Saturday, November 25, 2017
Letters To The Editor

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

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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

Comments

Monday’s letters: Don’t forget pain sufferers

Fighting opioids on many fronts Nov. 22, editorialDon’t forget pain sufferersSufferers of debilitating, chronic pain seem to be largely forgotten in the public and corporate hysteria about opioid abuse. There are millions of people whose chronic pain...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill will benefit all businesses

Nelson warns of tax bill’s effects | Nov. 21Proposal is win for all concernedHas Sen. Bill Nelson even read the new proposed tax bill?If he knew anything about it he should be embarrassed by his rhetoric as stated in the Times article. The corpor...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17

Saturday’s letters: Value and respect our teachers

Crowd backs raises | Nov. 15Respect and value our teachersTeachers are the "engine" that drives the "train" of our Hillsborough County school district. Teachers and support personnel affect every aspect of a child’s life. They are the students’ "...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17

Friday’s letters: Find private investors for a new stadium

Opening offer from Rays on stadium sounds too low | Nov. 17, editorialFind private investors for stadiumThe Rays "offered" to pay 18.75 percent of the costs? How outrageously presumptuous to say that they offered! Put another way, they demanded t...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Thursday’s letters: Tax plan won’t help wages

Tax billThis won’t help stagnant wagesThe unfair tax proposal that cuts taxes for the rich and most powerful and cuts the ability of working people to claim any comparable deductions is no more than another greedy power grab by the rich and powerful....
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Wednesday’s letters: Breaking down health data

Don’t let news on blood pressure raise yours | Nov. 17, commentaryBreaking down health numbersThank you for publishing the timely commentary by Dr. H. Gilbert Welch on blood pressure. The point he makes about relative risks versus absolute risks ...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Tuesday’s letters: Disgraceful tax proposals

Tax billDisgraceful, harmful proposalsThe very fact that the Congress of the people of the United States would propose, not to mention pass, the current tax bill is nothing short of disgraceful. What sort of representatives of the people support cutt...
Published: 11/20/17

Monday’s letters: Doctors should speak up on harassment

Sexual harassmentDoctors need to speak upThe recent widespread recognition, followed by disapproval, of sexual harassment across many workplaces signals a paradigm shift in social attitudes toward abuse of power that is long overdue.The male-dominate...
Published: 11/17/17

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake OkeechobeeReservoir project off to good startThis year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals a...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Sunday’s letters: Roundabout way to help the rich

Senate GOP’s tax plan to kill ACA mandate | Nov. 15Devious way to hurt middle classSo, let’s see if we have this straight. The proposed amendment to the Senate tax plan, to kill the individual mandate, will cause young people to not buy health in...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17