A disturbing decision
Jury finds Michigan school shooter’s mother guilty | Feb. 7
The conviction of Jennifer Crumbley for involuntary manslaughter is disturbing. Don’t get me wrong, I would argue that the Crumbleys are horrible parents and are to some degree responsible for their son’s horrific actions. However, criminal responsibility for their child’s actions is an entirely different matter, and needs to be distinguished from moral or social responsibility. As a practicing psychologist who sees at-risk children, I am more than aware that there are many “bad parents.” But should I be referring them for prosecution? Should we in Florida worry that parents might be sent to jail for encouraging their kid to read a book that others might ban? Should the parent of a child who gets in a fight with another kid in the schoolyard be prosecuted for assault? While I wish that parenting in general was more enlightened and socially aware, to judge parents as “bad” and then subject them to criminal penalties creates a potential for state-controlled parenting, a practice which has heretofore only been used by fascist governments.
School shootings are an abomination and an indictment of our culture. As a society, we have miserably failed to resolve the conflict between our right to life and our Second Amendment right to bear arms. Shame on us and all our legislatures. But while the parents of all criminals can be interpreted to have failed their child and their community, we cannot allow our frustration to hold them criminally responsible. Bad parents need help, not prosecution.
Lawrence Lentchner, New Port Richey
Our vote, their decision
Florida group seeks to put Medicaid expansion in voters’ hands in 2026 | Feb. 3
If people get to vote on Medicaid expansion and it does pass, let’s see if it really happens. Remember what happened to two previously voter-approved items — the transportation sales tax in Hillsborough County (the money is still tied up even though we voted it in) and amending the state Constitution to give most felons back the right to vote.
Leona Schonher, Brandon
Biden could enforce the law
Republican hypocrisy on border security | Editorial, Feb. 7
The editorial neglects several very important points. First President Joe Biden could immediately increase border security and stop dangerous and increased immigration by executive action and enforcing present laws. This bill is connected with funding both Israel’s battle with Hamas terrorists and Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Each issue is vital on its own merits. It is indefensible to tie all issues together. To my mind, it shows the hypocrisy of the Senate Democratic leadership in tying these issues together. This holds up the funding of the defense of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, and the funding of Ukraine from Russian aggression.
Robert Karp, Tampa
A bill too big
Republican hypocrisy on border security | Editorial, Feb. 7
In its haste to lord it over the Republicans, the Times Editorial Board conveniently forgot that there’s more in the 370-page Frankenbill than border security. When they stitch together disparate issues, they give scalawags on both sides of the aisle plenty of places to duck and cover. Border security has nothing in common with financial support for Ukraine, Israel or Taiwan, issues which should be addressed, debated and voted on separately, but that would put individuals on the record with no place to hide. Instead, they now can claim that they didn’t vote for this, they voted for that, and it’s unfortunate that was attached to this.
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John S.V. Weiss, Spring Hill
Let’s do this deal
Deal or no deal? | Jan. 21
I am writing to unabashedly support the Rays/Hines proposal for the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District in St. Petersburg. Three reasons: first, this will be the largest economic development project that St. Pete has ever seen, more than a million square feet of office space; 1,200 affordable housing units; and a projected 37,000 jobs. Incidentally, high-paying jobs is a great strategy to deal with the affordability of housing. Second, it is likely that if this deal falls apart, the Rays will leave this market. That would be an economic and reputational disaster. And third, there are many other benefits from intentional equity to much-needed convention space to outdoor amenities to specified minority/women-owned Business Enterprises provisions to a state-of-the-art baseball stadium with many uses beyond baseball.
