The elderly should share the burden | Feb. 23, commentary
Head off a war between the ages
Robert Samuelson deserves praise for his courageous column. The vast majority of recommendations to overhaul Social Security and Medicare protect the status quo not only for people already drawing on such "entitlements," but people age 55 and over.
That's outrageous. Many politicians are already instigating "class warfare" by promoting tax legislation that favors the rich over the poor, or vice versa, but this particular approach to fixing entitlement programs is blatantly unfair and would bring about a "generational war," pitting grandchildren against grandparents.
I should point out that both my wife and I draw Social Security benefits and are covered by Medicare. We don't consider ourselves wealthy, but like many others in our situation, we can and must shoulder our share of the burden. We cannot jeopardize the economic survival of future generations while we continue to drain the Treasury.
In addition to other needed changes in Social Security, such as delaying the eligibility age, raising the earnings ceiling and adjusting payout levels, we should consider making up to 100 percent of Social Security payments, as opposed to the current maximum of 85 percent, taxable for annual incomes over something like $35,000.
I sincerely hope that the elected officials whom we entrusted — or will entrust in elections later this year — with the awesome task facing our nation will pick up the ball and run with it.
Frank Yanacek, Sun City Center
Audit: Schools top-heavy | Feb. 25
Administration shell game
With every new Pinellas County school superintendent, we hear that there will be cutbacks of central administrative staff. The paper heralds these cuts, but in most cases it is nothing more than a shell game where job titles are eliminated and new jobs are created for those who lost their jobs.
Pinellas County schools must do a better job of focusing on the areas where we are lacking and stop making excuses for past failures. Right now, Pinellas County schools are simply in the middle of the pack in a state that is middle of the pack, in a country that is middle of the pack in the world.
Our teachers, parents and students deserve better. To be successful we will need creative, honest and dedicated leaders to bring Pinellas County schools back to their place of excellence in Florida.
William B. Cooper, Dunedin
32 arrested at U.S. 19 checkpoint | Feb. 19
Step up the punishment
I read constantly that people arrested for DUI accidents have a suspended license and/or no insurance. How are these people able to get and keep a car on the road? If you cancel your insurance, the company should notify the state and they should confiscate the car. The same with suspended for DUI: Confiscate the car. If someone loans a car to the driver, take that as well.
There needs to be better punishment to remove these people from the roads to reduce accidents. It's time the state got tougher on this major problem.
Llewellyn Denny, Safety Harbor
A matter of focus | Feb. 26
A University of Utah study released in 2006 found that drivers who talk on either hand-held or hands-free cellphones are as impaired as drunken drivers. The study showed that cellphone users are more than five times more likely to get in an accident than those not using phones.
The details on this study are readily available online. What is not readily available is the amount of money donated by the cellphone industry to legislators intent on blocking a ban on texting and cellphone use while driving.
Randy Campbell, Lutz
A hero's welcome: cheers, tears, hugs Feb. 20
A huge thank-you to the Tampa Bay Times and the journalist who covered the story of Cpl. Michael Nicholson's return to Tampa. My family and I joined the hundreds of other residents to show our support for this local hero. We were honored and humbled to be there.
I have forwarded your online video and article to friends and family. I hope you continue to cover heartwarming homecoming stories such as this one. With all the bad news out there, it's a welcome change. Kudos to the Times.
Rose Chervitz, Palm Harbor
Light rail plans get rolling | Feb. 26, editorial
I am a strong proponent of light rail for Pinellas County, but I am concerned that the proposed route in St. Petersburg provides little redevelopment opportunities outside of downtown. Instead of running north from downtown along I-275 until jogging over to Shoppes at Park Place, it would seem better to simply extend west along Central Avenue and then turn north at 34th Street. This would add only three-fourths of a mile to the proposed 24-mile route but would allow for stations at Central Plaza as well as 34th Street and 22nd Avenue N, both of which could attract substantial redevelopment investments.
The most successful light rail systems around the country are those that have resulted in attractive mixed-use centers adjacent to transit stops. It is important that we design our system to maximize such opportunities.
Tim Clemmons, St. Petersburg
USF finds an unlikely hero | Feb. 25
Hero or zero?
Only in Florida can the hero be an ethics-challenged senator who saved a process that cuts funding for 11 existing universities so as to fund the creation of a 12th.
Evan Odden, Largo
Shame is not the solution | Feb. 24, commentary
The parental problem
I agree with Bill Gates about developing a systematic way to help teachers get better. His is a powerful solution that's making a difference in Hillsborough County.
Now, a question: How do we develop a system to make better parents?
Mary Lou Moore, Bradenton
Rubio's Mormon roots revealed | Feb. 24
Just one question
Your stunning revelation that Marco Rubio was baptized as a Mormon raises an important question. So what?
John McFadden, Inverness