Help choose Letter of the Month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for November by visiting the website listed below by Friday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three November nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Experts: Russia helped spread false election news | Nov. 26
Putin's path to riches
Buried back on page 5A of Saturday's Tampa Bay Times was a shocking article, "Experts: Russia helped spread false election news," featuring a picture of Russian president and close ally of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin. The closing quote by the executive director of the nonpartisan group called PropOrNot summed up the article's main point: "It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump's campaign … it worked."
A 2014 French documentary (subtitled in English), Putin's Hidden Treasure, clearly outlined how Putin has amassed a personal fortune of $40 billion, mostly by skimming Russian public works programs. Trump has clearly shown he greatly respects and admires Putin, and one has to wonder if the incoming president plans to use the Putin Plan to augment his own personal fortune. Only time will tell.
I can't help but be reminded of the 1959 political thriller written by Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate, and wonder if, in fact, we have elected the Manhattan Candidate.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg
Death of a dictator
When I awoke to hear the news that the murdering dictator Fidel Castro had died, I was overwhelmed with tears of joy and happiness. Surely he is now in hell with the likes of Hitler and Stalin. I hope I live long enough to see a communist-free Cuba. The Castro brothers have managed to turn Cuba, which used to be called the "Pearl of the Caribbean," into nothing but a Third World country. Viva a Free Cuba!
Alfred Trujilo, Dover
Build on progress
With the passing of Fidel, Raúl Castro is sole survivor from the 1950s still dancing on the world stage. Now freed from the constraints of his brother, he should hopefully continue his efforts to normalize relations with the United States and the community of nations.
Nicholas E. Karatinos, Tampa
Hope for the future
Cubans around the world are celebrating the death of the man who destroyed families, enslaved a nation, killed their brothers and laughed as he did it.
For 60-plus years he played his cards against the United States by running his communist dictatorship just 90 miles away. Over the years, the world forgot, and refused to condemn, the executions, mass murders, brutal oppression of his people and the forced exile of a nation.
The ones who left became exiles from Cuba, and the ones who remain are exiled from the world. They live not in the present, but are allowed to exist in the pen he created to keep his livestock strong enough to work but weak enough to obey. They live in a past where everyone remembers the Cuba that was, with a future that would never be — as long as he lived. And now he is dead …
Jorge Diaz, Tampa
Danger of privatization
I read with distress that House Speaker Paul Ryan plans to proceed with his agenda to privatize Medicare. Privatization would mean putting Medicare into the hands of private, for-profit insurers. Medicare recipients would receive a voucher allowing us to purchase a plan. It would put us at the mercy of those insurers. I know that without Medicare, I am one serious illness away from the street.
During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to protect Medicare and Social Security in their present form. But we also have a U.S. representative, Gus Bilirakis, who I know will stand up to Washington to protect Medicare as we know it. I plan to call him to let him know how important this issue is to me and my friends.
Fern Williams, Zephyrhills
Neighbors describe man's hours of rage before deputy killed him | Nov. 25
There must be a better way
Am I the only one who finds it disturbing and sadly ironic that if a wild animal, such as a bear or Florida panther, was making a nuisance of itself or presenting a danger to people, it would most likely be tranquilized and relocated. At the same time, people have no problem justifying the taking of the life of a human being who is committing the same "crime" of acting erratically and scaring people.
It seems to be easier for people to be humane to animals than to humans.
Steven Smith, St. Petersburg
Great-aunt's great wisdom | Nov. 24, commentary
I am pleased that you published this column about Mary Kincaid, a remarkable woman and an example of what an American citizen should be. At the age of 20, she was traveling a great distance to a job. In the face of travel problems, even while hanging on for dear life, she appreciated the beauty of our nation. It was an adventure, and she didn't expect anyone to help her. What a wonderful inspiration.
Nell Thomas, Dunedin