Reforms would curb wrongful convictions | April 24, commentary
Move to ensure accurate identifications
After reading Seth Miller's column concerning police lineups resulting in a good many misidentifications, I believe it is high time for reforms such as the ones offered in SB 1206 and HB 821.
I would go even further. Since many of the victims viewing the lineups are stressed and can be manipulated by police into misidentifying a possible perpetrator in a serious crime, I believe at least two lineups of six or more people be used, with one lineup having no real suspects as a control measure.
We need to do everything available to ensure accuracy when so much is at stake for the accused. The extra cost of implementing these measures would be negligible with so much depending on the outcome. As Miller points out, there are too many cases of misidentification to stand pat with our present police procedures.
Glenn A. Paul, Indian Rocks Beach
Bill makes it easier for billboard owners to cut down trees | April 26
Roads lined with billboards aren't what Florida needs
Republicans say they're all about creating a climate in Florida welcoming to entrepreneurs and new business. That is the argument of state Sen. Greg Evers, a Panhandle Republican, who is sponsoring a bill that, for a $25 fee, would allow billboard erectors to cut down as many trees along the interstate right of way as they think necessary, and to then have the option of paying the state for the trees removed. One suspects they would exercise the option to pay the state zero.
By making it so easy, and inexpensive, for billboard companies to line our highways with advertising, Florida becomes more business-friendly. This legislation has the potential to turn Florida into, what? Another Silicon Valley?
At the same time, funding to public education is being cut. So it would appear that while Republicans are trying to create a positive business atmosphere, at the same time we're reducing the likelihood that once a business comes to Florida it will have the type of employees it needs.
A wiser course might be to leave both the teachers and the trees alone.
Joe Arthur, Dunedin
Business as usual
I am so angry about this bill I can hardly see straight. Of all the sneaky, underhanded moves this Legislature has made, this takes the cake. It is quite simply another way to despoil our once-beautiful state.
State Sen. Greg Evers, who was presumably elected to represent his constituents, is representing nothing more than his own narrow interests. I am disgusted and appalled. But am I surprised? No. It's business as usual in Tallahassee.
Julia Larson, St. Petersburg
Maybe time heals the instant hero | April 24, Sunday Journal
Debt can never be repaid
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Charles Walowitz for his article in your Sunday edition.
His riveting story of the encounter with the soldier who served in the Mekong Delta and the soldier's subsequent medical treatments brought back memories that hit home for this old trooper.
I also served with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam in 1967. I was wounded in action, but mine was by small-arms fire (AK-47) in a horrendous firefight. My wounds were not as visible as the soldier in the article. I was wounded in both legs, right hip and lower abdomen.
I underwent more than 12 extensive surgeries in Japan, and then at Fort Gordon, Ga. I was hospitalized a total of 18 months after my wounding in Vietnam and had many more surgeries after I was discharged in private and VA hospitals.
The dedication, commitment, expertise and compassion of military doctors like Dr. Walowitz, along with the wonderful nurses, will never be forgotten. I owe them a debt I will never be able to repay.
Steve Johnson, Holiday
Why not simply complete Gov. Rick Scott's panacea of privatization? In line with J.D. Alexander's proposal to rename Citizens Property Insurance Corp. the "Taxpayer-Funded Property Insurance Corp.," we should name the Legislature the "Lobbyist-Funded Legislative Body Inc."
Paul Lupone, Spring Hill
Savings from privatizing prisons hard to pin down | April 25
A flawed prison policy
Lost in the discussion about whether to privatize the state's prisons is the ongoing folly of lumping nonviolent, first-time offenders with inmates convicted of more serious crimes and those familiar with the workings inside the facilities.
Such crass disregard for human suffering, combined with an emphasis on punishment over rehabilitation, increases the toll on society by ensuring a higher rate of repeat offenders. As long as we continue to turn a blind eye toward this broken model, justice for all remains out of our collective reach.
Michael Henry, Bradenton
Patients are not consumers | April 24, commentary
Caring approach needed
Paul Krugman writes that "patients are not consumers" and "doctors should not be considered as just 'providers' selling health care to these 'consumers.' " I could not agree more.
However, unless or until doctors resume being professionals, and assuming responsibility for their patients' illnesses 24/7 instead of recommending that they call 911 or go to the emergency room or walk-in clinic when they are sick, we will never solve the health care cost or "provider" problems that we face.
Alvin H. Felman, M.D., Tampa
Racing dogs at risk
In the Florida Legislature, SB 1594 puts thousands of greyhounds at risk of death because it does not contain any support language for them.
Dog racing used to be mandatory at the 13 tracks in Florida, but this bill eliminates the dog racing requirement for tracks. Track owners want the dogs out because they are not profitable. They want more parimutuel betting and card rooms. There is no language to provide a safety net for the existing racing dogs after racing ends.
The net effect is that breeders and owners will lose the business that supports the dogs. Therefore, the dogs will have no support. We are talking about thousands of dogs marooned all of a sudden, many more than adoption groups can handle.
What is needed is a plan for an orderly exit for the dogs to adoption. Those benefiting from this bill, such as the track owners and the gambling establishment, should be the ones to bankroll the transition. It will cost millions and take some time, but the alternative is thousands of dead dogs.
John Willier, Inverness