Thursday, December 14, 2017
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


Friday’s letters: Put yourself in a business owner’s shoes

GOP plan favors owners | Dec. 11Perils of small business ownersI wonder if the author of this article has even a clue about owning a business. Businessmen — especially small business owners — risk it all. They risk their savings, their car, their...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: Trump’s values hardly admirable

Finally, a president who cares | Dec. 13, letterTrump’s values hardly admirableThe letter writer is happy to have someone in the White House who "truly cares about our country’s business" and is "unafraid … of mentioning God and religious values....
Published: 12/13/17

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Pasco letters to the editor for Dec. 15

Re: Helping Others Fulfills our purpose here on Earth | Nov. 17 guest columnThe good doctor acknowledges a CreatorThank you for publishing Dr. Rao Musunuru’s guest column. As Congressman Gus Bilirakis said in the Congressional Record, this good d...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17