Monday, May 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Drugs, alcohol contribute to crime

Florida needs to cut costs, cut crime | June 16, editorial

Address drug and alcohol abuse

Unfortunately, most assessments by major publications and editorials concerning the failings of the prison systems in Florida and beyond ignore the astounding combination of drugs, alcohol and the lack of mental health care facilities.

Depending on the source for the statistics, drugs and alcohol are a factor for as many as 85 percent of inmates before entering prison.

Since the 1960s, our public leaders have systematically closed mental health care institutions. Essentially, this country has traded mental health care beds for prison beds for far too many. The mass imprisonment of people affected by substance misuse has become part of America's culture.

It's shortsighted to discuss better aftercare for the released prisoner until this country begins a broader discussion on why prisons have replaced mental health care institutions and why we lack funding for preventive and educational resources prior to entrance into the prison system.

Larry Golbom, Largo

Baristas can get college for free | June 16

A good corporate example

Sometimes in this nihilistic world of ours, someone who has the power and influence makes a real crack in the wall of corporate greed.

Kudos to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for his contribution "to lifting all boats in the stream" by providing an educational opportunity for the company's employees. If more corporations followed this example, society as a whole would benefit.

Many corporations offer this opportunity, but the employee must remain with the company for a certain period of time. Schultz does not make this a requirement for these online courses that will be offered by the University of Arizona. Their baristas are free to leave and don't have strings attached to the agreement.

Florence Laureira, Hudson

Latest Florida rail roils and Citizens' voices will be heard on All Aboard Florida June 9, 16

Public or private?

Gov. Rick Scott flatly states that All Aboard Florida is 100 percent a private sector project. No state dollars will go to the privately held development organization.

The Times, on the other hand, reported earlier that the state will fund $214 million to construct the proposed passenger station at Orlando International Airport and $10 million to engineer "quiet zones" along the initial 195-mile route over existing track.

Additionally, All Aboard Florida will seek a $1.5 billion federal loan for the project — taxpayer support — while privately sinking only $1 billion of private money into the project.

Basic math establishes that private money will provide less than 40 percent of the project's initial estimated costs. Is Scott right, or is the Times? A PolitiFact check seems in order.

Earl Barrett, Clearwater

FCAT results give few answers | June 15

Trauma too often ignored

As a licensed mental health counselor, I believe that one of the difficulties in finding school improvement answers lies in not asking this question: What is stopping kids from learning? One answer is probably the trauma of adverse childhood experiences.

Demographically, the listed schools struggle with high poverty. Where there is high poverty, there are high levels of adverse childhood experiences and trauma. Criminal activity, violence, substance abuse and mental illness all take a toll on a child's ability to learn.

The human body is programmed to react to emergencies with a flood of cortisol and adrenaline. Emergencies do not allow time for reflection and thoughtful consideration. The thing is, if life is a permanent emergency, that same reaction interferes with higher learning. When schools try to handle difficult behavior with punishment, referrals and expulsion, they inadvertently retrigger the emergency reaction. And things get worse.

Across our country, school districts are recognizing that most challenged schools have to shift from a punishment to a problem-solving approach in handling difficult behavior and poor classroom performance.

And improvement, while slow, is happening. San Francisco's El Dorado Elementary used trauma-informed and restorative practices, and suspensions dropped 89 percent. Wellness centers, calming corners, buddy classrooms and, above all, trauma-informed staff — from the principal to the maintenance team — can transform a child's ability to learn.

Juliana Menke, St. Petersburg

Scott's links to oil driller attacked | June 15

Saving taxpayers' money

This article proves that you will shade the news to fit your views. Below the headline you state: "It's unclear whether the governor still owns" stock in the oil company Schlumberger.

Then in the article you report that Gov. Rick Scott put all his investments in a blind trust in 2011 to avoid any conflict-of-interest issues, which was the proper thing to do.

In your article "Scott, Crist get richer" on June 17, Scott states there is no indication that the blind trust now owns any Schlumberger stock. So where's the link?

The article further states that the governor takes no salary and gave nearly $1 million to charity since 2011. You didn't bother to state that he also personally pays for all of his jet travel.

Regardless of what you print, Scott does many good things for the taxpayers of Florida.

Jim Harpham, Palm Harbor

Private struggle in public domain June 16

Fund mental health care

Regarding the Bartow lawyer's claim of a microchip in her head, this is one more example of why (and how desperately) we need better mental health policies.

Why wouldn't a judge order her to get mental screening? How is she allowed to take people's money to represent them in court?

Many young people are also ignored or excused when they show signs of mental problems, and we see all the school shootings that have resulted.

Please, legislators, wake up and fund (yes, with dollars) the care needed for a better mental health policy.

Cynthia Hazlett, St. Petersburg


Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Friday's letters: Putnam and Publix, two P's lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17 A pleasure to shop elsewhere My family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye. F...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 18

Re: Pasco panel okays Tampa Electric solar farm after five-hour meeting | April 9 storySolar farm offers many positivesThere has been much publicity regarding the proposed TECO Mountain View solar project slated for 350 acres in East Pasco that was r...
Published: 05/14/18

Thursday’s letters: Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America

Autonomous vehicles in FloridaThe state for self-driving carsAlmost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America. In the last three months, Voyage, a self-driving taxi service, has begun service in the Villag...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: Florida’s Community Health Centers save $1.78 for every dollar spent

Florida’s Community Health CentersHealth centers are a great dealIf you gave someone a dollar and they gave you back $1.78, wouldn’t you consider that a fantastic deal? That’s the deal Florida’s Community Health Centers provide for the state’s citize...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/16/18

Monday’s letters: Good ideas to fix schools still require enough money

Another plan for faltering schools | May 9The right ideas, cash still neededThe administration of the Hillsborough County School District should be applauded for persistent efforts to find the right formula to improve educational results of stude...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Saturday’s letters: Short-sighted prison cuts hurt society

Call to rethink prison cuts | May 10Short-sighted prison cuts hurt societyThe Florida Department of Corrections is dismantling successful substance abuse and re-entry treatment programs to fix a $28 million shortfall. The short-sighted action wi...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/11/18