Sunday, May 20, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Application process for Pinellas magnet, fundamental schools is not 'rigged'

Lottery for schools not fair | Editorial, March 15

To call process 'rigged' is wrong

The editorial raises some valid points about the Pinellas County School District's application process for magnet and fundamental programs. We heartily endorse the type of brainstorming the editorial suggests when it comes to continuous improvement of our systems and operations.

I do take issue with the editorial's charge that the system is "rigged." According to my dictionary, to "rig" something means "to manipulate or control, usually by deceptive or dishonest means." The secondary definition of "rig" is "to fix in advance for a desired result." Admittedly, we can do a better job when it comes to the way our student assignment process works. We also can, as the editorial points out, work on a better means of communicating to families how our system operates. However, to imply that the district is willfully manipulating the lives of students for dishonest purposes is absolutely untrue.

My other concern is the idea expressed in the editorial that families who do not get a seat in a magnet or fundamental program "lose." To suggest such a thing not only is a disservice to the district and its excellent nonmagnet and nonfundamental schools, but to the students who attend them.

At no time has the district ever suggested that every student will be provided with a seat in a magnet or fundamental program. The popularity of these programs is a point of pride for our school system. The programs create variety within the parameters of state standards and requirements. While there may be critics of the current application program structure, I am certain there also would be criticism if the district provided no application program options, or if it provided only application program options.

We are interested in the success of all students. We will continue to do our best to offer a quality education to all students, regardless of the program they attend, while exercising due diligence in correcting system flaws wherever they occur.

John A. Stewart, superintendent, Pinellas County Schools

Lottery for schools not fair | Editorial, March 15

Let supply meet demand

I agree that it is a shame that so many Pinellas County families are disappointed when they are unable to find seats in the very successful magnet and fundamental school programs. But why should there be any disappointed families? The best solution to this problem would simply be to create more magnet and fundamental schools in order to open up more seats. This is a market-driven problem that should be resolved through a market-driven solution. These programs are obviously very popular and successful. Let's offer our kids the best education possible and, in the process, eliminate disappointed (and unhappy) parents.

Wayne "Skipp" Fraser, St. Petersburg

Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs March 15, commentary

Wakeup call for 'Muppets'

I was happy to see the Times carry Greg Smith's explanation of his resignation from Goldman Sachs. I only wish I could have read it 12 years ago.

As a retired minister, I took my retirement fund to another well-known national brokerage firm and explained that I would like to hedge inflation and make my money grow. As a selling point for using their full-fee account rather than a discount broker, I would get professional advice and access to "new issues" that I had never owned but were shown to be very profitable.

They advised Lucent, Plug Power and several other stocks that are barely existent today. When they were unable to provide allocations of the hottest issues, they promoted an in-house "actively managed new issue fund" in which I lost 70 percent of my investment before selling.

Disgusted three years later, I left that well-known brokerage after it advised me to put what I had left into a managed account over which it would have complete discretion. I understand now that I was one of the "Muppets," and I hope that the rest of you "Muppets" will now heed Smith's warning.

Donald A. Lavallee, Safety Harbor

War Powers Act Congress must weigh in

I viewed the March 7 exchange between Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Panetta repeatedly dictated to Sessions that the executive branch did not need the approval of Congress to declare war, but could declare war at the behest of a foreign agent — the United Nations. This view states that the role of Congress, the elected voices of the people, is ceremonial and is a direct affront to the liberties of all Americans.

Now U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has proposed a bill, H.CON.RES.107, stating that any declaration of war without the consent of Congress is a violation of the U.S. Constitution under Article I, Section 8, Clause 11. Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, this is a high crime and misdemeanor and thus an impeachable offense.

Considering the current geopolitical climate, declarations of war, even acts of "kinetic humanitarian intervention," should and must have congressional approval, as the lives of our sons and daughters and mothers and fathers, true patriots who are sent into action on foreign soil, are on the line. The domestic threat is just as grave, as our country cannot continue to finance the deliverance of our economy into oblivion. Our Constitution must be protected.

Daniel O'Shaunessy, St. Petersburg

Valid ID is part of voting March 17 letter to the editor

A constitutional difference

This letter writer fails to note that not one of the activities on his laundry list that require a driver license, or other ID, to exercise is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The right to vote is. And therein lies the difference.

Charles E. Lehnert, Riverview

Turmoil in the rivers of his memory March 18

Campbell's loving support

Just finished reading Sean Daly's thoughtful and respectfully written article and want to compliment him on staying above the sensationalistic or maudlin to bring us an unvarnished status of a dauntless man and his family dealing with a frustrating and heartbreaking situation. Although the majority of families who experience Alzheimer's or any traumatic illness firsthand don't have the wherewithal this family is fortunate to have, Glen Campbell's family's support well fits the definition of "family," i.e. "one's own flesh and blood, one's nearest and dearest" (American Century Thesaurus). Thank you and I hope Mr. Campbell's family appreciated the article, too.

Joan Adkins, Wesley Chapel


Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Friday's letters: Putnam and Publix, two P's lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17 A pleasure to shop elsewhere My family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye. F...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 18

Re: Pasco panel okays Tampa Electric solar farm after five-hour meeting | April 9 storySolar farm offers many positivesThere has been much publicity regarding the proposed TECO Mountain View solar project slated for 350 acres in East Pasco that was r...
Published: 05/14/18

Thursday’s letters: Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America

Autonomous vehicles in FloridaThe state for self-driving carsAlmost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America. In the last three months, Voyage, a self-driving taxi service, has begun service in the Villag...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: Florida’s Community Health Centers save $1.78 for every dollar spent

Florida’s Community Health CentersHealth centers are a great dealIf you gave someone a dollar and they gave you back $1.78, wouldn’t you consider that a fantastic deal? That’s the deal Florida’s Community Health Centers provide for the state’s citize...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/16/18

Monday’s letters: Good ideas to fix schools still require enough money

Another plan for faltering schools | May 9The right ideas, cash still neededThe administration of the Hillsborough County School District should be applauded for persistent efforts to find the right formula to improve educational results of stude...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Saturday’s letters: Short-sighted prison cuts hurt society

Call to rethink prison cuts | May 10Short-sighted prison cuts hurt societyThe Florida Department of Corrections is dismantling successful substance abuse and re-entry treatment programs to fix a $28 million shortfall. The short-sighted action wi...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/11/18