The legal creativity being indulged in by the State Attorney's Office with regard to Lesa Lynn Ledesma is a retributive extravagance that perverts the cause of justice. To charge this mother with a manslaughter she did not personally commit seems off the reservation, and I don't hold with it. To be sure, her giving the car keys to her 15-year-old unsupervised and after hours was reckless and irresponsible, but she had no way of knowing the tragedy that would ensue. At most Ledesma is perhaps guilty of culpable negligence, but it is her son and he alone who bears direct responsibility for the death of Raquel Carreras. Moreover, the practice of criminal justice does not strike me as the proper place for pushing the envelope with unorthodox interpretations of the law. I genuinely hope that the courts will be more sensible than the State Attorney's Office, and that some judge will have the wit to recognize what a dangerous precedent this would set.
Mom charged in deadly ride | March 7, story Learn a lesson from this In this case there's no question but that Shawn Ledesma's mother and Shawn himself bear the most responsibility. Yet there are some additional responsibilities that must be noted. Trusting the facts reported, apparently the five young passengers were not where their parents assumed them to be when the wreck occurred, and none of the six had fastened their seat belts. We all know of the excitability and the peer pressure young teens experience, and we know they can't be summarily trusted to always be responsible, even with the best of parenting. But likely all were aware of the law on seat belts, and probably also of teen license restrictions. (Among the responsibilities of every parent of a teen is to firmly and repeatedly reinforce that they must never get in a motor vehicle without immediately belting in.) These teen passengers (if not also their parents) also bear some responsibility. The purpose of acknowledging and apportioning responsibility is not to inspire feelings of enduring guilt in any of the parties to the event. It is to inspire learning from the mistakes and making sure they are not repeated. Allan Avery, Clearwater Beach Higher ed fight gets nasty | March 6, story Floridians have spoken I'm deeply concerned about the recent Senate K-12 committee hearing with universities chancellor Mark Rosenberg. It is my opinion that the K-12 committee used this opportunity not to genuinely inquire about the Board of Governors' activities and plans, but instead to grandstand in support of SJR 2308 (a proposed constitutional amendment to again overhaul the higher education system). I thought it was reprehensible how unprofessionally the committee treated Rosenberg, and it was clear that the agenda was not the betterment of our schools but rather to push the reorganization bill they are championing. The people of Florida stated very clearly in the 2002 election that they support the current Board of Governors system. It takes the operation of our schools outside of the political environment and allows them to make business decisions free from legislative interference. It is nothing short of antidemocratic that the supporters of SJR 2308 are now looking to overturn the will of the people of Florida. Please move on, senators. The people have already spoken on this issue. Vaughn Volpi, Tampa A foolish way to run colleges | March 6, Howard Troxler column Affordability first To begin with, the university system's Board of Governors is not in reality a "nonpolitical state university system" when the majority members are picked by the incumbent governor! This current Board of Governors has little interest in providing higher education for most resident students with affordable tuition and without the burden of student loans. This group should not overlook the fact that in today's market for employment, a college degree is a basic necessity to obtain adequate compensation. The people need elected representatives to serve and provide them a public school system with an education commissioner chosen by the people to serve them. This is the essence of a republic. Russell Lee Johnson, St. Petersburg Price and perception A recent medical news article reported that patients felt better if told the sugar pill they were receiving was expensive. I have heard that Clairol shampoo sales increased when the price was raised and potential buyers were told they were "worth it." Perhaps the same argument would be true for university tuition. Having low tuition sends the message that our universities are of little value, the Big Lots of the academic world. If we keep underfunding our universities, this prophesy might just be fulfilled! Donald Cunningham, St. Petersburg Crimefighter takes a fall | March 11, story Partisan omission I read the article about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's dealings with a high-priced prostitution ring. I also read the companion article. I reread both of them carefully and found no mention of the governor's political party. I was, therefore, able to safely conclude that he was a Democrat. Otherwise the headline would have labeled him as a Republican, and all references to him in the article would have included his party as well. In any event, the good governor has redefined hypocrisy. F. Darrell Thomas, Trinity Crimefighter takes a fall | March 11, story Showing a slant Previously published stories involving an indiscretion of a Republican official have prominently and repeatedly noted their party affiliation. What happened with New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat? There was not one reference of him being a Democrat in all your coverage Tuesday. It will be interesting to see if this story gets as much ink as the endless number of days you gave Republican Rep. Mark Foley. Dan Conroy, Madeira Beach