Thursday, August 16, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Saturday's letters: Luxury events, nonprofits shouldn't mix

More charities quit Mar-a-Lago | Aug. 21

More for charities, less on luxury

The cancellation of large nonprofits' fundraisers that were to be held at Mar-a-Lago is noteworthy, but for two opposing reasons.

First is uplifting; their determination to send an unambiguous message that they won't be associated with anyone or anything that not-so-subtly supports groups espousing bigotry, hatred and the superiority of one race over all others.

Second is less obvious but somewhat disturbing; why are nonprofits holding fundraisers at such an extremely costly venue at all? According to records uncovered as part of a Jan. 31 Business Insider article, the Red Cross' 2016 gala was estimated to raise $925,000 and cost about $400,000 to hold there (not including a $20,000 in-kind donation by the venue). That means 43 percent of what they brought in was paid out in fees. A well-designed fundraiser spends no more than 20 percent of expected revenues on fees to hold it.

Apparently these large national organizations — Susan G. Koman for the Cure, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army — annually waste donor dollars so they can hold glitzy affairs for the wealthy.

For any who have given to these groups, this is worth noting before giving again.

Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor

Funding disparity vexes Hillsborough foster care | Aug. 19

Vulnerable are put at risk

The most vulnerable children in the Tampa Bay area — those experiencing physical and sexual abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and household violence — are being shortchanged in many ways besides the inequitable funding of foster care described. Florida has a statewide system of child protection teams, or CPTs, that assist in evaluation of and intervention with troubled children and their families. However, the funding formula for the CPTs has built-in inequities that result in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties receiving less than half the amount some other counties receive to evaluate a child reported to the child abuse hotline. The funding formula essentially uses a "fee for service" model that rewards better-funded teams with more staff in an ever-upward spiral at the expense of more poorly funded and staffed CPTs.

The formula problems are different, but the effect is the same — with children and families in the Tampa Bay area being shortchanged in services and assessments and funds failing to go where they are needed most. Agreement among teams on what is fair funding has been just as difficult, with CPTs that gain under the current system opposing changes just as the Times found in foster care funding. Solutions are challenging and elusive, but we must do better for the children of our Tampa Bay area.

Sally Smith, St. Petersburg

Protest marches

First rule: Show your face

The first mistake in policing marches is in allowing face covers, hard hats and/or clubs. Anyone doing that is obviously there to start violence. So, law enforcement should confront those individuals and demand no face cover or anything useful in confrontation. Period. How they accomplish that needs to be planned and distributed via the media in advance. Also, that would tell those wanting trouble that we will see and photograph your face. You cannot hide your identity.

David Marshall, New Port Richey

Child care

Callous Florida policy

A recent CNN report drew attention to the consequences of the Florida Legislature's vote to change the way health care for 13,000 acutely sick children is reimbursed. The state moved the children away from the respected Children's Medical Services program to other Medicaid insurance plans that don't specialize in caring for very sick children.

A former president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said, "This was a way for the politicians to repay the entities that had contributed to their political campaigns and their political success, and it's the children who suffered." The Legislature and the governor continue to demonstrate a callous, negligent approach toward caring for citizens that need the most help.

I call on the state's medical professionals and hospital leaders to argue against these changes, and reinstate the sick child reimbursement under the CMS program.

Barry Portugal, Nokomis

Confederate statues

Maybe a nip and tuck

I'd like to offer a few solutions to the offensive statuary.

1. Cut the heads off the men riding horses and celebrate Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow.

2. Recaption the descriptions on the placard of the statues. For example, one meme maker suggested, "Second Place — Civil War."

3. Remove the riders from the glorious equestrian statues and give honor to the noble equine.

4. Have an artisan sculpt the offending Confederate's face to resemble popular, well-loved people.

Though these sculptures represent an ugly history, they also are, to my eye, gorgeous works of art. So damn the men they depict and all the hell they wrought on others; just don't destroy the art itself.

Lee Burgess, St. Petersburg

Trump's tweeting

Let true Trump emerge

Many within the Republican Party would like the president to stop tweeting. Speaking as an independent and unrelenting realist, I think that's a bad idea and a disservice to those of us who value the unvarnished truth. When Donald Trump speaks off script and when he tweets, his real thoughts and feelings are exposed. This exposure makes members of the political establishment uneasy because the real Trump does not look or sound very presidential. He comes across as shockingly ignorant of the facts, bigoted, boorish, self-absorbed and vengeful, among other things. A scripted Trump sounds more presidential but not convincingly genuine. Trump, exposed, enables us to set the bar of our expectations where it belongs. Low.

Ernest W. Bartow, St. Petersburg


Thursday’s letters: Cigars are bad for your health

Tobacco rules don’t suit premium cigars | Editorial, Aug. 13Xyxyx xyxy xyxy xyxy xyxy xyxxxThe argument made in this editorial to exempt the premium cigar industry from FDA scrutiny is, in essence: They are not cheap, they are not fruit-flavored,...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/15/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Aug. 17

Re: County authorizes takeover of SunWest Park | Aug. 10‘A poor idea from the startWith no fanfare whatsoever, we now have a new park that no one I know ever seems to use or even know where it is. If it is bringing hordes of tourists to our cou...
Published: 08/13/18

Tuesday’s letters: Habitat should help the poor, not hurt them

Habitat lender choice blasted | Aug. 12Help, don’t hurt, poorAs a Habitat for Humanity admirer, donor and volunteer, I was disappointed to read how Habitat for Humanity’s Hillsborough County affiliate reportedly stumbled in delivering its mission...
Published: 08/10/18
Updated: 08/13/18

Monday’s letters: A gun or a vote: danger is relative

‘I went off the deep end’ | Aug. 10A gun or a vote: danger is relativeAt the demonstrable risk of having someone lose his fragile temper, grab his guns, storm out his door and speed to my home to shoot me for saying so (and why NOT, Florida Legis...
Published: 08/10/18

Sunday’s letters: July’s letter of the month is ‘Time for more civil debate.’

July letter of the monthTime for more civil debate"Politics" is an activity which involves power and control, arriving at decisions based on differing interests. Normally, leaders weigh the needs of the individual with the abilities of the country. C...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18

Saturday’s letters: A team effort made USF preeminent

USF and preeminenceA team effort vaulted USF The University of South Florida’s designation as a preeminent state research university is a prestigious accomplishment and a tribute to the hard work of faculty, staff and students and USF System Presiden...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18

Friday’s letters: Don’t let pollution be our legacy

Algae blooms amid cuts | Aug. 8Brown can’t be the new greenThis headline should have said "Republicans continue to pave their way across Florida, pollute the water supply and destroy animals and their habitat." The Republicans have controlled Tal...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/09/18

Wednesday’s letters: Girl’s drowning death is one of two tragedies

Mother: Dead girl now ‘pure’ | Aug. 7Two tragediesThis is another tragedy of a parent who became overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for an autistic child. But an equally bad sequence of events is likely to happen in the days and months t...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/07/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for Aug. 10

Jacqueline Road being misusedI have issued complaints to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, traffic division and also a letter to the sheriff and have had very little positive response.We have an issue on Jacqueline Road with speeding vehicles and...
Published: 08/06/18

Monday’s letters: Enough with praise for Pier sculpture

Aerial art to billow at Pier | Aug. 3Pier art: boon or boondoggle?Well, finally! The Janet Echelman sculpture project has been approved. The dust has settled and now, at the cost of $2.8 million an over-priced, glorified flag will be flapping ove...
Published: 08/03/18