Saturday, March 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Public needs access to criminal records

'Stand' law: from bad to worse | March 21, editorial

Don't cut access to crime records

It would be a mistake to enact legislation to delete public records documenting a person's involvement with Florida's "stand your ground" law. Arrest and court records reflect the realities of the criminal justice process by including original charges, plea bargains, judge and jury decisions, fines and jail terms. They also note when charges are dropped after an official investigation into the facts of the case. Records track trends in how our laws are applied and administered.

The intent of record-keeping, whether in government or the private sector, is to document the failures and successes of management systems. Society needs this information to better understand how we are doing and what changes may be needed.

Businesses have more control over how detailed their record-keeping should be. It's the boss' money. But the state criminal justice system affects everyone in Florida, and its records need to identify everyone — including those who might be mistakenly arrested — on whom tax dollars are being spent.

If the records of some are expunged because their use of the "stand your ground" law might cause them grief, the same could be said for those accused of driving under the influence, domestic violence, etc., but later released or charged with lesser offenses.

Roger Crescentini Sr., Tampa

Chase policy for deputies gets tougher March 18

More sensible chase policy

Thanks to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for the wisdom he showed in tightening restrictions on high-speed chases.

I can never forget, shortly after moving to this area, coming upon a fatality that had just taken place as a result of a high-speed chase on Tyrone Boulevard. The life of a registered nurse, mother and grandmother had been needlessly lost as she turned to go on duty at the VA hospital.

Since then, I have read of many other fatalities and near-fatalities caused by police pursuits. Now I am relieved of the uneasiness I felt every time I heard a siren while my grandsons worked and attended college in St. Petersburg.

Grace Erdman, Belleair Bluffs

NRA-backed bills clear House | March 21

Rubber-stamp legislators

It has become painfully obvious that the Republican-led House in Florida will rubber-stamp any and all cockamamie bills brought to the floor with the full support of the NRA.

The latest embarrassment is the "Pop-Tart" bill, which passed by a 98-17 vote with only Democrats voting against. Passing a bill that will specifically allow children to fashion "pretend pistols" out of pastries only goes to show how much "dough" the NRA has to pad the pockets of our legislators.

Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor

Russia seizing bases in Crimea | March 23

Territorial imperative

In the immortal words of Gen. Jack Ripper in the movie Dr. Strangelove: "Two can play at that game, soldier."

Vladimir Putin depicted the annexation of Crimea as correcting a "historical error," arguing that the region has played a vital role in Russia's history and culture for centuries. Kaliningrad, created by the Potsdam Conference in 1945, was once part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Its annexation would also correct a grave "historical error."

Kaliningrad is an enclave that is hardly ever noticed. Sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, it is isolated from mother Russia. It therefore represents a spearhead in the side of the NATO's wall of defense.

Both Poland and Lithuania are concerned with its strategic location on the Baltic sea, a position from which Russian forces could interdict marine commerce.

Kaliningrad covers a mere 86 square miles, with a population of 432,000, a number that could be easily absorbed into the nearby Russian provinces. It would not take much to use the Kaliningrad enclave as a bargaining chip in this test of wills.

John Johnson, Pinellas Park

City Hall still no help on EMS | March 22, editorial

Too many fire chiefs

The primary responsibility of government is to provide vital services to citizens in a more efficient and effective way than if the citizens were to provide them for themselves.

Imagine if each U.S. state provided its own military forces, its own army, its own air force, etc. Pinellas County is the second-smallest county in the entire state in terms of square miles, and yet we have 18 separate fire departments providing service, each with its own fire chief, captains, lieutenants, administrations and contracts. It is redundant, inefficient and very expensive. Irregular municipal boundaries make the system even more difficult to justify.

Thank you, Tampa Bay Times, for finally proposing what others of us have been espousing for years — a countywide fire department that could far more efficiently deliver both fire and EMS services. It will require a focus on genuine public service and not the self-service that too often surfaces in these discussions.

Dave Loeffert, Dunedin

History revised for DEO director | March 16

Failure is rewarded

It must be nice to be appointed department head at age 33 by the governor of Florida and get paid $141,000 in taxpayer money. It's even better when the department you oversee fails miserably and you don't have to own up to your mistakes. Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, oversaw the flawed CONNECT unemployment benefits website that prevented tens of thousands of Floridians from applying for and receiving the unemployment benefits they were entitled to for months.

Imagine being out of work and trying to apply for your entitled unemployment benefits only to be bombarded with CONNECT's glitches, freezes and error messages. Now, as a reward for making thousands of people's lives a living hell for months, you find yourself on the verge of being able to keep your job overseeing 1,621 employees with a $872.7 million budget. Our lawmakers overwhelmingly support confirmation of Panuccio and are not asking for an investigation as to why the new, $63 million website was a train wreck for months.

Marie Cunha, Hudson


Monday’s letters: Driverless cars on perilous roads

Driverless cautions | March 23, commentaryDriverless carson perilous roadsHaving watched the video of the tragedy in Tempe, Ariz., I believe the police are correct. This accident could not have been avoided as the pedestrian stepped out of the sh...
Updated: 12 hours ago

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

Saturday’s letters: Tax guns to pay for security

Million-dollar questions | March 21Tax firearms to pay for securitySo public officials are wondering where they’ll get the money for stationing an armed guard in every school. How about heavily taxing every gun? It’s the proliferation of the weap...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/23/18

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