Saturday, February 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Election results and the law

Electors have a moral obligation | Dec. 19, letter

Follow the law in U.S. elections

I have been astounded and deeply dismayed by reports of the inability of a large number of liberals to accept the results of our presidential electoral process, but none has been as unsettling as this letter's comment: "In effect, (the Electoral College electors) have an obligation to save the populace from itself." What a frightening assertion.

It comes as a conclusion to a hollow argument that begins with references to the Constitution (the law), but quickly shifts to the Federalist Papers when law does not take the writer where he wants to go. When this tack also leaves him hanging, he settles on a "moral obligation" as the rationale for skirting the law, a slippery slope that fortunately is trumped (no pun intended) by "black letter law" every time.

Kenneth Beckham, Tampa

Tax credit scholarships save Floridians money | Dec. 20, commentary

Profit motive problems

What the writer neglected to say is that those Floridians saving money are not Florida taxpayers. What the tax credit scholarship program does is divert tax dollars that would otherwise go into the state treasury into the pockets of for-profit charter school corporations while seeming to enable children from poor families to obtain a better education than that provided by public schools.

Those diverted tax dollars amounted to $418 million for the 2015-16 school year and will be up to $559 million during the 2016-17 school year.

Here's how the program works. Every dollar a business donates to the scholarship program reduces that business' Florida income tax and other tax liabilities by the exact amount donated. So it isn't a donation; it is a transfer of business tax money from the Florida treasury into the pockets of for-profit charter school owners. That converts what appears to be a noble endeavor into a profitmaking endeavor.

Supporters of the program hide behind pretty words (scholarship), branding promises (Excellence in Education) and accounting sleight of hand ($5,886 vs. $7,178 means a taxpayer saving of $1,300 for each student). Part of that per pupil difference is taxpayer underwriting of charter school capital investment, which is suspected of being the main reason that major real estate investors love taxpayer-subsidized for-profit charter schools.

The issue that needs to be addressed is the evisceration of our public schools in order to enrich the owners of for-profit charter schools under the guise of improving education through school reform. A 2009 Stanford University study showed that 17 percent of charters reported academic gains better than public schools, 46 percent reported no significant difference and 37 percent showed academic gains that were worse than public schools. That is not a valid basis for dismantling our public school system or diverting tax money into the pockets of for-profit charter school owners.

Len Deadman, Clearwater

You won, now welcome to hell | Dec. 22, commentary

When will whining end?

Just when you think the whining is about over, you publish this column by Kathleen Parker. She starts by acknowledging her absolute disdain for Donald Trump. She is even blames recent terrorist incidents on Trump who, in case she hasn't noticed, is not yet president.

She claims as fact that Trump will not fulfill any of his campaign promises and she sees no reason he would even run for the office. Could it be he has witnessed the past eight years of stagnation with President Barack Obama's administration? Obama's only accomplishment was the abomination of a health care program headed for the trash heap. He has succeeded in dividing the country as never before, has stifled the economy, has set the Mideast on fire and virtually killed the morals of our country.

This is Trump's starting point. Keep that in mind as he tries to right the wrongs of the past eight years. I'm sure you'll have an open mind.

Don Niemann, Seminole

Electoral College

We can't do this again

Among the many nightmares in the future that face us, perhaps one of the most terrible is the certainty that in just four years, the whole hideous political drama will be repeated.

It's bad enough that our people are so savagely divided by ideas and opinions. To have that division exaggerated by our states' division into red and blue only turns that distrust and hatred up a notch, like a return to the bad old days of slave states and free states — and we all know where that led.

We need to get rid of the Electoral College and enter an era where each person's vote will have equal value. We need to commit to honoring the popular vote and attempting to heal our country.

Travis Sherman, St. Petersburg

2017: fiery Florida | Dec. 22

Sound the alarm

Climatologists say we are very dry and in danger of severe fires. I wonder how much help we will get from Gov. Rick Scott on this. After all, climatologists are the same people who say climate change is happening. And Scott's reaction is to say he is not a scientist, deny it's happening and call sea level rise in Miami "nuisance flooding."

If Florida starts burning up, is he going to call that nuisance dryness?

Russ A. Johnson, Hudson

Constitution Revision Commission

Learn about the process

The Leagues of Women Voters of the Tampa Bay area support citizen involvement in the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, scheduled to begin in the summer of 2017. Citizens can request to be appointed to the commission, testify at public hearings around the state, and be active in the campaigns regarding passage of the amendments that are finalized.

The leagues are sponsoring a public forum to learn more about the commission on Jan. 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Ave. We welcome you to join us.

Karen Marie Karinja, Clearwater


Sunday’s letters: Slogans won’t ensure safety

LegislatureSafety requires more than slogansOn Wednesday, our Florida House passed House Bill 839 requiring all public schools to post the state motto, "In God We Trust," in a "conspicuous place." The day before, the same Florida House declined to ev...
Published: 02/24/18

Saturday’s letters: Preserve home rule in Florida

LegislaturePreserve home rule in FloridaOn behalf of the members of Business Watch, a trade association for government contractors, I would like to voice our dismay over the Legislature’s wholesale attack on home rule. As local government contractors...
Published: 02/23/18

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...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/22/18

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