Marine infantry standards defeating female officers | March 31
Combat training: Don't lower bar
This article noted that, historically, the 86-day infantry officer course fails about 20 percent of each class. If women are finding it difficult to pass a ground combat course like this, what will happen when they try to complete courses like the Army Ranger or Special Forces course, or the Navy SEAL course where dropout rates are between 60 percent and 80 percent?
If too few women eventually qualify for these tough combat programs, Congress could well step in to force the military to lower its standards. That is the big worry for most of us with military backgrounds.
Finally, for the media to go for comments directly to the military, i.e., the officers and senior enlisted men who are trainers at these courses, is ridiculous. Any active service member who issues a negative view to a reporter on this new, gender-neutral policy would be subject to discipline by his superiors. I would suggest the media consult with retired or prior service instructors for their opinions. That way there is no pressure from "the brass" for an approved response.
Jon Mueller, Brandon
For winning ballpark, follow the leaders April 1, commentary
Lessons of San Francisco
Michael McElveen's opinion piece leaves out one successful new stadium, that of the San Francisco Giants. Much of what he says of the others cities is true there: Good public transportation and a surrounding community have made it a success. The stadium has, in turn, made the community grow and prosper.
What makes this stadium different from those he cites is that it was financed privately. The city took responsibility for infrastructure, including light rail to the stadium's front door. That is as it should be. Government provides infrastructure and private, for-profit companies build their own facilities.
Hal Freedman, St. Petersburg
Hopes for Rays' season and future April 2, editorial
Diamonds and dollars
The expected spate of articles concerning the Rays' ongoing stadium issues has left me confused. First I read that St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's projections regarding the economic impact that Major League Baseball provides to St. Petersburg are woefully inflated. Then, in an exclusive column for the Tampa Bay Times, a Tampa-based expert extols the many benefits of dropping a replica of Camden Yards into downtown Tampa.
Finally, amid the optimism of a new baseball season and within hours of the first shout of "play ball" on opening day, we are reminded once again that, despite the intransigence of Foster, the Rays remain steadfast in their desire to escape their existing lease with the city of St. Petersburg to look elsewhere for a new stadium.
I'm guessing that the article downplaying the economic boost to the city was intended to redefine what "reasonable" damages St. Petersburg could demand should the Rays decide to relocate. However, those same financial projections render any thought of building a new stadium to "re-energize" downtown Tampa a sheer economic folly for the taxpayers.
As a local taxpayer and lifelong baseball fan, I shall put these mixed messages aside for today and enjoy the game. I can only hope that as the season plays out, Rays fans throughout the Tampa Bay area will do the same.
Robert E. Heyman, St. Petersburg
What U.S. pays for care is sick April 2, commentary
Health care cost controls
We shouldn't be too surprised at the costs our health care system leads the world in. There's a simple reason for it. It's called free market capitalism, which in many areas works quite well. But other countries have discovered that to have a sustainable health care budget, there must be some government involvement in controlling costs.
And there's the rub. Having the government involved in controlling prices is anathema to most Americans, although it's done all the time in Medicare, which is why Medicare costs are far less than conventional health care.
It's a choice. Do we stay true to our core beliefs and accept the pain of outsized health care costs, or bend the rules a bit for a sustainable health care budget? It's a choice that eventually the American public will have to make.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Stop online bullying
Bullying has become a huge problem. In the Florida Legislature, House Bill 609 and Senate Bill 626 are an effort to decrease bullying in public schools. The bills would mandate all public schools incorporate a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment. This would include not only bullying in the traditional sense but also cyber-bullying on or off school property.
The law currently does not include cyber-bullying in its definition of bullying. Passing this measure would be a big step in decreasing the amount of bullying that occurs in school and outside of school. Please encourage your representatives to support this bill.
Katie Sanders, Winter Haven
Treat offenders, save money
Incarceration in Florida costs over $20,000 annually per inmate. Nonviolent and drug offenders constitute 26.9 percent and 26.8 percent of Florida's prison population, respectively. These individuals are sentenced to prison for perpetrating victimless crimes. Their only "crime" often is that they are addicted to drugs. While behind bars, inmates receive inadequate treatment or vocational training at best, yet they are expected to be miraculously rehabilitated contributing members of society upon release.
Research demonstrates that drug use correlates with increased recidivism, while treatment correlates with reduced recidivism. Florida's drug court system reports downward recidivism trends among its participants. Florida House Bill 69 and Senate Bill 1704 take aim at Florida's sentencing protocols by proposing the creation of a Department of Corrections-administered intensive substance abuse treatment, therapy and vocational training program for nonviolent offenders. The program would allow the state's courts to reduce participant sentence duration by up to 50 percent, saving tax dollars and providing treatment for a growing public health crisis.
Last year a similar bipartisan House bill overwhelmingly passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. Please contact your district representatives in support of these bills.
Aaron Stratton, Casselberry