Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Health proposals need more candor

Health care

Candor missing in health debate

It has been abundantly clear for a long time that most of the GOP Congress would willingly let people perish for lack of money to get health care.

If they had the courage of their principles, they would legislate in favor of allowing hospitals to turn away the sick and uninsured or poor (like other businesses would do), ringing in a visible death and suffering toll that could be traced to an obvious source. Instead, they put forward passive-aggressive policy proposals that will inevitably lead us back to pre-Obamacare emergency room crowding with both non-emergencies and dire emergencies born of a lack of access to prevention. That will end up costing taxpayers as nonprofit hospitals run up debts and need tax support to survive.

Instead of the federal government shouldering that burden (that they cause), Congress will pass on their policy detritus to states and municipalities — while simultaneously starving states and local government of funding. Local government will be the biggest loser, as the GOP Congress awards what money there is as block grants to states — and then GOP-led states (like Florida) choose to pay forward the parsimony by diverting those monies to their own pet ideological beneficiaries instead of to the poor and elderly. In fact, many of the failures of Obamacare can be traced to that very issue: GOP-led states' failure to expand Medicaid or create state-run exchanges, leading to shrinking competitive markets.

All of this is now getting applauded by the victims, working-class and poor Republicans, who understandably fail to foresee the ultimate consequences because their hypocritical representatives continue to lie about their true guiding principle: "Health care is a commodity that money buys and the poor do not deserve."

If the GOP were honest about that, the public would see and hear the truth and be able to vote based on reality.

Amie Devero, Tampa

Times refinances with help of local investors July 1

Key support for journalism

An excellent newspaper is interdependent with the community it serves.

It reflects the community's challenges, triumphs and struggles. The community, in return, financially supports the newspaper's First Amendment mission of fearless, factual reporting.

The Times serves its community with meritorious journalism and indispensable commercial information. The community, in the form of FBN Partners, is stepping forward with a $12 million loan to stabilize the Times' independent ownership. The resources permit the Times to evolve further its business model from primarily print to primarily digital — a challenge facing all newspaper companies.

This local journalist thanks FBN Partners for their support of news excellence. That's you, Frank Morsani, Carol Morsani, Ted Couch, Robert Rothman, Karyn Tash, Paul Tash and unidentified others.

Gil Thelen, Tampa

The writer is former editor, then president and publisher, of the Tampa Tribune, 1998-2006.

Transparency is essential

By allowing new Times investors to remain anonymous, the paper lacks necessary transparency.

In his letter, "Who owns the St. Petersburg Times? Why it matters to readers," former Times editor Andrew Barnes said, "The (Poynter) Institute had two purposes: to teach journalists young and old, and to keep (Nelson Poynter's) newspaper independent and free to serve its communities. Newspaper publishing, he wrote, is a sacred trust and must always be carried out in the public's interest. Ownership by a distant corporation would make that impossible."

Just last week, the Times admonished state legislators for their lack of support on transparency in governance, calling it a "dark cloud over open government." The expectation for openness and transparency does not stop with government officials, but extends to the critical role of media and their coverage. In this age of "fake news" and "alternate facts," it is more important than ever to know those who have vested interests in the coverage. The article says that investors have no influence on editorial coverage. Readers should be able to make that determination. What if the Rays ownership is among the investors? What if Bill Edwards is an investor?

The print newspaper is certainly in a time of evolution, and readers understand financial decisions are difficult. If you want us to continue to invest in your product, you would be well served to protect its integrity with the same commitment that Nelson Poynter demonstrated. Operate in the sunshine, just as we have come to expect legislators to do.

Susan McGrath, St. Petersburg

The writer is the chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Party.

Uhuru founder endorses candidates for mayor, council | June 30

Hear from all candidates

The Times has taken an interesting position about how and where candidates should be able to speak during an election campaign. In collaboration with its co-sponsors, Bay News 9 and the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, the Times has "decided to rely on fundraising totals" to limit the televised July 25 St. Petersburg mayoral debate to two candidates, Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker.

This explicitly equates money with the right to be heard. This trend is disturbing enough on the national level, but such a blatant endorsement by the Times and its co-sponsors makes one wonder about the depth of their commitment to local democracy.

In practical terms, such a decision suppresses valuable voices. Why not a forum similar to the presidential campaign? All seven candidates could speak for a few minutes, then answer questions culled by a debate panel. This would be followed by a second forum with fewer candidates selected by a publicized formula.

Lee Hilliker, St. Petersburg


Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

A vote against Pasco’s jail bond issueThere are two stories on the front page of the Feb. 9 Pasco Times that drew my attention.The top headline reports that the Pasco County commissioners are discussing submitting a $185 million bond issue to the vot...
Published: 02/13/18