A long way to go | Feb. 19
Overcome ridership obstacles
I was disappointed but not surprised by your recent article on Tampa Bay's deficient public transit system. I think that the Times should expand upon this article and focus on some of the other problems facing local transit beyond underfunding — such as perceived safety and users' income and psychology. Many of my friends and co-workers in the region have never ridden a Hillsborough or Pinellas bus and yet have used mass transit systems in other cities.
I have ridden HART buses several times in the past few years. When I worked in Temple Terrace a few years ago, I put my bike on the No. 2 bus in Seminole Heights, got off at the University Area Transit Center and then rode my bike the rest of the way to Telecom Park. My co-workers thought I was a little crazy to try it, but the only scary part of the trip was riding on Fletcher Parkway and passing a "ghost bike" marking a spot where a bicyclist was killed by a speeding driver.
I have also ridden a HART bus to some big events, including the Republican National Convention in 2012 and the Gasparilla parade in 2016. One thing that always bugs me is how the local media often ignores HART buses as an option for getting to such events — it's almost as if they don't exist.
My main point is: Get out and try the bus if you're able. Try a sample bus ride to work and you'll find it's not too bad. Having more people at least try out the bus will help local leadership shape the future of our mass transit. I hope that the Times will consider a focus group about our current system and help to determine what barriers are keeping folks from riding.
David Bryant, Tampa
Crist filed for divorce from wife of 8 years Feb. 25
Collaborative divorce: what it is, how it works
On Feb. 24, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg, filed for divorce. In his petition, Crist states that he anticipates that he and his wife will go through a "collaborative law process." What is a collaborative divorce?
A collaborative divorce means that all issues are resolved outside court. Each spouse retains his or her own attorney, and the attorneys focus solely on reaching an agreement. This means that no time, energy or money is spent on opposition research, contested court hearings or dirty trial tactics.
Studies by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals show that nearly 90 percent of all collaborative cases end with a full agreement.
This may be because collaborative attorneys, unlike traditional divorce trial lawyers, have an incentive to help the spouses get along. If spouses are not getting along, traditional attorneys can make a pretty penny preparing for trial and getting a judge to decide the issues. In contrast, if the spouses cannot reach an agreement in the collaborative process, it means that the collaborative attorneys have not done their job and, in effect, they get fired.
The success of collaborative practice may also be due to its holistic approach. Collaborative professionals know that divorce is not merely a legal process, it is also an emotional and financial process. Collaborative divorce often takes advantage of experts to focus on the future and the children rather than the arguments of the past, and helps parties develop budgets and financial scenarios to ease the transition from married to single life.
Like many people who value privacy, peace and respect, Crist plans on engaging in the collaborative divorce process. This means that he and his spouse will choose the sensible and humane way to move forward in their lives.
Adam B. Cordover, Tampa
Oscar jabs at Trump | Feb. 27
Stick to entertainment
I find it strange that the news media cares so much about what Jimmy Kimmel or any other Hollywood celebrity has to say about politics. On a night when a group of puffed-up egos are supposed to be celebrating their accomplishments, they choose to venture into an area that they have decided they are experts in. Their major contribution to society has been pretending to be someone else for the entertainment of the masses.
If they ever had any experience with war or terrorism or politics, it's pretending to be a soldier, a counterterrorist or politician for a lot more compensation than the real protectors of our nation receive.
Hollywood touts itself to be a leader in the entertainment industry. If that's true, stick to entertainment.
Jack Summers, Sun City Center
Police autism training
Correct bill's shortfall
Families like mine that include someone on the autism spectrum want to be confident that our amazing police officers will be able to protect and support our children and family members, especially in a time of crisis. But just like parents and teachers, police need specialized training to do this.
Florida House Bill 39/Senate Bill 154 addresses police officer training on autism but includes a dangerous provision allowing for online learning.
People with autism can easily interpret a police officer who is trying to keep them safe as confrontational or downright scary. A police officer who's not properly trained can misconstrue their behavior as oppositional and aggressive. Their lives can literally be at risk every time they have an interaction with a police officer.
Because these interactions can mean the difference between life and death, the autism community does not feel that online education is enough. A current police officer training program called Crisis Intervention Training is required in-person, and we feel that autism training can easily be incorporated within that training.
In-person training that incorporates someone with autism is the way to truly protect some of our most fragile citizens and incredible police officers.
Stacey Hoaglund, Cooper City
The writer is vice president of the Autism Society of Florida.