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Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Letters to the editor: Making strides

PTC making strides

I am writing in response to the commentary “It’s time to get the Tampa Bay area moving” (Jeff Brandes, Other Views, July 3). The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission agrees with the writer that technology and innovation are key to a service industry that provides transportation to tourists, business travelers and residents alike. These are exciting times, as we find smartphone applications for use in our daily lives. Make no mistake; the use of new technology in the transportation industry is here to stay.

Over the past few years, the PTC has quietly undertaken a number of measures to strengthen accountability, increase transparency and embrace innovation. Internal audits, policy and procedure reviews and updates, and workshops with the community and the industry have been undertaken in our efforts to increase operational efficiency. Additionally, the PTC has independently reached out to app-based technology companies such as Lyft and Uber. We initiated requests to meet with both ride-sharing companies and held productive discussions. Workshops have been held discussing emerging technology within the industry.

Lyft and Uber have been invited to all workshops but attended none.

The PTC disagrees with the writer, who would put corporate interests and profits ahead of consumer protection and customer safety. It is time for advocates of app-based ride-sharing companies to open their eyes and ears to see and hear what is really transpiring in our communities. The PTC is making tangible strides in moving Hillsborough County forward with innovative technology in the transportation service industry while ensuring public safety. Reckless rhetoric on the part of misinformed individuals puts the riding public and consumers at risk.

The PTC is currently working with the industry, app-based ride-sharing companies and the public to move Hillsborough County forward safely.

Victor Crist


The writer, a Hillsborough County commissioner, chairs the county’s Public Transportation Commission.

Marketing idea

Tampa should be touting itself as the biggest little cruise ship port on the west coast. We do not need to spend millions on a new big port or raising the Sunshine Skyway.

There are thousands of people who like the smaller and more intimate cruises. Sure, the big boys have a huge capacity, but you have to make reservations in advance for entertainment.

When I am on vacation, I like to do things at the spur of the moment. It looks like Channelside is going in the right direction, and the people in charge need to start getting the smaller cruise lines here.

We have the airport, hotels and a significant number of attractions to attract pre- or post-cruise excursions aplenty.

Let’s put our money to good use and make the Tampa Cruise Port an outstanding draw for the cruise industry.

Tampa shouldn’t let the big ships make us do something too hasty just to accommodate them.

Mike Penland



You had an article recently about marijuana and schizophrenia. I wish the educated masses wouldn’t write about things they know nothing about. The relationship between schizophrenia and marijuana is called self-medicating on the streets and in treatment facilities.

I was a social worker in New York City. I worked with the poor in New York’s poorest neighborhoods.

The writer of your article had a very skewed selection of subjects in her research to get the desired outcome and blame it on marijuana, rather than self-medicating.

Self-medicating is caused by poverty, lack of education, fear of admitting mental health issues and trying to detoxify from other addictive drugs (heroine, crack and powder cocaine, among others).

Perhaps the writer needs to do more research on her subject matter and speak to some experts away from her laboratory.

Sandy Devita


Returning lost jobs

There was a time when we were warned that there would be a big sucking sound if the NAFTA bill was passed. Our representatives were at the very least naïve to believe it would create jobs.

Well, as we can see, the “field of dreams” turned out to be the worst nightmare ever. We heard the big sucking sound of industry leaving the country and making once-flourishing cities like Detroit look like they were hit by a hurricane.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it created the many homeless people we see today.

Now the politicians are claiming they can create jobs while still voting for NAFTA-like bills. That’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

However, there’s hope on the horizon in a flourishing company in New Jersey called The Reshoring Initiative (www.reshorenow.org) that works to bring jobs back to the U.S.

They claim to have returned 600,000 jobs in the few years they have been in existence. This is the type of thinking that deserves our support.

Maybe there’s hope after all.

Otto Mazzilli


Much ado about nothing

In response to “FDOT lays out options for growth of Tampa cruise industry”:

This is much ado about nothing. There is no need to spend billions of dollars to facilitate the ever larger cruise ships.

We don’t need improved passage under the Skyway Bridge. Or the construction of a new seaward terminal.

Just wait until President Obama lowers the ocean levels — and voila!

Joseph Gardner


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