Help choose Letter of the Month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for June by visiting the website listed below by Thursday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three June nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
On chief, mayor's call alone June 25, editorial
Ethics, management skills
I have served in the public sector for over 30 years. In that time I have worked in three law enforcement agencies and one correctional facility. One of the greatest threats I have witnessed to public safety has been the internal discord that can occur among the rank and file.
Over the past several months elected officials and residents have voiced their opinions regarding the selection of St. Petersburg's next chief of police. The reasoning behind many of those opinions has been based on whether or not the candidate is internal or external, and whether an isolated incident disqualifies one candidate over the other.
Ultimately, the selection of the next chief should be based on a thorough vetting of the depth and breadth of each candidate's executive management skills and competencies within a public safety organization. Organizations like the International Association of Police Chiefs have developed and researched leadership skills and competencies that executives who lead public law enforcement agencies should possess. Most importantly, the city's next top cop must have a reputation that has been guided by ethical decisionmaking.
Maria L. Scruggs, St. Petersburg
Marriage equality gaining
As one court after another rules against laws banning same-sex marriage, Florida remains one of the decreasing number of states still fighting the battle against marriage equality. This took an even sadder turn recently when Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi decided to file motions to intervene in an upcoming marriage equality case.
Some state legislatures have already moved to allow same-sex marriage. In some other states, courts have ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The tide is clearly moving in the direction of marriage equality, but Florida officials seem intent on keeping our state in the past.
Florida needs to join the list of states recognizing marriage equality — not just because the list is growing, but more importantly because it is simply the right thing to do.
Robert A. Hogue, Apollo Beach
It's hard to get a kick out of the World Cup June 26, Daniel Ruth column
Daniel Ruth's column about the World Cup and soccer in general was cute, but also curmudgeonly and outdated. It's a good example of the arrogance that Americans are characterized by around the world, like calling our national baseball championship the "World Series."
To not understand the rules of soccer — the world's most popular sport — and to make fun of the emotions inherent in international sports contests, is willful ignorance. The U.S. soccer team is doing well and deserves the great fans it has generated. I think Mr. Ruth should stick to Scrabble.
Paul Burnore, Indian Shores
Florida's approach on violent crime works June 20, commentary
Supervision lowers crime
In his guest column, state Rep. Matt Gaetz addressed our latest report showing that Florida leads the nation in the proportion of inmates who "max out" their entire prison sentence behind bars and then return to communities without supervision or support. Florida's 64 percent "max-out" rate is far higher than the national average, 22 percent, and several states with high rates have passed legislation in the past few years to bring their numbers down.
These states have relied on research that documents two key points: (1) holding many inmates several months longer behind bars boosts costs to taxpayers but doesn't reduce the likelihood of reoffending, and (2) offenders who are supervised after release are less likely to return to prison for committing new crimes than those who max out.
The public also recognizes that returning inmates are more likely to succeed if they are monitored and held accountable for attending programs and complying with other supervision rules than if they are simply discharged after being under lock and key for 24 hours a day, seven days a week — often for several years. In a national poll, voters by a ratio of more than 2 to 1 said they would rather see nonviolent offenders serve two years in prison followed by a year of mandatory supervision than have them locked up for three years and released without supervision.
Gaetz is correct to point out that there will always be some chronic, violent offenders who need to be separated from society. But by enacting research-based policies such as mandatory re-entry supervision, Florida can join the many other states that are cutting crime and taxpayer costs at the same time.
Adam Gelb, Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C.
Pasco school removes book | June 25
Go back to the classics
Much applause for the decision of district officials to remove Paper Towns from the summer reading list of eighth-graders. I appreciate their concern for our kids.
I think its time to go back to teaching kids the classic books that we all learned — these were without any pornographic content.
Let kids be kids. There's no need to instill ideas in preteens and teens that they can choose to learn later in life. Parents want schools to teach good values.
Theresa Park, New Port Richey