Friday, March 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Law protecting children requires followup, funding

Protecting Florida's children | July 5, editorial

Law requires followup, funding

With regard to recent reports about the 477 children who died who were known by the Department of Children and Families to potentially be at risk, the cases all involved the DCF's knowledge from prior investigations of children who would be in danger of future serious harm or death if left with their families.

In no system should children die at the expense of keeping families together. This is why the Florida Legislature's new enactment, SB 1666, placed child safety as paramount. However, this law does not change the federal mandate under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, which requires the state to use reasonable efforts to preserve families when possible.

We agree that the recently passed Florida law increases the quality of the investigative process. But it also ensures that our agencies will be responsible for safety plans beyond the 60-day investigative period when there is future or imminent risk. The law allows an extended period — as long as necessary — to monitor families to enable better risk assessment decisions about whether families can be preserved.

What the Florida Legislature recognized and what remains to be seen is whether there is sufficient funding for family preservation services — including substance abuse treatment, intensive case management and mental health services — for the child protection system to work.

Thus, it's critical that the Legislature monitor the implementation of this act and, if necessary, make adjustments and increase appropriations to ensure that these legislative goals are accomplished.

Howard Talenfeld, president, Florida's Children First, Fort Lauderdale

Supreme Court justices in battle, armed with words | July 3, commentary

Hypocrisy on the bench

Supreme hypocrisy as displayed by the court of the same name was well reviewed by this column. Justice Antonin Scalia is quoted as claiming abortion-rights advocates are abusing the First Amendment rights of protesters by requiring a 35-foot protest quiet zone around clinic entrances. But he is quiet about the 250-foot zone protecting the Supreme Court justices from those protesting their decisions. I agree with protecting the justices, but it is hypocrisy to deny similar protection to clinics providing legal procedures to citizens.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is quoted questioning the logic of allowing the (religious) opinion of Hobby Lobby owners to evade the law providing reproductive care to women. The law does not require Hobby Lobby owners to avail themselves of that care — so they are safe in their religious beliefs. But they have no right to impose that belief on others. Jesus agreed when he said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." This decision creates a new right to impose your religious opinion on other people.

Bernard Waryas, Dunedin

Most immigrant kids will go back | July 8

Mexico should do more

While I understand the concerns that many have expressed for the welfare of these young people and the conditions they endure in our holding facilities in the Southwest, it would seem obvious that our country cannot allow this seemingly endless stream of migrants to continue indefinitely. What if we were to load these youngsters onto trains and buses and take them north to the U.S.-Canada border? Clearly, it is unimaginable that we would do such a thing. But then, why is it that Mexican authorities allow these individuals free transit through their country to our border? Is their undocumented entry into Mexico not just as illegal under Mexican law as their entry into the United States is illegal under ours?

In short, why do Mexican authorities whose border crossing with Guatemala is an effective choke point continue to cast a blind eye on this situation? And why don't our own authorities demand that our good neighbor and North American Free Trade Agreement partner, Mexico, put a stop to this flow at their own southern border?

Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center

Study links Medicaid, jobs | July 3

Claims lack credibility

This discussion of the White House's job-creation argument in favor of Medicaid expansion failed to address a key issue: credibility. The fact is, the White House relies on a report from the Council of Economic Advisers, a federal agency. Rather than take the White House at its word, perhaps we should consider the recent behavior of some other federal agencies.

In March 2013, James Clapper knowingly lied to Congress — under oath — about the extent of NSA surveillance. He kept his job as director of national intelligence. Lois Lerner, former director of tax-exempt organizations at the IRS, has "taken the Fifth" and repeatedly refused to testify regarding her involvement in the targeting of conservative organizations. The Justice Department, a federal agency, shows no interest in an investigation despite the IRS's pathetic excuse for the destruction of Lerner's emails. Last month the EPA, a federal agency, was held in contempt by a district judge for destroying computer files it had been ordered to preserve.

Like so many issues, the health care "debate" suffers because its participants reflexively side with the "left" or "right" instead of asking a more fundamental question: Why concede any control to a federal government whose agencies are so riddled with corruption?

Kyle Lindskog, St. Petersburg

Part-timers mask jobless crisis | July 3

Employers win; workers lose

It does not take a genius to know why so many employers are resorting to hiring only part-time workers. One of the easiest and simplest ways to cut overhead costs is to eliminate as many nonrevenue-producing expenses as possible, and the No. 1 culprit is a health benefit for employees. Part-timers don't qualify for benefits: no vacation time, no sick leave, no matched funds for retirement, and no incentive for the employee to hang around, ergo, no longevity, no company loyalty, just more McJobs for adults who are desperately trying to make a living to support their families.

Some large employers are phasing out full-time employees through attrition, but sadly, many others are resorting to subcontracting portions of their workforce, specifically to get out from under the high costs of benefits.

The American Dream has become a nightmare.

J.D. Batson, Tampa


Monday’s letters: Driverless cars on perilous roads

Driverless cautions | March 23, commentaryDriverless carson perilous roadsHaving watched the video of the tragedy in Tempe, Ariz., I believe the police are correct. This accident could not have been avoided as the pedestrian stepped out of the sh...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Friday’s letters: Think through assault weapons ban

Gun controlThink through assault rifle banI recently emailed a Florida state representative who had pledged, among other things, to ban assault rifles in the state. I asked him if he would ban the sale and transfer of these guns or ultimately make th...
Published: 03/22/18

Saturday’s letters: Tax guns to pay for security

Million-dollar questions | March 21Tax firearms to pay for securitySo public officials are wondering where they’ll get the money for stationing an armed guard in every school. How about heavily taxing every gun? It’s the proliferation of the weap...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18