Friday, March 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Missed opportunity for Tampa

Mayor takes a pass on DNC | Feb. 28

Missed opportunity for Tampa

With thousands of people out of jobs and businesses closing and laying off people, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has seen fit to throw away the opportunity to bring in over $200 million into the Tampa Bay area by hosting the 2016 Democratic convention. In 2012, the Republican National Convention held in Tampa brought in over $214 million, which was a nice financial shot in the arm for the region.

Granted, we would be competing with other cities for the 2016 Democratic convention, but Buckhorn chose to not even participate in the selection process. Why is it our current Democratic leaders continually turn down job opportunities in business creation and growth? Thanks to Gov. Rick Scott for going outside the state to try to bring businesses here and for helping current businesses create more jobs.

I'll bet if Pam Iorio was still mayor, her staff would be filling out the required DNC paperwork for this opportunity.

John Howie, Tampa

Hung out to dry in the eye of the storm Feb. 20, Daniel Ruth column

Insurers give vital services

Daniel Ruth's column did the Times and its readers a disservice with an uninformed, sneering assessment of Florida-based homeowners insurance companies. Coming up with real solutions to the difficult problem of Florida's property insurance market may not be a serious topic for Ruth, but it sure is for the employees of these companies — many of them in Tampa Bay — who are working hard every day to protect their customers' homes and property.

The reality is that Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation and the law holds these companies to higher standards than government-run Citizens; they must have enough capital and back-up insurance to pay catastrophic hurricane losses without resorting to the assessments that Citizens can levy to pay claims.

Florida-based companies are among the only private insurers willing to write new policies in the state, and they are the best option to bring stability to the riskiest insurance market in the country. Despite Ruth's casual attitude, they are providing a vital service to homeowners and the state's real estate economy.

William Stander, executive director, Florida Property & Casualty Association, Tallahassee

Utility deposits

Burdening nonprofit groups

Duke Energy touts a community service policy that, in its words, "ensures our communities have the resources and support they need to thrive — now and well into the future." This is apparently not the case with nonprofit organizations.

Vincent House, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to rebuilding the lives of people with mental illness. Duke Energy is now requiring a security deposit equivalent to 150 percent of the monthly energy bill for all nonprofits. In the case of Vincent House, a small organization, this amounts to $3,315.

Vincent House is one of 2,000 nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay area. It has relatively low energy usage and has never been delinquent on its energy bill during 11 years of operation. Using simple math and Vincent House's required security deposit as an average, we estimate that Duke Energy will permanently remove over $6 million from local nonprofits, thus reducing the availability of resources for the most vulnerable citizens in our community. According to Duke Energy supervisor Lyntina Henderson, Duke does not offer nonprofit waivers except to extremely large nonprofits "like Fannie Mae." How interesting.

So help us understand: Where exactly does community service rank within Duke Energy's corporate priorities?

Elliott Steele, co-founder, and William McKeever, executive director, Vincent House, Pinellas Park

Arizona governor: No discrimination Feb. 27

Barriers to inclusion

The recently vetoed Arizona legislation to legalize discrimination seems to have briefly reinvigorated the gay marriage topic on 24-hour news outlets. Catholic League president Bill Donohue recently debated the issue with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Donohue argued that marriage is about establishing a traditional family for the purpose of procreation. Cuomo countered that marriage is about love and commitment.

Much of the conflict seems to emanate from our tradition of combining civil and religious marriage into a single institution. This approach has created barriers to inclusion and turned clergy into notaries for the civil aspect of marriage. Were we to divide "marriage" into civil marriage and religious marriage, much of the conflict would likely dissipate.

Anyone meeting the legal requirements for civil marriage could get one. Religious marriage would be at the discretion of the couple and the polity of their faith community. Since everyone wishing any kind of marriage would have to first obtain a civil marriage, there would be no illegal discrimination, and the debate would move from CNN to internal conversations within each faith community.

Robert H. More, Riverview

Bill promotes three-year transition to Florida Standards | Feb. 27, Gradebook blog

Bridging the disconnect

After reading about the bill introduced in the Legislature to suspend school grades for three years, it is obvious who has the best interests of Florida teachers, students and schools at heart and painfully clear who does not.

Kudos to the two Democratic members of the Legislature who have composed a reasonable and fair compromise to deal with the current disconnect between new courses of study and old forms of testing. Conversely, Florida's Senate president, Don Gaetz, has decided to make disrespectful and flippant remarks toward thousands of teachers and students by comparing them to a bunch of scoreboards on a football field.

Even as Tallahassee continues to vacillate over educational directives, teachers continue to give their best efforts to coach, encourage and educate Florida's children and stand by them through these transitional times. I assure Gaetz that this is no game being played for his amusement. Our state's future is at stake.

Ann Gerakios Arfaras, Clearwater

Red-light cameras

Drivers are getting better

Red-light cameras help keep drivers lawful. Despite more traffic, I notice people are more careful at stoplights. Sen. Jeff Brandes is just following the Republican Party line to starve government so it can't regulate or function properly.

Nancy Ogden, St. Petersburg


Friday’s letters: Think through assault weapons ban

Gun controlThink through assault rifle banI recently emailed a Florida state representative who had pledged, among other things, to ban assault rifles in the state. I asked him if he would ban the sale and transfer of these guns or ultimately make th...
Published: 03/22/18

Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18