Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Give all teachers, aides pay they deserve

Special-ed aides get little pay, training | Jan. 13

Give teachers, aides pay they deserve

It has taken two student deaths to focus on an issue overlooked in Florida education for years — that special-education aides, as well as many other "regular" paraprofessional personnel, are underpaid. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Funding for exceptional-student education in Florida has been slashed in many districts over the last 10 years under the limited wisdom of Republican leadership in Tallahassee.

ESE students require special supervision and curriculum, so extra training is paramount to prevent incidents. An ESE aide or teacher must also have a special sense of commitment to these children. When a professional is barely earning minimum wage, with less than adequate training, it is surprising that more incidents haven't occurred. Budget cuts have resulted in many ESE students not getting other required services as well. Politicians push vouchers, thinking that this will solve the problem, but it makes it worse. Full funding is essential for the success of ESE students in public education!

All Florida teacher salaries have stagnated over the past six years due to budget cuts, and it is time that they at least earn salary increases to offset inflation. The public surely must know that teachers and aides are underpaid, and they are responsible for the most important commodity: children! Give them the pay they deserve.

David Pike, Odessa

Disobedient juror earns more duty | Jan. 12

Upside of jury duty

People are already trying all sorts of methods (many creative but unsuccessful) to avoid jury duty. Now this judge is declaring that being called to jury duty is a punishment akin to going to jail! I understand why he felt it necessary to discipline this guy, who clearly disobeyed instructions, but this only makes the whole notion of jury duty even more heinous to everyone.

I served on a jury a couple of years ago; while it wasn't a barrel of laughs, it was interesting and educational and I certainly felt it a worthwhile use of my time.

Margaret May, Land O'Lakes

Breeding resentment

Years ago, while in the Army, I learned that while no one enjoys guard duty, it is never imposed as punishment. In fact, no duty should ever be imposed.

This was Hillsborough Circuit Judge William Fuente's ethical error. Does Fuente think that if Vishnu P. Singh is selected to serve during his period of "punishment" he will be a more conscientious and dutiful juror? Punishment is more likely to breed resentment.

Alan Sewell, Zephyrhills

Wishing us well | Jan. 13

Chew on this, Tampa

I would like to add a wish to your list. Food draws people, and one need only drive down Beach Drive in St. Petersburg on any given Saturday to see the plethora of people eating in one restaurant or another. If somehow Tampa could figure a way to attract additional eateries on Tampa Street — perhaps closing off the area, as is done for the Gasparilla Art Show, every weekend — we could bring a lot more folks to downtown Tampa and turn it into something dynamic.

We already have the Tampa Museum of Art, the Glazer Children's Museum, the Photography Museum, Curtis Hixon Park and the river; add a few food street vendors on Ashley and next thing you know downtown will be bustling with excitement.

John Osterweil, Tampa

A fundamental school mismatch | Jan. 13 editorial

Truth about consequences

It would be great if we had more fundamental programs. As mentioned in this article, fundamental programs "have strict discipline codes and participation demands that can prove onerous to working parents." What was not mentioned is that if those two criteria are not met or maintained, that particular student has to leave the school. That is the crux of the issue.

Please understand that nonfundamental schools have strict disciplinary codes, too, and nonfundamental schools are not stopping parents from participating regularly in their child's education. The difference is that nonfundamental schools cannot enforce these criteria to the extent that the fundamental schools enforce them, if at all.

Alex O'Brien, Pinellas Park

Elevating UF | Jan. 13 Bernie Machen column

Boost UF, but know this

University of Florida president Bernie Machen is entirely correct in his discussion of the need and resolve to place UF among the elite universities in California, Virginia, Michigan, etc. Florida needs this successful action for all the reasons he mentioned.

One large problem is the noise that will arise from universities in Tallahassee, Tampa and other places. It is the sound of "me!" "me!" "me!" (I'm not a Gator).

Merv Altman, Tampa

Scientology investigation

A lot like smoking

After reading numerous articles about Scientology, I can honestly compare it to smoking. Thirty years ago, people smoked and we didn't understand the harm it caused. Today, with all of the information we have, if someone smokes, he knows the risks.

It is the same with Scientology. Enough time has passed and enough people have been hurt (financially, mentally or physically) that we should not be surprised by its effects. If you decide to become a member of the "church" of Scientology, don't ask for sympathy in the future.

Steven K. Lenardos, Tampa

Just what is black enough? | Jan. 14 Leonard Pitts column

Don't judge on skin color

Leonard Pitts puts forth a valid point: "Many of us have been taught that it is demeaning and delimiting when someone presumes to say who you are, how you will behave, what you think, what you like, and how intelligent you are, from the color of your skin."

When were the stereotypes for what people consider "black" installed? And what the heck is a "cornball" brother, according to ESPN analyst Rob Parker? Is he using a modern euphemism for an Uncle Tom? Our president is of mixed race. Is he a "cornball" brother?

This is the very reason racism is stubbornly clinging to the cliff's edge in America. People still see color. Come on, America. We are the melting pot of the world. It's time we start letting go of antiquated stereotypes, stop judging people on their race, and start focusing on the choices they make.

Dr. Martin Luther King wanted his children to live in a country where people are "judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." RG3 (Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III) seems like a pretty decent guy to me. I really don't care what color skin his girlfriend has.

John Andrew Warrener, Odessa


Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18

Pasco Letter to the Editor for March 16

Re: Pasco to test roadside recycling | March 9 column Pasco County (and its residents) have financial incentives to recycle, but the participation rate is low. Clearly, Pasco County either needs to make recycling mandatory — by making residents r...
Published: 03/13/18