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The October letter of the month, taxes and vaccination mandates | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
New York Fire Department Firehouse, Engine 307, Ladder 154 is reflected on a window on Nov. 1. About 9,000 New York City municipal workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect Monday and thousands of city firefighters have called out sick in an apparent protest over the requirement. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
New York Fire Department Firehouse, Engine 307, Ladder 154 is reflected on a window on Nov. 1. About 9,000 New York City municipal workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that took effect Monday and thousands of city firefighters have called out sick in an apparent protest over the requirement. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon) [ JEENAH MOON | AP ]
Published Nov. 7

Editor’s note: The October letter of the month concerned what to do with proceeds already collected from the Hillsborough transportation surtax thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court.

Do-nothing dollars

The October letter of the month

It has now been more than seven months since the Florida Supreme Court found that the 1% transportation tax authorized by Hillsborough County voters in 2018 was illegal. The court held the tax to be illegal because the allocation of its proceeds had been specified in the ballot initiative itself, a power the court said belonged to the County Commission.

For reasons best known to the commissioners, instead of claiming the more than $500 million that had been collected over the previous 26 months and allocating its use as they deemed appropriate, the commissioners voted to return the money to the taxpayers. As may be imagined, devising a formula that would refund this jackpot to the taxpayers on an equitable basis has proven to be a task that would have challenged the legendary wisdom of King Solomon. And so, at a time when the commission faces a serious shortfall in the resources needed to address Hillsborough County’s many transportation needs, more than a half-billion dollars that the voters had destined precisely for that purpose remains scandalously and embarrassingly idle.

Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center

A sworn duty

Firefighters lash out over mandate | Oct. 30

The penetrating wail of sirens and the sight of rescue vehicles and flashing lights is always startling but normally provides a sense of comfort that our rescue units, fire departments and police are attending to an emergency. Regrettably, a large proportion (about 66%) of safety and rescue personnel in the United States has resisted being vaccinated for COVID-19 and yet continue functioning as rescuers. As a result an incapacitated or severely injured person who is saved by emergency workers could be exposed to a deadly virus and subsequently hospitalized with, or dying of, COVID-19.

Sen. Rick Scott recently asserted that vaccine mandates hurt families, but a vaccine mandate is nowhere near as devastating as losing a family member to COVID-19. The fact that many who routinely administer to someone needing/requiring emergency help (police, rescue units and firefighters) have resisted being vaccinated is shocking, indeed reprehensible. Their unjustifiable behavior that routinely endangers lives is in stark contrast to their sworn duty — to save lives. The tyranny of the few needs to end and at the very least no unvaccinated firefighters, rescuers, emergency workers or police should be allowed to function in that capacity until they are vaccinated.

Peter R. Betzer, St. Petersburg

Health before politics

New COVID cases plummet in Florida ... and other hopeful signs | Editorial, Oct. 29

It’s not often you read good news about COVID vaccinations, but it is indeed good news that 70% of those 18 and over in the U.S. are fully vaccinated and 80% have had one dose. Once we have the final approval for shots for young children and time for the vaccination resistant to come around we may nearing the end of the pandemic. Even here in Florida with a vaccination resistant governor we are at 59% and 69% respectively. Clearly, folks are putting their health ahead of politics.

George Chase, St. Pete Beach

Boomer and bust

Young people lying flat has been a long time coming | Column, Nov. 2

I tried to read this piece with an open mind. I tried. I guess my “boomer” ethics of hard work and commitment get in the way. Life isn’t all about us, as individuals. We all need to work, paying job or not, to contribute to the greater good and participate in our society. Learning to balance work and personal life is a skill they will never master if they don’t stick with it. Many of them hop from job to job. This is a huge financial burden on employers who spend a fortune hiring and training new employees. It can be a burden on their families if they have to subsidize living expenses. Their choices have consequences for themselves and others.

Life is not a full-time vacation. Structure is important for good mental health. Yes, taking a few days or weeks off may be needed, but frequently changing jobs or taking off long periods of time may ultimately result in more stress for that individual. Recently I turned 65, just changed my work status to part-time. Plan on working till age 70, if my physical health holds out. Have I felt burned out? Many times. I took vacations, planned parties and get togethers at my home, exercised, read and did volunteer work. Tried to clear my head, let things go and move forward. Relied on family, friends and occasionally professionals, to help me through the rough times. It can be tough, that’s life. It’s also a joy to be enjoyed. But what do I know? I’m just an older woman who can’t possibly understand.

Anne Conklin, Bradenton