Driver texting ban advances | March 8
As deaths rise, time to ban texting
There are more than 350 laws that motorists must obey on Florida's roads. But the law is silent on whether drivers can careen down the interstate at 70 mph, typing with both thumbs while holding on to cellular devices. Eyes, of course, are glued to a tiny screen.
It is a strange silence because the death and destruction is so widespread that there has been no time for law enforcement to even study or measure it. However the anecdotal and statistical evidence is piling up and crying out for action.
Nationally, deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers in traffic accidents in the first six months of 2012 were up a combined 19 percent over the same period in the previous year, according to a February report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Although the reasons are not yet confirmed, the increase is all the more alarming because the state and national trend is for fatalities to decline.
Call, email or write your legislator and Gov. Rick Scott. Ask them to ban texting while driving now while the Legislature is in its annual 60-day session. Florida should not lag behind the nation in protecting all motorists from this senseless devastation on our roads.
Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president, Auto Club Group, Largo
A life of honor, service March 8, Daniel Ruth column
An inspiring tribute
Daniel Ruth is one of my favorite columnists. I greatly enjoy his eloquent sarcasm and his keen, insightful observations on the human scene. It's always fun to read a writer who mocks the famous, the self-satisfied, the "phony."
And yet I think I have never read so fine a summing up of a prominent life than Ruth gives us in his essay on the late Fred Karl. When there is so much to bemoan about politicians, how refreshing to see an exemplary, full, rich life memorialized. Thank you, Daniel Ruth, for inspiring your readers and renewing our faith in our fellow human beings.
Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon
The front page of Friday's edition is an excellent example of how partisan the media has become. Articles on Jeb Bush and Gov. Rick Scott appeared with headlines of less than stellar wording, while an article about Fred Karl pretty much awarded him martyr status. Bush and Scott are Republicans; Mr. Karl was a Democrat.
Daniel Ruth went ahead and awarded Mr. Karl sainthood. We can forgive Ruth because his article appeared in the op-ed section. I do not wish to detract from Mr. Karl's legacy; it's your paper's presentation I have a problem with.
Dave Helper, Tierra Verde
Giffords lobbies for background checks March 7
Paying for checks
As I understand it, Democratic senators are asking for background checks on all gun sales, even those by private citizens like myself. Who will conduct the background check and who will pay for it? If I want to offer a $250 handgun for sale in a Tampa Bay Times classified ad, will I want to tack on the cost and hassle of a background check, or will I just manage the sale "under the table"?
If the laws requiring registration by private citizens outside gun shows are being proposed, let's hear how they will address my right to sell my antique, nonworking 1857 Pocket Model percussion revolver to my neighbor.
Harvey Smith, Palm Harbor
Alternative to Medicaid grips GOP lawmakers | March 7
Healthy disrespect for sick
It's interesting that a legislative committee has acted against the governor and against Floridians with regard to accepting federal Medicaid help. If you were sick and given opportunity to have three years of care and 90 percent coverage thereafter, there would be no question. Apparently, these legislators have never been sick.
Louise Raterman, Temple Terrace
They can't say yes
We find ourselves being "governed" by part-time legislators who are in Tallahassee for two months, who are still ideologically transfixed against anything having to do with Obamacare, who don't have a clue of what they would do to bring health care to those who can't afford it or are so sick they can't be covered under private insurance — but nonetheless, they just can't say yes to accepting the federal dollars that would keep people alive.
The chairman of the committee that killed the bill in the House, Rep. Richard Corcoran, thinks that creating a new health care system that would be an alternative to Medicaid "is like building a house." Except that it's nothing like building a house. It's not something you can draw up and build while you are chatting with your buddies in Tallahassee for a couple of months.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
Insurance bill clears hurdle | March 8
Homeowners bear brunt
The Florida Legislature is again reforming Citizens homeowners insurance. Every time they reform Citizens, my rates go up and my coverage is reduced. They are going to reform me right out of buying homeowners insurance.
The Republicans in the Legislature are "depopulating" Citizens. They do not want Citizens "undercutting private insurers." In 2012, insurance industry profits were at record levels and so were political donations by insurance companies. We homeowners do not stand a chance.
Lynn W. Lindeman, Hudson
Berry blitz | March 8
Several times a year, we see pictures of people in food-eating contests. Most recently, the Times printed a photo of a strawberry shortcake contest at the Florida Strawberry Festival.
The amounts of food the contestants attempt to consume are much more that one person needs in a day, much less one sitting. While these contests can be entertaining, I feel they are a wasteful use of food. With large numbers of people going hungry, the food from these contests could be put to better use by providing meals or, in the case of strawberry shortcakes, special treats, to those less fortunate.
Debbie Roth, Clearwater