Gov. DeSantis’ degradation of universities is breaking my contract with Florida Prepaid | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Graduates stand at the beginning of a USF commencement ceremony.
Graduates stand at the beginning of a USF commencement ceremony. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published March 18

Florida Prepaid and a broken contract

DeSantis slams ‘DEI scam’ as bill to strip university majors advances | March 14

HB 999, the Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions bill, effectively breaks my contract with the Florida Prepaid Scholars Program. When I bought in 11 years ago to save for my kids’ education — locking in tuition rates at the nation’s cheapest university system, I expected there to be a variety of world-class universities available. I want my kids to attend high-ranking schools and be able to come home on weekends. I attended Florida K-12 schools and proudly have three degrees from Florida universities. I am also an associate professor at USF — a working-class, hometown kid made good. I want my kids to have the same shot. Passage of HB 999 would break that contract, forcing them out of state for a decent education. Florida Prepaid parents should be outraged.

HB 999′s political takeover of universities — centralizing faculty hiring and firing under the governor’s appointed trustees — ends academic legitimacy. Florida’s universities will become an arm of one political party, not a world-class space of open, intellectual exchange. The Legislature’s attempts to ban specific ideas (critical race theory) and disband legitimate intellectual centers (gender studies and race studies) goes against every model of democratic governance and free expression, including conservative libertarianism. Our universities could lose accreditation across disciplines, not just those targeting race and gender and university reputations — the basis of rankings — will plummet.

Unlike K-12, universities teach adults. It is chilling that an idea could be made verboten for adult discussion. Let’s train our adult children to handle difficult content and make up their own minds.

S.L. Crawley, St. Petersburg

Don’t want to be that

What does it mean to be ‘woke’? Depends. | PolitiFact, March 10

What is the opposite of “woke” and why would you want to be that?

Janis Upham, St. Petersburg

Transparency in tort reform

Florida lawmakers want to help insurance companies by limiting lawsuits | March 13

The “tort tax” mentioned within the article is $812.52 per Florida resident each year, as calculated by the Perryman Group. Without the reforms referenced, this cost will only increase for hardworking Floridians as businesses close shop due to the state’s unsustainable and inhospitable legal environment.

And while the American Tort Reform Foundation removed the state of Florida as a whole from its “judicial hellholes” rankings, the state Legislature remains on the report’s Watch List due to their lack of action on critical legal reforms.

HB 837 and SB 236 are two such efforts addressing transparency in damages presented in civil trials. Inflated medical damages are a main culprit to growing litigation costs in Florida and allowing inflated billed amounts in jury trials significantly increases the overall cost of the civil justice system.

The article further mentions the profits, advertising and campaign contributions made by companies to legislators, but fails to mention the profits, advertising or campaign contributions made by trial lawyers who continue to profit and benefit from the current legal system. Florida trial lawyers routinely outspend on legal services advertising when compared with other states. It’s no wonder they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep the status quo in place.

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Several states have already passed legislation addressing transparency in damages. This helps ensure lawsuit recoveries for health care expenses are justified and aren’t just padding the pockets of greedy trial attorneys — and it’s time for Florida to do the same.

Tiger Joyce, Washington, D.C.

The author is president of the American Tort Reform Association.

Ticked about a ticket

Parking spaces in downtown St. Petersburg

We visited St. Petersburg on March 4, parking on the 400 block of Beach Drive NE. The spot we found had a painted white line on the left and a normal curb on the right. There was a square concrete slab at the front (for drainage) which did not prevent our parking.

We received a $39 parking ticket. A representative of Transportation and Parking Services told us by email that “the vehicle was not parked in a marked, legal parking space. It is not marked with two solid lines on either side, and there is solid line behind it. The drainage area at the front, and lack of a meter when every other space has one, is also an indication that it’s not a parking space.” As out-of-staters, we had no way we to recognize these indications it wasn’t an authorized parking space.

So we asked the representative: “Could you explain why the city doesn’t simply put up a sign there saying ‘No Parking!’ ” No response. We also related that another car was going into that spot when we pulled out. No response.

This prompted us to ask: “Please tell us how many tickets were given for parking in this spot in the last month and prior year?” You guessed it. No response.

The question now arises whether having only an indication that it is not a legal parking spot is an intentional money-making set-up, which many drivers are not apt to catch. And how many such “non-parking spaces” are there?

Martin Elliot Gold, New York

The author has been teaching law at Columbia University since 1989. He is a former director of corporate law for the City of New York and is a retired partner at Sidley Austin LLP, the international law firm.