Keep independent transit agency | Nov. 23, letter
County doesn't need taxi agency
Once again Victor Crist is spewing fallacies as an excuse to keep the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission a state-sanctioned, independent district accountable to no one. Whenever this corrupt agency comes under fire, the public safety defense is aired as the reason for this agency.
The PTC allows vehicles to be in service up to 10 years, so it is not uncommon to have vehicles with hundreds of thousands of miles ferrying people around. On insurance, the PTC requires only $300,000 liability for cabs and large, 15-passenger "rollover-prone" vans. To raise the anticompete operational cost bar, the PTC does require black car services to carry $1 million liability.
The PTC also sets no maximum hours for drivers similar to those set by the Florida Department of Transportation. Therefore, it is common for taxi and van drivers to work about 16 hours a day in order to make the lease payment to the PTC permit holders, who are not bound by any maximum charges they can levy on the drivers.
Maybe next, Crist will start declaring that drivers being required to wear ties and collared shirts under threat of criminal prosecution is a safety issue that the Legislature should consider when deciding if to continue sanctioning this local taxi regulator.
Walter Kozak, Spring Hill
Let's not make pot legal | Nov. 24, letter
Gateway of the mind
Neither alcohol nor marijuana — nor cocaine for that matter — can force anyone to ingest them and act upon their influence. The real "gateway drug" is plain stupidity. Unfortunately, there is no known cure and its not going away any time soon.
Michael Kreha, St. Petersburg
A better use of jail space
The letter writer states that it would be a waste of time to legalize pot and that it's a gateway drug. What about all the billions of dollars we spend prosecuting people for making a personal choice? Couldn't our jails be better used to confine violent criminals?
The Netherlands legalized pot, and the results are in. The use of hard drugs is down sharply. When you can legally buy pot, you're not exposed to harder drugs. Also, drug dealers don't ask for ID, so underage use is also down compared to the United States.
John Dooley, Hudson
Pot's medical benefits
I support medical marijuana for three reasons.
First, my nonsmoking, nondrinking, law-abiding friend has cancer. She now illegally smokes pot. She says that morphine spaces her out, while pot leaves her mellow and in control of her mind.
Second, Consumer Reports is my bible on consumer matters. It states, "(We) believe that for patients with advanced AIDS and cancer, the apparent benefits some derive from smoking marijuana outweigh any substantiated or even suspected risks."
Third, I will vote for a yellow dog before voting for most Republicans. Hence, I became immediately suspicious when Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott opposed medical marijuana. After all, they opposed Obamacare, expanding Medicaid despite 100 percent federal funding, increasing the minimum wage, restoration of rights for ex-felons and job growth though rail expansion.
Howard F. Harris Jr., Tampa
A home, but no help | Nov. 24
Hold someone to account
Your exposé of the plight of public housing for the infirm and poor appears to have received flippant notice from Hillsborough County authorities. It is a deep shame and disgrace upon county government to send "the least of these" to filthy, rodent-infested housing at taxpayers' expense.
The county administrator's staff, though acknowledging the problem, appears to be ineptly concerned about the grotesque housing conditions. Cannot officials who appear to support this injustice, with taxpayer money, be held responsible?
I am flabbergasted that the "powers that be" have not risen up in righteous indignation.
James N. Holmes, Tampa
Iran nuke deal signed | Nov. 24
Appeasement won't work
In a feckless effort to change the narrative on front pages around the country from the disastrous reality of Obamacare, this administration has chosen to throw our closest allies in the Middle East under the bus. Appeasement didn't work when Neville Chamberlain waved the "peace treaty" signed by Hitler and claimed "peace in our time." And it won't work now when the real authority in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, publicly referred to Israel as the "rabid dog of the region" and promised that the "Zionist regime" was "doomed to collapse."
While Secretary of State John Kerry has hailed this as a great triumph for peace, more sober minds are calling it capitulation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it "an historical mistake." Leaders in Washington from both sides of the aisle have openly shown dismay at the plan. Other Middle Eastern leaders, including our "allies" in Saudi Arabia, are reportedly fuming.
And no wonder. Followers of the theocratic political system of Islam believe it's okay to lie to advance their religion. That alone would make it a far wiser practice to look at history than listen to the words that come out of their mouths.
And this does nothing to improve our relationship with Iran. Radical Islamists like those leading Iran see President Barack Obama's "leading from behind," drawing "red lines" and not following through, and giving disproportionate concessions as weakness.
And unfortunately, they're not the only ones.
It's not coincidence that on the same day the Obama administration inked this deal, China claimed control over much of the airspace above the East China Sea, which includes several disputed islands controlled by Japan.
Our weakness is not only discouraging our allies in the Middle East. It is encouraging our adversaries everywhere.
Terry Kemple, Valrico