Monday, February 19, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Taking swift action to protect students

School safety overreach | Jan. 11, editorial

Taking swift, appropriate action

The Times' characterization of our school security proposal as being "rushed" fails to appreciate the sense of urgency in the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut. Thankfully, local law enforcement shares our sense of urgency. They took swift, appropriate action. We should do the same.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, our School Board has not had an opportunity to publicly discuss these matters. During winter break, we worked to design a comprehensive plan so we could have a full public discussion at the first opportunity: the Jan. 15 board meeting. Board members have been briefed, have asked questions and offered suggestions. As for the suggestion that the School Board not "rubber stamp" the proposal, I agree. This major initiative deserves serious discussion and debate.

For nearly two decades, school resource officers and deputies have been part of the fabric of our schools in Hillsborough County, including several elementary schools. In our recent proposal, we would have "officer friendly" crime prevention efforts in all our schools, and have trained professionals prepared to respond to a threat. If our proposal is approved we need time for prudent hiring of security officers followed by five weeks of training.

Lastly, I resent the Times insinuation that this proposal is politically motivated. There has been plenty of political posturing across the nation after this tragedy and others, but little or no action. Our response was to get to work and put together a comprehensive plan of action.

In Hillsborough County, we are not going to wait for Washington, Tallahassee or the Times to debate this issue for weeks, months, or years. It is our job to take action to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough County Schools superintendent, Tampa

School safety overreach | Jan. 11, editorial

Guns don't bring safety

It is unfortunate that MaryEllen Elia has capitulated to the demands of parents — understandable as a short-term but somewhat knee-jerk reaction — but also to the same far more cynical and self-serving demands of the NRA. More guns, one way or the other, will ultimately result in more gun violence and death.

With more visible guns and armed guards, the increasingly strong message we will be sending to our youngest children and to each other is that we no longer live in a society of peaceful and civil discourse, love or kindness, but in one that is ruled by guns, bureaucratic autocrats, unstable or disturbed individuals, violence and fear.

Stephen Breslow, Tampa

Lessons from New York

In August 2012, two New York City police officers shot one man armed with only a pistol. To the officers' credit, the bad guy didn't get off a shot. However, there were nine innocent bystanders wounded by the officers' fire. Trained armed guards should be the last thing we would want.

George Morrison, Spring Hill

Gun control

Speak against violence

We gave our handgun to the police department in the summer of 1999, shortly after the Columbine tragedy. It was time to choose sides, and we chose against senseless violence. Where we went wrong is we turned in our gun quietly. It is past time to make some noise.

It is time to stop kidding ourselves. One million concealed weapon permits in Florida and most people couldn't get out their cellphone and dial 911 in an emergency, much less whip a gun out of their purse or pocket and hold off an attacker.

And for those of you with an arsenal at home, are you ready to vouch for the mental well-being of every person in the circle of your life? Because in tragedy after tragedy, unstable people are using legally acquired guns to kill. In every case, the families can't believe the violence originated in their home. Your guns are locked up, but how many people know where they are, know where you keep the key or the combination or are unstable enough to threaten the information out of you or a loved one?

So we'll be making noise — for universal background checks, national gun registration, an assault weapon ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and for better mental health screening and care. We know the arguments, and we have chosen sides. No fix is a cure-all. All steps will help.

Pepper and Ann Leavine, Temple Terrace

Affordable Care Act

Public input needed

All too often, our elected officials create policy based on statistics and information fed by special interest groups. What they need is to put faces on those numbers in order for them to fully understand the impact, positive or negative, of their decisions on their constituents.

Florida's legislative leaders have recently appointed members to House and Senate committees to closely examine the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Florida and make recommendations on implementation. As a father who has experienced difficulty getting and keeping affordable, comprehensive health coverage for my family, I am pleased to see our state government has launched a new ACA legislative website with consumer information as well as a chance to provide public input. It is at

I encourage every citizen to take the time to provide input to our legislators for these vitally important health care decisions that will deeply impact everyone in our state, regardless of income.

Gary Stein, Wesley Chapel

Obama inauguration

Deities out of place

I note that President Barack Obama's inaugural ceremony will begin with an invocation and end with a benediction. Just who is invoked and whose blessing is asked we are not told. Later there is to be an inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral.

It strikes me as odd that a great country that by law is secular should create a deliberately religious atmosphere at an important ceremony like the beginning of a presidential term of office. Are these trappings designed to honor an invisible "God"? If so, which one? The Christian Heavenly Father? The Jehovah of Judaism? The Islamic Prophet? The various deities of smaller sects?

What about those who refuse belief in any of these? Are they to be ignored by the obsequious devotees of some amorphous deity?

Abagail Ann Martin, Brandon


Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

A vote against Pasco’s jail bond issueThere are two stories on the front page of the Feb. 9 Pasco Times that drew my attention.The top headline reports that the Pasco County commissioners are discussing submitting a $185 million bond issue to the vot...
Published: 02/13/18

Tuesday’s letters: Challenges in Hillsborough foster care

Foster failures under scrutiny | Feb. 10Challenges in foster care systemNo young person deserves to be treated as shown in the Ch. 8 segment on Youth and Family Alternatives Inc., an Eckerd Connects subcontractor. It is difficult to fathom how th...
Published: 02/12/18

Saturday’s letters: We’re all just trying to get home, one zip tie at a time

I detest Trump, but a ‘redneck’ fixed my Prius with zip ties | Feb. 3, Ruth Mayer columnWe’re all just trying to get homeLike columnist Ruth Mayer, I too am trying to find my level ground, my level-set. I too have held a tremendously deep resentm...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18

Sunday’s letters: Let’s make America good again

Everyone loves a parade | Feb. 9, editorialI’ll sit on the sidelinesAs a 30-year veteran I was appalled at the president’s plan for a military parade. Having marched in numerous parades in my career I can say without hesitation that members of th...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18