Saturday, February 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Numbers on Amazon show lousy deal

Amazon may bring 1,000 jobs | June 14

The numbers reveal a lousy deal

I have to ask if anyone has done the math. How is it a good idea to spend $6.6 million of taxpayer money (or any of it, really) so that Tallahassee can then charge us all 6 percent sales tax on everything Amazon sells in the state?

Amazon's net sales were $16 billion in the first quarter of 2013 alone, so if Florida's 6 percent of the U.S. population translates into 6 percent of that sales figure, we're talking $3.8 billion in annual sales in Florida. A 6 percent state sales tax on that yields $230 million in annual tax revenues.

News to Tallahassee: That's not "free money" — it's a tax increase. This deal will cost Floridians $6.6 million up front, then $230 million per year thereafter. For 1,000 jobs? Those jobs better pay $230,000-plus a year each, or this is a lousy deal. Make it 5,000 jobs and at least the economics work.

Robert Freeland, Riverview

Taxpayer giveaway to Amazon June 15, editorial

Jobs are worth the incentive

As someone who has lived through and seen Tampa Bay rise and fall on the tide of real estate speculation, this deal to bring Amazon to Florida seems like a great one for all involved.

Let me apply some arithmetic to illustrate. One thousand jobs times $45,000 per year in average worker salary (not high by national standards, but not bad by Florida's) puts $45 million per year into our regional economy, potentially in economically depressed Seffner. The $6.6 million in taxpayer incentives looks pretty good by comparison.

And while I agree the Legislature needs to modernize the tax system, which is far too dependent on sales tax, economic development has and always will require taxpayer incentives in order for corporations to do business in certain areas. If Florida and Tampa Bay do not offer those incentives, those jobs and that development and growth will go to other cities like they have for years.

I for one am ready for Tampa to improve its reputation on a national level, and if that requires a small part of my tax dollars to do so, then I am all for it. And something tells me that a job seeker with family to support in Seffner is too.

Chris Elmore, Tampa

Scott right to brag, but for wrong reasons June 10, John Romano column

Florida schools doing well

John Romano raises some concerns about Gov. Rick Scott's push to increase the number of jobs in Florida. He claims, for instance, that Scott's efforts to make the state more business-friendly are coming at the expense of Florida's schoolchildren.

I disagree. Granted, Romano notes that "Florida doesn't spend as much money investing in students as a lot of states. That would be 37 states." He's correct for 2010-11. However, spending less per pupil doesn't necessarily mean that Florida is providing its students an inadequate education.

Even though Florida spent an average of "only" $8,887 on each public school student in 2010-11, its schools were ranked sixth-best in the nation by Education Week in the 2013 Quality Counts Report. Moreover, the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual "Report Card on Education" ranked Florida second when comparing state spending to test results.

There's more good news: The rankings of state spending that Romano cited came out before the state's economic recovery — arguably fueled at least in part by Scott's jobs-friendly policies — allowed more than a billion dollars (about $400 per student) to be put back into education in the budget the governor signed this year.

Scott is certainly pro-business, perhaps at the expense of certain other priorities, but Florida's teachers are getting results where they count: in the classroom.

Keith Leslie, Tallahassee

U.S. to send arms to Syrian rebels June 14, commentary

How will we pay?

Congress asks for budget offsets to help pay for domestic natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Is there a similar congressional plan for offset cuts to pay for the guns, bullets, bombs, missiles and "no-fly zones" for Syria?

I assume they have a plan to pay for this military spending. Will those cuts come from domestic spending, entitlement cuts or revenue, and can we count on the Tampa Bay Times to report on that plan?

Ted Radakovic, Tarpon Springs

Father's Day

The value of being there

I was walking with my 5-year-old daughter recently when, out of nowhere, she told me, "Thank you for living at home with us." Before I had a moment to process her statement and respond, she elaborated. "A lot of my friends' dads live in different houses," she said.

Though saddened that a 5-year-old has to consider such things, I was touched that she viewed having mom and dad both at home as something worth being thankful for.

My daughter's comment was a sweet reminder to me of the responsibility that I have to her and to all of my children. Whenever it is remotely possible, we as dads need to put all else aside and be home with our children. We never know which random moments our children will remember for the rest of their lives, and it is important for us to be present for them.

So as we rightfully took the opportunity of this past Father's Day to relax and give ourselves a pat on the back, we should also see it as an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the responsibilities we have to our children.

Darren Cassels, Lutz

Scott speeds executions | June 15

Abolish capital punishment

It saddens me to see that our governor has elected to speed up the rate of executions in Florida. Capital punishment is an archaic, vengeful practice that has been abolished in virtually every other civilized country in the world, as well as 18 American states.

Killing criminals is simply inhumane, especially considering the potential for convicting innocent people — 142 death row prisoners have been exonerated since 1973. What's more, the death penalty has not been proven to reduce crime, as it is most prevalent in the South, which also has the nation's highest murder rate. Add to that the fact that it is more expensive than life in prison and it becomes impossible to make a compelling argument in favor of it.

Stephen Lapp, Tampa


Saturday’s letters: Preserve home rule in Florida

LegislaturePreserve home rule in FloridaOn behalf of the members of Business Watch, a trade association for government contractors, I would like to voice our dismay over the Legislature’s wholesale attack on home rule. As local government contractors...
Published: 02/23/18

Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/22/18

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Bill protects pharmacy customers

House Bill 351Bill protects pharmacy customersWe all need the protections provided in Florida House Bill 351 to ensure pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are transparently operating with patients. Currently, PBMs are not regulated by the state and o...
Published: 02/14/18