Takei salutes teachers | April 9
Recalling dark chapter in history
George Takei's memories of the relocation camps reminded me of what happened to my family and friends. I was born in 1952 so I have no personal memories of these camps. Along with thousands of Japanese and Japanese-Americans, my grandparents and their American-born children were rounded up. They were first sent to a horse track. From there, they wound up at the Gila River Relocation Camp in the Arizona desert. It was not pleasant.
My older brother and a cousin were born there. When the war ended and my family returned home, it was a subject that wasn't discussed much. When they did talk about it, my grandparents were filled with anger and resentment.
A Japanese-American friend in California, a child at the time, was sent with her family to a relocation camp. When they returned home, their house was destroyed by looters. They had to live outside. My friend collected weeds so her mother could make "weed soup." For protein, her father would kill robins with a slingshot. I consider it a testament to their courage and resilience that they didn't succumb to the elements and disease.
I moved to Tampa from the San Francisco area in 2004. I was shocked that so many people here, even those of my parents' generation, know little or nothing about the relocation camps. There are not many people left who were incarcerated at these camps. Their stories are both inspiring and heartbreaking.
Stan Koyama, Tampa
Jolly votes no on GOP budget | April 11
He did the right thing
Politicians do not often surprise me. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, did. He voted with the Democrats against the Paul Ryan budget — the only Florida Republican to do so.
His GOP colleagues voted to strip $700 billion out of Medicare, after running endless campaign ads attacking Obamacare for these same cuts. They voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program for anyone under 55. They voted to cut Pell grants for college students, school lunches and all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
These spending cuts are necessary because they also voted to give the wealthy a big tax cut. I do not know why Jolly voted no. It might be politics or it might be principles. I suspect it is politics. In either case, he went against the leadership of his party and did the right thing for his constituents.
Jo Beth Griffin, South Pasadena
Poll: Roads and transit need work | April 9
Signs of satisfaction
This article's headline suggests that residents are in an uproar about roads and transit options in Pinellas County. However, the data in the article clearly points out that 79.1 percent of those polled report their expectation either being met or exceeded, with only 14.8 percent reporting that their expectations are not being met. Shouldn't the headline have been, "County meets transit and road needs"?
Jim Main, Seminole
Student critical after hit by car | April 10
Question of relevance
Unless William Hogan was sexually battering someone when he was hit by a car Wednesday on Hillsborough Avenue, his background had no place in your story. I do not know him. Times' reporters are renowned for their investigative skills, but this had no relevance to what happened.
Siobhan Fennelly, Lutz
With tax deadline near, filers beware April 10, editorial
It seems inevitable that some type of preparer licensing will emerge, which is a good thing for consumers and professionals alike. In the meantime, consumers should be especially wary of preparers who will not sign their returns.
Your editorial missed some of the distinctions between types of preparers. Only enrolled agents, who are licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department, specialize in taxation. All EAs are required to obtain 24 hours of continuing professional education each year. CPAs and attorneys are licensed by the states and may or may not specialize in taxation. They also have continuing education requirements.
Because they are not paid preparers, volunteers at community centers do not have the same education standards regarding staying current with the tax laws, although many may do so in the context of their other jobs. They also cannot prepare returns that have even moderate complexity or contain fairly common transactions.
Dena Lebowitz, South Pasadena
Cancer doctors top list | April 10
Blame high cost of drugs
Your attention-grabbing headline would lead one to believe that many doctors, particularly in Florida, are getting rich off Medicare. An analysis of the details in the article shows that simply is not the case.
Reimbursement amounts for doctors' services are negotiated and set by Medicare. The oncologists, rheumatologists and ophthalmologists mentioned in the article, particularly those associated with large clinics, treat patients with chronic conditions like cancer, arthritis, lupus, macular degeneration and such that are more common in the older adult population of our state and require regular medical care. These specialists are reimbursed at a higher rate per patient visit. They will always earn more than those with smaller practices or lower-paying specialties, whether reimbursed by Medicare or private insurance.
The real issue is the high price of medications administered and billed for by these doctors, costs over which the doctors have little control. Including these basically pass-through charges in your reported reimbursements does little more than foment anger toward physicians. It is not reputable doctors who are ripping off the taxpayers, it is the pharmaceutical companies with their powerful lobbyists and congressional connections that are allowed to charge ridiculous, often unsubstantiated, prices and are reaping huge profits because Medicare, by law, cannot negotiate the price of drugs.
Cindy Wilkinson McMullen, St. Petersburg