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Where were the inspectors at the Tampa lead factory? | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
Pieces of lead called “slag” and other raw materials are stored in the containment room before being fed into the furnaces at the Gopher Resource factory in Tampa.
Pieces of lead called “slag” and other raw materials are stored in the containment room before being fed into the furnaces at the Gopher Resource factory in Tampa. [ Gopher worker ]
Published Apr. 14
Updated Apr. 14

Where’s the oversight?

Lead factory finds itself in damage control mode | April 11

As a former employee of an industrial lead-acid battery company in the 1970-80′s who was exposed to higher levels of lead than what the general public was allowed to be exposed to, I was horrified to see the clouds of lead dust shown on the front page of the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. During the 16 years that I worked for Gould National Battery (now Exide) that was located in Illinois, you could count on OSHA showing up unannounced to perform a thorough inspection of the plant and all employee health records related to our lead exposure. They would come at least twice a year, and no matter how hard our company worked to reduce exposure there would always be some problems that needed fixing. But to have a factory go years without a single inspection is beyond negligent; it’s an early death sentence to the employees and their families. Then we have a government that decided to go “hands off” for the last 4 years. What kind of government, let alone company owners, would allow a place like this to go unchecked day after day?

Peter Barton, St. Petersburg

An upside down world

‘I don’t need the vaccine’: GOP worries threaten virus fight | March 15

If I understand correctly, many Republican men are refusing to get the vaccine, and Democratic leaders are fighting to protect everyone and convince people to get the vaccine. Does this mean Republicans are fighting for the right to die, and Democrats are fighting for the right to life?

Bob Clark, Largo

Post the stats

Vaccine skepticism runs deep among white evangelicals | April 5

It seems clear to me that an impactful, but simple, way to persuade the “Let’s wait and see” folks to get the vaccine is to publish on a daily and overall-total basis how many positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths occurred with people who (1) were not fully vaccinated and (2) were fully vaccinated. We would logically expect almost all will be in the un-vaccinated group. By learning these statistics, those hesitant folks will quickly realize the true cost of waiting.

Karl Vogeler, Tampa

Playing the ‘Soros’ card

Will voters finally get a choice in Pinellas-Pasco prosecutor race? | April 11

After many weeks of elegies for the late Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe, we’re getting a better read on the state of the office, and the voice of current State Attorney Bruce Bartlett. The picture is arresting. “George Soros types”, Bartlett says. Seriously? Does this 66-year-old Bartlett not know that when Soros’ name is dropped like that, it’s only to conjure dark, anti-Semitic insinuations about those that the Republican party opposes or might oppose? Everyone else knows it — shouldn’t a 66-year-old state attorney?

Steve Douglas, St. Petersburg

Missing the border crisis

U.S. picked up all-time high 19,000 children traveling alone at Mexican border in March | April 8

Once again I have read an entire day’s newspaper and have not seen a story about the humanitarian crisis on our southern border. Come on Tampa Bay Times, you’re supposed to be reporting the news! This is probably the biggest news story of the day and to not even mention it is unconscionable.

Natalie Sacco, Palm Harbor

Protect the guardians

Florida needs to ensure that all foster children have legal representation | Column, April 8

I would like to offer a response to your guest columnist Christopher Fellerhoff’s support of Senate Bill 1920. This entire bill is badly flawed. The original version of this bill would require children in foster care who are 10 years or older be appointed a paid attorney, while children under 10 are assigned a guardian ad litem. In a recent amendment, out-of-home foster children, such as those living in group homes, would be assigned an attorney, while kids who are in-home would receive a guardian ad litem.

As a guardian ad litem, I know the most important part of our mission is to be a consistent adult presence in the lives of these children: it is to “show up,” and reliably be within reach whether for birthdays, problems, or just to talk. Statistics indicate that children who have a guardian ad litem are more likely to be adopted, half as likely to re-enter foster care, less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, more likely to have a plan for permanency, and more likely to perform well in school.

Although guardians ad litem are not paid attorneys, they still provide direct access to the court on behalf of foster parents and children. This access brings insights that are not available to most attorneys whose true roles are providing legal representation and voicing what the child desires, regardless of the child’s best interests.

A child’s need for a consistent adult advocate does not disappear when he or she reaches a certain age or changes homes. We must devise a plan that ensures more trained guardians ad litem are available, not fewer. Replacing guardians with lawyers is not the answer. Every child needs a reliable adult advocate who is going to “show up,” regardless of age or living situation.

Nancy Lockwood, Tampa