The article on the "pill mill" raid was interesting, heartbreaking and scary for me.
It was interesting because it certainly helps give me a bit of perspective on why it took years to get a doctor to work with me to rebuild my life after severe medical issues derailed it with extreme pain. It helps me understand why when I filled my prescriptions at CVS I was treated like scum. The article, along with some of my favorite episodes of Intervention, help explain why some of these medications really are dangerous and can ruin lives.
The article is heartbreaking in its revelations of the lengths addicts will go to to get these pills and how desperate their families are to find help. It's depressing how the clinic affects the rest of the neighborhood.
However, for me and others who suffer severe medical conditions and are only able to obtain even a slight relief through these medications, the article is very scary. Where is the representation from our point of view? Granted, I searched long and hard to find doctors who would be partners in my health care and will hopefully never find myself in a "pill mill," but it is vital to include at least some mention of people who use these medications responsibly because they are vital to their well being. If you haven't been there, you will not truly relate to the suffering we deal with. You don't know what it is like to be treated like a criminal because you and your doctor determined that a medication is appropriate and necessary for you.
The people in this article chose to abuse these medications and turn them into "drugs." That does not mean everyone else does the same. This article desperately needs a viewpoint from the other side.
Jacque Munera, Tampa
There's legitimate need
I would like to reply to all the talk about the recent crackdown on oxycodone. All you are hearing about is the abuse of this and other pain medication, but no one is saying anything about the people who need this medication and use it correctly.
All the news is negative, and I think someone should make it known that there is a legitimate use for these medications. Some of the laws that are being considered to stem the sales are not taking into account the people who use these medications correctly. This is going to place hardships on those of us who do. Thank you, from a person who has chronic pain that has been controlled by oxycodone.
Frank Ambrogio, New Port Richey
Sufferers need help
What do we do with the pain-management clinic? As usual, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.
There are necessary uses for pain-management clinics. What do you do with the patient with multiple surgeries that have failed to fix the medical problem? What do you do with the patient who suffers from an incurable disease that is painful? What do you do for the cancer patient? "Take two aspirins, drink plenty of fluids and call me in the morning."
I've had six spinal fusions and all that that entails. None of them fixed the crushed spine I suffer with daily. There is nothing they can do for me but control the unbearable pain.
I don't drive here from some other state, I have more than 1,000 pages of medical records and countless MRIs, but to you I'm an evil person.
I hope and pray that you and yours never suffer from an incurable chronic pain and there are no pain clinics left.
Charles H. Eure, St. Petersburg
Gaza flotilla incident
U.S. should stand with Israel
The Tampa Jewish Federation condemns the pro-Hamas "Free Gaza" movement and its supporters for deliberately provoking a violent confrontation with the Israeli navy in its attempt to sail a flotilla of ships to Gaza.
Large segments of the media continue to disregard the constant threat of attack that Israel faces every single day from rockets, suicide bombers, snipers and numerous other terrors. Why is it no other country in the world would be questioned for requiring that vessels entering its waters or ports be searched for dangerous cargo — especially if there were serious evidence to support the possibility of contraband aboard those vessels?
The tragic incident that took place last weekend could have been avoided and the loss of life is very regrettable, but it must be recognized that the flotilla refused to cooperate with Israel's repeated requests to be allowed to deliver the humanitarian cargo to Gaza. It should also be noted that reports from inside Gaza indicate there is no shortage of food or other humanitarian aid as suggested by the organizers of the flotilla. This adds to the mounting proof that violent clashes were exactly what Hamas and its supporters sought.
Under international law, Israel was well within its rights to stop and board those ships. The flotilla was warned multiple times to not attempt to land in Gaza yet they chose to ignore those warnings. How can the Israeli leadership allow unknown cargo to be delivered to an area controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas?
How can they ignore the threat posed by a group that openly seeks the destruction of Israel? No country on this planet would be expected to accept these conditions with the exception of Israel. This internationally sanctioned double standard must not be allowed to continue.
Israel is unquestionably the greatest supporter of democracy and of the United States in the Middle East. It's time for America and its leaders to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Israeli friends and provide them the support they deserve.
Mark Segel, Tampa
To Israel, it's security first | June 2, story
Activists sought violence
Susan Taylor Martin's analysis and explanation of the events that occurred off the coast of Israel on Monday was very fair. Although they are internationally condemned, thanks to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli people are safer than they have been in years. Furthermore, prior to Israel's incursion into Gaza in 2008, the civilian population of southern Israel was subjected to daily rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorists.
The so-called "peace activists" on the flotilla got what they wanted — a violent confrontation. The Israeli troops landed on the ships with the intention of diverting them to the port city of Ashdod where the vessels could be inspected and unloaded and appropriate humanitarian supplies could then be trucked to Gaza.
