1. Opinion

Why I subscribe to the Tampa Bay Times and the Wall Street Journal

Here’s what readers have to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
Bobbie Jean Phillips lost control of her Garda armored truck in Ohio in 2014 and slammed into a dump truck. She died. Two people in the dump truck were seriously injured. [Ohio State Highway Patrol]
Bobbie Jean Phillips lost control of her Garda armored truck in Ohio in 2014 and slammed into a dump truck. She died. Two people in the dump truck were seriously injured. [Ohio State Highway Patrol]

Why I read two newspapers

Moving millions, leaving mayhem | Investigation, March 1

Neighbors, incredulous upon learning that I subscribe to two daily newspapers (the second is the Wall Street Journal), often ask why I support print journalism. After all, can’t we get the “news” for “free” on the internet?

After spending nearly 50 years working in the media, including TV news and at a wire service, I explain that, in general, only a newspaper will support true investigative reporting — the kind that takes time, costs money and shoe leather. Investigative stories by television stations are frequently cranked out the same day, and wrapped in a flashy banner that says “I-Team,” or something similar.

Your Sunday front-page investigation of a long history of egregious safety violations at GardaWorld, and the company’s slipshod management and lack of true concern, is an example of why I support the Tampa Bay Times. Your investigative work is first rate. Reporters Bethany Barnes and Connie Humburg are to be commended for their tenacious work on this story. You and your editors are to be commended for enabling this type of journalism, and for not backing down in the face of threatened legal action by GardaWorld.

Having been employed in journalism for most of my working life, I understand the extreme pressures that the media are under these days. I was saddened to read in the paper the other day that advertising declines have led to temporary pay cuts at the Times. It is my hope that this situation can be reversed. Human nature is such that we often don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it. As one voice in the wilderness supporting the vital role of local journalism, I try to educate friends and acquaintances about why, of all the constitutional amendments, the First Amendment comes first.

John Turell, Wimauma

Politics, profits and colleges

Keep politics out of college merger moves | Editorial, March 1

New College and Florida Polytechnic University are both schools the Legislature is looking to fold into others. [Times files]

This editorial pulls open the curtains to reveal for the “average” reader just how seemingly haphazard management of the higher education system can be. Having been in higher education for close to 20 years after having worked for another 20-plus in the federal government and the private sectors, I have had the opportunity to observe numerous successes and missteps when it comes to organizational management. I vividly remember in the mid-’80s when hospitals found themselves faced with “time to operate like a ‘real’ business” decisions. It was a painful learning process for many. Some adapted well; others not so much.

Higher ed has been facing — and all too often sidestepping — this agonizing dilemma for more than a decade. Merger? Close our doors? What are our options? Some colleges have bitten the proverbial bullet and shuttered their doors, leaving their hapless students dangling. Others have chosen to merge with other, more financially stable institutions and are thriving. Still others, and I was most fortunate to have taught at one of these examples, are guided by highly capable leaders who have made tough business decisions that, for the short-term, were painful to all but have led to 21st century continuing success.

Higher-education institutions do not need politicians poking their self-preserving “what’s in it for me?” fingers into their business. But, these same institutions need strong leaders with solid business management know-how to guide them into a successful future.

Kirk Hazlett, Riverview

The writer is an adjunct professor of communication at the University of Tampa and ethics officer for the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Unhinged? No, just kinder

Salvation for sensible voters | Column, March 4

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks about subjects like climate change during a campaign rally March 5, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) [ROSS D. FRANKLIN | AP]

Has George Will lost his sense of equanimity and critical thinking? Has he been sitting at the bar next to former Hardball host Chris Matthews for too many happy hours? He states — not just implies — that I and millions of others are “seething” fools who relish “indignation” as a mainstay of our political decision-making. He states that Sen. Bernie Sanders is “grotesquely unsuited” for leading the country and tells us, in his cozy wisdom, that the ideas that Sanders supports are “pixiedust.” He goes on, of course.

As a member of the unhinged rabble that Will disdains, I am sorry that we have brought his blood pressure to such borderline levels. I apologize for supporting a health-care system that would eliminate more than 500,000 medical bankruptcies a year. And it is probably delusional that we can ever do what every other industrialized country has done in providing health care to all its citizens, at about half the cost of what we spend now. And billionaires deserve to own more than 80 percent of the wealth of the country while people sleep under bridges. And I am sorry for seething that climate change really is a big deal. And Sanders must be mad to advocate for education that doesn’t leave graduates with numbing debt. George Will loves things just the way they are. Why are people like him leading the way in telling FDR Democrats that we are some sort of whack jobs for wanting a kinder, more caring country?

Thomas Maciocha, Tampa

In the lap of danger

Texting and driving

[Photo from Star Tribune]

Has anyone noticed a decrease in the number of texting drivers since the new law began? I haven’t. In fact, a new trend has emerged. Reckless drivers who take their eyes off the road to text now hold phones in their laps instead of the sight line at the steering wheel. In other words, these reckless drivers are taking their eyes off the road more now. There simply aren’t enough traffic police to enforce the new law. In the meantime, a large number of drivers are putting others’ lives at risk.

Rand Moorhead, St. Petersburg

A bow toward good hygiene


Travelers wearing face masks line up at the Air China check-in counters at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, March 6, 2020. [MARK SCHIEFELBEIN | AP]

Maybe COVID-19 will trigger a rethinking of the social ritual of the handshake. For millennia, shaking hands has been a process to demonstrate peaceful intentions and a lack of weapons on a person. Now, this ritual is a guaranteed source of all sorts of gross contaminants that transmit viruses and bacteria. Especially since many people neglect to wash their hands at all, much less properly with soap for at least 20 seconds, maybe the Japanese bow is the way of the future.

Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg

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