1. Archive


U.S. failing to protect young farmworkers - June 27, Bill Maxwell column

A recent column by Bill Maxwell on child labor in agriculture contains a number of sweeping generalizations about the industry. First, I can assure you the vast majority of growers comply with state and federal labor laws. Reading Maxwell's misguided missive, one would believe that agriculture exists in some modern day Grapes of Wrath, which simply is not true.

The fact of the matter is that growers understand farmworkers are an essential part of getting food on tables across America and as a result they treat them respectfully and within the law. Do bad apples exist? Of course they do - like every industry - but they do not represent the norm. Those who choose to break the law should be aggressively prosecuted.

It is disappointing that Maxwell did not seek out a voice in agriculture to provide the industry's perspective and offer some context, especially when the report he cites makes harsh and over-the-top accusations such as claiming that "kids typically earn well below minimum wage and their pay is often further slashed because their bosses underreport hours and require them to buy drinking water their employers should provide by law."

Instead he chose to report as fact a one-sided study smearing a great industry that provides economic support to hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president /CEO, Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland

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Arizona law has no place in Florida - July 7, editorial

Face up to the problem of illegal immigration

Florida, like Arizona, has been inundated with illegal Hispanics/Cubans for years and the only ones besides the liberals who are complaining about this law are those who are harboring them and the greedy corporations who use their coolie labor to pick our fruits and vegetables and pour concrete ad infinitum.

First, if Florida adopts the Arizona law, will Hispanic persons traveling in large groups be more susceptible to being requested to show proof of citizenship? Will they be stopped more often than white high school students, as your editorial implies? Absolutely! But the chances of the latter group being found to be illegal immigrants as opposed to the former group will be infinitesimal. And if that's considered racial profiling, so be it. Our taxpayers are fed up with paying to support them.

Second, will you please abstain from referring to illegal immigrants as "undocumented" workers or immigrants? An illegal immigrant is an illegal immigrant is an illegal immigrant regardless of how much you try to conceal his true identity.

Edward C. Prange, Tampa

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Arizona law has no place in Florida - July 7, editorial

Protecting our citizens

Your editorial doesn't recognize the magnitude of the problem. We're a nation under attack by terrorist organizations that would love to blow up something big, in another twin towers-type attack. We need to be more aggressive and thorough in our efforts to protect our citizens.

In Arizona, illegal immigrants are pouring into our country. Sure, we're a nation of immigrants. Mine came from Ireland, but they came and were welcomed through the legal channels. We have to get a handle on this or we're going to experience terrorist coming in with "dirty bombs" and looking for a suitable target.

Why is it such a tragedy to some that citizens be asked to carry a card showing their legal status? You have a driver's license don't you?

Let's get real and get something done!

Reg Dickey, Tampa

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$3.5B on illegals? No facts back it - July 5, PolitiFact

A cost we can't afford

I read with dismay this article on state Rep. Ritch Workman's comments regarding the cost to Florida of illegal immigration.

I will concede this: The amounts could be misjudged depending on who you talk to, where they came from, who gathered them, and various other considerations.

And if this article is simply a "fact of figures" piece, then the writer has done her job well.

But I fear the article missed the point that millions of people throughout this county are fed up with: that is the fact that illegal immigration is a major source of financial burden on federal, state, county and city resources.

There are two points I would make clear.

Let's take the term illegal immigrants. This alone states the big problem. Our federal government isn't acting to stop illegal immigration to this country. We are losing this battle daily and no effective measures are in place to stop the flow of those who chose to live here illegally.

Millions of immigrants have chosen to come here legally. They went through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen and became a part of America legally. Yet we allow the financial benefits of America to be used by all those who have chosen to bypass the law and "work" the system illegally. If you want to live in America, welcome, but do it legally!

The second issue is the money "facts." The truth is we don't know how much this is costing Florida, period!

What we can all agree on is that it is costing considerable amounts of money this state and others don't have. And we cannot continue to support criminals (illegals) here.

The $3.5 billion figure is most likely wrong. But, even if it was $1.5 billion, does that make it okay?

Kimball Cassidy, Tampa

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The spy who exposed WellCare's vast fraud case - July 4

Oversight is lax

As a former employee of WellCare, I'm shocked at the size of the fraud perpetrated by these new owners. The previous owner of WellCare, Dr. Kiran Patel, would never have allowed such a fraud to occur.

This proves again that more scrutiny of large businesses is needed, especially those that spend taxpayers' money and are in charge of our communities' health. It's another failure of state government to protect its citizens. The federal government had to step in and stop a developing fraud the state should have detected long ago.

Medicaid fraud is alive and well in America because of lax state oversight and Medicaid contracts written by states that are so unspecific any fool can game them for huge profits, as did WellCare.

Arthur C. Hayhoe, Wesley Chapel