Sunday, February 18, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: State parks merit budget support

Scott touts tourism records | May 16

State parks merit budget support

Gov. Rick Scott raves about the increase in tourism in Florida over the past few months. What he doesn't tell you is that his budgets have cut funding to state parks to the bone. Our state parks are prime destinations and contribute one-quarter of the glowing totals of visitors that he touts.

In fiscal year 2013, state parks had an economic impact of over $1.1 billion on local economies throughout Florida. Some $76 million was contributed to the state's general revenues in the form of state sales taxes. And more than 18,500 jobs were created in local economies as a result of state park operations.

In many rural counties, the state park is one of the most important attractions drawing visitors and supporting small businesses. Locally, Honeymoon Island State Park had more than 1 million visitors last year and had an economic impact of $48 million to the Tampa Bay area.

It's disconcerting when we see actions like reducing funding to maintain the health of our natural springs, many of which are attractions at state parks. Visitors must wonder about some of the crumbling infrastructure at many of our parks. It's a tragedy that salaries for park staffs are barely above minimum wage. Hats off to them for their dedication and cheerful attention to the public despite the low morale in this political climate.

Florida's state parks are the lifeblood of Florida tourism. They have been underfunded and ignored. They are Florida's natural gems, and they deserve better.

Ray Dabkowski, Dunedin

Focus on testing yields poor result May 17, editorial

Testing's shortcomings

One of the jobs I had before retiring was as field representative for the achievement tests branch of Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, at the time one of the major publishers of achievement tests. I helped school districts understand what achievement tests could and could not do for them.

Among the things they cannot do:

1) Determine whether an individual student is progressing adequately in school or not. It truly takes individualized, not group, testing for that;

2) Determine the adequacy of individual teachers.

Giving students tests does not educate them. It does not even motivate them. The bright students know they will perform well and don't worry. Slower students would be better served by spending all that testing time being presented with information in some new format that might communicate better to them.

We're turning out a whole generation of students who know how to learn but who don't particularly want to. That is not a good outcome.

Susan Setley, St. Petersburg

Avila killer was part of fiscal scandal May 15

Domestic violence scourge

A week later, I continue to be puzzled by the media's relentless focus on possible financial malfeasance in the Avila murders-suicide. Everyone seems somehow unwilling to explore the most basic "reason" for the murders: power and control, the root of all domestic violence.

Darrin Campbell placed a gun at the heads of his wife and two children and shot them in cold blood. Regardless of any other "causes," that's domestic violence. And every day in our country, domestic violence homicides happen to at least three women — and sometimes their children, too. That's the conversation we should be having.

Mindy Murphy, Tampa

Rift between Jolly, Beverly Young grows May 18

Let Jolly be Jolly

Beverly Young seems to think that she has been elected to represent Pinellas County; she has not. She is trying to carry on her late husband's work, but she does not control David Jolly and he is right to distance himself from her.

As our member of Congress, Jolly is responsible to all of us, not to one woman who is acting like she is the kingmaker with special personal access for her projects, however worthwhile they may be. Young needs to understand that Jolly is not a clone of her husband and must find his own path.

Michele Elliott, St. Petersburg

The look of things to come at St. Pete High May 18

Excessive control

I was a student at St. Petersburg High School when a student was thrown out for having long hair. I was a teacher at the school when a student was thrown out for having purple hair. Both of those were the fault of Pinellas County for imposing absurd rules on students.

Now a student can be thrown out for wearing a nice dress or a dress shirt. For the first time in 50 years, I am ashamed of St. Petersburg High School.

Our students are constantly told, "Do this; don't do that." Usually that's a good thing, as such rules pertain to their health or safety. They are afforded little freedom to try out "looks" or attitudes that will help them define themselves as adults. Good teachers help students explore such options. But administrators often are more interested in control than growth.

We read that public schools are in trouble. But public schools are not being defeated; they are losing by their own actions. The misguided administration of St. Petersburg High is an example of why people are losing faith in public schools.

John Allcorn, Palm Harbor

Rubio: End Bright Futures review | May 17

Refresher course

Sen. Marco Rubio, who claims he is "ready to be president," can find no "legal basis" for the federal government to review the Bright Futures scholarship program. Perhaps he can enhance his readiness by rereading the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

Leaders, not personalties | May 16, letter

Beginning of an era

The letter writer wants to know when being president became about being a pretty face and talking points and not about proven experience and true leadership. I'll tell her exactly when it started: Nov. 4, 2008.

John Waitman, Palm Harbor


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

Tuesday’s letters: Challenges in Hillsborough foster care

Foster failures under scrutiny | Feb. 10Challenges in foster care systemNo young person deserves to be treated as shown in the Ch. 8 segment on Youth and Family Alternatives Inc., an Eckerd Connects subcontractor. It is difficult to fathom how th...
Published: 02/12/18

Saturday’s letters: We’re all just trying to get home, one zip tie at a time

I detest Trump, but a ‘redneck’ fixed my Prius with zip ties | Feb. 3, Ruth Mayer columnWe’re all just trying to get homeLike columnist Ruth Mayer, I too am trying to find my level ground, my level-set. I too have held a tremendously deep resentm...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18

Sunday’s letters: Let’s make America good again

Everyone loves a parade | Feb. 9, editorialI’ll sit on the sidelinesAs a 30-year veteran I was appalled at the president’s plan for a military parade. Having marched in numerous parades in my career I can say without hesitation that members of th...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18