Facebook delivers 3,000 Russia-tied ads | Oct. 3
Digital news needs monitoring
Technology has given us private communication platforms named Facebook, Twitter and Google that feature opinion, fact and false news without the accountability and transparency of more traditional professional journalists who populate print and visual media. I prefer reading the latter because standards are clear and the journalists clearly mark factual reporting and editorials that reflect opinions. One problem is that the tech giants are serious challengers to the older craft of journalism, which answers by offering digital alternatives but maintains the focus on truth and credible news reporting. Still, many people get their "news" from the big tech platforms.
Since Russian political ads aimed at the 2016 election infiltrated the tech platforms and were just recently discovered, my skepticism about their digital news has grown. Despite the protection of the First Amendment, it is incumbent on the tech platforms to check and regulate what they pass off as news. Not to respond is irresponsible, unless they want their users to be uninformed or ill-informed.
James Gillespie, St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg election
For a better City Council
It has been a privilege to serve as a St. Petersburg City Council member over the past decade. Together, we have moved our city forward and accomplished much. Yet our work is not done. Many citizens have asked me about our city's future and my opinion on who should succeed me in District 2. I believe Barclay Harless is the best person for these challenging times.
We need to keep trust in local government, and Barclay will be a budget watchdog, an independent thinker and bring a fresh perspective to City Council. Barclay has a clear vision that spending must be kept in check and priority projects come first.
Barclay has the financial experience required to balance the wants and needs of our city. He's worked for both Alex Sink and Darryl Rouson, two public servants with very different leadership styles. Barclay's integrity is something that really matters. He has pledged not to use a political action committee and not accept large contributions from outside interests. We must have City Council members who are independent and adverse to pressures from large industries.
Barclay Harless is a fifth-generation Floridian and has been involved in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. After graduating from the University of South Florida, he went to work in Midtown during the height of the economic recession. He has served on the board of R'Club Childcare Inc., Equality Florida's advisory board for the Competitive Workforce Act, and the Louise Graham Center for Regeneration. Barclay has been the state policy chair in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and has served on grant boards for the Suncoast United Way.
Please make sure to vote by mail or on Nov. 7 for Barclay Harless.
Jim Kennedy, City Council member, District 2, St. Petersburg
GOP shares blame on costs
The Republicans latest desperate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act died last week when they found, once again, that they had neither the public support nor the votes in the Senate to pass a bill that would have ended health care for millions.
Disaster was averted, but Florida won't escape these repeal antics without damage. The Republicans' decision to renew repeal efforts instead of dealing with the critical issue of cost-sharing reduction payments through bipartisan negotiations is going to increase costs for millions of Floridians like me who buy private insurance through the ACA federal exchange.
These cost-sharing reduction payments reduce out-of-pocket costs for people who buy insurance on ACA exchanges, making coverage affordable. Florida has the highest number of people enrolled through the federal exchange; two-thirds of them get assistance to afford that coverage.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced that it expects a 45 percent increase in insurance rates for the coming year for people who get insurance through the ACA exchange. Insurance companies have repeatedly cited instability in the market caused by repeal efforts and failure to address the cost-sharing payments as the main cause for premium increases.
There's a price to pay when Republicans play politics with our health care. Unfortunately, we're the ones picking up the tab.
Ramona Y. Burrowes, Ruskin
Leading by example | Sept. 30
Problems run deep
Like some individuals, our nation carries a bandaged, deep wound, a wound so slow to heal for generations, that when the scab comes off prematurely, we are forced to think about it again. The wound of racism and misogyny can't heal because a small but loud part of the body politic smolders in hatred, injustice, inequality and ungodliness, spurred by unintentional ignorance and intended deceptiveness to fan the flames.
It will be healed with love, not with laws, and the realization that teaching coming generations to live a caring life will feel much better than hatred. The U.S. Air Force Academy superintendent made it clear that his institution will not tolerate racism and misogyny. Like-minded people outnumber the ignorant and deceptive. We have a duty to express our core belief at every opportunity with unfailing consistency and without anger: that words and actions of racism and misogyny have no place in our presence.
Darlene A. Dickson, Tampa