Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Prosecutors not overzealous in death penalty cases

Zeal for death penalty cited | Oct. 12

Death cases handled responsibly

I have represented people charged with or convicted of capital murder in Florida, including in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

The gist of a Harvard University "Fair Punishment Project" study, which is critical of State Attorneys Bernie McCabe and Mark Ober in terms of their prosecution of the death penalty, is that McCabe and Ober are "outliers" when it comes to seeking the death penalty in capital cases — that they pursue death too often and in an arbitrary and unfair manner. That has not been my experience in litigating against both of these prosecutors. On the contrary, I have found that both seek death in only the most egregious cases and strictly within the parameters of the applicable law. In fact, they seek death no more often than most other prosecutors in Florida.

The study's claim that people facing death uniformly are saddled with "a lack of adequate defense representation" is ridiculous. Tampa Bay has some of the best capital defense lawyers in the state, and Public Defender Bob Dillinger's office is well known for the aggressive defense of his clients. These offices are backed up by the highly regarded Office of Capital Collateral Regional Counsel. Furthermore, what does that complaint have to do with Ober or McCabe?

Within the past month, McCabe appeared before the Florida parole board in Tallahassee and spoke in favor of parole for an inmate sentenced to life who as a young person played a minor role in a homicide. That hardly seems like an overzealous prosecutor to me.

When I defend a person against the death penalty in the 6th and 13th judicial circuits, I know to come prepared because both Ober and McCabe will fight hard. But I have never known them to seek death in an arbitrary, biased or capricious manner.

Baya Harrison, Monticello

PTC records detail anti-rideshare stings Oct. 14

This proves the fix was in

How comical and ironic that Public Transportation Commission executive director Kyle Cockream would use the excuse that the PTC wanted to save money so it used taxicab "volunteers" to work with the PTC to find and fine Uber and Lyft drivers.

Maybe now he understands why people like me use Uber and Lyft: to save money.

So it's okay for Cockream to subvert obvious conflict of interest standards to fine Uber and Lyft, but wrong for me to take an Uber ride to the airport and save myself some money. You aren't fooling anyone. We knew the PTC was in cahoots with the taxicab companies all along, and now Cockream has given us the proof.

Liz Bleau, Temple Terrace

Judicial retention

Voter resources available

As a circuit court judge for the 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa, I have the honor and privilege of presiding over a trial division where I have daily interaction with citizens serving in the important capacity as jurors. The commitment that these citizens make to the pursuit of the truth never ceases to amaze me and always leaves me with a feeling of gratitude for the wisdom of our Constitution and the guaranteed right to trial by jury that is enshrined therein.

Voting is another important aspect of our civic responsibility, but unfortunately many voters know very little about the merit retention vote they will be asked to make in November for judges serving on the Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal. I would encourage my fellow citizens to be informed on this judicial merit retention vote. There are many resources available, starting with the Florida Bar's Web page, which features "The Vote's in Your Court" on its homepage (floridabar.org). It includes a voter's guide in English and Spanish, the results of the merit retention poll of Florida Bar members, biographies of the justices and judges facing a merit retention vote, and many more resources and links.

So, to my fellow citizens: Be informed, exercise your right to vote and honor your jury summons.

Judge Michelle Sisco, 13th Judicial Circuit; chair, Florida Bar's Constitutional Judiciary Committee, Tampa

Insurers seek to rig workers' comp laws Oct. 13, John Romano column

One-sided system

As a former workers' comp mediator, I couldn't agree more with John Romano. The system is incredibly one-sided in favor of the employer/insurance company. Unfortunately, every time the Supreme Court rules against the unequal system, the Legislature just rewrites the law. It then takes years for it to be struck down again.

Michael Weisz, Tampa

On Planet Vulgarian | Oct. 16, Daniel Ruth column

One person for the job

A hypothetical: You have a serious, life-threatening medical issue, so rare that there is only one surgeon, thus far, known to have the qualifications necessary to successfully cure your condition. He is willing to do so.

The problem: He is bombastic, uninhibited and bawdy. You abhor all of these.

The question: Will you really jeopardize your life and refuse his professional expertise to support your irrelevant but strong personal beliefs?

Colleen Paglen, Treasure Island

Tax cuts

The cost of government

Cut taxes, says the governor of North Carolina, but send us money to help those who didn't buy flood insurance. Cut taxes, says the governor of Florida, but send us money to fight Zika. Cut taxes, says Donald Trump, but we'll double the money spent on the military, send a check to everyone who wants to go to private school, provide subsidized day care and rebuild our infrastructure.

Where is all this money coming from? Probably from the same place that financed the Iraq War: the national credit card. Same old song: Taxes are bad until I need something. Then send me someone else's tax money.

Carl Zielonka, Tampa


Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Wednesday’s letters: Bill gives small businesses tax relief

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3Small businesses get tax reliefThe Senate and House have now passed their respective tax bills. Once Congress sends a final package to the White House, President Donald Trump will deliver us the most powerful tax re...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Tuesday’s letters: Transplant bill will help Medicare patients

November Letter of the MonthThe winning letter addressed the unresponsiveness of elected officials.Representatives aren’t listeningFor whom do our legislators work? I ask because my Florida senator doesn’t appear to work for me. I drove 27 miles on N...
Published: 12/04/17

Monday’s letters: A citizen’s heroic act

Suspect arrested | Nov. 29A courageous citizen’s actOn Nov. 28, a courageous act occurred in the Tampa Bay area. It was one that law enforcement professionals applaud and hope becomes more frequent. An ordinary citizen did the right thing and spo...
Published: 12/01/17