Why vaccination isn’t really ‘a choice’
The right to choose | Letter, April 18
When I graduated from medical school in 1955, we still had contagious wards in hospitals full of patients with polio, measles, chicken pox, mumps, meningitis, bacterial resistant pneumonia, etc. Tuberculosis sanatoria were filled with sick and dying patients. Leper colonies existed. Fortunately, because of the development of vaccines and antibiotics, smallpox was wiped from the Earth and diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, polio, leprosy and many other contagious diseases have been essentially eliminated. In those days, we had parents and other citizens who recognized their duty to obtain these preventive medications for themselves and their children. Let us hope and pray that reason prevails today, and we do not fall for the ridiculous suggestions by those who claim a right to choose.
Dr. A.H. Felman, Tampa
Clean energy makes sense
Energy preemption legislation would create economic peril for Floridians | Column, April 17
Quietly, the world changed in a significant way these past few years: Clean energy crossed the cost threshold to become competitive and even cheaper in many markets than fossil fuels! Consequently, clean energy industries are booming — particularly solar — creating jobs and business and investment opportunities far faster than the rest of the economy as well as tax revenue, improved property values and significant savings on electric bills — which then gets spent elsewhere in the economy. Globally, the transition to renewables is estimated to be a $10 trillion economic opportunity; more than 280 global businesses have committed to 100 percent renewables across their operations. Climatech is the hottest sector of venture capital.
So what have Florida legislators been working on this session? Throwing a bucket of ice water on clean energy, in the form of multiple energy preemption bills seeking to seize broad decision-making power from municipalities over energy decisions such as infrastructure siting, building codes and even the right to adopt 100 percent clean energy resolutions — as 11 Florida cities have, including four in Pinellas County — all of which would be undone if these bills become law.
And the dizzying 180-degree turn on core principles by the conservatives driving these bills, such as “smaller government,” “states’ rights” (local control) and combating government overreach, raises the question: Whom do these bills benefit? Certainly not those who want more clean energy nor those who think we deserve a say on energy issues in our communities.
David Sillman, Tarpon Springs
Do for teachers as for students
Florida removes high-stakes consequences from spring testing | Column, April 9
I am writing for teachers all across this great state. I would like to thank Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran for providing options to allow graduation waivers to seniors, third-graders to be promoted with cause and flexibility for school districts on promotion, retention and scholarship eligibility. These are all positive steps in moving forward toward a post-COVID environment.
It puzzles me, though, why the same considerations were not extended to our teachers. Why not recognize all the hard work, dedication, time and effort these professionals have put in during this COVID-filled school year — and hold us harmless from student test scores from the 2020-2021 school year, just as students are?
It has been difficult for our educators to deliver instruction and get the same degree of interaction with students, many of whom were online or have been online and since returned to brick and mortar.
We can certainly agree that testing should be done to evaluate where our students are at and to make recommendations moving forward on how to remedy the progress that has been delayed or lost. However, it is not right to excuse everyone else but hold teachers accountable for the numerous situations over which they have no control.
We hold Florida up as an example to the rest of the country on how schools should be run, and together we have accomplished a lot during a pandemic. What I am asking is that we consider all the players in the game and treat them equally.
Don Peace is president of the United School Employees of Pasco County.
Mission Control calling cable guy
The lesson of a little helicopter on Mars | Editorial, April 20
Kudos to NASA for its efforts in launching a helicopter on Mars more than 178 million miles away. So how come we can’t get our cable company to reboot our boxes without unplugging it and waiting 10 minutes?
Rich Lynch, North Redington Beach
A trowel and a pen
Having been a licensed tile and marble installer for the last 35 years, I dare say I’ve held a trowel in my hands for at least as many hours as any pencil-pusher has held a pencil. Some days my signature is flowing and stylish, other days it more closely resembles the readout on an EKG. It concerns me I will have to take additional steps to make sure my vote was counted. If the people in charge make it more difficult for me to trust that my vote was counted, I’m going to do my part to see they lose their jobs.
Brian Walkowiak, St. Petersburg
A signing of changing times
“Would the governor pass his proposed voter signature test?” illustrates why it’s a bad idea to rely on reviewing signatures on voter ballots. Besides the amount of time the poll workers would need reviewing multiple signatures, the fact is most signatures, the governor’s included, change over time. Going over signatures with a fine-tooth comb would take us back to the “hanging chad” days of the 2000 election, which was only sorted out later by the U.S. Supreme Court.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
A question of priorities
I started my banking career in 1973 and I remember the three martini lunches. The good ol’ boys would leave at noon and return around 3, returning flushed, buzzed and frisky. Gov. Ron DeSantis thinks the unemployed don’t need or deserve an additional $100 weekly, but he’s quick to shell out tax breaks for his white-collar donors rather than Florida’s unemployed, who suffered under his unemployment fiasco. We know where the governor’s priorities are.
Eileen Stafford, St. Petersburg