Friday's letters: Help for boaters against modern-day 'pirates'

Published Jan. 18, 2018

Marine towing and salvage

Help against modern-day piracy

As an avid recreational boat owner and sixth-generation Floridian, I know there's no better way to enjoy our state's spectacular waters than taking your boat out. Unfortunately, the fun of boating can be spoiled when predatory companies take advantage of boaters in distress.

Many boaters purchase memberships with maritime salvage and towing companies in order to be covered for helpful services. But sometimes these companies unfairly classify assistance as a "salvage claim," a classification that lets them charge outrageous fees.

But here's the real shocker: Because the cost isn't disclosed up front, these companies can stick boat owners with extreme salvage fees after the fact. This is a case of powerful companies preying on the vulnerable and unsuspecting — an act of modern-day piracy. I recently met with a constituent who was charged $30,000 after one salvage company spent less than 10 minutes providing assistance.

To combat this, I have filed legislation that would provide added transparency to the marine towing and salvage business. The bill requires salvors to give boaters a written estimate before providing service. That's it. We are essentially taking protections Floridians have come to expect on land — from auto mechanics, for example — and extending them to our state's boaters.

The proposal will provide boaters with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they'll be able to see how much they will be charged — before any assistance is actually provided.

It's time we put a stop to the undisclosed fees charged by some of these companies, charges that may far exceed the value of the service provided. I am proud to take a stand with my fellow boaters and work to create a solution for these unjust acts. This legislation will give Florida boaters the clarity they need and the peace of mind they deserve.

Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa

The writer represents state Senate District 18 in Hillsborough County and serves as chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee.

60 percent of taxpayers should see cuts of $1,000 | Jan. 14

Who pays and who doesn't

The PolitiFact check of the Kayleigh McEnany claim that "Americans will see their paychecks grow at the tune of saving $1,000 or more a year" found the statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details, therefore ruled half-true.

This PolitiFact ruling could be described the exact same way. Here are two important details that were left out:

1) The ruling complains that roughly 40 percent of households will not get a $1,000 saving, and claims their average cut will amount to $480. The important detail that was left out is that 45.3 percent of households pay no federal income tax (according to the Tax Policy Center). Therefore it is pretty amazing that the tax reform is providing these households additional income through an expanded, refundable child tax credit. Part of this new benefit is directly attributable to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

2) The ruling also complains that most of the individual tax cuts will expire in 2025. The important detail that was left out: that was the only way this great tax cut and reform package could be passed, due to arcane Senate rules. And the only way these tax cuts would not be extended by Congress is if Democrats vote against extension. Exactly zero Republicans would vote against extension.

Michael Moore, St. Petersburg

Trump voices disdain for 's---hole' nations
Jan. 12

Haiti needs visitors

We just returned from a week in Cap-Haitien in the north of Haiti. This region was not impacted by recent hurricanes or the earthquake that damaged the capital. We were amazed by the friendliness of the people we met, stayed at a very nice boutique resort hotel, ate good local fresh foods, and enjoyed meeting all the schoolchildren who surrounded us to practice English.

Like so many Caribbean nations, Haiti needs a strong tourism industry. The people are hardworking, eager to provide service and proud. While there is much to be done to improve infrastructure and sanitation, it is a safe country to travel and the north coast beaches rival the best of the Caribbean.

A hospitality job, even with the minimum wage of 48 cents per hour, is far better than charity, and tips go a long way toward helping families.

Tony and Patti Leisner, Tarpon Springs

A long history of racism

President Donald Trump's vulgar categorization of certain countries sending immigrants our way has been widely criticized, but the thought behind it has a long tradition. The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, which passed the Senate 62-6, is a case in point. Approved during the heyday of the KKK revival and based on the "scientific" racism that judged southern and eastern Europeans to be innately inferior to the "Nordic race," the act severely curtailed the immigration of Italians, Greeks and Poles and totally excluded Arabs and Asians.

While we like to think Emma Lazarus' 1883 poem welcoming the "tired, poor huddled masses" describes America's historic posture toward the newcomer, her words were never more than aspirational. Newer arrivals were more typically resented, despised, discriminated against and treated as "wretched refuse," while political leaders tried to disenfranchise, marginalize and exclude "undesirables."

Our president's words are sad reminders that our racist past is still alive.

Richard Linkh, Tarpon Springs

Unacceptable language

President Donald Trump's Republican apologists like to refer to his manner of speaking and behaving as unconventional, an outrageous euphemism if there ever was one. His unscripted speech and his off-the-wall tweets are not unconventional; they are blatantly unacceptable. They do not befit the office he occupies nor do they befit the presumed leader of the free world. They are incontrovertible evidence of his seriously flawed character.

Ernest Bartow, St. Petersburg