Scott's working hard for worst-ever crown | Aug. 18, column
The governor's hypocrisy
Carl Hiaasen succinctly points out the hypocrisy which is Gov. Rick Scott. His unblinking haste in obtaining taxpayer money by taking from different state departments in order to bail himself out of expensive legal fees surrounding that e-mail fiasco speaks volumes. Scott clearly displays that all his heartfelt talk about caring for the people's money and putting people back to work is just hot air. He could care less if every Floridian goes broke as long as he can save his own bacon at our expense.
Note to Scott: If you believe so much in free-market economics, why don't you pay your own legal fees? This move is sort of socialism for millionaires. You can afford it. And why are you taking money from the Department of Environmental Protection, of all places? What a legacy you're creating, governor. When the going gets tough, the tough take the public's money.
"Let's get to work." Yeah, ripping off your own state.
Ronald Thuemler, Tampa
Failure factories | Aug. 16
Try new strategies
Times reporters are to be commended on their investigation of the failing Pinellas elementary schools. While these schools may rank at the bottom in Florida, the problems revealed are in no way unique in the state or throughout much of the country. We are all familiar with the roots of the problems: inadequate parenting, TV shows and video games that shorten attention spans, poverty-induced hunger that supplants the desire to learn as a child's focus.
One of the answers is to eliminate letter grades for students through the third grade. Remove the pressure from kids who learn the basics at a slower rate and invest our time and energy in discovering their likes and aptitudes in areas that can be translated into productivity as adults. Make learning fun.
Start caring as much about the 6- and 7-year-olds doing the bullying and invest in more counselors and more positive-directed timeout environments. If we decide as a society that we cannot turn things around at that young age, the battle is lost and we can resign ourselves to a Lord of the Flies society.
No apologies here, either, for my heart that bleeds.
Michael Henry, Bradenton
New school zones needed
As a New York City high school superintendent for 15 years, I oversaw the redesign of high schools and watched my colleagues face an ever-changing list of "worst" among the city's 1,700 schools. I learned two things: More resources — whether it's personnel or money — will not substantially improve them. And changing the mix of students in schools brings results but requires the re-routing of students to and from other schools.
In 2007, the Pinellas School Board voted to create neighborhood schools and the five elementary schools immediately began to decline. Though a voluntary magnet plan sounds good on paper and may buy time for improvements, parents will prove unwilling to send children to these schools. To solve the problem, the School Board will need to undo its 2007 mistake by rezoning not only for these five schools but for others as well. It will take courage and strength to right that mistake. Does the present board have those qualities?
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Funding inquiry needed
I applaud U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and agree with the Times editorial regarding disproportionate funding of Pinellas' Title I schools. As a former (retired) Title I coordinator, the regulations clearly state that federal funds cannot "supplant" local funds, but must "supplement" them. The district has done a real disservice to those schools over the years and to the students they serve. Investigate and reallocate.
Charles Kling, Tampa
The community loses
Thank you for your very thorough explanation of the problems with St. Petersburg's failing elementary schools. We have let down our most vulnerable citizens. Not only will those students suffer, but the community loses potentially productive citizens and must pay for the results. We must increase the money and effort spent to remedy the problems. I hope some new blood runs for School Board. I won't be able to vote for the incumbents.
Carolyn Warren, St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg theater shuns rap film Aug. 14
Smacking of racism
I moved to St. Petersburg in 1970, and in 1972 I rented an old warehouse. My first day into cleaning it, I noticed two bathroom doors in one corner. Over the doors were two signs, reading "White" and "Colored." I have not witnessed such blatant racism until recently when I read about Muvico Sundial 19's declining to show Straight Outta Compton. Shame.
John Baird, Clearwater
PTC to keep ticketing Uber | Aug. 13
Treat Uber like taxis
Truck drivers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, lawyers and cabdrivers are regulated to make sure they don't overcharge or cheat the public. Uber charges what it wants when it wants. Taxi drivers have a regulated set price that we can't exceed, as do drivers of town cars and limousines. Taxi drivers pay a fee through their companies, as do town cars and limousines, to be able to pick up passengers at Tampa International Airport. We are checked for clean cabs, airport permits and Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission permits, and if you don't have them you can't work in the airport. Taxi drivers are upset that Uber is allowed to load curbside (something a taxi is not allowed to do) without permits from either the airport or the Hillsborough PTC. Taxis have to pay the airport a fee; Uber does not. Uber works Ybor City and Hyde Park with apps and without apps, making them gypsy cabs; they also work as gypsy cabs at ball games and concerts.
So should Uber keep getting tickets for working without insurance, FBI checks, fingerprinting and permits?: Absolutely!
Charles Smalling, Tampa