Let’s see what’s really happening
Tide turning on charters | June 17
Okay, Tampa Bay Times, let’s turn your award-winning journalism team loose on this pungent mess in Hillsborough schools. Sometime before the next round of Hillsborough School Board elections, we the voters need to know, for each member: How did they vote on each charter school proposal? A personal statement describing their reason for voting as they did. What charter schools are in their district? And for each school, an answer to these questions: How much funding did they receive (total and per pupil)? How does their academic performance rank within the county? What is the historical performance of that school’s company in comparable districts where they operate? From which public schools are their students drawn? For each affected public school: How much funding has it lost (total and per-pupil)? What is its academic performance (as ranked within the county)? Which charter schools are their lost students attending?
Finally, I’d like to see a tabular presentation of the relative performance and funding of all the referenced public and charter schools. This information will allow us to determine whether each board member is voting with the best interests of the students at heart.
Daniel J. Hill, Tampa
A simple fix
One person, one vote | Letter, June 16
The president of the United States can be elected by popular vote without abolishing the Electoral College or amending the Constitution. All it takes is for enough states to enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact is an agreement that the state will cast its Electoral Votes for the winner of the popular vote nationwide. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have done this with a total of 195 electoral votes. When states totaling 270 electoral votes adopt the compact, it goes into effect, and we elect the president by popular vote.
Shirley Arcuri, Tampa
A bridge too busy
Howard Frankland gets its makeover | June 16
I’ve lived in the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years, and during that time there’s been only brief respites from construction to, from and over the Howard Frankland Bridge. This fine article relates a few tales of misery for those stuck in the traffic between St. Pete and Tampa, but there are many others. Indeed, I have my own boring tales of crawling over this concrete jail. Music, audio books and podcasts make the time tolerable, but that’s the only goodness I can think of, and that is quickly negated by various versions of violent Tampa Bay weather.
The St. Pete side has not been too bad since the major remodel a couple of decades ago. But on the Tampa side where Westshore, downtown and Tampa International Airport traffic converge, there have been legendary delays over multiple construction projects. Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story because delays are endemic even when all traffic cones are off the causeway.
At the end of each project, there’s a brief period of freely moving traffic, but the delays quickly ramp up to gridlock level, and it becomes obvious the final traffic solution is not quite here yet. The resolution is always more construction, and then more construction to follow that. Thankfully, my wife and I are impacted only on infrequent trips to the airport, but my heart goes out to the thousands who must regularly crawl across this span for work or other obligations. At least the view is good, and there’s plenty of time to study pelicans diving for their meals.
Jon Crawfurd, Gulfport
How they vote up north
Ranked choice voting is worth trying | Editorial, June 17
Thank you for your editorial on ranked choice voting, and a special thank you for lending weight to your argument by stating that New York City is using it in the current mayoral cycle. I laughed so hard that I spit my morning coffee all over the kitchen wall. There are pros and cons with ranked choice voting, although the readers wouldn’t know this from reading the editorial. I personally think the pros may outweigh the cons if and only if competent steps are taken to educate voters on the process. As an independent voter, I enjoy it when you present both sides of an issue and allow us, the readers, an opportunity to reason our way through it. Transparency can place informed thought above manipulation.
Michael Richard, Estero
Juneteenth for Texas only
Congress votes to celebrate Juneteenth | June 17
Juneteenth should not be a national holiday, mainly because it did not end slavery in the United States. That happened on Dec. 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified and officially abolished slavery in every state of the Union. I know this because my great grandfather was a slave in Kentucky and remained one until the amendment was ratified. Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation and other declarations did nothing to end what many consider our nation’s original sin. It is fine for Texas to have Juneteenth as a state holiday, but it is nothing to celebrate on a national scale.
Joseph Brown, Tampa