It is well established that red-light safety cameras are helping our police officers and first responders accomplish their herculean responsibilities of protecting people and saving lives. All across Florida, communities are seeing results that underscore the benefits of safety cameras and how they significantly increase overall road safety and protect innocent, law-abiding citizens. As a natural evolution of their importance, these cameras are now extending into the world of cutting-edge science.
For those who have experienced loss as a result of a red-light crash, there are few words to describe the incredible pain and suffering it causes. In addition to tragic fatalities, there are many victims of red-light runners who are left seriously injured, even paralyzed. Every year, there are 10,000 to 12,000 spinal cord injuries in the United States. With the majority of those injuries caused by auto accidents, you can see why we hold such great passion for stopping red-light runners.
In addition to the obvious benefits of red-light cameras, we want everyone to recognize the funding provided from these cameras is contributing to a significant effort to save even more lives. For every red-light ticket that is issued, $10 helps support local trauma centers throughout Florida. An additional $3 aids world-class research at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a center of excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The Miami Project is an organization working daily to find more effective treatments and — ultimately — a cure for brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as other neurological diseases and disorders.
As advocates for red-light safety cameras, we feel strongly that if aggressive drivers get ticketed for running a red light and breaking the law, it is only fitting that part of those fines go to funding research into the life-altering injuries that they may cause. In just 18 months, more than $2 million has been generated to help aid this vital research.
Melissa Wandall, president, STOP Red Light Running Coalition of Florida, and Marc Buoniconti, president, Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Fuzzy logic and immoral victory | April 29
Stacking the deck
I was recently nailed by one of our police department's new spy-in-the-sky cameras at the intersection of 22nd Avenue N and Fourth Street for an alleged red-light violation. Now, at the risk of sounding like a "Who, me?" kind of a guy, I always stop before turning right at a red light. Of course, I admit to the possibility of my not stopping completely as I thought I had.
The fine for that "gotcha" violation was $158. I was told that I could contest the charge in court. But if I failed to prove my innocence, the fine would go up to $260 plus $40 in court costs.
So it becomes very unlikely that anyone would risk being taken for that much money. It's like stacking the deck in a card game. It also (and perhaps more importantly) justifies our fair city's shelling out scads of money for a system that, like all mechanical systems, has its flaws.
Cecil B. Cheek, St. Petersburg
Death of a fairy tale | April 30, commentary
Don't forget the Fed's role
Paul Krugman states that President Barack Obama did the correct things to get the economy back on track, therefore preventing a worse scenario — a depression far worse than the recession we endured. His proof for such a viewpoint are the situations in countries such as France and Britain, where austerity measures have prevented or lessened economic recovery.
Republicans have quickly forgotten that the mastermind behind our economic recovery was originally a Republican appointee: Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve. It would appear that Republicans are more comfortable playing politics with the economy than having to admit that Obama and his team have done the best they could under the circumstances.
Mike Angel, Valrico
In crooked Mexico, cheat or lose May 2, commentary
Give and take
What's the difference between trying to do business in Mexico and trying to do business in America? In Mexico, companies pay "incentives" to government for the privilege of doing business. In America, government gives "incentives" to companies for the privilege of doing business.
We send the message that our location is not good enough for you to make an investment, so we will pay you to be here. Many companies do not keep promises to create jobs, and in some cases our government is scammed by con artists disguised as CEOs. Some states secretly allow large, profitable companies to keep state income taxes withheld from workers' pay for up to 10 years while local budgets shrink from loss of revenue.
Publicly helped companies should let their shareholders invest in communities instead of it being the other way around. Mexico might have the better system.
Terry Hammonds, Dunedin
Rubio defends party credit card use | May 2
Repeating the mistake
After years of life on the road, I can relate to Sen. Marco Rubio's statement that a travel agent may have inadvertently billed the wrong card. My bosses would have understood — once.
He goes on to say that sometimes (plural) he just reached for the wrong card. I probably would have gotten away with that once too, but I'm sure my bosses would have been wondering about me if I made the same mistake over and over again.
Gary Foley, Treasure Island
Bible and guns don't go together April 27, letter
Jesus and violence
The letter writer who ardently presents her belief about the Bible and guns should review her knowledge of the former. She says, "The Bible teaches that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword." Jesus never held a sword, she tells us.
Indeed. He may never have held a sword, but he was quite familiar with the word.
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace but a sword," he announced, going on to be quite explicit in his goals. His "family values" seem to contain some mention of violence: "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10: 34-36)
The gun laws may or may not be wise. But please don't try to use religion to bolster any arguments for or against them. The well-known hymn Onward, Christian Soldiers is hardly a cry for peace.
Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon
Dreary ride for Florida delegates | May 2
Convention as pity party
I have never read such "woe is poor me" tales as in the last few days about the "torture" the Republican delegates are having to endure when it comes to their hotel accommodations.
I wish they were as concerned about the critical issues — homelessness, unemployment, hunger, health care, etc. — facing this country as they are about how scenic or short their ride will be.
I thought they were dedicated individuals who wanted to select the best candidate to meet and solve the countless challenges facing our nation. When did the convention become a "pity party" for delegates based on the perceived perks of their hotel? And we wonder why we are in such a sad state.
J. Behnke, Dade City
Obama: War's end near | May 2
An undeclared war
It was unusual that President Barack Obama would go all the way to Afghanistan to sign an agreement resulting from an undeclared war.
The last time Congress declared war was Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. We won a decisive victory in that declared war. We knew who the enemy was and went after them.
Congress did not declare war on Vietnam, Grenada, Lebanon, Somalia, Haiti, Panama, Serbia, Bosnia, Iraq or Afghanistan. But U.S. military personnel killed people in those countries and/or were killed in those countries during military actions. More than 60,000 U.S. military personnel have died in undeclared wars (not counting Korea and Desert Storm) since World War II.
Do you think we will ever learn to major on the majors — those being an actual threat to our country — and keep our noses out of the minors? It's sad that we put everything we have into declared wars and win, but in the minors we let our men die and then walk away with no victory.
Jeffrey G. Mikres, Palm Harbor
Obama's solid record on national security May 2, commentary
Effort started years ago
Everyone in the intelligence business knows it takes years to build an intelligence network from scratch as we have done in Afghanistan. In his pretentious praise of President Barack Obama's record on national security, Richard Clarke failed to mention that the raid on Osama bin Laden's hideaway was made possible only through information provided by an extraordinarily sophisticated intelligence network "inherited" from the Bush administration.
John McFadden, Inverness
Art of deduction | April 30
The case of the irked fan
Despite the Times' glowing review, I shall not be watching the new BBC version of Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes is immovably rooted in Victorian London. To transplant his adventures to the 21st century is to abandon the gaslit, foggy atmosphere that Conan Doyle's tales inspired. And a Watson who blogs on his laptop is akin to a Crusoe who calls for help on his cell phone, or a Scrooge totalling his profits on a calculator.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Nick Hobart, New Port Richey