Nonprofit chief gets $1.2M | Dec. 28
The pitfalls of privatizing services
In the rush to privatize everything from aftercare for juvenile delinquents to charter schools to prison health care, the governor and legislators need to realize that one of the seamy undersides of the practice is that many "nonprofit" agencies yield huge profits for their executives. Less surprising is that some of these executives will turn out to have very close ties with politicians.
Our legislators were sent to Tallahassee to protect our pocketbooks, and it is clear that they are failing to do that due to blind ideology. "Private" isn't always better; that's why the civil service was invented.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Nonprofit chief gets $1.2M | Dec. 28
While the Times article concerning the pay of the CEO of the Henry & Rilla White Foundation was factual, our board felt there was some critical information absent from the story that should be shared with your readers to appreciate the total picture.
First, the CEO's pay and benefits cited in the article reflect 25 years of service, not just the two years referenced. Perhaps the board could have handled this differently and spread the compensation over more years to reduce the yearly payout, but the fact is, everything we did was legal and appropriate and consistent with industry standards. Also, funding did not come just from state juvenile justice contracts, as the foundation also serves adults and provides other non-Department of Juvenile Justice services on a contractual basis.
Second, DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters' comments would suggest that direct services to youth and their families were compromised. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of our state-funded programs are assigned contract monitors who conduct on-site reviews on a regular basis. Every program is subject to an annual quality assurance review, and a number of our programs have achieved the highest scores in the state. Independent audits are completed yearly, and all of our programs are nationally accredited.
Third, the secretary's plan to end community-based contracts is a clear attempt to save state jobs at the expense of private sector jobs. The private sector in juvenile justice has historically performed as well or better than state employees at less cost, not more. Also, we handle more seriously delinquent youth than state juvenile probation officers and we serve a much higher percentage of African-American youth than the state has over the past five years.
The foundation stands by its long-term commitment to make a positive difference in people's lives.
Horace Moody, treasurer, Henry & Rilla White Foundation, Tallahassee
New Year's celebrations
Put the guns away
Whatever one's position on guns, everyone should agree that firing a weapon into the air in celebration of a sports victory, the Fourth of July or New Year's is an act of idiocy. After the bullets go up, they come down. Every year people far away are killed or injured by these bullets.
Jim Stillman, Lutz
Five ways health care will change during 2013 | Dec. 27
Better habits, outcomes
This article points out that the rise in health care costs will slow. Due to the economy, consumers will be judicious in their consumption of health care.
That may be part of the truth, but perhaps we consumers are seeking healthier choices in our diet and lifestyle. Perhaps after years of depending on the health care system, we are accepting responsibility for our own well-being.
Medications have a purpose, but they are not always the answer — there are side effects, and as more medications are added the risks grow. Hospitals offer emergency care and save lives, but they are also sources of infection and medical error. The less we look to this system and the more we look inward, the more affordable health care will be.
Rita Sewell, St. Petersburg
Russian ban on adoptions by U.S. hits home Dec. 28
U.S. children in need
It is sad to see that people involved with the adoption process are possibly going to lose out on the gift of a child. It is even sadder that they are traveling halfway around the world to adopt a child.
There are more than 250,000 children who enter foster care in the United States every year. We do not need to outsource adoption. There are children here who need and want your love as well.
Bill Castle, St. Petersburg
Budget impasse looms larger | Dec. 28
Means-test Social Security
The Democratic leadership must suggest significant reductions to Social Security in order to avoid the "fiscal cliff." The first step is to realize that Social Security is an insurance program, not an entitlement. Just like other insurance, one should be pleased if it is not needed. After all, rational people don't drive their cars into trees or set their houses on fire just to collect on the premiums they paid for many years.
Social Security payments should be made based the need of the recipient by calculating the percentage of the individual's post-retirement income represented by Social Security. Treating Social Security as the insurance program it is will result in the significant reductions in spending demanded by the Republicans without raising taxes.
David Tarbox, Clearwater