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  1. Opinion

Victims have a right to privacy after a traumatic event | Letters

Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.

I am a victim and I have rights

Is Highway Patrol the secret police? | Editorial, May 15

Imagine you have just undergone multiple emergency medical procedures in the hospital. Imagine you are also grieving the loss of the love of your life after a horrific car accident. Meanwhile, information about this very personal situation, including your names, address, your medical condition and her death, is being transmitted to reporters and news outlets without your consent. Imagine your daughter learning of her stepmother’s tragic death from a newspaper’s Facebook post.

I don’t have to imagine. This happened to me and my wife after our car was hit head-on by a driver who was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

I am not a “rare” and “unfortunate” situation. I am a crime victim who was entitled to the constitutional right to keep my personally identifiable information, and my wife’s personally identifiable information, confidential as provided by Marsy’s Law for Florida.

Preventing the automatic public disclosure of this type of information in no way creates “state secrets” or harms public safety. It’s fine for the public to know where fatal accidents and crimes took place (as long as victims aren’t identified), the gender of the victims and age of the victims. There’s absolutely no public benefit to releasing the names of those victims. Human curiosity is not a justification for stripping a victim of their right to have privacy after a traumatic event.

I sympathize with the family of the teen recently killed in a car accident along I-75. With the Florida Highway Patrol’s recent policy change to keep crash victims’ names out of press releases, that family can choose how and when to share the news of their loss on their own terms.

As a victim who went through this heart-wrenching experience, I can assure you the Florida Highway Patrol made the right call in making this change.

Brian Coghill, Tallahassee

Give DeSantis a cheer

Coronavirus death toll in Fla. surpasses 2,200 | May 22

I see an extraordinary amount of criticism of Gov. Ron DeSantis when we should be cheering his efforts. I took the number of deaths you reported in today’s paper and googled Florida’s population numbers as of 2019. For Hillsborough County’s latest count of 67 deaths within a population of 1.472 million, we have a 0.0000455 percent death rate. We all feel sorrow for every life lost. Can we just please put politics aside until we get through what is absolutely an unprecedented time and pull together as a team, a community and one people?

Cathy Sloop, Lutz

Impact fees are regressive

Hillsborough backs new fees | May 21

Looking south on Bell Shoals Road traffic backs up south of Bloomingdale Avenue in October.

Impact fees add to America’s housing woes. They are the most regressive fees imposed by governments. Impact fees violate our constitutional guarantees of equality and “equal protection,” as they place the greatest burden on those who can least likely afford it, the poor and the work force.

Harrison Fox, New Port Richey

These are your rights

Our rights are being challenged | Column, April 28

Protesters demonstrate during a rally against Pennsylvania's coronavirus stay-at-home order at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., May 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) [MATT ROURKE | AP]

Why do some believe their constitutional rights are violated by government entities shutting down beaches, businesses and forcing use of face masks? The Constitution gives one the right to bear arms, another issue frequently voiced by those who want no restrictions on their perceived freedoms. While one has the right to bear arms, one cannot carry said arms into a school, a bank, an airport or a courthouse without facing arrest or prosecution because of the threat such poses.

Likewise, when one defies restrictions put in place to protect “everyone” from a possible fatal infection, a potential threat or endangerment has been committed. Even if one has tested negative one day, it does not mean one cannot be positive or a spreader the next. So wear masks, obey the rules, stop whining or stay away from places with said rules. We all have constitutional rights.

Raymond LeClair, Wesley Chapel

Vote by mail is the right way

Don’t let pandemic suppress the vote | Editorial, May 22

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo.

At a time when voting by mail not only makes sense to keep us safe, but also assures all citizens are able to exercise their right to vote, President Donald Trump is convincing his supporters that once again those cheating Democrats want to steal his presidency. I would like to assure those supporters that voting integrity is taken very seriously by everyone involved. It is virtually impossible, as the president wants you to believe, that “thousands of people are sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place.” If it were that easy, what is to stop Republicans from doing the same thing? But most puzzling is, why do some people think his paranoia is normal behavior?

Jackie Gavrian, Brandon

We can reduce emissions

It’s a global emission impossible | May 20

Emission reductions are not impossible. The pandemic gives us an idea of what the world could look like if we phase out carbon-based fuels. It is cleaner, healthier and more beautiful. We don’t have to destroy the economy to do it. What we need is a federal policy that prices carbon-based fuels to encourage behaviors in our own self-interest. Congress should pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. It effectively reduces emissions, saves lives, is good for people and the economy. Like the COVID-19 virus, climate change spreads silently. Pretending it will go away does not change the science.

Bill Marshall, St. Petersburg

Is this new normal?

Road closure invites public | May 22

Bayshore Drive NE in St. Petersburg, left, will be closed starting Friday morning until further notice. Meanwhile, officials in Tampa on Thursday decided against closing Bayshore Boulevard. [Google Earth]

Tampa is considering closing northbound lanes of Bayshore Boulevard because of speeders and traffic violations. In effect, Tampa, the mayor and the police department are admitting they cannot enforce the law. Is this their “new normal?” If you can’t control it, close it?

To make Bayshore safer, a police presence is required plus traffic lights as needed.

Gary West, St. Petersburg

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