Sheriff: Taunts boosted distress | Sept. 3
Appalling behavior by two adults
I am a retired Pinellas County special education teacher and was deeply concerned after reading this article. Although the deputy's interaction with the student with autism was appalling, it was shocking to read that the school's behavior specialist was also recorded joining in on the taunting. As I remember, behavior specialists are former Exceptional Student Education classroom teachers, and are well trained in de-escalating tense or crisis situations.
I understand that the deputy was fired for his actions, and I wonder if the Office of Professional Standards at Pinellas County schools has taken action against the behavior specialist who was unprofessional and obviously should have "known better." A child with a disability (or for that matter, any child) should never have been taunted or threatened by an adult in a position of authority.
Ruth Dobkin, Seminole
St. Petersburg mayor's race
About service, not party
When I ran for St. Petersburg City Council in 1991 and 1995, all candidates were required to sign a pledge to run a nonpartisan race. If someone asked, I told them my party was a matter of public record but I really wanted to hear and work for all residents of our city. We were divided by party and we had our issues, but I think we did a pretty good job of listening and acting thoughtfully.
We have a beautiful, diverse and dynamic city and I hope we will not be divided into "us" and "them." The question is who can best provide services such as police, fire, safe neighborhoods and proper drainage and do it in the most cost-effective manner. Knowing both men, there is no question in my mind that Rick Baker is the man, and yes, my special interest is St. Petersburg.
Connie Kone, St. Petersburg
Say yes to second chances
What do Florida, Iowa and Virginia have in common? If you said they are the only states that take away voting rights from former felons for life, you were right. An astounding 1.67 million Floridians have been disenfranchised — even people who never spent a single day in jail. This harsh law affects Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.
But you can right this wrong. I invite you to "Say Yes to 2nd Chances," a project to automatically restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions after completion of their sentences and probation, except for those convicted of murder or violent sexual offenses.
Simply sign a petition to help ensure this initiative makes it on the midterm ballot. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, along with the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, NOW, the Women's March, Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, the Alachua County Labor Coalition, College Democrats and Engage Miami, to name a few, along with churches and synagogues all over the state, are gathering signed petitions from registered voters right now.
You'll recognize them — they're the people with the clipboard in one hand, a stack of pens in the other, and a hopeful look on their face. Time is short and almost 800,000 signed petitions are required. It's a massive undertaking, but this is democracy at its finest.
Barbara Markley, Fort Lauderdale
Survey weary? Please press 1 | Sept. 4
Polls turned into 'news'
The endless surveys conducted by businesses are a bother, but they're mostly harmless. The same cannot be said for the ubiquitous opinion polling done by the broadcast news outlets, Fox and the alphabet networks, abetted by their print counterparts for the purpose of creating "news" out of thin air. Often the poll questions are phrased and cleverly delivered to a demographically selected audience for the purpose of reinforcing a view already held by the poll's sponsors. In fact, I suspect that the "news" story is written in advance and then the supporting poll results are simply plugged in to bolster the preordained conclusion.
I challenge the networks to do even one evening newscast without mentioning any polling results. I don't think they can do it.
John S.V. Weiss, Spring Hill
DACA's end confirmed | Sept. 6
Congress must step up
What is wrong with the president? Has he no sense of humanity? With the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, some 800,000 young people may be sent to what is to them a foreign country — the place from whence their parents brought them as young children. Most of these young people do not even speak the language of the countries they will be sent to.
These are American children and young adults. This is their country. Hopefully Congress will act and protect them from this president who seems to care for no one and for nothing unless he sees some profit in it.
George Scheitinger, Dunedin
True American values
The president wants well-educated, English-speaking immigrants who aspire to American ideals. What group more fits that profile than the DACA children and young adults?
Carl L. Zielonka, Tampa
No human being is illegal
The president's decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is ignorant, cowardly and cruel.
Dreamers were brought to this country as children and have lived in the United States almost their entire lives, have not committed crimes, and have trusted in the government to protect and support them. No one deserves this hateful and vile treatment.
This is the latest heartless move by the Trump administration. My family and my friends are immigrants, some documented and some not, but I am prepared to fight for their rights to exist and succeed in this country. No human being is illegal.
Suzanne Young, Tampa