Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Reform law on experts' testimony

Rules on expert testimony

Improve law on experts in court

As a career prosecutor, I had the honor of serving our country for almost 30 years, first as a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps and culminating in six years as the presidentially appointed U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

In 1993, in a case called Daubert vs. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court adopted a new standard for the admission of expert scientific evidence in federal courts to ensure that expert opinions presented in court are reliable and based on sound science.

In the 20 years since that ruling, a majority of states have adopted that standard, but Florida's courts continue to use a 90-year-old standard that allows the admission of "pure opinion." In practice, this means that almost any so-called scientific evidence or opinion is allowed in state court.

Now, the Legislature is considering changing the law to bring Florida in line with the federal courts and the majority of states.

Opponents of the proposal say that the new standards will be costly to implement and impose a burden on the courts. In my experience, that's not true.

I worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office when the federal courts transitioned to the new standard. At that time, the workload impact consisted of a 20-minute brown bag lunch-and-learn.

In addition, there's no empirical evidence of a potential financial impact on the courts. Even if there is some yet-to-be-determined cost involved — which history shows is unlikely — isn't the pursuit of truth and justice worth it?

I've dedicated my career to aiding in the administration of justice, upholding the integrity of the law, and working hard to ensure innocent persons are not wrongfully convicted. The Florida Legislature can help others do that by passing House Bill 7015 and Senate Bill 1412.

Gregory R. Miller, U.S. attorney, 2002-08, Tallahassee

Rubio should follow Nelson's lead April 6, editorial

Unshakable self-interest

According to an unspoken code, politicians must have unshakable core beliefs. First, they must believe in keeping a paycheck — theirs. Second, they must believe in voting whichever way the political wind is blowing. Third, in resolving any conflict involving hotly contested issues, refer to the first unshakable core belief.

John C. Carr, Palm Harbor

Conviction, convenience

I have no problem with those who honestly and as a matter of conviction favor gay marriage. What I find beyond contempt are those people with influence, like Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who have a long-held religious belief in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman who suddenly, for political reasons, shift to the other side. Florida seems to have more than its share of flip-floppers.

Bill Bravick, Tampa

Families need more options | April 5, letter

Hospice care standards

Medicare recipients and all others who become hospice patients in Florida are cared for by some of our nation's finest hospices. While some localities may have single hospice providers, all hospices in our state are guided by a Certificate of Need, which holds them to a rigorous set of patient-care guidelines. Failure to meet CON requirements carries serious consequences.

Having a "physical plant" and "administrative overhead," cited by the letter writer, is more about infrastructure than it is about the provision of quality hospice care. The essence of exemplary hospice care is its spirit of compassion and commitment to patient and family choice. Hospice care is unique in that it is guided by patient and family decisions. Therefore, hospice care is provided in the settings patients choose, such as private homes, hospitals or nursing homes, not solely in prescribed locations.

It is important to note that hospice patients are never required to give up their own, trusted physicians. In fact, many doctors recommend hospice care to their patients. When patients want to keep their own doctors involved in their care, hospice doctors and care teams are pleased to collaborate with them.

A number of studies have shown that hospice care is economically sound and, more important, enhances quality of life for patients and their families. Hospices are as committed to compassionate care as they are to resolving pain and symptom issues. In addition, hospices guide and support family caregivers, resulting in increased confidence and peace of mind as they care for their loved ones.

Rafael J. Sciullo, president and CEO, Suncoast Hospice, Clearwater

Informed debate can only aid pier April 5, editorial

Not what was planned

Misinformation is a good description for the statement that the Lens design "hews closely to one of the options put forth by a citizen task force." The Lens proponents claimed in May 2012 that the original, contest-winning design was based on the task force's Alternative 4. The task force Alternative 4 had two main features: a 36,000-square-foot main building built on the upland to house 26,000 square feet of restaurant space for multiple restaurants and banquet space; and 5,000 square feet each for retail and public use and a single, straight, 500-foot-long landscaped pedestrian and fishing pier to a 100-by-100-foot pier head with a small structure.

The original Lens design, however, provided only 6,000 square feet of kiosks for snacks and shops on the upland. It featured two curved bridges with one flying over the other, each over 1,000 feet in length, out to a 7,000-square-foot collection of low concrete platforms and a 250-square-foot gelato stand.

On top of this so-called promontory was an abstract structure 350-plus feet wide and 90 feet high. The main building, the proven attraction recommended by the task force in all of its alternatives, was not part of the Lens.

Since then, the design has been amended to include a potential 7,500-square-foot restaurant on the upland and a 900-square-foot open grill on the promontory. But they will still offer less than a third of the restaurant capacity recommended by the task force.

Neither the claim of the Lens proponents nor your "hews closely" statement are supported by the facts.

William C. Ballard, president, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg Inc.


Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: The ocean is no place for amateurs

Youthful dream sinks in two days | Feb. 12Ocean is no place for amateursFirst of all, let me say I am sorry this couple lost their boat and I do applaud their adventurous spirit. However, I have spent over 20 years at sea and would like to commen...
Published: 02/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Feb. 16

A vote against Pasco’s jail bond issueThere are two stories on the front page of the Feb. 9 Pasco Times that drew my attention.The top headline reports that the Pasco County commissioners are discussing submitting a $185 million bond issue to the vot...
Published: 02/13/18