Improving safety, providing help
Several months ago, I directed Hillsborough County Commission staff to form a working group to address panhandling with the goal of creating a uniform solicitation ordinance for the entire county. Hillsborough currently has Ordinance 91-24, which bans street solicitation in unincorporated areas of the county. The cities of Plant City and Temple Terrace have similar bans, while Tampa has a less stringent ordinance governing solicitation.
The working group comprises officials and staff from Hillsborough County, the three municipalities, law enforcement, homeless advocate groups and the local work force agency. By integrating these organizations into this dialogue, our aim is to connect those who truly need assistance with the appropriate health and social services available to them.
I also have asked staff to explore any opportunities for day jobs where people can work for cash to get their immediate needs met. Solving this problem takes a holistic approach and is not as simple as just clearing people off our roads.
Hillsborough County is rated one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians and bicyclists. When you add to the mix people on street corners selling items or asking for money, our roads become even more hazardous for both motorists and solicitors.
In this recession it is clear people need help, and there are a number of organizations that could utilize residents' generosity to provide greater assistance to a larger group of people. Handing money out of car windows on already dangerous intersections is not the way to provide assistance.
During this Christmas season, it is essential we think of those who are less fortunate. I am confident we can make our streets safer and, at the same time, enhance our support to those in need.
Mark Sharpe, Hillsborough County commissioner, District 7
Health reform benefits all of us | Dec. 15, commentary
Comparing health, auto
insurance doesn't add up
In making the comparison between health insurance and auto insurance, this opinion piece neglects to mention a salient point in the legal arguments against the health care law. Car insurance is mandated by the states, and the levels and types of coverage are mandated by the states.
The health care bill is being challenged because it is the federal government making these decisions. Some states already have mandatory health care. The federal government is overreaching, and that is where the challenge lies.
Michael Pettersson, Palm Harbor
Tax inheritance like a gift
Inheritance is a gift and should be taxed accordingly. The people who benefit did not earn it. If I give a substantial gift to my children now, they will have to pay income tax. Why would it be different when I'm dead? If you want them to own your farm or business, make them a co-owner now.
All inheritance does is create uncontrollable family dynasties that can exert uncontrolled influence on the government.
John Culkin, St. Petersburg
Lower rates spur growth
The reasons why President Barack Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts are immaterial. The important thing is that they were extended to everyone. History proves that lower tax rates produce higher tax revenues, and higher tax rates inhibit job growth.
Also, for what it's worth, I have never gotten a job from a poor man.
David Burton, CPA, Clearwater
How does a tax plan that adds well over a trillion dollars to the national debt square with fiscal responsibility?
They tell us the tax cuts are a good policy. But this is not a tax cut, it's a tax deferral. Because the proposed tax "cuts" will be paid for with more borrowing by the government, it really means we will have to pay back that extra borrowing (and interest) later through much higher taxes.
To claim this is sound fiscal policy is absurd.
Lee Kasner, Tampa
Made in U.S.A.
Push for American-made
We have the power to put our factories back to work. Check the source of each item. If it's not made in the United States, put it down and comment to the store person. It won't take long for the word to spread and increase the availability of U.S. products. Don't blame politicians and unfair trade agreements. We have the control.
I needed pliers and a pocket knife. I found them — U.S.-made — at Dade City Hardware. We needed new walking shoes. We found New Balance, made in the United States. Buy American and save our jobs, and possibly our republic.
Lloyd Bresley, Dade City
For a better education
Once again everything has to be liberal-based for the Times. The school voucher deal isn't about indoctrinating religious views in school; it's about where the kids can get a better education.
As a parent I look at a school for one thing. Will it give my kid the best chance to be successful? The public school system consistently ranks in the bottom of the nation. It's a bastion of left-wing ideals. The public school system seems to care more about political ideals than in teaching our kids and getting them ready for the next step.
Parents, teachers and students share the responsibility for preparing our kids, and the private schools do a better job of it. Instead of blasting Republicans, why not fix the school system? Get rid of the waste and make the school board more accountable for money being spent. It is not a shortage of money that is the issue. It is how that money is being spent that is the problem.
Until the public sector catches up, parents should have the right to send there kids where they can get the best education. I applaud the governor-elect for making private schools available to all Floridians and not just the wealthy ones.
George T. Johnson, Clearwater
Don't gut public schools
As a college educator for nearly 20 years, I am dismayed by the effort of the newly elected governor to gut public education. Too many voucher advocates act as if public education is beyond repair and needs some outside or private competition to excel. This is pure fantasy. I know public education has worked, and Floridians should do everything in their power to ensure the success of public education.
My brother and I both completed public schools in southwest Georgia and I obtained my doctorate in history from Florida State University. My brother completed Princeton University.
Public schools can certainly improve, but why would you spend money and time destroying a system rather than seeking to improve it unless there is some other larger motive?
Dr. Keith Barry, Tampa
Block those economic metaphors | Dec. 14, Paul Krugman column
Lack of good jobs to blame
As usual, Paul Krugman's answer to the economic woes of this country misses the mark. His opinion that the housing bubble and excessive household debt are the root problems misses the real cause — namely the lack of good-paying jobs for the working class, which has been getting poorer for more than 20 years.
Corporate greed, lack of government corrective actions and, yes, consumers wanting to spend less buying foreign-made goods created the slippery slope our country finds itself on. Bring the jobs back now so the United States can compete on a level playing field.
Thomas Brown, Holiday