Thursday's letters: Don't rush into a regional planning authority

Published June 14, 2017

Bay area needs single transit voice | June 13, editorial

Regional step needs more thought

The Tampa Bay Times continues to beat the drum for a regional Metropolitan Planning Organization — a single regional planning organization that can set transportation priorities for Tampa Bay and advance a regional public transit solution. The MPOs have already advocated for — and the Florida Department of Transportation has funded — a six-month exploration of best practices from other regions that would inform such an agency's creation.

Some questions that need to be addressed:

• How would a regional MPO tap into more federal and state transportation dollars? The Department of Transportation's work program faces serious budget challenges, and bringing back federal transit dollars requires committed local funding. The poor per capita funding of the Hillsborough and Pinellas transit authorities causes operating shortfalls that federal funds can't address. Federal and state gas taxes have not been raised in decades, and some local governments have been unwilling to raise taxes to meet a growing transportation need. How will this newfound money materialize?

• Transportation is really a means to an end for achieving desired economic, environmental, land use and community goals. How would separating a regional MPO from county-based land use and economic development planning ensure wise decisions, consistent with the principles of home rule? What carrots and sticks would a regional agency employ to make the best use of public resources? Forward Pinellas, the Pinellas County MPO, is the result of merging land use and transportation planning within one agency. Will that model work for a larger region?

• Are we really just rearranging the deck chairs on a woefully underfunded and behind schedule transportation system, or are we creating a true leadership forum that can make hard decisions in the region's best interest? We should look to other regions and within ourselves to find the answer.

Jim Kennedy, St. Petersburg City Council member and Forward Pinellas board member, St. Petersburg

Medicare for all | June 12, letter

Single-payer pitfalls

It's true that Medicare for all will not make hospitals and doctors government employees. But to think that the government is going to pay the bills submitted without controls is a bit naive. Remember the Golden Rule of Government: "He who has the gold writes the rules."

Look to Canada: 75 percent of their cancer patients start needed treatment within four weeks. What about the other 25 percent? It's hard for a patient on Medicaid to find a doctor now; think what is going to happen when the Medicare reimbursement rate starts decreasing.

Ours is a broken system, but single payer is full of pitfalls. And remember the Law of Unintended Consequences hasn't been repealed. If an example is needed, look to the Affordable Care Act.

Harry Chamberlain, Spring Hill

Money trumps climate | June 11, editorial

Science through the ages

I have had several conversations with climate-change deniers. After listening patiently to their dissertations on how the Earth has been through several ages of heating and cooling, I always ask them how it is that they know these things. Their reply is always the same. They have read the work of scientists who have studied the Earth's geologic and atmospheric changes throughout history.

I then ask them how they can believe the scientists' research about the Earth's past, but they now do not believe the same scientific community's findings for the current warming that is being accelerated by man-made carbon pollution.

The look on their faces is always the same: dumbstruck realization.

Jeff Radley, Lithia

What Comey told us about President Trump June 11, commentary

Shifting standards

Thank you for publishing Peggy Noonan's opinions on a regular basis. She is usually an objective voice of reason from the conservative wing and Sunday's article was no exception.

She posited a logical argument for believing James Comey's account of his conversations with President Donald Trump and concluded that while what Trump did was "wildly inappropriate" and "grossly improper," it was neither illegal nor grounds for impeachment.

However, what she failed to add was that the similarly improper behavior by Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email server elicited calls to "lock her up" from Trump. Has the criteria for the indictment and conviction of politicians changed?

Tony Macchia, Tampa

Our nation's great struggle

Our nation is engaged in a great struggle: Does law trump Trump, or does Trump trump law?

Edward H. Stein, Tampa

Cuba policy changes being announced Friday | June 10

Move forward on Cuba

It would be a bad decision for President Donald Trump to throttle the progress we have been making with Cuba. We recently signed a trade agreement with Vietnam (I am a Vietnam vet and thought that was the right thing to do), and we trade with China and Mideast counties that have more human rights challenges than Cuba. Let's keep the new relationship with Cuba moving forward.

Ross P. Alander, Tampa

Attorneys general plan to sue Trump June 12

Clinton let off the hook

Where were the attorneys general from Maryland and Washington, D.C., when the Clinton Foundation allegedly accepted millions of dollars from Russian interests while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in office? Was it a coincidence that 20 percent of the U.S. uranium stockpile was transferred to them? I think it's just another example of partisan politics.

Richard Golden, San Antonio