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Friday, Sep 22, 2017
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Letters to the editor: Hold them accountable

Hold them accountable The way the Florida Legislature works never ceases to amaze me. Every day seems to bring another reason to shake my head in disbelief, and the Florida Polytechnic debacle is providing a good amount of that sinking feeling. After allocating $109 million for a college that was shoved through the state by JD Alexander, the board decided that they needed $25 million more. Realizing they weren't going to be successful, the request was withdrawn. Now it seems there is a suggestion to bring in MIT to run the college.
Please explain to me why we should turn the school over to MIT instead of USF. It would seem that the sensible thing would be to go back to USF and do anything necessary to help them make a success out of this failure. Alas, sensibility doesn't seem to be the norm for our senators and representatives. They just can't admit a mistake, and doing anything but the right thing is the norm. It's time for the members of our state Legislature to understand that their elected terms are nothing more than an employment contract, not a mandate that allows them to do whatever they wish. They need to be held accountable and do the job they were elected to do. If they are unable to function properly and ethically, then they should resign. It's also time for the citizens of the state to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. Bad actions should not be tolerated. Voters should remember that they have the power to remove inept and unethical politicians at the next election. John E. Lee Tampa Tradition and excellence Let's set the record straight regarding the opinions expressed by The Tampa Tribune Editorial Board on Feb. 27 ("USF merits Scott's support"). First and foremost, Florida State University, not the University of Florida, is the oldest state university in Florida. Founded in 1851, FSU still resides today in the same location where it first held classes. Second, in a recent U.S.News & World Report ranking, FSU's ranking was 97 among national universities while USF came in at 170. FSU's six-year graduation rate stood at 74 percent, a full 19 percentage points above the national average, while USF's graduation rate sat at 52 percent. Lastly, since 2005 FSU has produced three Rhodes Scholars, the most of any state university. USF has made great strides in the relatively short time it has existed, but let's not misrepresent the long tradition and academic excellence of Florida State University. Shannon Meade Tampa Smart idea As a long-time delivery driver in the Tampa Bay area, I have witnessed tragic accidents caused by red-light running drivers at busy intersections. I and many others believe future deaths and injuries can be reduced by use of red-light cameras that deter drivers who run red lights. Such drivers must be identified and penalized. That is critical to improving safety at these busy intersections. Everybody knows that enforcement is the key to getting people to comply with the law, especially with drivers (i.e., when police lights are flashing, folks, slow down). But with shrinking budgets, our local governments don't have the resources to allow police to patrol every intersection as often as would be needed to ticket all motorists who run red lights — that's where technology can help. Studies have shown that drivers who run red lights are more likely to be dangerous drivers — the kind of bad drivers we see every day who cause many accidents resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries every year. Other studies have shown that red-light cameras at busy intersections result in significant declines in red-light violations, as well as reductions in accidents. Utilizing modern technology and photo enforcement to deter law-breakers from running red lights and ultimately to save lives is a smart idea that most people support, including me. Willie Rice Brandon Sensible measures The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence rates Florida 41st out of 50 states in addressing sensible gun regulation. Florida scores 3 out of a possible 100 points; California rated No. 1, scoring 81 points. Other significant data show Florida 49th in mental health funds and 44th in money spent for public education (2009). Florida continues a shameful record when it comes to human services, education and public safety. On March 19, Pasco County commissioners will hear commentary on the closing of "gun show" loopholes. Florida statutes allow counties to establish gun-show purchase rules. Pinellas and Hillsborough have instituted such ordinances, and they require background checks and three-day waiting periods. Other Florida counties have done so as well. Pasco should follow suit. Along with background checks and waiting periods, the most effective ordinance would add a ban on assault weapons and limit magazine capacity. It would institute harsh penalties for those who break the rules. Closing gun show loopholes do not infringe on anyone's right to bear arms or move us closer to a police state. However, it does allow improved public safety and reduces the possibility of a Newtown-like event occurring in Pasco, which currently has no restrictions on gun shows. It is time to enforce current gun laws and close loopholes at gun shows. Legitimate dealers must follow the rules, so should anyone attending or selling at a gun show. More than 30,000 citizens will die this year due to firearms. Without sensible gun regulation and vastly improved funding for mental health, we will witness more Newtown-like tragedies. Every reasonable effort must be made to prevent such tragedy in Pasco. Certainly, at the very least, a background check and waiting period for gun purchases make sense. Marc Yacht Hudson

The writer, a MD with a master of public health degree, is a retired director of the Pasco County Health Department and former president of the Florida Association of County Health Officials, among other affiliations.
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