Victim wanted to walk away | Dec. 15
Working for a culture of respect
Since becoming Pasco County superintendent of schools, I have spoken at length about creating a culture of caring and respect, and the importance of social-emotional learning — giving our students the skills they need to navigate their lives in a healthy, positive way. And that is why I feel compelled to write today. On Friday, the Pasco County community lost a 16-year-old in a senseless act of violence committed by another teenager.
The Pasco School Board has been working diligently to foster a culture of respect. We started this conversation over the summer at the Together We Stand Youth Summit, and we now must raise our voices to get the message across. Today, I write to continue the conversation about how we can all help our kids grow into responsible and caring adults who interact with one another in a civil, respectful way. I don't have all the answers in our schools, but I know we cannot do this without the community. I know it will take deliberate and tough conversations within families and communities to help kids learn how to deal with conflict and cope with adversity appropriately. We must work together!
Whether you're a Pasco native or you moved here from somewhere else; whether you're rich or poor; whether your skin color is red, olive, black or white — this culture of violence is our problem, and we must work together to create the type of community we want for our children. A culture of caring and respect must transcend the school doors and spill over into the community, especially during this holiday season.
In the meantime, I call on government, business, community, faith and — especially — our youth leaders to resume talking about how we can address the problems our kids are experiencing. I urge parents and caretakers to talk to their children on an ongoing basis about what's appropriate and not appropriate. Know their friends. Watch their Facebook and Twitter conversations. Set limits and talk to them about your expectations.
Kurt Browning, Pasco County schools superintendent, Dade City
Inquiry sought on state jobless website Dec. 13
The irony of CONNECT
As a recently laid off employee, I want to thank Charlie Crist, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and state Rep. Irv Slosberg in calling for an investigation regarding the state's unemployment website, CONNECT. It's funny they would call it that since it is by no means easy to connect to when trying to file for unemployment.
I am one of the fortunate ones who, after weeks spent on the phone and trying to access the website, was finally able to start receiving unemployment compensation. Losing a job through no fault of your own has been made even more stressful, and this is grossly unfair.
Those who think this is an "entitlement program" are correct: I am entitled to that meager compensation while desperately looking for another job. Like thousands of others, I was not fired for stealing, insubordination or being a "slacker," etc. The small company I worked for could no longer survive and had to close its doors.
All companies pay unemployment taxes for that reason. People who lose their jobs at no fault of their own deserve compassion and respect and not to be treated like a loser. This was how I felt when trying to navigate the website and when I actually got through to someone on the phone.
Dan Herzog, Pinellas Park
FPL supports solar power | Dec. 15, letter
Don't trust monopolies
Florida Power & Light president Eric Silagy's puff piece containing unrelated "factoids" and airy statements is pure poppycock. The power companies are monopolies and their lifeblood depends on maintaining that status, which includes stifling innovation — solar, in this case.
I moved to Tampa 37 years ago and have watched the same battles over and over: the purse strings vs. the people. The money always wins. The Florida Legislature is a closed system, difficult to break into but lucrative once inside. Gerrymandering creates the system, and until that problem is solved nothing will change.
Don't believe what monopolies try to tell you about solar power.
Doug Hicks, Tampa
For an energized executive branch Dec. 15, commentary
Dangerous to democracy
David Brooks does not seem to understand the impact ensconced bureaucrats have on our lives. The tens of thousands regulations under the Affordable Care Act, the impact of the EPA on our economy, the IRS relations that impact our lives — all are the result of an energized executive branch. Once put in place, a bureaucrat has no fear of replacement and is not impacted by the regulation he or she writes. There is no more dangerous kind of government than unbridled bureaucracy.
David Ghen, St. Petersburg
Official silence as port deal sinks Dec. 7, editorial
Port acted correctly
I am writing to correct the assertions and conclusions in this editorial. The Tampa Port Authority commented in the appropriate way. It is not appropriate for the port to speak on behalf of any other company's internal management issues.
We can state in regard to the port's own business dealings with NexLube that the company has been, and remains, in full compliance with its lease agreement. In addition, the port remains supportive of the company's stated business goals, just as we support the goals of all of our tenants. To comment further may interfere with NexLube's ability to evaluate its options, as NexLube believes the project continues to be viable.
It is the combined energy of all the businesses at Tampa's seaport that delivers the "multibillion-dollar impact across the region" that you note. In fact, the Port of Tampa continues to flourish as the biggest economic engine in west-central Florida, generating over 80,000 jobs and delivering $15 billion in annual economic impact.
We take the port's accountability to the public very seriously. We continue to be focused on the primary mission, which is to provide a strategic international transportation hub, allowing the increasingly efficient movement of critical goods through Tampa Bay.
A. Paul Anderson, president and CEO, Tampa Port Authority, Tampa