Tampa: civil fines for pot | March 4
Don't give drug dealers key to city
The Tampa City Council has voted to roll out the welcome mat to pot smokers and drug dealers. A 6-1 vote gave preliminary approval to civil citations for people over 21 who are arrested with 20 grams or less of marijuana. The intent is to keep a person from having a criminal record for possessing pot and to save money in court and jail costs. It was also suggested that minority groups are being arrested at higher rates for possession, impacting their ability to get jobs.
Drug use impacts any person's ability to get a job far more than their arrest record. Several suggestions were offered to help make this citation an avenue for reducing future drug use and criminal activity. Recommendations included reducing the amount to 10 grams and adding assessments, educational classes, community service and treatment services when necessary. This type of highly structured sanction program has proven to be successful in reducing substance abuse and future arrests in other communities.
Here is the problem with no substance abuse prevention sanctions and an unlimited number of possible citations: We are giving the key to our city to pot smokers and drug dealers. After four citations, clearly a person is not heading toward a path of successful employment. But the real question is: Who is this going to help? Not the poor and minorities, who can't afford to pay the fees.
Who is going suffer? Our Tampa community, like Colorado, will be faced with a growing unemployment problem, increased dropout rates, increased homelessness, increased crime rate and increased DUI rates, just to mention a few consequences.
This is not a victimless crime. The new motto of "party now, pay later" may be a reality that Tampa will greatly regret.
Teresa Miller, Tampa
Don't mess with success in fisheries management | March 2, commentary
Florida does a great job
of fisheries management
This recent column in the Times made several confusing and misleading statements about state and federal management of Gulf of Mexico fisheries.
As the owner of a fishing tackle shop and someone who is active in the recreational fishing community, both locally and nationally, I can say without question that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is a leader in innovative and sound fisheries management. In contrast, federal fisheries management seems to only produce one frustrating outcome after another.
For example, I don't know of any recreational fisherman who would consider current federal management of gulf red snapper a success. At the same time that the stock has been rebuilding at a tremendous pace, the federal season that lasted 180 days in 2007 was reduced to 10 days in 2015.
The author cites statistics highlighting the importance of recreational fishing to Florida's economy, and indeed Florida is the "Fishing Capital of the World." But this economic activity is generated largely as a result of the outstanding fisheries management done by the FWC. Similarly, the increasing trends in state fishing license sales noted by the author are a result of the excellent work of the state, not federal fisheries managers. Snook, redfish, speckled trout and tarpon are just some of the state-managed fisheries that provide reasonable fishing access while ensuring sustainable harvest.
I support transferring greater management control of gulf red snapper over to Florida and the other gulf states. I have no doubt that if Florida and the other gulf states were allowed to manage gulf red snapper, the stock would continue to successfully rebuild, but without diminishing opportunities for the public to access and enjoy this public resource.
Aledia Hunt Tush, Sarasota
The writer is president of CB's Saltwater Outfitters.
Florida Republican primary
And then there was one
Florida Republicans who are unwilling to buy a pig in a poke with a vote for the unpredictable and sometimes outrageous Donald Trump in next week's primary election need to figure out the best alternative — someone who can wrest the nomination away from Trump and, equally important, deliver a general election victory.
Once elected, this individual must have the judgment, character and experience to fashion credible solutions to problems including a slow-growth economy, mounting and unsustainable budget deficits and foreign threats.
Ted Cruz has proven during his short Senate career that he can't or won't play well with others. I had high hopes for Marco Rubio, but his descent into the gutter signals a flailing, immature desperation that is not the mark of a true leader.
That leaves John Kasich, who has a record of accomplishment as both legislator and executive — with the character and deportment one would hope for in a president.
Bob Potter, St. Petersburg
From the biography of George H.W. Bush, Destiny and Power, by Jon Meacham: The time is March 1988 and Vice President Bush is considering his own selection as a running mate in his campaign to succeed President Ronald Reagan in the White House.
"He wanted to keep his options open. (Though not totally open. The New York developer Donald Trump mentioned his availability as a vice-presidential candidate to Lee Atwater. Bush thought the overture 'strange and unbelievable.')"
Richard Oliver, St. Petersburg