on cultivating individual responsibility and mastering the basics (reading, writing and arithmetic) to prepare them for the long road ahead?

Apparently the School Board and superintendent don't agree, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the success of fundamental schools. Looks to me that money talks in the form of federal grants, but the voice of constituents continues to be ignored.

Lia Prodromitis, Tarpon Springs

Wealth is yardstick for school grades July 24, John Romano column

Shortfalls of testing

John Romano's column on the invalidity of school testing deserves high praise and a full-scale investigative series. Current testing measures what goes in the public education sausagemaker and ignores both what comes out and how.

This approach is a tragedy multiplier. First, some children start in their own end zone and make it out to the five-yard line. Second, other youngsters start on their opponent's five-yard line and cannot get into life's end zone. Third, we fire the coach who had no say in recruitment. Fourth, we go into the next game with neither film nor statistics to coach a better performance. Lastly, schools that coached the walk-ons out of their end zone deserve a higher ranking than schools that could not get their scholarship athletes across the goal line.

J. Patrick Byrne, Largo

Manage recreational fishing to protect stocks | July 25, commentary

Focus on the real problem

As an avid boater and angler, I have seen increasingly restrictive regulations and fewer recreational anglers in the past 10 years. The "chronic problem of overfishing within the recreational sector," quoted in the column, lacks documentation. And anyway it pales in comparison to the Gulf of Mexico long-lining commercial boats that discard approximately 850,000 fish or 60 percent of their total catch as by-catch.

As far as allowing only weekend fishing, I just retired and enjoy fishing during the week as do many others. I don't sport fish. Every fish I catch I eat. The heart of the problem does not lie with the recreational angler.

David Mokotoff, St. Petersburg


Monday’s letters: Driverless cars on perilous roads

Driverless cautions | March 23, commentaryDriverless carson perilous roadsHaving watched the video of the tragedy in Tempe, Ariz., I believe the police are correct. This accident could not have been avoided as the pedestrian stepped out of the sh...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Friday’s letters: Think through assault weapons ban

Gun controlThink through assault rifle banI recently emailed a Florida state representative who had pledged, among other things, to ban assault rifles in the state. I asked him if he would ban the sale and transfer of these guns or ultimately make th...
Published: 03/22/18

Saturday’s letters: Tax guns to pay for security

Million-dollar questions | March 21Tax firearms to pay for securitySo public officials are wondering where they’ll get the money for stationing an armed guard in every school. How about heavily taxing every gun? It’s the proliferation of the weap...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/23/18

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...
Published: 03/21/18

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