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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Letters To The Editor

Letters to the editor:

The most dangerous of all I am a master of social work student at the University of Central Florida who has been actively following Florida House Bill 13 and Senate Bill 52. As a supporter of these bills to increase safety, I believe a ban on hand-held wireless communications devices while operating a vehicle should be a priority in Florida. Use of a hand-held device should be limited to emergency situations while operating a vehicle. This responsibility comes with the privilege of owning a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that texting while driving increases the crash risk by 23 times more than driving without any distractions. Although there are many other distractions, such as eating and putting on makeup, texting is the most dangerous of them all. This is because texting involves not only visual distraction, but manual and cognitive distraction as well. This legislation must be enacted and then enforced. Meanwhile, many should be educated about the serious risks involved with using a hand-held device while driving. If you are serious about protecting innocent lives by minimizing distracted driving, please contact your local representatives and advocate! Jessica Swindal
Plant City The real crime Another day, another IRS tax fraud article in the Tribune — with one last week reporting on Rashia Wilson, the “Queen of IRS Tax Fraud,” pleading guilty. When U.S. Magistrate Thomas Wilson asked, “I’m curious whether the government paid any attention to what they were sending out?”, Rashia couldn’t answer that question. Well, let me. The answer is no. Having followed the IRS tax fraud mess for several years I’m still stunned that Congress has not acted to fix the flaws in the IRS systems that allow this fraud to continue. On NBC’s “Rock Center” last week, an IRS official was proud that they stopped $20 billion in fraudulent IRS tax claims, and that only $5 billion fraudulent claims have snuck through in the last year! When did losing $5 billion become OK? How could anything but zero tolerance of tax fraud be an acceptable number? A bank wouldn’t let you withdraw money without proof that it was deposited, so why does the IRS pay income tax refunds without proof that the exact dollar amount was withheld from the employee’s pay and sent to the IRS by the correct employee identification number (EIN)? The answer is found in the information flow from the employers to the IRS, and that can only be fixed by an act of Congress, per my conversation with the IRS in 2011. We can make it illegal to possess lists of other people’s Social Security numbers. We can make tax fraud information more available to local and state law enforcement. But what really needs to happen is for Congress to require that the IRS make tax fraud impossible! The real crime here wasn’t committed by Rashia — it was committed by the U.S. government, which continues to allow money to flow from our treasury to pay cheats. Lisa Lichtenberg Temple Terrace Concerned about system I am a lifelong resident of Hillsborough County. I attended Florida public schools through college. I am a big believer in public education. Both my daughters were educated in public schools in Hillsborough. Having said this, I found the April 3 story disturbing on a number of levels (“Hillsborough school district names new leader for students with special needs,” Metro). There were two deaths of Hillsborough County special-needs students while in the care of their school communities in 2012. This was either an extremely bad coincidence or a sign of institutional failure. Later, a teacher says that a student assigned to his class had not attended class in 60 days, and he seemed to indicate that he (the teacher) could somehow be found at fault. Surely, there must be protocol that a teacher goes through in case of absence. This teacher was there in support of a colleague whose student walked five miles to get home without anyone at school missing them. There must be a system where students can be located at all times while at school. I hope the new director solves these problems. However, if this is a systemic problem we must realize she was a part of the system. Perhaps a better hire would have come from an outside district with a better safety record. A new perspective may have served it better. The school board said that it had not been informed of one of the special-needs deaths before a lawsuit was filed. This is incredible. They voted to keep agendas secret until the actual meeting. This is a mistake. Transparency allows truth to be found. That should foster good communication and a feeling of trust in the community. Martin Bearss Tampa Permanent alimony The old white guys are at it again. This time they want to eliminate permanent alimony. They sit on their perches in the Florida Legislature and want to change contracts that were relied upon in a divorce settlement. Marriage is also a contract. Both parties contributed. Not all contributions were monetary. Sometimes to make the divorce agreement balanced and equitable, permanent alimony is necessary. Now comes the Legislature wanting to change the agreements midstream. The public policy of permanent alimony came about due to the need of one of the parties. Should that party now be tossed on the street? Should that party become dependent on the state? Take away permanent alimony, and the state can wind up paying. Anita Clifford Lithia
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