Such security inspections are done daily in airports and ports around the world. The "activists" on the boats had been given the option of landing in Ashdod, which they refused. The troops were armed with paintball guns, a nonlethal riot dispersal technique. They were met with a premeditated attack using weapons that included metal pipes and knives.
The problem here is not with the people of Gaza. The conflict is with the terrorist regime of Hamas, supported by Iran. The blockade is to prevent weapons and war materiel from entering Gaza and to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza who are treated like pawns by Hamas.
Terri Tankel, Dunedin
Root of the problem
There is only one reason aliens keep coming across the border: It is because we keep hiring them. As long as there is a demand for cheap labor they will keep coming.
There are federal laws that are not being enforced because politicians don't want to crack down on employers, and there are many employers. Many illegal aliens are employed by homeowners who are looking for a cheap price and don't ask for ID. Many small businesses hire day labor because they get cheap labor and don't have to pay payroll taxes or insurance.
The other problem is that there is no simple national form of ID proving you're a citizen. For citizens, a passport or birth certificate along with a picture ID will suffice. For legal aliens it is a green card or immigration papers along with a picture ID. Each state has its own ID rules.
Finally, we are the problem, we are the government. Let your congressmen know that we need immigration reform and not punishment for people we encouraged to come here to work for us because we couldn't find another group to exploit. Exploitation of immigrants and minorities is our history and a shameful one at that.
M. Leslie Nichols, Safety Harbor
Immigration law protesters march in Ariz. May 30
It's not about race
One should disagree with the Hispanics in Arizona. The sign in the photo with this story said "Guilty of being brown." This brings a new dimension to this law and it should not have come up.
Have these Hispanics really read through the law to see that it has nothing to do with color? It has to do with the entering the United States illegally. There are 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona and that state has to take care of them. In these trying times it is difficult enough to make ends meet, so how can Arizona take care of so many extra?
Why doesn't anyone look at the whole picture before raising other questions that have nothing to do with the reason for the law? Why, in great, dark lettering is there such a sign?
Hispanics should stop complaining and look closely at what they're creating. They are the ones making such an issue of something that needs to be taken care of.
Judith M. Stevens, Clearwater
A fight Florida doesn't need | May 30
Stop illegal immigration
I love how you characterize Arizona's Immigration law as an "extreme" effort. Have you read the bill? The Arizona law mirrors existing federal law and multiple times explicitly prohibits the use of racial profiling going beyond existing federal legislation.
It sounds like the editorial staff has joined Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano who both immediately came out against the law and then admitted before congressional committees that they hadn't even read the bill.
Have you? Under current federal law, legal immigrants who are not yet naturalized citizens are required to carry their immigration documents with them at all times. As citizens we are required to produce our driver's license during traffic stops. At the bank we have to produce valid state-issued ID when cashing checks. Producing ID is something that happens nearly every day to every citizen who leaves his home.
Our nation is a nation of immigrants — ones that come here legally. You stated that the Sunshine State has welcomed "Cubans, Haitians, Mexicans, Asians and all manner of immigrants." So has the rest of the United States, and so do I, but we welcome them into our country legally.
We must stop illegal immigration, and if the federal government won't do it, the states should. Why is it that we trust the police forces to protect us in every other way, but when it comes to illegal immigration enforcement they aren't capable?
Charles H. Heist, Clearwater
A fight Florida doesn't need | May 30, editorial
Remember the terrorists
Once again, the St. Petersburg Times suffers a case of selective memory loss. While it's true that "The Sunshine State has welcomed Cubans, Haitians, Mexicans, Asians and all manner of immigrants," the fact is that Florida also "welcomed" at least three of the World Trade Center bombers when they arrived in Florida and took pilot training courses in preparation for this devastating attack.
To ignore that fact is to invite future terrorists to our shores. It's far better to accept the realities of the real world than to fool ourselves into believing that we can ignore our very own immigration laws and subject ourselves to additional unnecessary risks.
Dan Calabria, South Pasadena
Crack down on parking space abusers May 29, letters
Disability may not be visible
As expected, there were letters to the editor thanking you for your article concerning those who abuse disabled parking permits. I agree with some of these letters, but let's look at the other side of the picture.
Just because a person looks able-bodied, a permit does not necessarily mean that he or she is being dishonest. Physicians authorize these permits to patients who are aged, have had serious ailments like strokes, and are warned not to exert themselves.
Of course, there are some violations, but the simple answer to this problem would be for the physicians who issue the authorizations to be required to have their patients carry photo ID cards listing their disabilities, which can be shown to the police officer.
I guess I'll get myself a cane and walk with a limp from now on, so not to feel guilty walking from the parking lot to the mall.
Morris Grossman, Sun City Center