Romney plug leads right into quandary | Jan. 16
Public dollars bring private gain
Mitt Romney's answer to the rising costs of higher education: Enroll in for-profit colleges like Full Sail University in Winter Park. I'm sure it's sheer coincidence that the school's CEO is a major campaign donor and fundraiser for Romney.
Apparently Romney is not bothered by the fact that Full Sail's $80,000-plus video game art program had a 14 percent on-time graduation rate and left students with a median debt of nearly $59,000 in federal and private loans in 2008. Such figures are not unusual for the for-profit college industry, which is now under scrutiny for "fraudulent marketing practices, poor academic records and huge loans assumed by students."
Also in Monday's Times is an editorial about Republican state Rep. Dana Young's bill that would remove reclaimed water as a public resource, turning it over for private gain at public expense. Privatization has been a priority of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, whether it's prisons or their largest project, privatizing public schools through vouchers.
Meanwhile, another Page 1 story in the Times chronicles how Florida is losing out on millions in federal health care funding for needy children because the governor and Legislature refuse to take the steps necessary to make sure those qualifying for these benefits actually get them.
Rank-and-file Republicans need to ask themselves a question. How can you continue to support a party that works feverishly to turn your public tax dollars over for private gain while ignoring the health care needs of Florida's underprivileged children?
John L. Perry, Tampa
Romney plug leads right into quandary Jan. 16
Disclosure for all
Your front-page article suggests that Mitt Romney should mention that the leader of a Florida for-profit college is a top donor to his campaign.
I agree, but only if President Barack Obama is held to the same high standard. For example, when the Obama administration argued for — and got — tens of billions of dollars to keep teachers at their jobs, he didn't mention that the teachers unions were key fundraisers for his campaign. He used our money to reward teachers union members who are among his largest contributors. He should have made that fact clear to taxpayers when sending the stimulus legislation to Congress.
Lee Sirois, Sun City Center
Tampa International Airport
Airline part of Star Alliance
On Tuesday, the Times published a letter that made reference to Edelweiss Air's new flights between Tampa and Zurich starting May 25. Some statements regarding the flights were inaccurate.
First of all, the letter writer stated that Edelweiss has no global airline frequent traveler affiliation. That is incorrect. Edelweiss Air passengers can earn or redeem miles with the Star Alliance through Lufthansa's Miles & More Frequent Flier Program. Edelweiss Air and its sister company, Swiss International Air Lines, are wholly owned by the Lufthansa Group.
Secondly, the letter dismissed Zurich as an insignificant hub in Europe. In fact, the Zurich airport was recognized by Business Traveler magazine as the No. 1 airport in Europe for transfer passengers in 2010. Business and leisure passengers originating in Tampa will be able to make convenient one-stop connections from there to cities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including Frankfurt, Paris and Rome.
In addition to greater access to destinations worldwide, Edelweiss Air's operation will bring hundreds of jobs and more than $30 million to the Tampa Bay economy each year. That's a benefit to everyone who calls the region home.
Chris Minner, vice president of marketing, Tampa International Airport
I have a few questions for Hillsborough aviation board chairman Steve Burton: How many of your employees are "forthright" and people "of honor and integrity"? How many of them have you given a 20 percent raise after only one year of employment or even five or 10 years? Would the $50,000 raise you gave Tampa airport CEO Joe Lopano have been so extravagant if that money had come out of your pocket? I bet not. I'd like to thank Victor Crist and Bob Buckhorn for their stewardship of public monies and service to their constituents.
S.D. Wade, St. Petersburg
Add signs for post office
I called the Department of Transportation almost a year ago, after construction around the airport was done, and inquired about the signs. One evening I missed the turnoff to the airport and wound up on Spruce Street and needed to make a U-turn. The problem was, I knew where I wanted to go: the post office. So not only can you get lost going to TIA, but there is no signage indicating that the post office is on airport property.
David Lubin, Tampa
Expensive white elephants
All three pier designs are interesting, but they are purely passive, so few people will make a second visit. None of the designs provides enough shade for any but the hardiest walkers.
The projects have no opportunity for private investment. The $50 million budget appears to be taken as only the down payment by the design teams. Plus, architect's estimates for one-of-a-kind structures are notoriously low.
The Lens appears to be a very long boardwalk that will have a limited service life equal to that of a dock on the bay. The vast concrete shell at the far end is an interesting sculpture but appears to serve no useful purpose.
The Eye is based on the concept of a dredged-up sand beach that will erode in the first significant storm. It is merely an empty concrete shell sitting on an artificial beach. It is no match for Pass-a-Grille Beach or Fort De Soto Park.
The Wave doesn't fit into the cityscape. The internal spaces are not large enough to contain the activities described. This design includes ramps and steps into the water, shown crystal clear instead of the tea-colored water we have in swimming season. These surfaces will soon be covered in slime and barnacles. The unprotected boat slips on the south side are useless except on calm days.
All three designs, if built, will quickly become expensive white elephants.
F. Carter Karins, PE, St. Petersburg
Stop Online Piracy Act
Bill infringes on freedoms
The Stop Online Piracy Act is the House's attempt at reducing online piracy by censoring the Internet. While online piracy is a serious problem, this bill infringes on freedom of speech and freedom of expression. It could be a building block to America's version of the Great Firewall of China.
Jordan Loos, Tampa