Monday, May 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: Governor wisely vetoed prisoner release bill

As president of the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association, I am writing to support Gov. Rick Scott's veto of HB 177. This bill would have granted early and immediate release for some 300-plus prisoners this year who are incarcerated by the Florida Department of Corrections.

The intent of this bill was to reduce prison populations by cutting drug offenders' sentences in half, then requiring these early-release offenders to participate in educational programs, substance abuse assessments and vocational skills training.

The reality is that the majority of these offenders have been arrested numerous times, and traditional programs that included vocational rehabilitation and substance abuse intervention have failed, thus these criminals were sentenced to prison. Many of them were given several opportunities to succeed in a variety of drug diversion programs, however they made the same bad choice each time and now they are paying the consequences.

This is the appropriate place for these criminals because they failed to obey the laws of our state not once but several times. Florida law requires criminals to serve a minimum of 85 percent of their sentence as provided by the court of record. The judge in each of these cases has a clear understanding of the facts of the case and the history of the offender, thus the judge provided a sentence after hearing all of the relevant information.

To legislate new sentencing guidelines on 300 offenders, this year alone, would be undermining the authority of our judicial branch.

By most accounts, our crime rates are at an all-time low, and in our opinion this early-release program would be detrimental to the citizens of our state.

We support Scott's decision to veto HB 177 and the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association continues to pledge its support to our communities and our citizens.

Gregory J. Mertz, president, Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association, Tampa

The Pier

An enjoyable icon

We just visited the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront for the first time because of the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. What a pleasant surprise (both the festival and the waterfront). We travel a lot and feel confident in saying that you have a world-class location and development.

Imagine our surprise when we learned about the possible demise of the Pier. Are you kidding? On our first day we had a lovely ride on the trolley around town and out to the Pier. We viewed planes taking off and landing and saw dolphins swimming near the seawall. On Sunday we decided to walk out to the Pier so that we could take it all in and had brunch. What views and how unique! You have a fantastic landmark that most any other place would fight for.

Our best wishes to you and your wonderful town. Everyone was so friendly and the common areas were so clean and beautiful. We are definitely coming back soon; we only wish that we had "found" you sooner. And we hope to see that iconic landmark of yours many more times.

Bill and Joyce Dougherty, Palm Beach Gardens

Schools, advisory group differ? | April 24

Foundation shows the way

The Pinellas County School Board and the public should be thankful to the Pinellas Education Foundation. We have all benefited immensely from the volunteer efforts of the foundation.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the paid Pinellas County School Board, which seems to create expenses, bureaucracy and dissension.

I fully support the foundation and its efforts and expect the School Board to learn from them, learn to work with them and learn how to change themselves rather than fight everyone else.

Lynne Romano, Oldsmar

It's the wrong time for Rubio April 24, Daniel Ruth column

Empty resume

Daniel Ruth nailed it. What does Sen. Marco Rubio bring to the table? Unresolved state ethics issues aside, there's just no there there.

Pop quiz: Name three things that Rubio's done.

The facts speak for themselves.

Bob Muhlhan, Palm Harbor

Social Security falls faster | April 24

Crack down on waste

Social Security is once again threatened, but I would like to see the government food stamp program checked into. This is a great program for the people who do rely on it, but why do I see people who are very well-dressed, wearing gold galore, driving new cars, who pay for their purchase with an EBT card? How they qualify for food assistance is beyond me.

It seems that there is lack of our government checking into the qualifications of these people and determining that they are eligible for Uncle Sam to pay for their food. I can't fathom how much of this goes on nationwide.

If this program was monitored more closely and revamped, maybe our government wouldn't be as broke as it is. But it's always the Social Security program that gets threatened to be cut back.

Let's get the priorities in order and stop the outrageous misuse of government money.

Carol Levey, St. Petersburg

Cause and effect

Is anyone surprised by the fact that the longevity of the Social Security fund has been shortened? Remember where the 2 percent tax reduction has been funded for the last two years? Straight out of Social Security deposits.

