Monday, June 18, 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


Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18