Legislators put fat cats ahead of schoolkids | April 18, editorial
Quality of life comes at a cost
The issues brought out in your editorial truly highlight the ever-present disdain the Republican leadership in our state government has toward public education. While our legislators continue to cry about how much money the state does not have, they also revel in giving out tax breaks to large corporations, and refuse to implement the closing of tax loopholes that cost our state millions of dollars.
I do not like paying taxes any more than the next person, but when will our so-called leaders, and the people who support them, understand that if any good quality of life is to maintained in our state, it has to be paid for? And for those who cheer the fact that their taxes may be reduced, understand this: When cities and counties receive less money from the state coffers while their hands are tied by not being able to raise enough local taxes to cover the losses, we will actually end up paying more for the services we receive in the form of increased fees, which do not need to be debated in Tallahassee.
In addition, what happened to the pledge that public education would be held harmless by the recent passage of Amendment 1? I realize that in a bad budget cycle we all need to help, but not even new math can explain how more than $800-million in cuts to the state's education budget is harmless.
Legislators should not be held harmless for their actions. Those of us who care will have to make our voices heard in future election cycles to make changes in Tallahassee and bring reason to our state capital.
Marshall Koppel, Clearwater
Cost for treating chronically ill varies widely
April 15, story
Defend hospice funding
The St. Petersburg Times recently reported on a Dartmouth Medical School study that examined the high costs associated with treating chronic and terminal illnesses. That story brought to light what many of us who provide end-of-life care already know: that many patients diagnosed with life-limiting conditions undergo costly, unnecessary and unwanted tests and treatments.
The Dartmouth study also reported that patients enrolled in hospice care receive "less aggressive end-of-life care." A 2007 Duke University study reported that hospice care saves the Medicare system an average of $2,300 per hospice patient. Despite this, state legislators may eliminate the Medicaid hospice benefit because they believe it will save tax dollars. We do need to spend tax dollars wisely. Yet, hospice saves the state $19-million a year while caring for our poorest citizens at the end of life.
The U.S. Congress is considering deep cuts in the Medicare hospice benefit that would erode access. Using the Duke figures, LifePath Hospice alone saved the federal government more than $25-million in Medicare costs last year.
I encourage everyone to call or write our state and federal legislators. Tell them that access to hospice is important to you. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's Web site at http://capwiz.com/nhpco/home/ offers a direct link to your congressional delegation. The Legislature's Web site lists your legislators' contact information at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/.
Kathy L. Fernandez, president and chief executive officer, LifePath Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc., Temple Terrace
Elementary removes book after complaint
Part of history
The n-word is part of our past, part of our history. In my estimation, award-winning author Mildred Taylor did not use the n-word to personally express racism but in truth to tell of an incident that either did or could have occurred in our history.
I am considered "a typical white person," as Barack Obama referred to us. So let's get a life and let our children read the true interpretation of our history.
Geri Bowie, St. Petersburg
When parents are lazy, children rule the roost | April 12, Floridian story
I'm reminded of two of the best quotes ever, quotes that put child-rearing into the proper perspective: "The greatest gift we can give our children is to teach them how to live without us" and "The worst form of child abuse is indulgence."
Whether rich or poor, firm loving attention and control show children reasonable allowances and restrictions, maintaining a calm atmosphere for their character to grow with a happy, healthy view of their own place in the world.
Mary Doyle, North Redington Beach
Time for basics and more | April 14, story
Put education first
What a thrill to see this article. It seems as though this school, Academy Prep, has it right. I enjoyed the children in uniform and saluting the flag. We did this every morning. I do realize the cost of adding more hours, so instead of a new Rays stadium, how about putting the money into schools?
Many children return to homes where parents are still at work or go to afterschool programs. It seems to me it definitely would be more beneficial to enhance our schools instead of building a new stadium. The current one usually is half empty.
Education is so important and our energies should be directed to giving our children the best.
Marlene Bedford, Clearwater
Proud citizens | April 15, photo
Words to remember
The picture of U.S. military service members saying the Pledge of Allegiance (after they took the Oath of Allegiance to become U.S. citizens) reminded me of another time, another war (World War II) when we schoolchildren did the same, except we first recited our Constitution's Preamble (followed by the flag salute, which did not then include the "under God" phrase):
"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America."
Even today, I feel that the Preamble, committed to memory, is the more valuable to our citizens — all of us. Plus, there is no religious antipathy toward this basic American document. Children learn it easily and never forget!
Nadine Duke, Oldsmar
A war sacrifice
It has been said that all Americans have to sacrifice during this time of war in Iraq. Outside of our fighting men and women and their families, I do not see any others making significant sacrifices.
A suggestion: A $1 a gallon tax on gasoline, specifically earmarked to pay for the war would make Americans participate in sacrificing. It would also make us question what we are doing in Iraq and for how much longer we will have to continue to do this. In addition, maybe we can cut down on the amount of money we keep borrowing (from China).
Jesse Starr, Tampa