Bacon … or pork? | Dec. 5
Funding helps service members
In response to the Perspective article on earmarks, I would like to provide a more balanced overview of the $4 million in earmarks over three years in regard to Saint Leo University's Continuing Education Distance Learning projects at military installations. The distance learning resources are not solely for Saint Leo University's benefit or use. The funding came to us as part of a project to deliver education programs at military installations in seven states using video teleconferencing technology, or VTT.
The project allows Saint Leo to provide university courses to soldiers, sailors, airmen and women and Marines so they can perform their missions more effectively and prepare for life after their service. There are several benefits to this technology that are not immediately obvious. Students at centers without faculty with a particular expertise may still take courses they need from gifted teachers. If students are transferred to another base, they can continue their education with Saint Leo University. It is also an invaluable tool for our nonambulatory wounded warriors.
Additionally, the VTT system has been made available to military families who wish to video conference with service members abroad. To date, the university has facilitated 171 "freedom calls." The technology has been used to allow a Saint Leo student deployed in Iraq to receive his diploma at the same time his fellow classmates received theirs during commencement. Fathers have seen their newborn sons and daughters for the first time on these calls. Finally, the VTT equipment is available to base commanders for their training needs when classes are not in session.
We are extremely proud of the educational services Saint Leo has provided our nation's armed forces for 37 years. Fortunately, U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and other members of Congress saw the benefits to the brave young men and women of our military and had the courage to support this program, which Saint Leo University provides. The earmarks have been instrumental in enhancing our ability to "serve those who serve us."
Arthur F. Kirk Jr., president, Saint Leo University, St. Leo
Scott racks up bash cash | Dec. 14
Scott's out of touch
Gov.-elect Rick Scott is going to hold a $2 million-plus inauguration bash funded by lobbyist and corporate cronies while the state of Florida has near record unemployment and a budget in crisis. He's not in office yet, and he is already doing a great imitation of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. This guy is totally out of touch with the average Floridian.
Where is Scott's plan to get Floridians back to work? All we've seen are two less-than-encouraging things: first, a victory tour where he had closed-door sessions with corporate leaders looking to make a killing under the new administration; second, lots of talk about turning over the Florida school system to private businesses that will make a profit on a $5,500 per-child voucher, and giving wealthy parents a tax giveaway to subsidize their $12,000-plus private school tuition.
Michael Voris, Odessa
Many need help
The governor-elect has so far raised $2 million for his inauguration bash and would welcome more. Would it not be a grand gesture if Rick Scott would say that he wants a low-key inauguration? He could either return all the money to his donors or take the $2 million and spend it on the people of Florida who really need it.
Does he know how many people are in shelters? How many rely on soup kitchens to get at least one meal a day? Does he know that there are thousands out there living in misery that need help?
Patrick Bauer, Land O'Lakes
Cursive writing part of Florida's script Dec. 13
Writing is thinking. As I emphasize to my college composition students, we often don't know what we really think until we write and are forced to support our ideas with evidence. For this reason alone, if no other, schools and families should support handwriting skills. If teachers in lower grades and in high schools with limited access to word processing equipment can't physically read their students' thoughts on paper, then students cannot benefit from an exchange of ideas. Such communication is central to good education. It makes good sense to spend time on teaching the basics of handwriting or fluid italic printing.
There are four basic components of handwriting: size, slant, shape and spacing. Whether teaching these elements separately, or in conjunction, practice is necessary because handwriting involves both physical coordination and thought. Teaching handwriting is not a waste of time; it is a conduit to future reflection and communication.
Antonia Lewandowski, Ed.D., Largo
Don't ask, don't tell
McCain seems bitter
I used to think Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was a good man. No longer. He holds himself out to criticize the men and women in uniform because of their sexual orientation. They are good enough to die for our country but not good enough to have the rights that a democracy promised them.
I think McCain is bitter at losing the presidential election and is taking it out on gay service members and the president.
Patricia L. Terpack, Clearwater
Florida atones and Ban on gays stays Dec. 10
These two stories were on the front page the same day last week: Florida atones for injustices done to civil rights activists in the 1960s in St. Augustine, and Republicans in the Senate turn back the effort to remove "don't ask, don't tell." Prejudice is alive and well.
William Saitta, St. Petersburg
119,000 planes a mystery to FAA | Dec. 12
Why under any concept of good journalism would this story be relegated to Page 15 in the Sunday Times?
A citizenry that lives under the threat of terrorism certainly needs to know that their government has been remiss in accounting for all aircraft and their owners who fly our skies.
We can't hold our government responsible and demand that they do their job if we are kept ignorant of their mistakes. This AP reporting went far in keeping us informed. You need to do your part, too.
Gemma O'Donnell, St. Petersburg
Market forces could reduce costs | Dec. 12, letter
This letter highlights a popular notion based on ideology, which has been refuted by evidence.
Uwe Reinhardt, economics professor at Princeton, has studied the U.S. health care market. In a New York Times op-ed, he describes trends based on economic incentives of the increased consolidation of health insurers and the increasing consolidation of large health care providers like hospitals.
Both these trends result in larger but fewer insurers and larger but fewer providers. Reinhardt quotes one of the most recent studies: "Health plan market concentration reduces hospital prices, while higher hospital market concentration results in higher prices." And: "Hospital concentration exceeds health plan concentration in most markets." Reinhardt concludes, "The widely held notion that more insurers in a market area will reduce the premiums paid by the insured is not supported by either economic theory or empirical research."
Robert White, Valrico