Crash kills father, 3 sons | Aug. 2
Drugs, alcohol are a deadly mix
In response to the recent fatalities of four men of the McConnell family killed by a substance-impaired driver in St. Petersburg, I felt compelled to speak out about how common driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs is becoming. Although alcohol is still the leading substance of abuse in fatal DUI traffic accidents, marijuana is the second most commonly found substance in drivers involved in crashes.
According to the National Office of Drug Control Policy, alcohol and marijuana are frequently found together, resulting in a dramatic decrease in driving performance and increase in impairment. Studies show that the ill-fated combination of alcohol and marijuana raises one's level of impairment from a 0.04 BAC (alcohol alone) to an impairment comparable of up to 0.14 BAC (alcohol and marijuana combined).
Drunken driving is a serious public safety concern, but drugged driving is on the rise and a close secondary concern. It's not just alcohol these days that is impairing drivers who are killing our loved ones. I have heard folks say marijuana never killed anyone. However, as a drug policy and prevention expert with 25 years of experience, I can, unfortunately, say they are totally wrong! My prayers go out to this grieving family as well as to all family members who were victims of someone else's drug and alcohol abuse.
Calvina Fay, executive director, Drug Free America Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg
Tax alcohol to compensate its victims
The tragedy of the McConnell family (the four men killed by a drunken driver early Sunday morning) illustrates how America refuses responsibility.
Given that alcohol is easy to make, easy to obtain, and that cars are everywhere, it is obvious that we will have drunken drivers and therefore that innocent people will be killed or maimed by those drunken drivers. Further, it is obvious that some or even many drunken drivers will not have insurance adequate to compensate families for the sudden loss of multiple innocent lives.
And yet, Florida and America refuse to help the innocent by taxing the cause (alcohol) at the source.
Your Legislature could do something about this, if they'd only find the backbone to look the alcohol industry in the eye and tell them their product is responsible for these tragedies and therefore it will be taxed at whatever level is required to compensate the innocent.
So far, neither our Legislature nor Congress wants to hold the industry's customers financially responsible. And they won't do anything unless you ask them to, and ask repeatedly until you get action.
Rolf H. Parta, Bradenton
Help fight Medicare fraud
What is happening to the residents of Florida? Recent news reports have included Miami leading in Medicare fraud, people from out of state lining up at pain pill mills with fake prescriptions, and now we learn that last year nearly 700 people in the Tampa Bay area and 2,500 statewide died from prescription overdoses.
Miami was part of the largest federal Medicare fraud take-down in history. Not only did doctors, assistants and clinic owners participate but also qualified Medicare recipients who sold their Medicare numbers. This drives up our health care costs.
There are bills in Congress (H.R. 5044 and H.R. 5546) which will help combat Medicare fraud. Call your representatives today and ask for their bipartisan support. Also ask that Social Security numbers be removed from Medicare cards for increased security. Review your Medicare Summary Notices for any services or supplies you did not receive. Report any discrepancies to Florida's Medicare fraud line: 1-866-417-2078.
It is time for those of us who live and work here to act. Call your local police if you suspect or know of any illegal drug activity. Let's make Florida once again a place were people come to enjoy themselves and feel safe, not a haven for fraud and drug abuse.
Lois Herron, St. Petersburg
Class size price too steep to pay | July 28
In your editorial encouraging flexibility on class size, you justify such changes to the current amendment by referring to "studies that cast doubt on the impact class size has on student performance, especially after the early grades."
Would you please cite these studies? How many studies draw this conclusion? How many studies draw the exact opposite conclusion?
I suspect that an honest appraisal will show that few reputable, unbiased studies will cast such doubt on the effect of class size limits.
This is a job for PolitiFact!
Scott Hopkins, Brandon
Let's say it again: This is a dirty trick | July 29, Howard Troxler column
The St. Petersburg City Council is sensibly undertaking to simplify the city's master plan to five categories of development, but Howard Troxler can only see it as a "trickery." He seems to think that the only thing at stake in Amendment 4 is "developers build(ing) what they want," but it is much bigger than that! Also at stake is whether our government is workable, whether our cities can adapt to change.
If Amendment 4 passes, every municipality will need to have a comprehensive land use plan that is practical for voters to oversee via elections. Clearly a super-detailed master plan is unworkable in that environment, necessitating a simplification.
Does anyone really want an election to approve every detail from sidewalk widths to architectural styles? I think not, but voters might actually want Amendment 4, so the effort by the City Council actually does improve the situation.
Troxler needs to look at the bigger picture.
Helen Hudson Briley, St. Petersburg
Rays' stadium issue
Fans can find it
Location, location, location.
How strange: People can find the Trop when they want to. Three sold-out games with the Yankees. Let's keep the Rays in St. Pete.
Dan Daniel, Safety Harbor