Recycling program overdue in Pinellas | March 10, editorial
Let residents keep their garbage haulers
All 277,000 citizens of unincorporated Pinellas County will soon lose one more freedom to government if we do not stop our county commissioners from taking away our freedom to choose who takes care of our garbage.
There are about 16 small haulers who service the unincorporated area, and residents can select the company and the level of service they want. If the county government franchises our garbage collection and we don't like it, there is no way to stop it.
Today, county commissioners will discuss this issue again, and each one of us should call, e-mail or show up at the commission chambers and tell them to "stay out of our garbage."
Some of these small haulers are family businesses who will not be able to compete with the larger haulers. They could go out of business and perhaps leave the area. In this time of tight budgets for government and fewer jobs for families, why would commissioners even consider this move?
If it's not broken, don't fix it.
Dorothy Book, Largo
Teachers feel their status slipping | March 13
Schoolteachers should be commended, not derided
It is disheartening to witness the onslaught of negative comments directed at teachers in the national and local media. If we are to prosper as a nation and provide an opportunity for those with an economic disadvantage, the fight will be won or lost in the classroom.
As the father of four children in the Hillsborough County school system, I am grateful to the teachers and administrators for establishing and maintaining a challenging and rigorous educational program for my four sons. Our children spend the majority of their day under teacher instruction and care. Teachers faithfully lay the critical foundation for success for any future endeavors any of our children will chose.
To have the entire teacher community feel under attack or feel marginalized is counterproductive to personal and community progress. The dedication and perseverance of the region's teachers should be commended, not derided.
Stephen P. Corcoran, Valrico
Spend a day in class
I think that Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida legislators who think teachers are the root cause of our students' failure should spend a couple of days as substitute teachers.
Let them experience firsthand the disrespect, ill manners and lack of interest some of the students display. Have them talk to the parents of these children, which will demonstrate how the home environment contributes to the problem.
Stop taking the easy way out and blaming teachers. Do some research and find the real cause of the problem. The "I know what the problem is" approach will only cost more money, lose dedicated and talented teachers and produce limited results.
Charles Emberger, Weeki Wachee
Didn't work last time
As a retired Florida teacher, I have been following coverage of the efforts by the governor and Legislature to reform teacher evaluation and pay, and one question troubles me: Am I the only person who remembers the last time Florida tried merit pay?
I have not seen a single reference to the merit pay debacle of the early 1980s, which the state abruptly ended when it realized that increasing salaries for those evaluated as "good" teachers required money. In the end, the biggest beneficiaries were administrators statewide who were paid extra to learn the evaluation process. When the bill for teachers came due, the program was abruptly terminated.
Paul B. Harley, Homosassa
Florida pill plan goes off track | March 13
Profits over patients
This article states, "The doctors' lobby, not surprisingly, opposes (state Rep. Rob) Schenck's plan to strip doctors of dispensing authority."
When doctors dispense from their own clinic or office, it is a flagrant conflict of interest. What comes first: the patient's health and well-being, or the doctor's bottom line? My experience last year was that it was the doctor's bottom line.
I got sick in Florida last March, and when I asked for the antibiotic that was appropriate, the doctor told me he couldn't give it to me because it wasn't in his office. I had to buy something else.
It would have been easy for him to write a prescription for me to take to the drugstore, but doing that would not have increased his profit. Because of this, I got sicker and almost ended up in the hospital. It was not until I was finally able to get a written prescription for the right antibiotic and take it to the drugstore that I got better.
Doctors should not dispense medication from their offices. It is not in the best interests of their patients. Dispensing should be solely in the hands of pharmacists.
Marilyn MacIvor, Nepean, Ontario
A paragraph in this article, quoting state Rep. Rob Schenck, caught my attention. It referred to a 2009 vote by Schenck in favor of the prescription drug database. "I intended to vote against it before," he said, "but I left the floor and somebody pushed my (voting) buttons without telling me."
I am astonished. Can someone else vote on behalf of a legislator? I would have thought there are strict procedures in the House chambers to ensure the validity of votes cast. I am concerned about the pill mill problem, but the fact that somebody fraudulently voted for a legislator also merits investigation.
Sara Hendricks, Lutz
Jobless are in crosshairs | March 11
Disturbing word choice
Even though the front-page story about House Bill 7005 continued on the same page as one about Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the writer of its headline, "Jobless are in crosshairs," forgot one lesson of the Tucson tragedy. Crosshairs are fixed on a target with the scope of a rifle.
Surely, Florida's Republican legislators and governor, even figuratively, do not wish to shoot the unemployed.
William Carter, Floral City
The Republican-dominated Florida Legislature has found a way to reduce unemployment: shorten the time the unemployed can receive benefits. Maybe a headline will soon announce the governor's next success, "Waiting lines for Florida government services eliminated" — achieved by having citizens wait in a circle.
Joe Milberg, Tallahassee
Don't deny chance to give life after death row March 14
Making a difference
Christian Longo has an opportunity to do something worthwhile with his wasted life. And more importantly, his organ donations will make a huge difference in the lives of many other people who are suffering the loss of what he so eagerly wishes to give: eyes, kidneys, liver, whatever is needed. Why deny him this last chance at grace? Why deny so many others the opportunity for a better life?
Ingrid Tomey, Tierra Verde
Iorio endorses Buckhorn, citing new attack ad | March 12
A lesson for politicians
Hooray for outgoing Mayor Pam Iorio for taking such a strong stand against negative campaigning. If more people took action like she did, maybe this disgusting practice would come to an end.
Eileen T. Dunnington, Sun City Center
After reading almost daily articles on negotiations among the House, Senate and White House to make cuts to the federal budget, I am perplexed.
Are these folks working on our fiscal year 2012 budget, which will take effect on Oct. 1, 2011? No. They are still working on the fiscal year 2011 budget, which was supposed to take effect on Oct. 1, 2010.
Our elected officials have had since October 2009 to craft a budget for this fiscal year. It seems that they are unable to perform their constitutionally mandated duties in a timely manner.
Don Holderness, Valrico