Sizing up candidates | July 27, Tim Nickens column
Recommendations are no surprise
This column suggests that the Times interviews candidates from all political parties and then makes its recommendations in a nonpartisan manner, and that it takes this work seriously. I have a hard time taking this column seriously.
Reading the Times is almost like reading the Democratic National Committee Web page. All of the Times editorial writers are liberals, the paper almost always recommends Democrats over Republicans, and the front page is constantly used to write negative stories about Republicans.
There isn't much suspense left about whom the Times will recommend for any statewide or local office in the November elections. When Charlie Crist ran for governor as a Republican, the Times recommended Jim Davis, the Democrat. Now that Crist has reinvented himself as a Democrat, changed his stance on almost every social issue, and proved that he is a politician most interested in furthering his own political career, there is no doubt that the Times will enthusiastically recommend him for governor.
Louis Ciardulli, Safety Harbor
Woman dies in gun accident | July 28
Guns don't fire themselves
I read with great sadness about the death of Katherine Lynn Bryan, a pregnant mother, as a result of an accidental shooting. These types of incidents are all too common, in part because the news media fail to focus on the lack of responsible gun ownership, which is the root cause of such tragedies.
The Times article stated, "The gun accidentally fired and shot Katherine Hoover in the head, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office." Beyond the poor use of the passive voice, this sentence represents a common mistake in news coverage of accidental shootings: Guns do not mysteriously fire themselves. They do not have the agency to be responsible for killing someone. Accidentally or not, a person fired that gun.
Hundreds of Americans (disproportionately teens and young adults) needlessly die each year as a result of accidental shootings. It's time that news coverage of accidental shootings takes a public safety/public health approach, and focuses proper attention on the human parties that are responsible for exercising proper commonsense gun safety (not treating guns as toys, storing guns unloaded, using trigger locks, etc.) that is necessary to end all-too-common, preventable tragedies such as Mrs. Bryan's death.
Brendan R. Watson, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis
Standards constant, but lessons vary July 27, Perspective
Lesson plan for success
This column should be required reading for all who oppose Common Core State Standards. At last, someone has pointed out the difference between standards (an outline of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level) and curriculum (daily instruction determined by teachers, schools and districts to assist students in meeting those standards).
I applaud Karin Chenoweth for illustrating the difference by using three specific examples of different lessons used to address the same targeted standards. The lessons are engaging, rigorous and creative — all challenging students to be thinkers. Her piece affirms my belief that it is the curriculum in our schools that needs to be scrutinized — not the Common Core standards.
Elizabeth Dick, Riverview
Hunting answers | July 27
Legalized abuse of ethics
Here's how it works (first take a Dramamine and wait 10 minutes): Abuse leads to a law banning donors' (in this case Big Sugar) giving money to our (our?) politicians. This leads to a new law to instead allow Big Sugar to give the big bucks only to political parties, who in turn … wait for it … give the money to our politicians. The only difference? Now there's no transparency.
Our elected leaders are mum as to Big Sugar's paying for hunting licenses and trips to King Ranch in Texas. "Please ask the GOP," they say. But GOP spokeswoman Susan Hepworth will allow only that no laws are being broken. Of course not. Why break a law you just wrote?
Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the boys are starting to look like the toxic derivatives foisted on unwitting consumers during the banking crisis. Meanwhile, Big Sugar continues to dump phosphorous into the Everglades. And we get to pay to clean it up. But not until we go to the polls and re-elect these guys. In the words of Nancy Reagan: "Just say no."
Richard Downing, Hudson
Look into both parties
Regarding your two stories and the sidebar interview with Adam Putnam on the King Ranch hunting trips as political fundraising events in kind, Putnam's comment about not playing golf got me thinking.
I am sure your crack team of investigative reporters would not need long to find equivalent golf resort trips made, as fundraisers in kind by politicians, for the Democratic Party of Florida.
It will go far to counter the inevitable (and probably deserved) responses you will receive claiming bias.
Terry R. Arnold, St. Petersburg
Racy novel returns to school's reading list July 29
Book not appropriate
The Pasco County schools' decision to put John Green's "racy" novel Paper Towns back on the eighth-grade reading list was an example of wimpy spine syndrome. The article reports that superintendent Kurt Browning faced threats of legal action from anti-censorship groups after deleting the book from the list. He claims that he didn't change course because of those warnings and threats from the National Coalition Against Censorship. Let's see a show of hands of those who believe that.
The mother whose daughter asked her about the definition of masturbation and noted that the book contained f-bombs and references to teen sex was rightly concerned. Browning said he and district leaders wanted to take community standards into consideration. I doubt seriously if the f-word being used in eighth-grade teaching materials falls under the heading of acceptable community standards in Pasco County. I don't live in Pasco County, but if I did, it would be time to take a stand.
James S. Woodrow, Bradenton