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Thursday's letters: Hold DCF managers to account

Screening system changes after death | Aug. 17

Hold DCF managers to account

I worked for the Department of Children and Families for just over 32 years and retired in 2006. During part of that time, I supervised the staff responsible for getting the children screened. The 72-hour requirement has been in place long before the Sheriff's Office took over the responsibility from DCF, and there were always weekly meetings and monthly reports to track compliance. These are two of the most basic tools any capable manager or supervisor should employ to make sure the children are getting screened. This is not new science.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has described the failure to ensure children are properly screened as a "system failure," but the number of children out of compliance smells a lot like poor management. While the system may have flaws, the managers, supervisors and administrators who failed to put in place the proper policy and procedures to monitor and ensure compliance are the greater concern.

Where was management when 198 children were not screened within the required time frame? Who was managing or not managing the system? The employees? Without such answers, it is disingenuous to say, "It's a system failure."

Willie J. Day, St. Petersburg

States struggle to find drugs for executions Aug. 19

Humane executions

I would hope that people on both sides of the capital punishment issue would agree that as long as it remains the law of the land, we should do it in the most humane, clean and painless manner possible.

Anyone who has been through military pilot training has experienced a hyperbaric chamber where pressure is gradually reduced to simulate high altitudes. It would be enjoyable if it weren't so dangerous. Near-death experiences are also caused by reduced oxygen levels to the brain.

Picture the California gas chamber without poison. Gradually vacuum the air out and the condemned person peacefully falls asleep. You could also gradually replace oxygen with carbon dioxide or nitrogen using an oxygen mask. This method would also allow prisoners to donate their organs should they so desire and the authorities approve.

We can do better.

William L. Bassett, Clearwater

How U.S. failed to halt Egypt bloodbath Aug. 18

Pragmatic policy

America lacks a coherent policy on Egypt, and that may also apply to Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Libya and in fact the entire Middle East. The so-called Arab Spring is becoming more of an the Islamist revolution in various forms. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, believes in sharia law and some of them in the principle of the caliphate.

Most Western policymakers understand none of this and should have learned long ago from academics the challenges posed. There are Muslim moderates, but they are little heard from.

Pragmatism should guide President Barack Obama, and that could include not curtailing aid to the Egyptian military even with all the violence and bloodshed.

James Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Call it a coup

For the past 30 years U.S. dollars have been spent on training the same Egyptian troops that today are murdering, intimidating and suppressing the people of Egypt.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry owe Egyptian civilians more than rhetorical condemnation. Canceling next month's U.S.-Egyptian military training session is a positive step but a meek one.

Our country must do more: We must call this shift in power a military coup; we must seriously consider options for withdrawing all military assistance to the country; and we must commit diplomatic resources toward engaging with the Arab League and regional governments to chart a course toward a balanced process of reconciliation and building peace.

Karen Putney, Tampa

Require youth to serve | Aug. 19, letter

Things aren't so bad

The letter writer seems to think that requiring all young people to serve two years in the service will cure the, as he put it, "social ills we are experiencing." He goes on to suggest that "every" military veteran would agree that boot camp would solve our problems. I doubt that is even close to a correct statement.

As a Vietnam vet of both the Navy and Army, I would strongly disagree with this simplistic view of America's social issues. I would also contend that the 58,000-plus young men and women who died in Vietnam while serving their mandatory two-year commitment would also argue the value of that service.

Because the writer did not take the time to specify these so-called "social ills," we cannot address them. Overall crime rates are down; drug use, teen pregnancy and abortion are down; student rioting is a thing of the past; segregation has been outlawed; laws protecting LGBT rights are in place; and, with a little luck and better policies, we will be out of the war business, at least for a little while, in 2014.

If the writer believes our social ills are droopy pants, gay marriage, drug-addled celebrities and a general distrust of government and clergy, then he is fighting the wrong fight. We live in an ever-changing society. There is no going back, and very few would want to. Everything looks better in hindsight but seldom stands up to scrutiny.

Ray Day, Spring Hill

Red-light cameras

Excessive fine

I recently received a traffic citation for a right-on-red violation. I was caught by a camera. The intersection, in Bradenton, was well marked that right-on-red was not allowed. There is no doubt that I was wrong and should be fined. But $264?

I was eastbound at a low-speed intersection. The video shows an almost complete stop. There were no other cars in the intersection when I passed through. The right turn lanes have their own lanes after the turn. I have no other traffic violations.

I thought these cameras were to stop people from trying to run lights and colliding with crossing traffic. For that, a $264 fine seems reasonable. For what I did, a $50 fine or warning for a first offense would be more appropriate.

Mike Woratzeck, Sun City Center

Thursday's letters: Hold DCF managers to account 08/21/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 5:54pm]
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