Rocky road, quick end | Aug. 24
Pinellas School Board should let leaders lead
Just so this taxpayer understands what just happened to Julie Janssen: She was fired as a symbolic gesture because she couldn't make every parent and subordinate smile while doing a tough job during the toughest of times — is that right? Although she didn't really do anything that could be construed as "wrong," she will be paid half again more than what we pay a governor during a full four-year term. For her three years of service? Wow. We're teaching her a tough lesson.
No wonder she was able to leave so graciously. Instead of the angry mob showing up with pitchforks and torches, they brought tax dollars.
For the life of me, I don't see the sense in this firing. So she stepped on a few toes and irritated some parents while tiptoeing through a minefield of a job; that's what bosses do. The School Board needs to let leaders lead instead of kowtowing to every angry parent who calls because he doesn't want his kid's magnet program touched. Or they want more police on their campus. Or less police. Or more teachers. Or more money for teachers. Or fewer students per teacher. Or earlier school hours. Or later. Or fewer. Or more.
I don't see how she survived three years. I suspect most of the grumblers would have left this post screaming and pulling out their hair years ago.
Norma Fraser, Clearwater
Too big a job for her
I attended the School Board meeting on superintendent Julie Janssen's employment future with reservations, due to the possibility of mudslinging and a highly charged atmosphere. I doubted that sign-in speakers would be capable of restraining their emotions and could present their views in a civil and acceptable manner. Well, for the most part, the speakers kept themselves in check as they shared their opinions of Janssen's performance. Supporters and nonsupporters gave their say without being bounced from the podium.
The board members listened, voted and agreed that Janssen's last day will be Sept. 2. I overheard two Janssen supporters sitting nearby say, "Bad things happen to good people" and "Nice guys finish last" after chairwoman Carol Cook announced the board's decision. That may hold some truth, but as to Janssen's shortcomings, I believe the Clint Eastwood line is more appropriate: "A (woman's) got to know (her) limitations." Unfortunately Janssen did not.
She bit off more than she could chew, and the board's choice to terminate was appropriate. Furthermore, leaving a position with a severance package worth nearly $250,000 is in no way finishing last.
Mike McGinnis, Clearwater
Rocky road, quick end | Aug. 24
Why would the Pinellas County School Board offer Julie Janssen such a lucrative exit package? Haven't we already seen several examples of incompetent officials forced out of office, only to be richly compensated for their errors? Surely it is time to write more sensible contracts.
The other troubling aspect of this is the propensity of the board to hire incompetent officials even after a prolonged interview process. Four school superintendents in seven years. Not exactly a shining record of success. Are we to believe the board cannot determine the capabilities of a candidate even after a thorough examination?
Pete Edwards, Seminole
Don't forget insurance profits | Aug. 22, letters
PIP drives fraud
The writer suggests that the insurance companies are using "tired rhetoric" and "scare tactics" to denounce no-fault coverage and argues that a strict tort system unfairly discounts claims awards.
He fails to acknowledge that the mandatory $10,000 personal injury protection coverage helps underwrite the costs, or "specials," that form the basis for litigation. The larger the specials, the larger the award. Lawyers love PIP because it helps build the value of their case. Unscrupulous doctors love PIP because they are provided with a guaranteed payment source. "Victims" love PIP because it builds the value of their case and leads them to windfall settlements.
The 1-800 doctor and lawyer referral services grew as a result of the implementation of the PIP law, and law firms with $10 million advertising budgets would not exist absent the law. The fact is that "victims" with bogus injuries (including those from staged accidents) go to doctors/lawyers who "treat" them until their $10,000 PIP is exhausted, whereupon they are released from care with a "permanent disability," ultimately resulting in increased insurance costs for everyone.
PIP is the air that keeps this balloon of fraud inflated; eliminate PIP and the balloon withers and dies. Our attorney-saturated Legislature created this law in deference to their kin and other benefactors. The public should demand that the present Legislature rescind no-fault coverage to withdraw this source of ongoing fraud.
R.A. Bennett, Tampa
Community Living column
Thank you for carrying the column by Richard White on Florida homeowner associations. I am president of an association in Tampa and try not to miss his articles because they are always filled with useful information that I can share with our association and board.
I tend to clip out many columns because they are so relevant to the challenges that we face. His information is up to date and seems to apply to many of the day-to-day events that we are running into because of our changing economy.
Thanks again for including his column in the weekend addition.
Dan Rosenthal, Tampa
Cut spending, remove obstacles to job creation | Aug. 24, letter
Outsourcing kills jobs
This letter left one piece out of the job creation pie. The big corporations habitually lay people off and then outsource those jobs and new ones overseas.
There are plenty of individuals in this country who could and would fill those positions. It's all about adding to that profit line. Verizon comes to mind. Much of their customer service operation is based in India. If the corporate overseas positions were offered in this country, we wouldn't have a tax revenue problem.
Perhaps the Republicans could work on that. But, you know, campaign contributions are more important than bringing jobs back to the United States.
D.J. Holding, Dover