Sunday, June 17, 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


Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18