Pinellas cutting special ed | April 19
More teacher support, not less
As a father of a special education student and a daughter who has taught special ed for 15 years, I have to say that the school board's decision to eliminate ESE aides is the wrong direction.
One of the most difficult jobs in education is the special ed teacher. They have more children than they can handle, with too little help. My daughter has done this difficult job for 15 years and is burned out. She came here from Tulsa, Okla., during a vacation and slept for three days. She told me she doesn't know whether she can make it nine years to retirement. Special ed teachers are hard to find and even with a 10 percent increase in pay the average teacher doesn't last 10 years because of the strain. These teachers deserve more support, not less.
George Proctor, N. Redington Beach
Uber launches new campaign | April 18
Transit should progress
Several years ago, ambitious leaders in the Tampa Bay region set a goal to become one of the top 10 technology marketplaces in the country. Our competitors are high tech strongholds with names such as Austin, New York, and Silicon Valley. They had a head start and provide a lot for us to emulate. We know that we have advantages, too, such as our favorable tax code, entrepreneurial culture, and an enjoyable semi-tropical climate.
We're making great progress.
We must also be mindful of barriers to our success, like an outdated rule governing car service and taxicabs that stifles new technological innovations.
Much positive attention has been paid to Uber, a technology platform accessed on a mobile device that seamlessly connects travelers with car service. Uber is a big hit in other cities throughout the nation and has done exactly what good technology is supposed to do: it disrupts the market, increases options for consumers, and provides new economic opportunities, leading to more prosperity for everyone.
But Tampa and other cities in Florida have rules unnecessarily limiting car services, which prevents a high tech win like Uber from being able to operate here.
We are shortchanging Tampa Bay's chances for success if we allow regulatory hurdles to block the adoption of new technology. Senate Bill 1618 and House Bill 1389 are under consideration in the Florida Legislature and would address these problems.
We will not achieve our goal of being a top ten marketplace for technology if we hold on to bad public policy that prevents technology from being adopted. We must move forward when we have the opportunity, or Tampa Bay and Florida will be left behind.
Doug Pace, COO, Bayshore Solutions, Tampa
Bird control at MacDill AFB | April 20
Dog is wasting her time
Your article on the bird-chasing dog at MacDill at first struck me as satire. But no, as I read on it was obviously about a serious but completely ill-conceived effort to avoid bird collisions with MacDill's aircraft.
As an ex-Air Force pilot (F-4s and F-102s) I can attest that bird strikes do not occur on the ground, nor do the majority of them happen on approaches to airports.
Bird strikes always do take place in the air, so in a sense, the MacDill patrol dog is causing harmless birds to become potential hazards by chasing them into the sky.
The only semi-effective bird elimination effort I saw in my 25 years of service was in England, where a local falconeer was hired; his predatory birds literally chased down their prey and killed them. The MacDill operation, while more benign, is almost certainly a wasted effort.
Anthony Skey, St. Petersburg
Fix Second Amendment | April 17
It's all about the comma
One does not have to be a former Supreme Court justice to understand the plain English of the Second Amendment. I believe the most important part is the comma. It separates two distinct concepts. First we have to have a group of armed militia running around to protect the country from enemies, both foreign and domestic. Second the people have a right, that cannot be infringed, to protect their families from criminals and that group of armed militia running around should they become less than well regulated. And know this; "the people" referred to in the Second Amendment are the same exact entity referred to in "We the People."
Gary Matheson, Palm Harbor
Bad logic on speed limit
Sen. Jeff Brandes' bill would increase the speed limit on Florida highways to 75 mph, because "many of us are already driving at that level." By this logic, we should increase tolls and gasoline taxes because "many of us are paying at the current level."
This bill will inevitably lead to more serious accidents and consequently, higher insurance premiums for everyone. It's a safe bet that "many of us" will now drive 80 mph or more, assuming they won't be ticketed.
Robert Lockwood Miles, Sun City Center
So, speed limits on Florida highways could be raised from 70 to 75 mph under a bill the Senate passed Thursday despite concerns from opponents that roads would become more dangerous. This comes from a legislature that did away with the law that required riders of motorcycles to wear helmets, which studies have shown has killed more bikers. Next up? Wearing seat belts optional. And people up north wonder how we continue to make room for them to vacation here.
Jerry Rosen, Lutz
Tampa goes Bollywood | April 25
Oh, how the tide has turned
I am certain I'm not the only one happily smirking at the sweet irony: India outsourced their showcase movie awards to Tampa's overseas shores. Bravo, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and all involved!
Valerie Wolf, Riverview