Thursday, February 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Block grants bring social and financial gains

Block grants

Grants bring social, financial gain

Last October, Alpha House of Tampa was awarded $50,000 through the city of Tampa's highly competitive Community Development Block Grant annual funding process. This sounds like a drop in the bucket of the $3 billion the federal government would cut nationwide with its proposed budget. However, for homeless pregnant women and parenting mothers and their children served by Alpha House of Tampa, elimination of this funding would prove devastating.

Alpha House of Tampa's CDBG-funded program assists homeless women in crisis by providing safe emergency shelter, pre- and post-natally, so they can develop the education and skills necessary to become and remain employed in living-wage jobs and ultimately move into permanent housing. Many Alpha House of Tampa residents face one or more of the crises of homelessness: domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness and poverty.

Our CDBG funding supports a full-time housing case manager who assists residents with finding permanent housing and integration into the community. The case manager conducts needs assessments, provides mediation and advocacy with landlords, makes referrals to appropriate community-based social services and/or programs, and offers budget counseling and education to empower women to secure appropriate housing. Most importantly, the case manager provides home visits to former residents to ensure stability and continued progress toward self-sufficiency so they do not return to homelessness.

Contrary to statements otherwise, CDBG funding has more than proven its worth by improving living conditions for the poor, including women who are pregnant and homeless. For example, in 2016, three-quarters of families who exited Alpha House of Tampa moved into permanent housing. This represented a cost savings to the Tampa Bay community estimated at $4.6 million. Equally, if not more significant, 67 mothers found affordable and secure housing so they are stabilized for the long term, helping to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and for their children.

I encourage our citizenry to lobby elected officials to continue funding Community Development Block Grants. It makes sense, financially and socially.

Patricia J. Langford, Tampa

The writer is executive director of Alpha House of Tampa.

Keep state building codes strong | March 29, commentary

Building codes remain solid

Craig Fugate's recent column, written on behalf of Floridians for Safe Communities, is a classic example of modern-day fear-mongering by an organization whose sole purpose is to protect special interests and derail reasonable reform.

Contrary to Fugate's remarks, Senate Bill 7000 was designed to bring more common sense to Florida's building code update process. There is no evidence to suggest that the bill prevents potential innovations or provisions designed to enhance safety from making it into our code. In fact, the bill specifically requires the Florida Building Code to maintain all of the energy efficiency, wind and water intrusion standards currently adopted, many of which exceed those required by the International Code Council.

I have known Fugate for over 15 years and have great respect for his many accomplishments as a public servant at the state and federal level. I served as president of the Florida Senate during the hurricane era Fugate refers to in his op-ed and accompanied Gov. Jeb Bush on several of the same tours of storm-ravaged areas. I too am a strong advocate for Florida's modernized building code.

Fugate's assertion that SB 7000 will somehow result in a weakened Florida Building Code amounts to nothing more than scare tactics, and he offers no evidence to substantiate his allegations.

Perhaps what is most disappointing is that someone of Fugate's stature would allow himself to serve as the face of Floridians for Safe Communities. This group, posing as a "broad-based coalition" to safeguard Floridians, was created overnight in direct response to SB 7000. It serves no purpose other than to protect the status quo, provide a front for his column, and otherwise attempt to mislead the public.

I have every confidence that Florida's Building Commission will continue to responsibly update the code, and there is no good reason to suggest otherwise.

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa

Continuing care retirement communities

Give reform bill a hearing

We're nearly halfway through the 2017 legislative session and lawmakers are missing an opportunity to protect the 30,000 senior citizens who live in Florida's 71 continuing care retirement communities. CCRCs provide a campus environment with independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing all in one setting.

Since 2013, there have been three CCRC bankruptcies in Florida. This is the most in more than 20 years. The most recent and concerning bankruptcy occurred at University Village in Tampa. During the last two years, the more than 500 senior citizens who reside at University Village have lived under a cloud of anxiety, literally not knowing what was going to happen to their community. The residents have seen collectively millions of dollars of hard-earned retirement funds invested into their CCRC disappear.

This case prompted state Sen. Tom Lee and Rep.Cyndi Stevenson to file meaningful reform legislation. The Florida Life Care Residents Association supports elements of the proposed legislation that would improve the ability of the Office of Insurance Regulation to protect the rights and welfare of the 30,000 residents living in CCRCs. Unfortunately, the Legislature has not heard either bill yet.

The vast majority of CCRC operators and owners are experienced, dedicated and successful in delivering quality services to seniors. This makes it even more important to improve the law to ensure that CCRCs continue to be seen as a vibrant and desirable long-term care option for seniors.

Pat Arends, Bradenton

The writer is president of the Florida Life Care Residents Association.


Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18