Sunday, June 17, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Vote for November's letter of the month

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 November by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.


Affordable Care Act

Universal care on horizon

The conservative media have joyously proclaimed that the double-digit health insurance rate increases many Obamacare policyholders are facing mark the beginning of the end for the law. With apparent glee, some pundits have proclaimed that these increases are evidence of the law's failure and flaws in "liberal" policy. Many use these premium increases to reinvigorate the call to repeal the law.

The Obamacare health insurance exchanges are nothing more than a marketplace for purchasing health insurance with the stipulation that insurers cannot deny applicants and must cover essential health benefits. What these premium increases actually represent is that for-profit health insurance systems are unsustainable unless the insurers have the ability to deny coverage to those who need care and can restrict access to necessary care for policyholders.

Contrary to the assertions of those opposing Obamacare, the repeal of the law would primarily result in a return to the days when insurers turned away applicants, denied coverage for needed care and terminated policies rather than provide care.

What these premium increases actually represent is evidence that the United States must join other industrialized nations and provide universal health care for its citizens.

My experience has been that a growing number of Americans now see universal health care in our nation as an inevitable goal. The demise of the health insurance exchanges within Obamacare moves us closer to that goal. It would seem to me that conservatives should be mourning this news instead of rejoicing in it.

Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg


Campaign 2016

A call for civility, progress

Sunday there was a knock on my door. I opened it to see what looked like a nice man, casual and smiling, just a regular guy. He could have been one of my neighbors, but I don't know many neighbors and I did not take the time to ask. He carried a clipboard and asked, "Are you Rick Ceaser?"

Right away I noticed his baseball cap with the words "Make America Great Again" emblazoned across the front. "Yes, I am Rick Ceaser," I replied and added, "And I am not voting for Donald Trump. Now get off my porch!" I slammed the door and watched him hurry, almost run, down my front walk to the sidewalk. I was proud of myself and bragged about my quick reaction for the rest of the day to all who would listen.

On Monday, I was ashamed of myself. I woke up in the night thinking about that guy. I was acting on the divisiveness that this miserable election plunged the country into. That poor guy was working hard to elect the candidate of his choice, and I showed him no respect.

Shame on me. I want to apologize to him and all the people of any party who worked for their candidates and gave of their time.

With the election over, I do want to unify the country and move ahead and keep America the great country that I know and love.

Rick Ceaser, St. Petersburg


American immigrant

Work hard, achieve dreams

I am an immigrant. I moved to the United States over 30 years ago when I was 5. I've been here so long that I don't even remember my first language. English, my second language, is now my only language. From when I arrived and even after all these years, some people don't see me as American.

Since first grade, people bullied me because I looked and sounded different. I met my best friend to this day when I was 8 years old. He sat behind me in class and one day I gave him a slap bracelet for "never making fun of me," and we've been best friends ever since. He marched to the beat of his own drummer and didn't participate in the bullying.

I never remember anything being easy for my family. We didn't have much. No car, no A/C in the summer, and a roof that leaked every time it rained. The only promise made was the harder you work, the more you can achieve. You can make your dreams come true if you're willing to work for it; you can be anything you want to be. This is my America.

When I was 16, I was diagnosed with cancer. I went through over a year of chemo and radiation. When I entered remission and became an adult, I was surprised to find that my insurance wouldn't cover my cancer checkups. Scans that I needed to make sure it was gone cost thousands but were not covered due to a pre-existing condition. Worse, if the cancer ever returned, my insurance wouldn't help with the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs for these treatments. Then my America changed. She told me that she wouldn't let me down if I got sick again; she'd have my back if I wanted to fight.

My dad died shortly after my 18th birthday and I wasn't able to pursue college. My brother was 15 and my sister was 4. I wasn't sure what to do and almost gave up. I wasn't ready to be an adult or help support a family. Then I remembered America's promise. If I couldn't go to school, I'd work multiple jobs, 90-plus hours a week. I still remember falling asleep after 15-hour shifts, dreaming I could be anything I wanted to be. I worked as hard as I could at every opportunity and job, and kept setting higher goals.

In another country, I could not aspire to where I am today. Racism and inequality exist everywhere, but in America the best friend you didn't know you had may be sitting right behind you, already watching your back. I owe everything I am today to the opportunities America gave me, for taking a chance on me when I literally had nothing, little hope and all the odds against me. I'm proud to be a U.S. citizen.

Rabindranath Sawh, Tampa


Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18