Thursday, April 26, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Tax collectors have solid record on license plates

License mess avoided | Dec. 8, editorial

Tax collectors do job efficiently

As Pinellas County tax collector, I applaud the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for backing away from its plan to outsource the issuance and delivery of license plates to a private vendor. I would like to thank Gov. Rick Scott and our Cabinet officials for helping to stop a plan that was headed in the wrong direction from the start.

While I agree with department executive director Julie Jones' stated goal of saving the state money, there is no evidence — or even a solid projection — that shows outsourcing would be cheaper than the current model of using tax collectors to distribute license plates. Furthermore, there are serious accountability questions about handing over motor vehicle database information to a private firm. Tax collectors have been successfully managing inventories and issuing plates for decades. Our system is efficient and accountable. We provide same-day services in our offices, along with convenient Internet and mail options for license plate renewals.

I have heard from a number of Tampa Bay residents lately, and many are concerned with the state's push to privatize services without proving a real benefit. In the case of license plates, I want to ensure we don't make unnecessary changes to a system that already functions well. I look forward to working with the highway and motor vehicles department to do what is in the best interest of our state.

Diane Nelson, Pinellas County tax collector; vice president, Florida Tax Collectors Association

State nears gun milestone | Dec. 13

Information, please

This article about the number of gun permits issued by the state of Florida didn't address some important issues.

How many gun crimes in the state are being committed by persons who have legally obtained a gun permit? The article alludes to a couple of cases involving "stand your ground" incidents, but I seldom pick up the morning paper without reading about a holdup, home invasion or drive-by shooting committed by a felon with numerous prior arrests. By law, these individuals could not and would not obtain a permit.

Also, looking at the Florida violent crime statistics from 1987 to present, is there a correlation between the changes in the gun laws and the decline in the violent crime rate? Legally obtained guns and gun permits are not the problem. If you look at places with the strictest gun laws, like Chicago, you find very high gun crime and murder rates. Do strict gun laws work? Apparently not.

Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde

Boy, 15, shot accidentally | Dec. 13

Don't call it an accident

There is nothing accidental when one child points a loaded gun at another and fires. Newspapers continue to use euphemistic terminology, like "accidentally went off," when reporting these shootings. Guns do exactly what they are designed to do. They fire bullets when the person holding the gun pulls the trigger.

Your reporters leave the readers with the misconception that guns randomly discharge on their own. I am sure whoever pulled the trigger meant no malice, but it was no accident. Accidents are random and hard to prevent. This shooting was completely preventable.

Gregory Laskerr, Wesley Chapel

Educator and mother of legislator dies at 83 Dec. 13

A teacher's life lessons

"Taisez-vous!" The call to order in our class, delivered with a smile, somehow had less sting spoken in French. Reading of Vivian Rouson's death released a flood of memories for me. Madame Rouson taught more than French. As a student in her French class in the early '70s, I learned refinement, diligence and patience. Madame brought together a group of gawky adolescents from disparate backgrounds and gave us a common purpose and a safe haven, touching more lives and hearts than she would ever know. A beacon of serenity in turbulent times, she will be missed.

Marlene Schaaf, Seminole

Cameras seeing wrecks | Dec. 13

Cautions on conclusions

People are inclined to reach causal conclusions even when unwarranted by the data. The furor over the increase in traffic accidents at intersections with red-light cameras provides an excellent example of this tendency.

To reach a valid conclusion about the causal influence of red-light cameras, we must know the traffic accident rates at comparable intersections without a red-light camera during the same time period. Without this "control group," there are many plausible alternative explanations for the increase, including the possibility that the increase represented a random fluctuation in accident rates, or that accident rates the year before were abnormally low due to less traffic because of the weak economy. Cause-effect inferences and especially legislative decisions about red-light cameras should be based on careful examination of sound scientific data rather than on intuitive tendencies to reach causal conclusions.

Bill Sacco, Tampa

Voucher claims due for testing | Dec. 14, editorial

Common standards for all

All students and schools, public or private, that receive tax money should be required to take the state's standardized tests. Taxpayers would be reassured to learn that every student is receiving a quality education. As a retired teacher, I want to know that, too. There are great schools, public and private, that should welcome the benchmarks and scores.

On the surface, the idea of using the Common Core State Standards tests sounds ideal. According to the Times, 48 states have committed to using these standards by 2014. Years ago we had a nationwide assessment that gave America a wide overview of education. Then came the influx of various states' individual tests. With that, all levels of comparison between the states blurred. I believe that all parents and other taxpayers would want to see equalized tests that give scores based on equal scopes of study.

If private schools don't want to hold to the basic core curriculum and provide scores for the state's tests, perhaps they should not take the taxpayers' money. The scope and sequence of the Common Core is the basic design, and school systems can add to those guidelines if they so desire.

Testing itself is not all-time-consuming. If students are given basic tests from the primary grades on, they learn to accept the process. America's future is in having an educated population.

Joyce Ostrom, Oldsmar


Friday’s letters: Why just single-member districts are a bad idea for Hillsborough

Murman’s bad idea on districts | April 20, editorialSingle-member districts’ flawYour editorial opposing single-member districts in Hillsborough County is totally correct. I have served as Miami-Dade county manager twice. The first time (1976-198...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: A surgeon responds to story about a needle being left in a baby’s heart

All Children’s surgeon left a needle in a baby’s heart | April 22My view as one of the surgeonsI am one of the physicians discussed (but not interviewed) in this article. Whatever the motive for such an article, I disagree with many of the claims...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/26/18

Wednesday’s letters: How we plan to improve foster care in Hillsborough

Improving foster care inHillsborough | April 19, editorialOur plans for helping kidsThis editorial poses many good questions. The Department of Children and Families’ peer review report is expected to be released soon. And while we welcome the an...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for April 27

Stop Ridge Road extension, reader saysWhen I spoke at the Dade City meeting of the Pasco County Commissioners on my opposition to the Ridge Road Extension, three of them responded, but only when my three minutes of free speech expired, and I could sa...
Published: 04/23/18

Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Tuesday’s letters: Student journalists push to save their newsrooms and independence

Save student newsroomsAs professional newsrooms shrink, student newsrooms have become an increasingly important source of local coverage, holding not only our universities accountable but also local government. We write these articles, attending meet...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18