Thursday, December 14, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Pension overhaul hurts middle class

Weatherford's pension overhaul hits snag in Senate | March 13

Pension change hurts Floridians

Though he claims it's an improvement, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford's proposal to make the Florida Retirement System into a 401(k) plan is a bad idea because it increases risk for government workers.

The existing retirement system guarantees fixed payments regardless of stock market performance. Under a 401(k) format, if the stock market collapses, retirement benefits collapse too. Think what would have happened if Social Security was tied to the stock market in 2008 when the Dow fell 50 percent. Both Social Security and the Florida Retirement System function as safety nets for Floridians. Weatherford wants to erode that safety net.

It is not just those who receive payments from the retirement system who would be adversely impacted if Weatherford's proposal goes through. Businesses that serve Florida retirees would also be impacted by the drop in retirement revenues. According to a 2012 report, about 800,000 Floridians benefit from the Florida Retirement System pension plan. Rational businessmen should be wary of a proposal that undercuts the spending power of 800,000 Floridians.

Weatherford's proposal isn't an improvement, it's a step backward and an attack on the middle-class lifestyle.

Bill Mitchell, Tampa

Citizens Property Insurance

Reduce Citizens' exposure

As a CFO, I know how challenging it is to make fiscally responsible decisions. With a business or household budget, it's a must to make sound financial decisions. This must also apply to state government.

As a Clearwater resident, I'm lucky to have property insurance through a mutual company whose sole focus is on me and other members of the mutual. Many of my neighbors aren't so lucky and have been left with no other option but Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

While Citizens is supposed to act as a market of last resort, it underwrites far too many policies in Florida. Because Citizens relies on assessments rather than adequate premiums, all Floridians are at risk for significant taxes when the next major hurricane hits.

Proposed legislation contains a new mutual incentive program, which would allow Citizens to loan money to new mutual insurers to provide a significant reduction in Citizens' aggregate exposure. This would provide an alternative to Citizens for many policyholders and reduce the potential assessment burden on all.

Additionally, given the interest rate on the loan from Citizens to a mutual is reasonable, the profit load built into the cost of insurance from a mutual will be less than a similar company using private investor capital. Therefore, insurance from a mutual should be more affordable.

I think the new mutual insurer incentive proposal is a unique private sector solution to the overexposed and underfunded Citizens. I hope our state's policymakers seize this opportunity this session.

Bob Losi, Clearwater

Family fumes over police killing | March 18

Mental health services

I would like to offer condolences to the family and friends of Arthur Dixon, who recently died in a confrontation with police during a suicidal episode. As a community psychiatrist, I would like to focus on ways to help others with an untreated mental illness to get help so that similar incidents are minimized and hopefully prevented.

Suncoast Center Inc. in Pinellas County provides psychiatric services to any individual or family in the community, whether they have insurance or not. These services can be accessed in multiple ways and include psychiatric evaluation and medication management; individual, family and group psychotherapy; case management; forensic services; and many other psychosocial services.

I would like to finish with a message of hope to all those who are suffering from the consequences of a mental illness. There are multiple effective treatments for mental illnesses, and they are available to anyone in the community. Please use these services and encourage others you know who need them to do the same, as they work and they will help.

Linda Lefler, M.D., medical director, Suncoast Center, St. Petersburg

Judge: 2 football stars guilty in rape | March 18

Outrageous outcome

I am outraged by the sentences and media coverage of the Stuebenville, Ohio, rape case. These two teenagers are only receiving a collective three-year sentence in juvenile detention. Pirating music in the United States has a longer minimum prison sentence than what these two received.

The media continues to sympathize with the rapists. CNN talked of how ruined these star football players' lives will be now that they have the label "sex offender" following them around for life. There was no talk of how traumatized the 16-year-old victim must feel after being drugged, raped and then having pictures of her circulate. There was no talk of how her life will change forever. There was no talk of how any kind of normal life for her will be nearly impossible from this point on.

The rapists deserve a much harsher sentence.

Chelsea Helt, St. Petersburg

Study charts large flow of guns from U.S. March 19

Borders and blame

Once again Mexico blames lax gun laws in the United States for the estimated 253,000 guns smuggled into Mexico each year. Mexico's inability to control guns flowing into Mexico from the United States due to a high demand for weapons in Mexico by corrupt officials, gangs and cartels doesn't fit with their blaming the United States for the drug trade because of a high U.S. demand for drugs.

Notwithstanding, the drug trade plays a huge role in keeping Mexico afloat. Much as they say that reducing the demand for drugs in the United States would solve drug production and smuggling issues, cleaning up Mexico's corrupt government — which allows the continued activities of gangs and cartels — would solve the gun smuggling issue. You can't have it both ways, so enough whining.

Harvey A. Smith, Palm Harbor


Friday’s letters: Put yourself in a business owner’s shoes

GOP plan favors owners | Dec. 11Perils of small business ownersI wonder if the author of this article has even a clue about owning a business. Businessmen — especially small business owners — risk it all. They risk their savings, their car, their...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Published: 12/13/17

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17