Colleges put under microscope | Dec. 10
Senator's actions need reviewing
State Sen. J.D. Alexander's untrammeled hubris and desire for revenge for not getting his way on the USF Polytechnic matter deserves some serious questioning.
It is clear that he wishes to dictate from his faux Mount Olympus what should be done with the Polk County campus. What one has to wonder and seriously investigate is the reason why. The campus for Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers was built on land donated by his family. Now he's pushing for another campus, one that obviously is not ready to become an independent university. Why? Does the senator really care about education?
How to explain this microscopic investigation of the universities, with a due date of Jan. 2? How much is this going to cost? Alexander may say this is vigorous oversight; it looks like revenge.
His actions demand vigorous oversight — before and after he leaves office. Let's have him produce an accounting of his land holdings, his corporate investments in companies that own land in Polk County and more. Give him a deadline that costs him money, time and sweat.
Let's put him, his cronies, his contacts and his revenge under a microscope.
Flora A. Napoli, Riverview
Rootin' tootin' totin' Florida constituents Dec. 9, Daniel Ruth column
Column is out of touch:
Self-defense is basic right
When the Florida Legislature is in session, Capitol police and metal detectors will be in place at the entrances to both the House and Senate chamber galleries, assuring that firearm carriers, licensed or not, will not be allowed into any legislative meeting. There is no reason to prevent law-abiding citizens with concealed weapon licenses from freely roaming the state Capitol when there is no legislative activity.
The Second Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms does not stop at the public entrance to the Capitol and its interior/exterior public areas when the Legislature is not in session, and the new law properly reflects that philosophy.
Daniel Ruth needs to modernize his antigun views and stop watching old Bugs Bunny cartoons with fictional gunslingers. Concealed carry has taken the country by storm, with Wisconsin recently added to the list of 40 right-to-carry states.
The right to self-defense is a fundamental human right. Creating unnecessary gun-free zones does nothing but defeat that right. Criminals do not obey laws and can take advantage of gun-free zones in which the law-abiding good guys are unable to defend themselves.
Lee Hanson, Hudson
Meet the monkey whisperer | Dec. 11
Primates as pets a bad idea
The Times condemned countless primates to a grim fate by running a puff piece about keeping them as pets. Primates have specialized needs, and very few people have the knowledge or inclination to commit to the lifelong responsibility of the animals they buy on a whim.
The despicable greed that propels the exotic pet industry has caused immeasurable suffering for the animals who are bred and marketed like inventory. It's appalling that people can buy and sell primates and other exotic animals while millions of dogs and cats are dying in shelters for lack of a good home.
Philip Tripp, Largo
Crystal River nuclear plant
It would appear that the obvious solution to the cracking problems at the Crystal River nuclear plant would be to tear it down and replace it with a natural gas plant, but maybe I am overlooking something (like politics and pride).
James Wedel, Bradenton
Passing FCAT is getting tougher | Dec. 9
Commit to education
This article on higher passing scores for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test says that many more third-graders may be retained and the percentage of 10th-graders passing the reading portion may drop by 8 percent. Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson said he was "confident the students and schools will rise to the challenge."
The question is: Will the governor and the Legislature rise to the challenge? Previous cuts in education have resulted in teacher layoffs and the elimination of programs. How is this going to help increase student performance? Now, after much of the damage is done, the governor wants to increase spending in education next year by $1 billion. But he wants to cut Medicaid spending in order to accomplish this. Is this the proper way to go?
Paul Gianniotes, Ruskin
Bright Futures scholarships
Save the scholarships
The Times reported that officials think Bright Futures scholarships will be phased out in the next five years. If we are truly committed to improving education in this state and in this country, why would our leaders ever consider killing this program? Talk about cutting and running.
The justification for ending it is that Florida Lottery money won't sustain the program down the road. I remember when the Legislature diverted educational funds away from the budget after the lottery was established years ago.
The lottery was never intended to replace educational funding, but only to supplement it. But sadly, those who do not truly embrace public education have conveniently diverted funding and relied on the lottery to replace it. Talk about a gamble.
It is time to redirect those funds back to education. And, yes, if we have to raise taxes in order to properly and fully fund education and compete nationally and globally, then do it, now.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
Teacher may challenge union president Dec. 9
Joseph Thomas, the high school teacher who refused to be evaluated by someone whose experience was primarily in elementary schools, gave the example of a helicopter pilot evaluating a pilot of a 747 jetliner. What would a helicopter pilot know about flying a 747?
It's the same with teaching. What does an elementary teacher know about teaching at the high school level? Thomas has a valid point. The evaluation system is a streamlined approach to teaching. I know many teachers who are upset with this grant. I commend Thomas for standing up.
Agnes Murphy, Valrico