Tax hikes back on the table | July 6
A need for revenue, by any name
For over a year we have heard credible economists telling us we cannot cut spending enough to get balanced budgets — not at the local, state or federal levels.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is one of many leaders, including those in Europe, who are finally admitting more revenue is needed in addition to responsible spending. To kindly increase revenue, he could do like Gov. Rick Scott and other more experienced politicians, that is, call revenue-enhancing measures "tolls," "fees," "user fees," "assessments," "mandates," "penalties" or other terms that do not sound like tax increases. New or higher taxes are bad; tolls are good.
Additionally, if we allowed big, profitable corporations to pay their fare share of fees and assessments (see, no taxes) instead of giving them "incentives" that bypass contributing needed revenues, maybe we could start to see more money for schools, roads and other city services. Mr. Mayor, please do not raise taxes on citizens, then give away more incentives to big corporations.
Terry Hammonds, Dunedin
Woman survives leap from Skyway | July 6
Thanks to the Tampa Bay Times and reporter Michael Finch II for following many of the guidelines for responsible media reporting on suicide. The guidelines are intended to reduce the risk of additional suicides and encourage anyone who might be at risk of suicide to seek help.
Reporting should refrain from providing details about what the person did or how he or she did it, and offer hope by noting that suicide is a preventable public health issue. Many treatment options are available for mental health problems and substance abuse, found to be causes of suicide in a majority of related deaths.
The list of risks and warning signs in the sidebar is a partial one. Internet resources are available at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (www.SPRC.org) for those who need additional information. Responsible reporting by the media saves lives. Thanks for doing your part.
Joanne Herrygers, Land O' Lakes
Weeny bit of smashing news July 6, Daniel Ruth column
Colliding with facts
I want to offer my congratulations to Daniel Ruth for getting the "Luddite of the Year" award for his column regarding the Higgs boson discovery. It was just awe-inspiring to see Ruth stand on the rooftops and proclaim "I don't understand science and neither should you!" There are many of us who understand what an amazing discovery this was in the world of particle physics, but Ruth is not among them.
It was laughable to see him relate that particle physics is learned in biology class, and that physicists are "petri dish types." C'mon, Dan, what high school did you attend? If you are going to diss the discovery, at least get your terms right!
Well, at least I can be thankful that Ruth wasn't around when Einstein published the theory of relativity.
Brian Hathaway, Valrico
The science of a smile
Daniel Ruth continues to be a breath of fresh air in a stale world. His views about the recent Higgs boson discovery perfectly expressed my feelings. I have no idea what a proton, photon, or even a futon is — I think that last one is for napping, right? However, I do know I can embrace my weekend with a smile on my face, thanks to Mr. Ruth.
Michael Harris, Safety Harbor
Health care act
Scott should follow law
Gov. Rick Scott has been making the media rounds vowing to ignore the steps that Florida must take to move forward with the new health care law. By ignoring the laws of the United States, he has not only broken his commitment to the people of Florida, he has made a mockery of his oath. And how many millions of taxpayer dollars did he waste fighting it?
Danielle Stutts, Tampa
Alabama lands Airbus plant | July 3
Florida lagging on jobs
Our fellow Southern states have been able to attract large, lucrative corporations that contribute substantial revenues to the tax base. Alabama's recent announcement that Europe's Airbus will build a factory in that state, along with South Carolina attracting Boeing and BMW, speaks loudly to how those states have been able to economically boost themselves through strong state government leadership.
Gov. Rick Scott and his Department of Economic Opportunity have not brought significant job growth or substantial corporate relocations since the last elections. Although the governor travels to Israel, Spain, etc., no real growth for Florida has occurred from his journeys.
In the next two years, the governor needs to lead and bring significant corporate start-ups or relocations. That is the only way Florida can keep with the economic engines of our neighboring Southern states.
Ron Frankel, St. Petersburg
Lifeguards are just that | July 7, editorial
Beware of the risks
Concerning the Hallandale lifeguard who was fired for leaving his assigned post to rescue a swimmer on a nonprotected beach, let me propose a hypothetical situation. Suppose a mother with a couple of children wanted to take her kids to the beach. Knowing her children can't swim well, she decides to take them to a beach where a lifeguard is on duty rather than another beach that's posted as nonprotected. While at the beach, one of the children is caught in a riptide and is washed out to sea. Unfortunately the child drowns because the lifeguard who's supposed to be watching this beach is off rescuing a swimmer on an unprotected beach where there's no lifeguard. Can you even begin to imagine the lawsuits against the city, the county, and the lifeguard company that would result from this event?
It's hard to tell a trained lifeguard that he's not allowed to go to the aid of a swimmer in trouble, but on the other hand, that lifeguard has an obligation to the people he's hired to protect. When people swim on beaches where there's no lifeguard on duty, they assume a certain elevated level of risk. They're aware of the risk when they go to that beach, and they must be prepared to accept the consequences of that decision.
A.T. Barnard, Beverly Hills