Pinellas skirts state ban | Sept. 13
Stop playing games with our lives
Kudos to the Pinellas County Health Department for finding a way around the ridiculous state ban of outreach workers whose job is to help educate people about the new marketplace to purchase health insurance.
How long will it take for Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature to stop playing games with people's lives regarding the Affordable Care Act? Obamacare is now the law of the land, despite their vehement opposition to it.
Turning down millions of dollars in Medicaid funds designated to help hundreds of thousands of less fortunate Florida residents with their health care needs is heartless enough. But going as far as banning outreach workers from state property is irresponsible — and just plain silly.
It is time for Republican legislators to end this anti-Barack Obama obsession (yes, the people of Florida did vote for the president last November) and perform their sworn fiduciary duty to implement this law like many of their fellow Republican governors and lawmakers are now doing around the country.
Elton E. Jones, Clearwater
No warning on texting ban | Sept. 15
Fines need to be higher
Regarding the lack of public education for the new texting while driving ban, Rep. Doug Holder, R-Venice, said of Gov. Rick Scott, "But I understand the governor made it very clear he'd be looking very closely at returns on investment." Governor: What exactly is the ROI on a life saved? I lost my 19-year-old nephew in a texting-related car accident. Do you want to explain that ROI to his parents?
The fines developed by our state Legislature are pathetic: Texting while driving will be considered a secondary offense with $30 for a first offense and $60 for the second. Reliable, viable research shows that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence. Imagine how many more lives would be lost each year if a DUI was a secondary offense with a $30 fine?
New York state law on improper cellphone use was recently changed. The number of license points a driver is dinged has been raised from three to five, the same number as for reckless driving or illegally passing a stopped school bus. Getting 11 points within 18 months results in a suspended license.
Forty-one states have passed laws banning texting while driving, and Florida's is one of the weakest. Give texting drivers something to seriously consider before taking out that phone. Make the roads safer for Florida families and stop thinking about your re-election campaigns. Do the right thing.
Karen Lieberman, Pinellas Park
Let it ring | Sept. 15
Preying on the elderly
A few years ago, while I was visiting my 98-year-old mother in her apartment at an assisted-living facility, the phone rang three times in the late morning. It was three different telemarketers stridently wanting to know why she hadn't made arrangements to access the free gifts they were offering her.
They stated in an unfriendly manner that this was the third notice and that they needed to hear from her. Clearly they were hoping that a confused oldster would give up important financial information or send them money so that the unpleasant calls would stop. I know that younger people do not get this type of call.
What a sad state of affairs this has become; and the lawyer fighting for it to continue is proud of his success as a First Amendment crusader. I guess it's easy to rationalize away the huge amount of scamming and profiteering that takes place against the little people when you live up there like a prince.
Tom Reid, Seminole
Bridge ban upsets anglers | Sept. 13
Fishing, biking don't mix
As has been reported many times, the Tampa Bay area is one of the most dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Can't we, just once, let them have a safe place to navigate along the waterfront without having to negotiate the detritus of anglers and the dangers of autos?
There are already many spots for fishermen, and darn few for cyclists. From a safety standpoint, the two just don't mix well.
Laura Vickers, Tampa
Right course for Pinellas animal control Sept. 14, editorial
Stop the overbreeding
The overflowing amount of people at the Pinellas County Commission workshop on Sept. 10 is proof positive that there are many people concerned about the overpopulation of cats and dogs. The show of support for TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate, return) and increased spay/neuter indicates that people don't want to see animals killed because of a lack of enough homes. The way to reduce the killing is to stop the overbreeding and only allow limited breeding until there is a scarcity of companion animals and the shelters are almost empty.
Many counties and some cities are already seeing success in reducing the overpopulation of free-roaming cats by practicing TNVR, and I believe we can do so in Pinellas County. Reducing the amount of euthanasia by taxpayer-supported animal services will mean taxpayer money can be diverted to humane animal control spay-neuter programs instead.
Marilyn Weaver, Tarpon Springs
Here's what really hurts | Sept. 15, editorial
Profits over people
The idea of insurance is simple. Everybody pays into a common fund, so that if something horrible happens you won't have to bear the burden all by yourself. Insurance, one of capitalism's better inventions, has worked for a very long time.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has a surplus that could cover losses from a major hurricane occurring less than twice a century. The surplus continues to grow.
So why are Gov. Rick Scott and his henchmen so bent on pushing Citizens' policyholders into the hands of small, untested, barely viable, private insurance companies?
Again, it's simple. Scott is more interested in creating profits for cronies than in providing viable, mutually supported, mutually beneficial insurance coverage for the citizens of Florida.
Jim Harper, Tampa
Taking the right steps on health care reform Sept. 16, commentary
Essence of insurance
Patrick Geraghty writes, "Younger people will face higher costs to subsidize the costs for older people." It is nearly impossible to think of any concept of "insurance" that does not rely on a large pool of contributors subsidizing a smaller pool of consumers. Without that, no insurance works.
Richard Strader, Pinellas Park