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