Cut foreign aid | Feb. 12, letter
Foreign aid serves American interests
For many reasons, we cannot "afford" to cut foreign aid and travel the road of isolationism. Our own economy is so deeply interrelated with the rest of the world's economy that any perception that we don't care about the welfare of others would be disastrous. Moreover, research shows that aid which assists people out of poverty, lack of education and preventable diseases leads away from terrorism and thus toward more security for us. Finally, from a moral point of view, how can we not help others who are less fortunate than we are?
We spend only about 1.4 percent of our entire federal budget on foreign aid — and that includes items such as maintaining embassies overseas. Congress needs to look at the big picture before taking rash action.
Linda Schatz, Tampa
Education means jobs
Gov. Rick Scott wants to cut education funding by some $3 billion to $4 billion, or 10 percent. Florida ranks 36th on a best-educated index and 36th for dollars per pupil spent.
If you want to attract highly educated people to Florida, you need to have a good education system. Highly educated people want the opportunity to raise well-educated children. Technical, finance, health care and research industries will not set up shop in Florida if we can't provide the families of the employees with an outstanding education.
Our goal should be to become the education state. The business will soon follow.
Sharon Herman, Lithia
Vulnerable hit hard in budget | Feb. 11
Toward a breaking point
We are watching what is happening in Egypt very closely. Is the United States listening?
The income of a Supreme Court justice's wife isn't reported; Rep. Charles Rangel is censured for financial violations; Florida citizens pass a proposition to stop gerrymandering, only to have legislators try to overturn it; and Gov. Rick Scott cuts benefits for the homeless as homelessness increases. All this while we continue tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
I wonder when average citizens will say: Enough is enough.
Robert Weber, Clearwater
Don't cut lifeline
I read with astonishment that included in Gov. Rick Scott's proposed budget of nearly $66 billion is a proposal to eliminate $7 million in state funding to assist 74,000 homeless people.
This small amount was designed to help provide the most basic needs for men, women and children who are merely trying to survive in this brutal economy. Given the overall size of the proposed budget, for Scott to abolish this program is mean-spirited and has virtually no impact on the state's bottom line.
Undoubtedly, in order to balance the state budget, a comprehensive evaluation needs to occur, which by necessity will include cuts to various agencies and programs. But I sincerely hope that he and the Legislature carefully consider the consequences of cutting a lifeline to so many of our fellow Floridians.
Elton E. Jones, Clearwater
Cheaper light rail proposed | Feb. 10
Add stops to rail line
The proposed light rail changes are a step in the right direction, but one big problem that remains is that the alignment as described will only serve riders who want to go from one end of the line to the other, with no stops in between.
There simply isn't enough demand for express-only service between downtown Tampa and the airport, with or without a high-speed rail terminal downtown.
A more progressive solution would be to run an elevated line along Kennedy, West Shore and Boy Scout boulevards so that both express and local service could be provided. This would result in service between downtown and TIA, but with lots of additional ridership due to stops along Kennedy Boulevard, service to WestShore Plaza and International Plaza.
Yes, the initial capital expense would be larger to elevate a line along existing traffic corridors. However, with more riders in the near- and long-term, the operating subsidies would be much smaller. Let's not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. We don't need an expensive project that "demonstrates" nothing but a lack of progressive, long-term thinking.
Bud Wills, Tampa
Advocate for elderly is fired | Feb. 9
Facilities need watching
As an ombudsman, I have been involved in numerous assessments and fielded a multitude of resident complaints from some of the very facilities that the Florida Assisted Living Association represents. Many of these contain not only assisted-living accommodations but also secured units for residents in various stages of Alzheimer's.
The claim of FALA is that the ombudsman program and, specifically, the state ombudsman overstepped his bounds and is harassing these well-intentioned, well-run facilities. You be the judge.
One facility in the Tampa Bay area is fresh in my mind as I currently have three resident complaints.
At this facility, the activities programs offered to dementia residents are little more than unorganized, half-hearted efforts to fill time, led by staff who are untrained in the disease and appropriate stimulation. Residents are not engaged; most are asleep or staring off into space. There is one person who runs all the "activities" who readily admits there is no plan, no structure, no gearing activities toward the level that the residents can understand and benefit from.
In addition, an incident in which one resident attacked and pushed another resident down, resulting in a broken leg, was never reported as required by law. And residents who don't have their own furniture are required to rent a bed, dresser and nightstand. Can you imagine checking into a hospital and being told that your bed is not included in the charge for your care?
If this is overstepping our bounds, I will continue to take giant leaps, because the plight of Florida seniors is abominable.
Pam Anderson, Treasure Island
Mayor defends aide on funeral | Feb. 10
Mayor Bill Foster's comments about Goliath Davis make me very proud to have voted for Kathleen Ford in 2009. She was the only candidate who would have removed Goliath Davis from the city payroll. The man is a disgrace. In 2013, I will vote for any candidate for mayor who will send Davis into retirement.
Charles Farrell, St. Petersburg