A dose of hope is good people doing good things | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
Jacqueline Luciano, left, who received care through Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery program, and Ocala Fire Rescue EMS Captain Jesse Blaire share a moment at Beacon Point, an integrated care center for substance abuse recovery, in Ocala on Jan. 29, 2024.
Jacqueline Luciano, left, who received care through Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery program, and Ocala Fire Rescue EMS Captain Jesse Blaire share a moment at Beacon Point, an integrated care center for substance abuse recovery, in Ocala on Jan. 29, 2024. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published March 31

Good people doing good things

Dose of hope in drug epidemic | March 24

This article about Capt. Jesse Blaire and the work he’s doing, and those who embrace it and join him in it, was like the piercing beam from a lighthouse beacon, cutting through so much darkness. Thanks for the report. It’s so good to know that people like him exist, and efforts like his are being made. It is an excellent use of public resources, too. This work, and the reporting of it, is so encouraging. And not a hint of any mystical folderol or political grandstanding behind it. Just good people serving the unfortunate in a commonsense way. Bravo.

Steve Douglas, St. Petersburg

Individual choice

Dose of hope in drug epidemic | March 24

Reading about the actions of Fire Capt. Jesse Blaire, I’m at once touched by his mission and pessimistic about its impact. America is a sick nation. In the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs at a time when 7,000 Americans died annually against a 200 million population. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, deaths fell into the 2,000s. Today, we have 50 times the deaths in a population that hasn’t doubled. What bothered me most about the article was Capt. Blaire’s admission of the shame he feels over the assumptions he made over addicts’ intentions. While I believe addiction to be a disease, it’s this idea that’s lowered the mental barrier a user must crash through to take that first snort, injection or inhalation. You cannot become addicted to a chemical you’ve never used. Our national sickness is completely of our own making. By destigmatizing addiction, undoubtedly, we’ve taken away the positive peer pressure that made drugs far less prevalent. Now we blame the Chinese. Blame the cartels. Blame social media and mental illness. Drug addiction and drug deaths are a demand problem. Society can never afford an army of Capt. Blaires to do his admirable work. And it shouldn’t have to. Harsh as it sounds, in a society that has transferred its members’ individual obligations to government, it’s up to each person to not use.

Jason Barrera, Oldsmar

One last time

Will Haslam’s reopen? | March 24

After moving to Florida in 1986, one of my favorite pastimes was browsing the myriad aisles of Haslam’s Book Store. A habit I continued until they, like so many other businesses, closed during the pandemic. Thankfully, Tombolo Books opened to help fill the void, and I have become a frequent and faithful customer of their store. But I still miss Haslam’s. If Ray and Suzanne Hinst do decide to close their doors for good, I hope they will give us a chance for some closure. Please open one last time to let us wander those aisles, commiserate with fellow book lovers, and to say a final farewell to our beloved community treasure.

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Peggy McCabe, St. Petersburg

Protect our wetlands

Florida’s showdown with the US continues over who regulates projects that affect wetlands | March 25

Once again, developers — many from out of state — have teamed up with Florida’s GOP legislators, both federal and state, to force the federal government to permanently cede permitting authority to destroy wetlands from federal oversight to the state. The same state that has allowed the pollution and draining of scores of springs, the same state which has allowed pollution of the Everglades, the same state that has given billions of gallons of our drinking water to fertilizer and bottling interests (virtually cost-free) now wants to control whether or not developers can rip out the coastal wetlands that mitigate hurricanes, protect residential areas from flooding and provide homes to dozens of vanishing species. It is time for us all to rise up and say, “No, back off, Republicans. Leave our wetlands alone and in the hands of the federal government, which, up to now, has been the only reason we have any wetlands remaining.” Let Republicans do what they want, and watch your insurance rates climb, once again, as our homes become even more vulnerable to weather and climate. As the leader of this outrage has said, there are “thousands of projects on hold,” just chomping at the bit to ruin more of our state.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

Official junk mail

Don’t let China do it | Letter, March 24

I receive what I consider junk mail from Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, who constantly states she is “fighting” for me. I would like her to stop “fighting” for me and start governing for me. Luna and her do-nothing congressional cronies are blocking the funding of Ukraine. This is probably one of the most critical times in our nation’s history. Allowing Valdimir Putin to win in Ukraine will not stop there. If you’re worried about the price of oranges and pork now, wait until Putin continues to roll into Poland. A confident world is a stable world. Think of the chaos that would occur with a U.S. withdrawal from NATO as suggested by the leader of the GOP. The current Republican-led Congress is perhaps the most ineffective in our nation’s history. The world is watching. We can not call ourselves an “exceptional country” and not stand alongside our allies as we have done for centuries. Those Republicans, including Luna, should stop fighting and start governing.

Terrence S. Callahan, Belleair

Clocking out

Here’s why Moms for ‘Liberty’ is flaming out in Florida | Column, March 24

It appears that their 15 minutes of fame lasted 14 minutes too long.

Mark H. Lee, Seminole

Social Security and me

Let’s get serious about fixing Social Security | Column, March 14

My country made a contract with me when I was young. I promised the government that I would allow them to take a portion of my wages. The government promised me that they would take my taxes and provide me a decent retirement benefit later in life. I have always kept my end of the contract. Unfortunately, the government and its elected officials have not always kept their side of the contract.

Now, once again, due to the inability of the wealthy rulers of our country to be fiscally responsible, they are trying to change my contract with them. I am almost ready to retire after spending a lifetime adhering to my side of the contract. Why should we allow politicians to alter the obligations they made with the American people? We did not fail to honor our obligations to this contract. We are a country of laws, and we agree to honor legal contracts. Those in power in our country, the wealthy, corporations and the government, would never allow a contract to be changed in this manner. They would take you to court and seek payment and fees for damages.

Fix retirement benefits by raising the maximum cap on Social Security wages to a level that is sustainable and then keep politicians from stealing money that is marked for Social Security benefits.

Robert McDonald, Melbourne

On their merits

What she should do | Letter, March 24

This letter criticizing Rep. Virginia Foxx for being against diversity, equity and inclusion illustrates one of the most pervasive and insidious consequences of social engineering. Like the writer, too many people assume that those in the target beneficiary groups of programs like DEI or affirmative action must have gotten where they are because of the program and not because of their own talents, intelligence or ambition. This denigrates accomplished people by robbing them of the admiration they rightly deserve, instead attributing their success to the program. This is totally unfair, but totally understandable.

John S.V. Weiss, Spring Hill

A national treasure

Everglades reservoir, funds are ‘bypass surgery’ | March 17

As a concerned resident of Florida, I urge our state to prioritize environmental education, especially the invaluable Everglades ecosystem, which is not just a local treasure but a national legacy, threatened by habitat loss, pollution and climate change. By integrating Everglades education into school curricula, we can inspire future generations to become informed stewards of our environment. Let’s educate, inspire and preserve.

Ava Elosge, St. Petersburg