Monday, March 19, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Sunday's letters: Resolved to support causes in '14

New Year's

Resolved to support causes in '14

Some say it is a sin to have knowledge and not act upon it. Being loath to risk the consequences of committing yet another sin, here are my resolutions for 2014. In each case, the resolution is based upon solid evidence.

1. One of the biggest threats to democracy in America is the influence of money. McCain-Feingold backfired. The Roberts Supreme Court has defeated efforts to reform. Resolution: I will support (financially and otherwise) efforts to provide for public financing of elections at all levels.

2. Gerrymandering may be as large a problem as money in politics. Karl Rove said it right: The party that controls state legislatures controls Congress. Thanks to the efforts of National Council of La Raza, Common Cause Florida, the League of Women Voters of Florida, and Fair Districts Now, Florida voters amended our state Constitution in 2010. The result was more equitable redistricting in Florida. The Brennan Center at New York University has stated that Florida is the only state in the union in which the party in control in the state legislature lost seats in Congress after the 2010 census. Resolution: Support the ongoing efforts of the above-listed groups.

3. 401(k) plans constitute a great concept. Unfortunately, too often the plans offered employees do not provide for investments in index funds. Over the last year many respected financial advisers have written that index funds should be a required option. Their administration fees are about 10 percent as much as those of actively managed funds. Those excess fees cost the employees 20 percent to 40 percent of their retirement savings, and index funds perform better over time. The excess fees amount to trillions going to Wall Street. Don't count on Congress to help. When, a few years ago, New York Sen. Charles Schumer cast his disgraceful vote against a plan to tax earnings of hedge fund managers as earned income, it became clear that the public can't expect regulatory aid from Congress. Resolution: Encourage my working family and friends to reason with their employers to include index funds as an option in their 401(k)s. It won't cost the employer much. The employer isn't pocketing the excess administration costs.

So, why write this letter instead of just acting on my resolutions? Mark Twain wrote: " 'Tis noble to do good; to teach others to do good is nobler, and much less trouble."

Tim Poulton, Port St. Lucie

Fear after oil train derails | Jan. 1

Infrastructure failure

The AP story about a train derailment in North Dakota decries the dangers of transporting petroleum by rail. But its simplistic description of the accident (tanker train derails and explodes) varies from the version provided by other media.

In fact, a second train traveling in the opposite direction on a parallel track derailed, and a portion of it fell onto the adjacent track where the oil tanker cars were traveling, leading to the fiery aftermath pictured.

What one might logically conclude from the latter version, and the further comment that such derailments are not uncommon in the area, is that the state of the nation's railroad infrastructure and the condition of its rolling stock — not merely the transport of petroleum by rail — may present the greater danger.

Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center

Majority agrees with incentives | Jan. 1

Deals need full disclosure

For the most part, I can agree with incentives to bring employers to our area. However, "the devil is in the details." These are what we generally do not see. In one of your four examples of community/taxpayer largesse, Amazon is receiving incentives to bring in 375 "above-average-paying jobs." What does "above average" mean? Does it mean $9 an hour instead of minimum wage, or $15 per hour, or $30?

There are lots of ways to fudge statistics, one of them being not showing the information. And this is what we usually get from the politicians and bureaucrats: "Trust us." Sorry, I am not likely to do that.

If a company says they are going to bring in 100 high-paying jobs at an "average" annual pay of $60,000, they might in fact make 98 of those jobs minimum wage or slightly higher and then add in two executives who are getting millions in income, thereby deviously reaching the average. It is time for all the information of these incentives be given to the taxpaying public so that a real confidence-building survey can be made.

Dave Cordes, Clearwater

On rail, public will pay | Jan. 1, letter

Hidden costs are still there

Just because a cost has become hidden doesn't mean it isn't there. Many have bemoaned the cost to construct and maintain proposed rail, often concluding that rail is not wise or sustainable because it will not make a profit. Guess what? Roads don't make a profit either.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, a mile — 1 mile — of urban road can cost from over $8 million for a two-lane urban road to over $14 million for a six-lane road for construction. FDOT reports that maintenance of its assets topped $200 million in 2009-10, and that doesn't count the costs of county and city roads. AAA reports that it costs over $9,000 to own and operate a vehicle that travels about 15,000 miles a year.

So, are these roads making any money? Of course they aren't. There's no reason that rail should be any more profitable than any other part of our infrastructure. But if it can help relieve congestion and pollution and reduce reliance on roads, reduce the need for more road maintenance and reduce the need for more road construction, the net benefit will be a better quality of life in our area with little change in overall transportation spending. We spend mightily for roads — we just don't see it every day.

Gregory Byrd, Clearwater

Subsidies all over the map

The letter writer chooses to ignore any objective analysis, or else is in some way prejudiced against rail transportation. He fails to note that essentially all transportation in this country is subsidized in one way or another by local, state or national governments.

If a person chooses to travel by government-subsidized SunRail, that same person will not be traveling on government-subsidized roads and interstates. The writer should analyze the apparent "wash" and determine all the interactions of tax and private subsidies that support regional as well as interstate transportation.

And do not forget commercial air travel carries its public subsidies as well.

Harold T. Sansing, Dunnellon


Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18

Pasco Letter to the Editor for March 16

Re: Pasco to test roadside recycling | March 9 column Pasco County (and its residents) have financial incentives to recycle, but the participation rate is low. Clearly, Pasco County either needs to make recycling mandatory — by making residents r...
Published: 03/13/18
Tuesday’s letters: Billionaire’s personal agenda

Tuesday’s letters: Billionaire’s personal agenda

Billionaire targeting young voters | March 7Using youths in personal agendaIs anyone surprised that Tom Steyer is using his extreme wealth to support his personal agenda and the liberal agenda of the Democratic Party? His real motive, hidden in h...
Published: 03/12/18
Updated: 03/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 16

Re: Pasco to test roadside recycling | March 9 columnOur community, Briar Patch, in New Port Richey has really gotten on board with the recycling program. Many homeowners diligently separate garbage from recycling material and place it curbside f...
Published: 03/12/18