1. Opinion

Let’s keep Florida moving forward

Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to members of the Florida Legislature during a joint session of lawmakers this week. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves to members of the Florida Legislature during a joint session of lawmakers this week. [SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES]
Published Jan. 17
Updated Jan. 17

The way forward for Florida

DeSantis’ strategy: keep sunny side up | Editorial, Jan. 15

As we begin the 2020 legislative session and reflect on 2019 and the many bold initiatives that Gov. Ron DeSantis and his team have embarked upon, we can see a number of ways the economy in Florida is becoming even stronger. Our state must continue to move toward the economy it wants to build and not just embrace the economy it has. The governor understands this instinctively, and his push into markets in the Northeast to draw talent from the financial industry has led to a continued growth of that sector in Florida. Core to the governor’s messaging is that Florida is not just a great place to visit or retire, but also a wonderful place to start and grow a business and raise a family.

Last year, the Florida Council of 100 released Project Sunrise, a bold economic competitiveness plan that speaks to the need to develop human capital as a key enabler of economic growth across all sectors. Talented people are our state’s most important resource. The leading companies and industry clusters that will emerge over the next 20 years will locate where there is access to a top-quality workforce, which is why we must continue to make Florida and its schools a place where talent thrives.

It’s not by accident that Enterprise Florida, as the state’s economic development spearhead, has been key to the governor’s trade and recruitment missions. Even such recognizable brands as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s continuously market their products in order to remain relevant. Such is true for the Florida brand, too. For decades, Visit Florida’s marketing programs have ensured that tourism — our top economic driver — flows into the state and keeps every Floridian’s taxes low. People exposed to Visit Florida’s advertising are almost twice as likely to visit the state. Now is the time to strengthen Visit Florida and expand its role to include marketing the state as the “it” place for tourism, talent, and trade.

We congratulate the governor and the Legislature for a great first year of working in partnership to give Florida this economic advantage.

Chris Corr, Tallahassee

The writer is chair of the Florida Council of 100.

Remember the Golden Rule

Christians have good reason to back the president | Column, Jan. 11

The column by Eric Metaxas informs me why so many Christians support President Donald Trump no matter what he does. It all comes down to a woman’s right to choose. He claims Democrats endorse abortion with near unanimity and makes it sound as though Democrats think a woman can get an abortion even in the third term up until birth. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 only 1.3 percent of abortions took place after the 21st week.

We have an abortion clinic here in Largo, and every Saturday protesters are in front with their signs, singing and chanting anti-abortion slogans and songs. It has to be extremely difficult to visit the clinic. I support the right of those people to protest, but also the right of the women to choose.

Metaxas states that Christian doctrine holds that all are depraved and equally in need of God’s grace. He also states that, “It isn’t what one does that makes one a Christian, but faith in what Jesus has done.” Faith alone in what Jesus has done is just one aspect of being a Christian. The Golden Rule says, “Love God above all else and your neighbor as yourself.” That Golden Rule certainly doesn’t sound like the way the president thinks and acts with his name-calling, lack of empathy and out and out lying. Trump has pulled the wool over the eyes of many evangelical Christians, but thankfully many of them, including those at Christianity Today, see him for what he is.

Marilyn Wirth, Largo

A scientist and a Christian

UCF medical students take part in a papaya workshop at the University of South Florida Medical Students for Choice Second Annual Florida Regional Conference held in the Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa [MONICA HERNDON | Times]

According to modern science, life is defined as the ongoing decompression of a unique file contained in each individual genome. That file is established at conception, and any pregnancy interruption is equivalent to manslaughter. From the religious standpoint, however, the issue is muddier as any biblical scholar or theologian would tell you. At least twice in the Old Testament, the life of an unborn baby is considered of less value than the life of a born one. In Genesis 38, the execution of an adulterous pregnant woman was to be allowed without waiting for her to give birth. In Exodus 21, 22 Moses recommends that a man who causes the miscarriage of a pregnant woman through an act of violence be not punished with death as a murderer should be. The major Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas affirms that ensoulment (the moment when a fetus becomes a person) occurs 40 days after conception of a boy and 80 days after conception of a girl. Aquinas condemns abortion as an act against nature, but cannot call it a murder until the formation of the person is completed.

I have struggled and am struggling with abortion.

As a physician and a scientist, I have to call it manslaughter. As a Christian, I recognize the complexity of the issue and am repulsed by the idea of intruding on a woman’s body without her consent and by the idea that illegal abortion may be associated with increased women’s deaths rather than a decline in abortions.

But under no circumstance will I consort with Eric Metaxas and the Christians he claims to represent. They accept the destruction of thousands of immigrant families, even of the whole world as necessary collateral damage, in their thoughtless war against abortion.

I would recommend that they refer to the first letter of John, Chapter 3, which, paraphrased, says: How could you claim to love children you don’t see and accept the destruction of innocent children in front of your eyes?

Dr. Lodovico Balducci, Tampa

A man of big words

Mr. Eric Metaxas is a shameless sesquipedalian, which seriously reduces the number of people who have the forbearance to read his column all the way to its conclusion.

James Williams, Tierra Verde

Not everything is political

Every day is a gift | Column, Jan. 3

Connie Schultz [File photo]

I was so enjoying and empathizing with Connie Schultz. Her column brought tears to my eyes, as I had the same experience losing my mom and brother, but then she made it political. It turned me off. I have seen many other articles I thought were so informative until politics was brought in. Not every problem under the sun is linked to or should be blamed on our duly-elected president.

Bonita Monbarren, St. Petersburg


  1. This photo shows multiple forms printed from the Internal Revenue Service web page that are used for 2018 U.S. federal tax returns.
  2. A boy named Jamal, 12, looks for an item in his new room at Joshua House in Lutz in 2016.
  3. Megan Davila, 25, a Child Protection Investigator in training, along with Jacque Salary, 46, a Child Protection Investigator and mentor for almost seven years, pictured with their case files in the family visitation room at the Child Protection Investigation Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Investigators are the front line of the foster care system, responsible for sometimes life-or-death decisions about whether to remove a child because of issues like domestic violence and drug use in the home.
  4. The Florida Senate is taking one step forward this year on criminal justice reform – requiring racial and ethnic impact statements for legislation we consider, writes State Sen. Jeff Brandes.
  5. Joey Cousin, a transgender student from Broward county and an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at a press conference at the Capitol. The bill requires girls under the age of 18 get a parent's consent before having an abortion was approved Wednesday in its final committee stop.
  6. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is advocating for a statewide policy of paid family leave for all Floridians.
  7. Pasco County community news
  8. Florida has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  9. Our democracy is under unprecedented attack from overseas, but the federal government has been unable or unwilling to protect our campaign-finance system.
  10. Cars sit locked in evening rush hour traffic on Dale Mabry near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The Hillsborough County Commission will discuss Wednesday whether to prepare a transportation tax for the November ballot now that the fate of the current tax rests with the Florida Supreme Court. [ZACK WITTMAN  |  Times]