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The December letter of the month, and other letters
Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence at a trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation.
This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence at a trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. [ UNCREDITED | AP ]
Published Jan. 3, 2020

Opioids helped my mom live

December letter of the month | The winning letter concerns opioids

Opioids have ruined my life, but not for the reason you might think. My mother is a chronic pain patient. She fell from a step ladder when I was 8 and suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as permanent damage to her neck and back. Her entire life shifted that day, and mine as well, although I didn’t comprehend it back then. In a sense, I lost my mother. She became confined to her bedroom. But here’s what no one wants to hear: Opioid pain medications gave my mother her life back. They allowed my mother to live a relatively normal life for the past 20 years.

After her doctor prescribed her opioid pain medication, she began piecing her life together again. No mind-blowing highs or states of ecstasy, just freedom from pain, which restored my mother’s agency. She took up painting to find peace. She pursued fitness regimens to rebuild her withered body from years of inactivity. She dedicated her free time to visit the local nursing homes.

It goes without saying that the misuse and abuse of opioids have left a mark on this country. What you won’t hear much about is the domino effect this has caused in our medical system. Chronic pain patients are being abruptly denied access to the medication that allows them to function. Chronic pain patients include people like my mother, injured veterans and cancer patients, among others with a wide array of diseases and conditions that simply cannot be cured.

The opioid crisis has ruined my life because I’m watching my mother suffer every day and every night. I’ve been driving back and forth from my city of work to my hometown every weekend to drive her to appointments and be her voice. Recently, one night during a particularly bad pain flare, she collapsed and suffered a concussion. My mother is bedridden again, and I am watching her deteriorate day by day.

Jennie Robinson, Tampa

Where is the fairness?

Death Row inmate tries new twist | Dec. 27

James Dailey, 73, is set to be executed on Nov. 7 for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row.
James Dailey, 73, is set to be executed on Nov. 7 for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row. [ Times, Florida Department of Corrections ]

I write regarding Death Row inmate James Dailey. I have over 30 years experience in law enforcement and retired as the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville Division.

The highly respected National Registry of Exonerations reports 124 reported exonerations in 2019. More than half involved perjury or false accusations. Clearly, unscrupulous “jailhouse informants” have put a lot of innocent people in jail. Those jailhouse informants are criminals, after all, and they often have much to gain by lying about what they heard and feel they owe no allegiance to the person on whom they’re falsely informing.

As an NCIS agent and FBI agent, informants were essential to my career. I focused on finding viable informants from the start of my law enforcement career, and they treated me well. My favorites were informants who established relationships with individuals committing crimes and were able to provide recordings of the suspect. They were, for the most part, quid pro quo informants, who were paid cash or provided judicial consideration on delivery of verifiable and useful information. There was little room for the informant to provide false information and still get paid.

Informants must be frequently evaluated; their reliability must be documented and the informants subjected to regular supervisory oversight. Every law enforcement agency should adhere to standard practices for the operation of informants to ensure their information is properly evaluated and their veracity substantiated.

Based on the known history of informant convict felon Paul Skalnik, I do not see the fairness in executing James Dailey. His guilt is certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt. His fate should not rest in the believability of such a questionable informant as Mr. Skalnik.

Robert Cromwell, St. Petersburg

Lawsuits are the issue

Small business owners

Running a small business has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. It’s also shown me, though, that there are plenty of obstacles to starting a business that most people don’t know about, especially here in Florida.

One of the biggest problems new business owners deal with is lawsuits. Florida’s numerous regulations let frivolous and expensive lawsuits into the courtroom. When these lawsuits hit small business owners as often as they do here in Florida, they create serious problems that make it impossible to run day-to-day operations and hire new employees.

This has the added effect of hurting local economies as well, since small businesses create jobs and offer services in their communities that might not be available otherwise. Our elected officials need to finally take up legal reforms to put a stop to these frivolous lawsuits and let Florida’s small businesses grow.

Timothy Pettus, Auburndale

We need toll roads

Deadly panther enemy: traffic | Dec. 31

Florida absolutely needs all three of the proposed toll roads. They are absolutely required for the future of this wonderful state.

What and when was the last major Florida highway finished that connected regions? Alligator Alley between Naples and Ft. Lauderdale was upgraded and added to I-75 in October 1986, more than 33 years ago.

During this same 33 years, the population has increased by more than 9 million residents, or more than 3 million households with 3 plus million cars and trucks. During this same 33 years and between regions, we have managed to add one or two lanes in each direction.

As a state, we cannot continue to widen existing highways. We absolutely must add these new toll roads. Of course we should prudently care for our environment at all times, but even if our population was frozen at today’s level, Florida will never be what it was when I was a boy in the 1950’s.

Florida absolutely needs all three of the proposed toll roads.

David Brewer, Bartow

I don’t respect him

The president

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]

Even as a long-term registered Democrat, I always respected the president of the United States — independent of their party affiliation. Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan, for example, were not only good leaders but good role models of genuine caring and decency. It saddens me to say: I wish I could say that about our current president.

William Emener, St. Pete Beach