Saturday, January 20, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: Better mass transit for Hillsborough County

July letter of the month

The winning letter addressed challenges to parents.

The cost of family breakdowns

Your editorial correctly says that "educating these children (in the five struggling elementary schools) is hard." But I couldn't help but notice the link between this article and the one a few pages back (U.S. fertility rate reaches a record low) that stated that "69.7 percent of black babies and 52.5 percent of Hispanic (babies)" are born to single mothers.

The economic challenges of single moms, regardless of race, are well documented. On balance, these mothers earn significantly less, are less educated and are more challenged to provide appropriate and stable child care. I'm sure that many of the "overextended parents who work multiple jobs and unconventional hours to keep the electricity on and food on the table" are single mothers trying to beat very long odds. If we don't at least recognize the social cost of our changing family structure, it won't matter how much money we throw at the problem.

Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs

Public transit

Better Hillsborough service

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority board of directors on Monday will consider a transformational redesign of the HART transit system. We're calling it Mission MAX: Modernizing and Aligning for Excellence.

We are modernizing the system to deliver better service and lay a strong foundation for future expansion. We are aligning routes to better meet the needs of a changing community, with different employment centers and commuting patterns from 13 years ago, and we are focusing on providing excellent service.

Mission MAX is a major effort that will improve transit service for over 85 percent of our customers while reducing our operating costs by over $5 million annually. The redesigned transit system will provide quicker trips to key destinations and more frequency on core routes. Almost all our local routes will run seven days a week, weekend service will run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and all current weekend late-night routes will continue to operate until midnight.

Public transit makes life happen in Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay region. Thousands of residents do not drive because of their age, physical or cognitive constraints, or because private vehicle ownership is not feasible. Nearly a third of our customers say they choose to take transit for its convenience, cost savings and sustainability. Mission MAX allows us to deliver the quality and value that our customers and taxpayers deserve. We are proud to be a public agency that can improve life while being a strong steward of public dollars.

If approved by the HART board of directors, the successful implementation of Mission MAX on Oct. 8 will be a top priority for us at HART. Clearly, public transit matters to everyone in our community.

Katharine Eagan, HART CEO, Tampa

College and alcohol

Parents make the difference

In the coming weeks, millions of college-bound freshmen will be leaving home for the campus for the first time. As parents prepare their teens for college, it's important to set aside time to talk about alcohol.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, teens are much more likely to delay drinking when they feel they have a close, supportive tie with a parent or guardian.

Here are some tips for parents to guide the discussion: Set clear expectations for academic achievement and responsible behavior; talk about alcohol facts, reasons not to drink and ways to avoid drinking in difficult situations; address how to get help on campus for themselves or a friend; keep in close contact to determine if your son or daughter is feeling overwhelmed, making friends, getting involved with activities and enjoying classes; and make sure they know you are there to support them through this transition period.

Even though your college-age student may no longer be living at home, research shows parents have the most influence over their son's or daughter's decision to drink or not to drink. Invest this time together to ensure your teen gets off on the right track for academic success.

Sam Zakhari, Washington, D.C.

The writer is senior vice president of science for the Distilled Spirits Council and former division director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Health care

Single-payer problems

I have seen firsthand some of the problems with a single-payer health care system. Denmark has such a system and can afford it with the taxes their citizens pay. Denmark is also a rather small country and that helps.

I had a friend who was suffering a serious, life-threatening medical problem. She needed a procedure that could save her life. However, under Denmark's system the more critical cases had first priority for this procedure. So she had to wait. Unfortunately, when she got to the critical stage with her illness there were several people at the same stage. The system could not accommodate them all, so by some method she was not fortunate enough to be one of the ones selected. She died four days after she went into the critical stage.

The health care system was not large enough to accommodate all of the needs of its citizens. The system would not pay for her to go to another country and receive the treatment, and the expense was prohibitive for her and her husband.

Single-payer with no cost to the patient sounds great, but it may have issues that we do not want to deal with. In a single-payer system, the "system managers" will decide what is covered and where you go to receive the care.

The Affordable Care Act is not the system we want and it needs to either be fixed or scrapped. The Democrats passed it without Republican support, but the Republicans can't seem to get their act together on a plan to fix or replace the ACA. I predict that if the Republicans don't come to some consensus on this problem, they will lose the Senate in upcoming elections. I also predict that the first order of business for the Democrats will be to fix the areas that are causing the most problems.

Hugh Sullivan, Tampa


Sunday’s letters: Bay area shortchanged on foster care funds

Opioid crisis herds kids to foster care | Jan. 9Bay area foster care shortchangedAs mentioned in this article, the growing opioid epidemic is unfortunately bringing more children into the Florida foster care system. While substance abuse has hist...
Published: 01/20/18

Saturday’s letters: It’s not the word, it’s the racism

Presidential precedent | Jan. 14It’s not the word; it’s the racismThe Times went in the wrong direction and printed information that is rather useless. And that is strange. You usually get it right.I am talking about President Donald Trump’s prof...
Published: 01/19/18

Friday’s letters: Help for boaters against modern-day ‘pirates’

Marine towing and salvageHelp against modern-day piracyAs an avid recreational boat owner and sixth-generation Floridian, I know there’s no better way to enjoy our state’s spectacular waters than taking your boat out. Unfortunately, the fun of boatin...
Published: 01/17/18
Updated: 01/18/18

Thursday’s letters: All Americans need health care

Doctor: Trump got perfect score on cognitive test | Jan. 17All Americans need health carePresident Donald Trump’s extensive health exam has apparently declared him physically fit for office. As I was reading about the battery of tests he received...
Published: 01/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: St. Petersburg’s culture, vibrancy impresses

St. PetersburgImpressive culture and vibrancyI recently visited Tampa Bay and celebrated New Year’s weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. I was awestruck by what I encountered and experienced. It has been several years since I last visited, and the tra...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Published: 01/16/18
Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

President Donald TrumpAchievements go unrecognizedAre Americans even aware that our economy is healthier and growing much faster, that ISIS has been defeated and lost their territory, that China and other countries are buying more American goods and ...
Published: 01/16/18

Monday’s letters: Don’t be fooled by drilling turnaround

Deal blocks drilling off Fla. | Jan. 10Don’t be fooled by turnaroundWhile I am very grateful that Florida has been taken off the table regarding offshore oil drilling, it is clear this is a political move to champion Gov. Rick Scott as he conside...
Published: 01/14/18

Sunday’s letters: Left wing late to the #MeToo cause

#MeTooDemocrats come late to the causeThe Times devoted an entire page to the #MeToo issues on Sunday. The ironies here for longtime observers are nearly boundless. Twenty years ago, folks like myself were called "prudes" and worse because we found P...
Published: 01/13/18

Saturday’s letters: A wall of towers isn’t progress

Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7A wall of towers isn’t progressFirst of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become...
Published: 01/12/18