Teen driver deaths spike in early '12 | Feb. 27
Strengthen teenage driving laws
According to a report released last month by the Governors Highway Safety Association, fatal traffic crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers were higher nationwide during the first six months of 2012 than during the first six months of 2011. While I am sad to hear this, I am glad to read that Florida experienced a decrease in these tragic crashes. Florida and North Carolina were the only two states to see a decrease in 2012 after posting some of the highest fatality numbers in 2011. We should be proud of our efforts to protect our most vulnerable drivers.
However, our work is far from over. Florida's teen driving laws must be strengthened. We must prohibit teens from carrying any passengers, including siblings, during the first year of licensure, and we must require teens be off the roads no later than 10 p.m. — earlier is better. According to the 2011 License to Save report issued by the Allstate Foundation, Florida could save an additional 181 lives by strengthening its teen driving laws.
I lead the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, which the National Safety Council and the Allstate Foundation established to bring attention to this issue by educating parents, teens, lawmakers and others about why teens crash and how to best protect them. I encourage those interested in this issue to get involved. Our most vulnerable drivers need our help.
Danielle Branciforte, leader, Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, Tallahassee
The people's house and petty politics March 12, editorial
White House is for all
I rarely agree with the Times' editorials, however I commend you on this one. I agree wholeheartedly with your condemnation of the cancellation of White House tours for "we the people." No matter what one's political ideology, the White House belongs to all the people, not to the political parties. And to deny the people access to their house while the politicians play games and enjoy their perks is the height of arrogance and pettiness, no matter to which party they belong.
Martin Roecker, Tampa
Plenty to do in Washington
Someone needs to inform the schoolteacher in this editorial that Washington, D.C., is a great city. There are many things to see and do. She should buy a good guidebook and get started. She will not be able to do everything in a one-week vacation.
If the president has chosen to close the White House and save some of my tax dollars, no matter how few, I agree.
Barbara Stengel, Pinellas Park
Bills tackle school safety | March 13
Use sense in seeking safety
As a parent, grandparent and retired teacher, I am concerned about the safety and welfare of all children. Several of the bills seem to have been thought out and are appropriate. I am delighted that there is a bill that would fund school security and provide mental health services. I believe that lockdown drills are needed and must be done frequently for the benefit of the students and staff.
I would love to see a tax on ammunition and guns placed on gun owners. I know that this will not sit well with the NRA and gun owners.
I am disturbed by the idea that teachers might carry weapons. This is not the job of teachers. Teachers should teach, not be the police. Resource officers are needed for this role.
It is also important for schools to review procedures for people coming onto the school campus and into the school building.
Marilyn Satinoff, Palm Harbor
Ticket holders' rights bill
Don't curb ticket reselling
I applaud the passage in a Florida House committee of ticket holders' rights legislation (HB 163) to protect fans' rights over the event tickets they buy.
More and more sports teams are using restricted tickets. As a season ticket holder to the Tampa Bay Bucs, Lightning and USF Bulls, I am concerned about rules on tickets that limit what fans can do with them, whether it's giving them away or reselling them. I've already paid the team and venue, so I should be able to do what I want with the tickets.
If Tampa's sports teams were to use restricted tickets, I would have to seriously rethink buying season tickets. It's a significant investment, and I should be able to recoup some of those costs by reselling my unused tickets.
HB 163 and SB 394 ensure that when you buy a ticket to a sports game, concert or other live event in Florida, that ticket is yours and restrictions can't be placed on your ability to give it away or resell it.
James Pedrero, Sarasota
Bills cater to banks
The Florida Legislature, rather than focusing on ways to keep families in their homes, is pushing for faster and more foreclosures with House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 1666. These bills reward banks that caused the problems in the first place.
Banks that play by long-standing rules and comply with established law have no trouble concluding foreclosures in a timely fashion. Likewise, our judges and court staff, if funded properly, can balance the goals of efficiency and upholding the integrity of our state's legal system under the existing laws. It does not take an average of 853 days to complete a foreclosure in Florida, a figure that is produced by the banking industry and repeated by the Legislature in support of bank-friendly proposals.
Foreclosures bogged down because the banks lied to courts and to the American people. Industries that lie and cheat should not be rewarded by our state's legislative body.
Finally, homeowner and condo associations, who suffer when homes are not filled with families paying fees, will not benefit because neither of these proposals can force banks to complete foreclosure cases when they choose not to.
Matthew Weidner, St. Petersburg
Level the playing field | March 3, letter
A matter of convenience
I find it amusing that so many people believe you can "level the playing field" for local retailers by passing an Internet sales tax. Absolutely, a tax should be in place; however, it will in no way change my buying habits. Except for food and items like cars, etc., I buy everything off the Internet primarily because of its convenience.
Leta Wilson, Homosassa