Help choose the Letter of the Month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for March 2013 by visiting the website listed below by Friday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the Web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three March nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
FBI raid signals end of Universal | March 29
Root out fraud and waste
We can afford health care for all — if we stop abuses in the current system. Universal and WellCare are two recent local examples. More than 800 people lost their jobs at Universal, whose failure had a major impact on 140,000 members in 23 states. Correct waste and abuse and we can begin to slow down the rising costs of health care, which amounts to one-sixth of the U.S. economy.
Time magazine published a report on the primary reasons for our rising health care costs. Our current accountability systems, billing procedures and costs are not controlled; thus they are open to error and fraud.
If the medical profession, our hospitals, government (Medicare, Medicaid) and private insurance companies know this, why hasn't it been corrected? One effective starting point is to replace fines and penalties with jail time.
Bill Wilton, Tampa
Buyer's remorse over Florida Polytechnic March 29, editorial
Put it back under USF
If House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz had any real commitment to the conservative principles to which they allude ad nauseum, they would lead their fellow Republican state legislators in an effort to reverse last year's gutless decision to create a 12th state university out of USF in Lakeland.
Florida Poly, which should be renamed "JD's Folly" in honor of its self-aggrandizing creator, JD Alexander, then should be put back under the auspices of USF, followed by a thorough personnel housecleaning of its local administration to ensure that any trace of Alexander's cronies, lackeys and assorted sycophants have been eliminated from the premises.
Maybe now that the senator is back home in Polk County and not in Tallahassee, GOP legislative leaders will somehow find the courage to act in the best interests of the state and of its postsecondary educational system.
Joe McColloch, Tampa
The speeding ticket and the pink slip March 29, Daniel Ruth column
Lack of ethics evident
By publishing this column, the Tampa Bay Times editors condone a total lack of morals and ethics.
The democratic principles upon which our country was founded included a classless society where some may be smarter, more successful or better-looking, but as the adage goes: "We all put on our pants one leg at a time." We should all be ashamed that a special class has evolved that pretends to be better than everyone else — as well as those who have abetted such a privileged group.
I feel sorry for the trooper who was penalized for unethical conduct, but he chose to be part of the mess. I feel sorrier for Rep. Charles McBurney, who has suffered character assassination because he chose to opt out of the quagmire. The latter should be admired for the high morals and ethics he practices in life.
Finally, Daniel Ruth's cutesy way of adding a derogatory term every time he mentions McBurney's name is journalism at its lowest.
J. Daniel Techentin, Dunnellon
No good deed …
No good deed goes unpunished. Since the pope has already been chosen, would Rep. Charles McBurney like to put his name in for the next round? How can you cost a man his job for being nice?
Bruce Edgar, New Port Richey
Civilian Conservation Corps
Idea whose time is back
Sunday marked 80 years since the creation of the U.S. Civilian Conservation Corps. On March 31, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law his first "alphabet soup" New Deal initiative. For nine years, from 1933 to 1942, the CCC gave more than 4 million American men and women employment. They fought forest fires, replanted nearly 4 billion trees and provided disaster relief. The CCC demonstrated that there was no conflict between the preservation of the environment and the creation of jobs.
The 21st Century CCC Act has been sponsored by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. The nonprofit Civilian Conservation Corps Initiative Inc. urges Americans to contact their representatives to support renewing this program for future generations.
Jay D. Alexander, St. Petersburg
Bloomberg, LaPierre trade truths, half-truths March 29, PolitiFact
Going beyond the numbers
It seems to me that your logic in evaluating the percentage of gun show purchases is flawed. You concluded that while Michael Bloomberg's estimate of 40 percent may be the best number you could find, you labeled it "Half True" because you couldn't substantiate it.
Given that there is uncertainty, I think you should have gone beyond trying to document whether the percentage is accurate. You should have tested how variability in the number would impact any conclusions that might be drawn. For instance, if the 40 percent estimate is only half-true (i.e., it's 20 percent), does that invalidate the conclusion that gun shows represent a huge loophole that convicted felons could use to buy guns?
You also quibbled that some of the 40 percent represented parent-to-child transfers of firearms. Do you really mean to imply that a parent of a convicted felon should be able to give their child a firearm without a background check?
Ed Fagan, St. Petersburg