He always dreamed big | Aug. 10
Innovators step in to save papers
It's no secret the print newspaper industry, nationwide, is in serious financial trouble. And with the younger generation preferring to use mobile hand-held devices to obtain their daily news, advertising revenues are declining at a dangerously rapid pace.
That said, in our country, it has always been the big dreamers, like Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, who set the technological and financial pathway for just about everything we take for granted these days. These innovators continue to strive to positively change the world.
With Bezos' recent $250 million purchase of the Washington Post, and Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry's $70 million deal to buy the Boston Globe, this beleaguered industry may be on the upswing.
Having two highly successful and visionary businessmen like these indicates that they, and perhaps others like them, have the dream and the deep pockets it will take to succeed with the immense challenge of reversing the financial bottom line of newspapers.
I love reading the daily paper, especially the Tampa Bay Times, and if it takes entrepreneurs like these to reignite the financial fires of print journalism, count me in as a loyal supporter.
Mike Merino, Tampa
Agency wrongly rejects diversity ad Aug. 10, editorial
Educate the community
I applaud the Tampa Bay Times for calling on HART to reverse its rejection of diversity in the workplace ads sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
However, based on the entrenched Islamaphobia in the Tampa Bay area, the vote is not surprising. This is the same community in which in 2004 someone scrawled "Kill All Muslims" on the Tampa Islamic Center, and in which Publix was forced to pull calendars over outrage that Islamic holidays were included. In addition, there have been several publicized hate crimes against people presumed to be Muslim.
This community needs to understand that Islam is the second largest religion in the world, representing almost 24 percent of the population. It is the fastest-growing religion in America. Muslims should be welcomed into our community and this begins with education. The ads on buses would have been a great start.
Sherri Marquez, Clearwater
Teachers cash in on failing kids | Aug. 11
Educators doing their job
I am outraged by the sensational and misleading teacher-bashing headline. The story is about teachers being paid to tutor students for private companies, a handful of which are run by people who also work day jobs in public education. This is a nonissue, but the headline breathlessly trumpets the story as if it's an expose about evil teachers purposely making their students fail for some sort of financial gain. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's put this story in the proper context. The Legislature created a free-for-all several years ago when it allocated millions of dollars for tutoring across the state. Hundreds of fly-by-night companies instantly moved in to grab our tax dollars with virtually zero oversight or accountability. Many collected thousands to provide "tutoring" that consisted solely of hiring anybody off the street to hand random worksheets to kids who truly needed academic help.
So why is it a problem when real educators set up real tutoring programs to help kids? Wasn't helping kids the whole point of the program? "Cashing in"? Hardly. Some teachers are being paid extra for working even more hours than usual. If teachers were paid a decent wage, they wouldn't have to take second (or third) jobs. And what's the problem with tutoring kids at their own school? Teachers' livelihoods depend on the grade of their school, giving them extra motivation to help their students succeed. Would the Times prefer that unqualified strangers babysit our neediest children with useless busy work, denying them the help they need?
I found it interesting that one of the few voices in the article who shared the headline writer's outrage was Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, a self-described Jeb Bush "acolyte" and thus a champion of both for-profit charter schools and public education bashing. He's likely irate about this issue because professional educators have dared to cut themselves a small slice of the tutoring pie that he and his ilk had baked to fatten the wallets of their cronies in Florida's ongoing for-profit education swindle.
Stephen Tamargo, Tampa
Conflict of interest
The conflict of interest with teachers cashing in on taxpayer-funded tutoring is just wrong.
My question is: How is this different from doctors who own labs, testing facilities, etc., and then refer every patient to get tested whether they need it or not, and bill Medicare? I see this happen every day.
The government needs to step in and make these conflicts of interest illegal.
Cheryl Colvin, Odessa
In Florida, politics over health care Aug. 10, editorial
Getting stuck with the bill
When hospitals, clinics and doctors negotiate with private health insurers to set rates, included in the reimbursement negotiations are the costs of providing service to patients that have no means of paying medical bills. Hospitals call the costs of nonpaying patients "charity care" and insurers call them "uncompensated care."
Hospitals and medical providers have to recover uncompensated costs to stay in business. Health care providers recover these costs through increasing the rates negotiated with insurance companies that individuals and employers ultimately pay in premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
In states where uncompensated care costs are provided by Medicaid expansion, the rates medical providers require decrease. Medicaid expansion would pump about $5.1 billion per year into Florida's health care system for uncompensated care. It would cover the medical costs of the uninsured and save paying customers rate increases.
When the Florida Legislature rejected Medicaid expansion, it failed every individual and employer who pays for health insurance. The failure is not a theoretical issue on who should receive Medicaid, but a financial one for individuals and employers.
Shortly, many Floridians will receive a Legislature-mandated letter that proposed health insurance rate increases are a failure of Obamacare. The letter will fail to mention how much Floridians would have saved if Florida expanded Medicaid: over $5 billion a year.
Stuart Berney, Tampa