Paul Carder, St. Petersburg
My EV has me juiced
Not electrified | Letter, Jan. 31
All new technological advancements have their detractors, going back to the first automobiles. So now it is with electric vehicles. Nitpicking, out of context and false comparisons abound. Talk to actual EV owners, like myself, for apples to apples. As I read in your articles and letters to the editor, it seems that tire wear, because of vehicle weight, is a big issue. We replaced a 2016 Jeep Cherokee (3,800 pounds listed weight) with a 2023 Chevy Bolt EUV (3,700 pounds listed weight). And it cost less than the 2023 Jeep Cherokee. At more than 10,000 miles, the Michelin tires on the Bolt are hardly worn. I don’t see any difference. It depends on your maintenance and driving habits. The next complaint actually makes me laugh. People say that it takes fossil fuel electricity to charge many EVs. What about your AC, refrigerator, pool pumps, washer and dryer, stove, etc.? It takes about six hours of electricity (that’s less than people run their pool pump one day) to get 250 miles of relatively emission-free driving. Not to mention the quiet, odor free, high-tech and low-maintenance driving experience. How many emission-free miles can you drive in a gas-fueled car?
Michael Lang, Seminole
The right call
Trump not immune from prosecution in election case, court says | Feb. 7
The federal appeals court, in finding that former President Donald Trump does not have immunity for his Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionist conduct while in office, made the right call. If Trump’s claim of lifetime immunity for a president were actually correct, why did then-President Gerald Ford bother to grant former President Richard Nixon a full and absolute pardon in 1974 that ended any possibility of indictment for his role in the Watergate scandal?
Brian Walkowiak, St. Petersburg
Yes, it’s a Florida public record. Good luck at getting it. | Column, Feb. 2
Times editorial writer John Hill’s frustrated quest to learn the current Hillsborough County transportation tax balance is hardly surprising given what’s going on with state monies these days. There’s our Gov. Ron DeSantis flying border crossers north to places like Martha’s Vineyard while at the same time sending state personnel in a bid to outdo Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in thumbing his nose at the feds — all on Florida taxpayers’ dime. It will be interesting to see how much Hillsborough County transportation tax money ($570 million at last count) actually gets used for the county’s dire transportation needs, and how much gets siphoned off into the pockets of lawyers who have been circling this jackpot for a few years now.
Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center
Cut out the middleman
State guard going to Texas | Feb. 2
I’m going to start sending my tax dollars directly to Texas since Gov. Ron DeSantis feels it’s more important to support them instead of his own state. Thank goodness Florida doesn’t have any issues that need money.
Linda Reece, Madeira Beach
We’re the problem
Lawsuit could delay insurance expansion | Feb. 6
Having already taken away funding for summer lunches — often the only nutritious meal some children get during the summer — and having denied them and their parents Medicaid insurance when the federal extension expired, our governor and legislators want to deny these same children health insurance — all to save $15 or $20, per child, per month. These are the same legislators, I remind you, who thought it was just fine for better-off parents to use state funds to buy trampolines or take their children on “field trips” to Disneyland. They are trying to take away women’s rights to control their own bodies, and they have stolen children’s and parents’ rights to choose their children’s reading. Every person who votes to elect one of these current legislators is complicit in these decisions. It may be Tallahassee doing the damage but it’s voters who sent the wrecking crew up there. The blame isn’t with the Legislature: it is with we who have elected them.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
What AI will and won’t do
Concerned artificial intelligence is coming for your job? First, the basics. | Perspective, Feb. 4
Nicolas Sabouret does fine in defining artificial intelligence, but he failed to help us understand what AI could mean for jobs. Will AI replace human employment? The answer is “it depends.” Computerization has already eliminated many jobs. For example, at one time, teams of bookkeepers were employed to keep accounting ledgers up to date; computerized accounting systems have eliminated almost all these jobs. Since the dawn of the manufacturing age, legions of workers were required to keep production lines moving; many of these workers have either been eliminated or are on the cusp of being eliminated by automation and robotics.
My intent is to illustrate with specific circumstances because the jobs AI will impact fall into specific categories. For example, a lot of the mundane but detailed employment in the legal profession is already impacted. The same goes for medical jobs that require detailed analysis of complex medical conditions. In both the legal and medical scenarios, a lot of data is focused on specific areas that require a disciplined solution. These are areas where AI is already happening or is on the cusp of a major impact. To determine the risk to individual jobs, one must look at each job to see if AI is a good fit. A sales job, for example, with lots of personal interaction is most likely not at risk, but a marketing job that uses complex data sources to determine sales opportunities might be better handled with a trained AI system. It all depends.
Jon Crawfurd, Gulfport