Help choose 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 annually.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for December 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 December nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Snowden deserves plea deal Jan. 3, commentary
Snowden's theft, treachery
It was appalling to read the New York Times editorial supporting leniency for Edward Snowden. But thanks to the Tampa Bay Times for printing Ruth Marcus' article, which details the scope and the massive damage of Snowden's theft and treachery.
Snowden did not limit his revelations to domestic surveillance but stole and distributed classified foreign intelligence. Does anyone really believe Snowden was smart enough to be employed by one of the world's leading management and technology consulting companies — but not smart enough to find a way to give a proper alert to what he believed was unwarranted domestic surveillance? He made an attempt, he says: "told two supervisors." That's it? How diligent; how exhaustive.
The bottom line is that Edward Snowden loved Edward Snowden more than he loved his country, and he gave in to his narcissistic and self-absorbed impulses to steal and divulge classified foreign intelligence without regard to the harm to his country. He wants to leave Russia? Let him stay; they deserve each other. Should he return, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted by law
William R. Eleazer, St. Petersburg
Hillsborough schools opt for armed guards Dec. 19
Expensive and dangerous
As a junior attending Steinbrenner High School, I was troubled to hear our elementary schools were to soon be receiving armed guards. Like anyone else, I was horrified by the Connecticut shootings, however I feel this defensive measure is a mistake. Tragedies such as Sandy Hook reflect complicated societal issues that cannot be solved with a simple solution, certainly not one that is expensive and introduces weaponry to our elementary schools.
Melissa Ferrin, Lutz
Reforms target military pensions | Jan. 1
Spread the sacrifice
Lt. Col. Stephen Preston expresses his anger that Congress may trim military pensions by a small cut — "a one percentage point reduction in the annual cost-of-living increase."
The 2010 report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Simpson-Bowles) warned us that we can't get a handle on our debt unless we reform civilian and military retirement benefits and also the real long-term drivers of debt, including the growth of health care entitlements and Social Security. The commission reported a desperate need "to reform the tax code, which is riddled with trillions of dollars in economy-distorting loopholes."
Yes, Congress has been too generous over the years in increasing the above programs. Most of us condemn our Congress for not having political courage to do the right thing. I think we ought to get behind Congress and support those who prudently spread the sacrifice among all but the poorest.
I served in infantry units in Korea and Vietnam, and I'm blessed that I'm in good health and have what I consider a good retirement; I'm willing to give my share. After all, it's the future of our country, and as some in Congress have often said, we don't want to pass a huge debt burden on to our children and grandchildren. So write, phone and email your senators and representatives to do the right thing.
Paul D. McPartland Sr., U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), Port Richey
Governor deserves praise
College students across the state are returning to classes this week and paying our tuition bills. We should also be thanking Gov. Rick Scott. This past year, the governor used his veto pen to "hold the line" against yet another year of tuition increases on our students and families, demonstrating that access to public higher education is still a Floridian value. His action broke an unsustainable trend of cost increases on students, and that deserves applause.
It's important, too, that our state continues to see its public universities as an invaluable asset deserving of investment. This past year, the Legislature agreed to this principle and began restoring some of the funding our schools lost during the recession. This matters because our universities are engines for growth that provide thousands of jobs, generate billions of dollars in statewide economic impact and lead to the creation of new industries through research and patent activities. They also supply a diverse, talented and highly educated workforce to our state's employers. At a time when growth remains necessary to encourage new development and drive our state's economic recovery, policymakers should be encouraged to continue the positive trends they started in 2013.
So thank you, Florida, for seeing a path forward and embracing it. Thank you for acknowledging that severe and repeated tuition hikes hurt families and don't help our state economy. Thank you for affirming that massive cuts to public education budgets aren't the answer to our state's economic questions. And thank you for showing that investing in human capital is a primary tool to position Florida's economy for success in the 21st century.
Carlo Fassi, president, University of North Florida student government, Jacksonville