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When the voters speak, listen

Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s letters to the editor.
In this photo from Oct. 2018, people gather around the Ben & Jerry's "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4 and eat free ice cream at Charles Hadley Park in Miami. [WILFREDO LEE  |  Associated Press]
In this photo from Oct. 2018, people gather around the Ben & Jerry's "Yes on 4" truck as they learn about Amendment 4 and eat free ice cream at Charles Hadley Park in Miami. [WILFREDO LEE | Associated Press]
Published Dec. 29, 2019

The voters have spoken

Delivering on the right to vote | Editorial, Dec. 26

The appalling part of your editorial on Amendment 4 was that two Hillsborough County court officials had to do anything on behalf of the felons whose voting rights were restored in the 2018 election. We hear all the time that elections have consequences, and the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis can’t stand the fact that not only did they lose on that amendment, they got overwhelmingly buried—64.5 percent favored the restoration of felons’ voting rights. But the Legislature immediately went after the voters’ mandate and put roadblocks to obstruct these newly restored voting rights. It’s hardly the first time this has occurred. In 2010, Amendment 6, which stopped gerrymandering, was passed with 63 percent of the vote. Yet the Legislature assaulted the will of the people. The voters have spoken. Get over it.

Jay Margolis, Delray Beach

The cause of sea level rise

We can’t count on just buyouts as sea levels rise | Dec. 22

Redington Beach would be entirely flooded by a 2-foot rise in sea level, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This piece highlights the enormous financial risks and costs of climate change to us as taxpayers. The action needed to avoid these costs is a policy mechanism to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, pending in the House, is such a policy. It adds a fee to the carbon content of fossil fuels and rebates the collected amounts to the public. Most people receive more in rebates than they pay in higher fuel costs while they transition to cleaner energy sources over time. This is far better than paying ever higher taxes for re-mediation, adaptation and “managed relocation,” which do not solve the underlying cause of rising sea levels — the release of carbon dioxide from carbon-based fuels.

Bill Marshall, St. Petersburg

It’s not a church

Scientology is elephant in room of Clearwater politics | Dec. 26

Demonstrators at a rally in front of Clearwater City Hall in December 1979 to protest the Church of Scientology. Times (1979) [HASEL, STEVE | St. Petersburg Times]

Let’s be clear about one thing: Scientology is not a church. When the IRS gave this organization that tax-exempt status reserved for a genuine religious organization, it committed a grave error in my judgment. Look up the word “church” in any dictionary, and you will find distinct characteristics or norms that are required to be met. Does Scientology meet any of these criteria? No. Period.

John Hayner, Clearwater

Moffitt helped me

Open, honest action from Moffitt | Dec. 24

A scene from a research lab at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. [Courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center]

In the fall of 2017, I was diagnosed as having Stage IV melanoma, which had metastasized to my lungs, and eventually to my tongue, throat, brain, adrenal gland and large intestine. Statistics said I had about a 5 percent chance of living two years. But the Moffitt Cancer Center didn’t see it that way.

As I approach 2020, I am strong and optimistic. We are blessed by having Moffitt and its dedicated board of directors, physicians, nurses, technicians, researchers, and staff. We don’t judge an apple tree by an occasional worm-eaten apple, and we shouldn’t adversely judge Moffitt by an executive or two who went astray on their own and, when discovered, were quickly discharged.

Let’s count our blessings and give thanks for Moffitt’s integrity in its current mini-crisis, and for what Moffitt does for our community and beyond.

Richard Jacobs, Tierra Verde

How to help teachers

Teacher raises are not certain | Dec. 25

Staff members protest from Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association outside of the school board building in Tampa in 2017. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

Here are solutions that could work to increase teacher salaries and increase student achievement:

Change teacher work day to 8 hours a day from 7.5 hours while the student instructional time remains the same at 6 hours.

Student instructional days stay at 180 per year.

Increase non-instructional work days for teachers.

The results: Yearly salaries will increase for teachers and employees of the school system overall, because they would be working more days.

Teachers would have more time for instructional planning, collaborating with other educators and participating in training.

Students would have more frequent short breaks to ease their stress and to absorb information before they have to cram more in.

No amount of money — strictly in raises — would reduce the immense stress teachers and students experience in school these days nor will it increase the quality of instruction without more time being incorporated into the overall equation.

A. O’Brien, Pinellas Park

It’s not a matter of hate

Impeachment

President Donald Trump [ANDREW HARNIK | AP]

The GOP establishment, especially President Donald Trump and Republican members of Congress, has broadened its anti-impeachment narrative. In its efforts to discredit the impeachment findings, they claim the Democrats’ hatred of Trump is a pretext for their actions. Referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump said, “She hates the Republican Party, she hates all of the people that voted for me,” echoing the sentiment of his allies on the Judiciary Committee.

It is no secret that Democrats do not like Trump. Neither did about 66 million voters who preferred Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, a margin of nearly 3 million votes. Whether they “hate” this president is entirely beside the point. If Trump was universally beloved, would he be immune to impeachment? Of course not.

The framers intended the Constitution to serve as a basis for the rule of law, with impeachment as a remedy for abuse by the executive. Republicans would be better served leaving psychoanalysis out of their defense. It does nothing to refute the facts, which clearly show that Trump violated his oath of office.

Jane Paladino, Tampa

A Glock for hunting?

Bill takes aim at gun buy loophole | Dec. 26

Maybe you should only be able to buy a gun used for hunting with your hunting license. I don’t think a Glock handgun should be considered in that category.

Richard Krachun, Tarpon Springs

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