Sunday, April 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: Wall Street plays middle class for suckers

Land grab poses risk for region | April 26, editorial

Another punch to the middle class

This "land grab" is the knockout punch for the middle class. A few years ago, Wall Street saw the banks making money on real estate loans. The Street grabbed the mortgage market and sliced and diced the now-commodified home mortgages into collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs. When the mortgage pools turned out to be fakes, it tanked the market and middle class pension funds. That was the first sucker punch.

We're now just about a minute into the second round when, in the land rush, those very same Wall Streeters, using money from the first scam, decide to swoop in and buy all of those homes whose owners they conned into foreclosure. Now, even someone with preapproved credit can't compete with their cash offers. Sorry, Joe the Plumber.

So, after they sucked the consumer dry of any equity by overinflating the housing market, they've now turned the middle class into permanent renters. Given Wall Street's predilections for taking, not giving, maintenance won't be a top priority. In fact, it will have no priority. They'll hold for a while, generating income (without associated maintenance costs) and then start selling CDOs consisting of the housing rental income streams. After that, they'll sell real estate investment trusts or mutual funds back to the consumer, and, because the investment bankers will no longer will have any economic incentive in owning the homes, they'll dump the houses (with thousands of dollars in deferred maintenance), just in time for consumers to start buying houses again.

And then the Street will start on the next scam.

Kenneth L. Weiss, Treasure Island

Pinellas tax swap benefits detailed | April 27

Commuters and corruption

We recently moved here from the Chicago area, which has a large but troubled mass transit system. There are regular commuter rail lines, suburban bus lines, city lines and the legendary "L" or elevated light rail system.

The financing of these systems and the corruption they bring to the political process is scandalous. All sorts of taxes have been used to support mass transit. There are gasoline taxes and sales taxes, which after they are enacted are always deemed inadequate. Fares also rise continuously. The transit unions are strong, aggressive and politically savvy, and know how to get what they want regardless of what is in the best interest of the public. Employment by the various transit agencies is also a source political patronage, which keeps the Democratic machine well-staffed with precinct foot soldiers.

As a new resident of Pinellas County, I will be registering to vote and will cast my vote in November against this project. There is no reason to begin the process of turning this wonderful, small piece of paradise into an overpopulated, urban political hell hole like Chicago by approving this ill-conceived light rail project.

Vance Gregory, Seminole

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit

Efficient, effective transit

As someone who spends a lot of time criticizing government, I would like to compliment Hillsborough Area Regional Transit. I attended the grand opening of its compressed natural gas facility last week. The move to CNG is just another conspicuous example of HART's leadership as a steward of the people's money. Natural gas is a cleaner, safer, more cost-effective fuel alternative.

This is the same agency that asked county commissioners for $35 million to build the first rapid transit bus route between downtown and the USF campus. Metro-Rapid is a proven success and serves the same riders and route that would have been served by the rail line proposed in the failed 2010 referendum — at one-sixtieth of the cost. Then, to top it off, HART brought the project in on time and under budget, returning $6 million back to taxpayers. In the world of business, we measure success by asking, "What did you do with what you had to work with?" By that yardstick, few can match HART.

Ken Roberts, Apollo Beach

Feds' role key to rancher standoff | April 25

Welfare for ranchers

It's perversely ironic for rancher Cliven Bundy to excoriate poor people for collecting government subsidies while taking the federal government for $1 million in grazing fees. But even if he were to pay up, Bundy and his fellow ranchers would still be living on government welfare.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, livestock grazing is subsidized by federal agencies on public land in 11 Western states to the tune of nearly $300 million annually. Monthly grazing fees per cow and calf on private rangeland average $11.90, but corresponding fees on federal lands are set at a paltry $1.35.

Even so, grazing subsidies are dwarfed by other government subsidies and the medical, environmental and other external costs imposed on society by animal agriculture. These extra costs have been estimated at $414 billion annually, or $3,600 per household.

Each of us can make our $3,600 annual contribution to the common good by replacing animal products in our diet with the rich variety of grain, nut and soy-based meat and dairy alternatives.

Thomas Carter, Tampa

Charges against cop too lenient? | April 27

Frightening precedent

A sheriff's detective, Thomas Pettis, runs into the back of a car, then confronts the innocent driver, pulls a gun and punches him in the face. Pettis does this in front of witnesses, one of whom gets the event on video. A fellow officer arrives, copies the video and asks the witness to erase her original footage — something he had no right to do. Prosecutors, whom you would expect to be throwing the book at Pettis, assert that pulling the gun is self-defense? How can that be when the detective started the fight, which was over before he pulled the gun? Now this detective is being charged, not with a felony, but with much less serious offenses.

Of course, the conduct of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is being questioned, and rightly so. Had the assailant been an ordinary citizen, the details would have been released to the press. But the only way we found out about it was because your paper investigated. If all this is correct, there is no doubt that the detective is being given special treatment. It is also frightening to think that an officer could stop you, assault you and get away with a slap on the wrist.

Michele Elliott, St. Petersburg

Comments

Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Published: 04/22/18

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18