Don't be suckered by casino proposal | Oct. 28, editorial
Keep gambling money in Florida
The reality is that people like to gamble. It really doesn't matter the type of gambling — cards, slots, sports betting, table games or the Florida Lottery. Why does the Times editorial board insist on trying to legislate morality?
If you drive by the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa or Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, you will see that the venues are packed, even during this economic slump. If we don't have these venues, where do you think people will go? Will they quit gambling? Wrong. They will go to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Biloxi, Miss., and so on, and take their money with them.
Why not offer our out-of-town guests an alternative to theme parks and beaches?
The Times worries that expanded gambling will breed new gambling "addicts." Why must you find a victim? Where does personal responsibility come into play?
Let's welcome the casinos to any county that wants one. They will bring more jobs, revenues and much-needed tax relief for the overburdened taxpayers.
John C. Luttrell, Clearwater
Putting a price tag on City Council seat Oct. 28, editorial
It was disappointing to read this editorial, which casts a shadow on the motives of prominent businessman Bill Edwards and longtime civic activist and current candidate Bob Kersteen.
Edwards invested in the Mahaffey Theater and has risked his capital to buy the BayWalk retail complex. Hopefully, with his leadership, the Mahaffey Theater will thrive and BayWalk will be revitalized as a family-oriented venue for shopping and entertainment instead of becoming an urban blight.
Kersteen has given of his time and talent to such efforts as the Friends of Weedon Island, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and his church. To suggest that Edwards' $5,000 contribution is anything more than an endorsement of Kersteen's conservative fiscal policies and private sector managerial experience is unfortunate.
Gus Pries, St. Petersburg
Schools' early Wednesdays
Don't cut time for teaching
As a teacher in a Pinellas public school, I support the district's recent stance to end the practice of ending the school day for students early on Wednesdays. The practice was begun a few years ago to give teachers increased planning time during the week.
My fundamental objection to this practice is what it costs in instruction time and student focus. Class periods are barely long enough on other days to accomplish meaningful lessons; Wednesdays are like a race. Forget scheduling a science lab on Wednesdays; students will not finish. Forget scheduling a test that includes meaningful assessments such as essays; students will not finish. Teachers have enough other disruptions to plan around, including special observance days, fire drills, assemblies and state testing.
Shortened instruction days on Wednesdays are not educationally sound and should not be continued.
Randy McGonegal, Palm Harbor
Mills making pills | Oct. 30
Look to treatment
This article documents serious official conflicts of interest related to pain pill sales. But the author reaches too far when he says this caused Florida's skyrocketing painkiller sales.
At issue is whether the market is driven by supply alone. The article makes the case for restricting supply by citing the reduced production quotas for amphetamine pills in the mid '70s and Methaqualone in the early '80s. But it neglects to mention that reducing supply causes prices to rise, and then buyers turn to other drugs.
If manufacture becomes illegal, a lucrative underground market develops, drawing in potentially violent men to the illegal trade. This is how we got the scourge of today's "meth labs."
Instead, we should reduce the demand for illegal opiates. The Swiss have done this in their program of heroin-assisted treatment, combined with a huge expansion in the availability of methadone maintenance. It is so successful that even the U.N. Office of Drug Control has quit complaining about it.
John Chase, Palm Harbor
Universities shortchanged | Oct. 30, editorial
Schools do well in rankings
According to this editorial, Florida does not spend enough money per student, and tuition costs need to be raised.
The University of Florida ranks No. 19 among public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report rankings. The University of South Florida ranks No. 8 in Up-and-Coming Schools in the same report. It appears that other states should be sending their educators to Florida to figure out how UF and USF are doing it right.
Martin Kleiner, Tampa
Cain opposes all abortion, without exceptions | Oct. 31
Not his decision
Are we really still having this debate?
Who gave Herman Cain the right to decide what a woman can or cannot do with her own body? What does he know about how a woman thinks or feels? Maybe he should move to Mississippi and run for governor, or else realize that we are in the 21st century and that women can make decisions without consulting a former pizza executive.
Laurent Vallat, Trinity
Add competition to trash contracts Oct. 31, editorial
Streamlining trash pickups
Thank you for staying on top of issues that seem simple but are often overlooked, including this pending review (or not) of the contract for removal of Hillsborough County trash.
I called various elected and appointed members of the county about this two years ago and was given the runaround.
I believe that putting the contracts out to bid is correct. But I would suggest a step further to save money: go to once-a-week pickup as many cities already do, and enforce recycling.
Also, many cities or contractors have invested in trucks that are manned by a single driver and use automatic pickup and dump devices with larger receptacles. This would reduce costs and the danger of injury.
Maybe we will never see a fast train in Florida, but we could streamline the trash.
Frank Bragg, Riverview