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
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
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
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
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