Editor's note: 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. 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 helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for June 2013 by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
Sick leave bill
A matter of public health
Our governor has rendered a lot of controversial decisions in the wake of the one of the worst sessions of Florida lawmaking in my 30 years living here. Recently he decided to uphold the bill that prevents local communities from mandating paid sick leave for employees.
A huge majority of Floridians (70 to 80 percent) favor paid sick leave. A small number of giant corporations do not. Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster and others) and Disney lobbied hard to secure this right to obstruct home rule and promote pestilence.
Paid sick leave is a valuable individual benefit, but it is also a critical element of public safety, especially in densely populated areas with large numbers of tourists. Food workers and those who interact with large crowds (like employees of amusement parks) should be able to stay home when they are sick. Otherwise, they risk infecting others with communicable diseases.
Restaurants that coerce their servers and preparers to come to work sick are practicing a dubious business model. Who wants to eat in a place where the food handlers might give you a disease? Local officials and the general public may understand that public health is important, but it seems that some big corporations do not, even when their own customers are in jeopardy.
Susan Greenbaum, Temple Terrace (June 21)
Sweet deal, but not for consumers | June 19, editorial
Hunger and malnutrition at home
We have an undeveloped nation living among us in the United States. And we're treating them worse than we treat foreign undeveloped nations.
We know that hunger and malnutrition stunt the growth of children worldwide. If they don't get adequate nutrition in their first 1,000 days, from conception to age 2, people grow up stunted in their bodies and their brains. This leaves them less likely to learn and become self-sustaining. They remain a problem to our community.
The recession has pushed many people into hunger danger, people who once were self-supporting.
With our foreign aid, we know it helps us to assist people in developing nations to become self-sufficient. It permits them to lift themselves from poverty and makes them good world citizens, not terrorists.
But in our own country, we are cutting SNAP (food stamps). This is a mistake. It's bad for the people who are getting their food cut (fetuses, children, adults) and it's bad for the people who are doing the cutting since it contributes to problems in our communities and goes against the high principles we say we live by.
Ken Schatz, Tampa (June 24)
Sex assaults in military: 53% on men | June 24
Inside the numbers
This rather startling headline is misleading regarding the percentage of men versus women in the military who have been sexually assaulted, and it is not clarified sufficiently in the article.
With a number of 26,000 total assaults as reported in the article, 53 percent on men would equate to a total of 13,780 assaults, whereas for women it would be 12,220. Yet, according to data published in numerous places, there are approximately 203,000 women in the military and 1,197,000 men. If you do the math, this means that 6 percent of women (12,200 of 203,000) have been sexually assaulted, whereas 1 percent of men (13,780 of 1,197,000) were assaulted. So the rate for women is still six times that for men.
Joel K. Thompson, professor of psychology, USF, Tampa (June 25)