'Getting to work' to hurt Florida
Rick Scott has not even been sworn in yet and he is already "getting to work" to delay (read: dismantle) the implementation of badly needed water pollution rules. He's in lockstep with the deregulation crowd that's been in Tallahassee for years. Looks like something an insider, not an "outsider," would do.
With Adam Putnam, Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi and other Republicans pitching in, reasonable and long-needed water pollution rules will be delayed yet again. "Too costly," they say. Are clean water and healthy fisheries "too costly"?
Many fishermen, watersports lovers and outdoorsmen in general probably voted for Scott. He shouldn't tamper with their livelihoods by allowing water quality to suffer. Go ahead, delay this rule. But don't do any swimming or fishing in Florida lakes, rivers or beaches. And not in any springs, either. Seen them lately?
The badly needed water quality upgrades Scott's working to delay may cause some unfriendly bacteria to come "visiting" and ruin your next Sunday picnic. That would be poetic justice for anyone trying to derail these much needed improvements.
Welcome to Tallahassee, Gov.-elect Scott. It looks like you're going to fit right in.
Ron Thuemler, Tampa
Errors on transcripts add to anxieties in Pinellas | Nov. 4
Number of grade errors
small and getting smaller
This article alleges that problems with the district's new online system for tracking student data have produced more high school transcripts with errors, a situation that naturally would cause concern for students and their families in the beginning stages of applying for college.
While it is true that the district's error rate is slightly higher than normal — 2 percent as opposed to 1 percent — the actual number of incorrect reports has been quite small. More importantly, all errors have been identified in the very process instituted to catch the inevitable glitch, and will be corrected within the 30-day window allotted to districts for correcting such disparities.
No students will be disadvantaged due to system-generated errors. We have requested information from other school districts to help benchmark our process. We already have heard from a few districts and not one has a 100 percent success rate on the initial send.
The transcript errors are being generated by the last vestiges of our old system with data from the new system. Although we began piloting most of the modules of the system two years ago, the electronic transcript module has only recently become available. One of our schools is currently testing this module, and it should be a considerable improvement over the current use of both the old and new systems. That's why the district has been in frequent communication with guidance counselors and other school officials, asking them to exercise even more care than usual in scanning for errors.
Rest assured that each found error provides an opportunity for us to further refine our process, and we will continually improve it until we are as close to 100 percent as is possible.
John Just, assistant superintendent, Management Information Systems, Pinellas County Schools, Largo
Let them fight own wars
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from 1956 to 1988 — 32-plus years. Back then, when I raised my right hand and swore to "defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic," I thought that it meant "exclusively" the Constitution of the U.S.A. and not any other foreign country.
I'm not a citizen of any country other than the United States, and I will still be willing to spill my blood, even today, defending our Constitution. But I'll be damned if I'm going to die on behalf of people who probably will not appreciate my sacrifice.
I strongly believe that America has already done more than enough defending other countries and covering battlefields with the blood of so many of our men and women in uniform. It's time we recognize the fact that as long as we continue putting our men and women in harm's way on behalf of foreign countries, those countries will continue to take advantage of our generosity and we will continue to witness the tragedy of families who see their loved ones come back dead or maimed.
Enough is enough. Let's give them the equipment and training to allow them to defend their own soil, and let's get the hell out of there.
Gabriel Aviles-Rodriguez, Homosassa
Navy Veterans Association
Election reforms needed
A man using the name of Commander Bobby Thompson started a tax-exempt charity to benefit Navy veterans. The evidence suggests he took money donated to the charity and gave it to various Republican campaigns. This man had his picture taken with President George W. Bush. How did such a man get that close to the president of the United States? Because he was a big donor. It's a good thing he wasn't a terrorist.
Bobby Thompson also had his photo taken with Karl Rove. Rove helped create two new "super PACs" to raise unlimited, undisclosed funds to spend influencing elections.
Unlimited and undisclosed donations are now legal. We do not know who is funding our politicians. It could be billionaires, corporations, criminals, foreign countries or even terrorists. We are allowing our elections to be purchased by the highest bidder. Our elections are no more than legalized bribery, blackmail, kickbacks and racketeering.
If we are to learn anything from "Commander Bobby Thompson" it is that we need serious campaign reform in this country. Exclusively publicly funded campaigns would cost us less than matching funds currently cost us. Serious limits could be put on campaign spending, leveling the playing field and saving us from the endless commercials, mailings and phone calls.
Maybe corporations and the Chamber of Commerce could take all the money they use for lobbying and influencing elections and create some new jobs.
Debbie Terhune, Treasure Island
A 'forever home' is worth a party | Nov. 13
What a wonderful and uplifting article on Adoption Day. It brought tears to my eyes and such joy. The picture of the girls in their new dresses, hanging on the judge's desk, her smile and the proud mom — marvelous and heartwarming! Hats off to staff writer Drew Harwell.
Mary Lou Mitchell, St. Petersburg