George Fox, Apollo Beach

Rubio urges more U.S. engagement overseas April 26

Back to the neocons

Sen. Marco Rubio's hawkish foreign policy speech appears to be taken directly from the pages of the Project for the New American Century, a driving philospohy behind the neoconservative invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush.

PNAC is the brainchild of neoconservative godfather William Kristol, a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel and founder of the Weekly Standard who is associated with numerous conservative think tanks.

PNAC calls for a concerted American effort to spread democracy abroad through the projection of military might and a muscular foreign policy. Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney and John Bolton are also PNAC adherents.

In his 30-minute talk, Rubio told us more about the possible direction of U.S. foreign policy under a new Republican administration than Mitt Romney has ever revealed. Rubio may be a fresh face, but his perspective is more of the same.

Alexander Malley, Hernando

Sweeping Northeast, Romney takes control April 25

Placement problem

As a 30-year-plus subscriber of the Times, I was appalled to see you relegate the news of Mitt Romney's sweep of the Northeast primaries to page six. This is obviously front-page news — and you must know it.

Your liberal bias has always been apparent in your editorial page, but this is appropriate since you're expressing opinions. However, when you let your left-leaning views affect the reporting of important news, then you besmirch journalistic standards.

Bill Schwob, Clearwater

Holy Land divestment, pro and con April 25, commentaries

False premise

The problem with the arguments, both for and against divestment, is that both sides start with a false premise: Israeli "occupation." There is no Israeli occupation according to accepted international law. There are armistice lines, and the final boundaries of a future Palestine and Israel must be decided through negotiation.

What the cited Kairos document and 60 Minutes segment omitted was that most Christian Palestinian suffering and flight is due to Muslim extremist violence, not Israeli treatment.

To refer to Israel and apartheid together shows a complete misunderstanding of Israeli laws, courts and life. South African apartheid has no relationship at all with Palestinian living conditions. What the arguments do show is an Orwellian manipulation of words which are false, but can be used to create a logical argument anyway.

Susan Segal, Palm Harbor

How to plug budget gap | April 25

Police station is priority

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster told the City Council, "We're looking at every single method to cut costs." It was the mayor's and City Council's decision by their vote alone to initially spend $50 million of taxpayers' money to demolish the existing Pier and replace it with a winding loop to nowhere.

We have a dilapidated, mildewed police headquarters that should be the first priority for our citizens.

Who at City Hall is representing the best interests of the citizens of St. Petersburg?

Evelyn Rupp, St. Petersburg


Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Friday's letters: Putnam and Publix, two P's lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17 A pleasure to shop elsewhere My family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye. F...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 18

Re: Pasco panel okays Tampa Electric solar farm after five-hour meeting | April 9 storySolar farm offers many positivesThere has been much publicity regarding the proposed TECO Mountain View solar project slated for 350 acres in East Pasco that was r...
Published: 05/14/18

Thursday’s letters: Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America

Autonomous vehicles in FloridaThe state for self-driving carsAlmost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America. In the last three months, Voyage, a self-driving taxi service, has begun service in the Villag...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: Florida’s Community Health Centers save $1.78 for every dollar spent

Florida’s Community Health CentersHealth centers are a great dealIf you gave someone a dollar and they gave you back $1.78, wouldn’t you consider that a fantastic deal? That’s the deal Florida’s Community Health Centers provide for the state’s citize...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/16/18

Monday’s letters: Good ideas to fix schools still require enough money

Another plan for faltering schools | May 9The right ideas, cash still neededThe administration of the Hillsborough County School District should be applauded for persistent efforts to find the right formula to improve educational results of stude...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Saturday’s letters: Short-sighted prison cuts hurt society

Call to rethink prison cuts | May 10Short-sighted prison cuts hurt societyThe Florida Department of Corrections is dismantling successful substance abuse and re-entry treatment programs to fix a $28 million shortfall. The short-sighted action wi...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/11/18