A matter of public health | June 21, letter
Too much abuse of sick day policy
I have to agree with much of Susan Greenbaum's June 21 letter to the editor, A matter of public health, which was designated Letter of the Month. Sick leave should be provided to employees, particularly those who deal directly with the public. However, sick leave is abused by many and it's difficult to know where to draw the line.
It has, in fact, come to the point that many employees regard sick leave as something they are entitled to whether they are sick or not. I don't know how many times I have heard, "I think I'll take a sick day tomorrow." Never mind being sick — the person thinks he or she is entitled. I've also heard employees counting all the time they still have to take in a given year. "I have to take a week of vacation, two personal days and three sick days."
And this is not nearly as bad as those who can accrue sick days. How many times have you seen employees with thousands of dollars of accumulated leave time and sick time — particularly public employees? Sick time should never be carried over from one year to the next; it should expire at the end of every year.
Robert A. Medley, Sun City Center
Britannia finally rules | July 8
Remember the women
When I grabbed Monday's front-page section, the first thing that popped out was the top headline: "After 77 years, Andy Murray gives Brits a Wimbledon title."
That must come as a surprise to Angela Barrett, Ann Haydon Jones and Virginia Wade, all British women who won Wimbledon in the '60s and '70s.
Oh, you meant the men's title? In typical sports fashion, the accomplishments of women don't really count. You can continue to perpetuate this sexist view — or work to help erase it.
This headline doesn't help.
Scott Hopkins, Brandon
Crash inquiry looks at crew's actions | July 9
Smoking's heavy toll
I've been following the news coverage of the crash of Asiana Flight 214, which killed two people. Fox, MSNBC, CNN and Headline News all seemed to have constant coverage the first day and then news at least once every half-hour for several days afterward. The crash seems to have gotten much more coverage than the Alaska airplane crash that killed 10, maybe because the SFO crash could have killed all 307 aboard.
I wonder what the coverage and outrage would have been if three jumbo jets killed all 400 passengers and crew aboard in one day. And then if that happened the next day, and the next, and every day after that? People would be demonstrating in the streets. People would quit flying, and those who hadn't flown would pledge to never start flying.
Luckily, of course, we don't have to experience that tragedy. But 1,200 people do die every day from smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's the same number as three jumbo jets crashing. And while many do quit, about 18 percent of Floridians still smoke. Every year another 18,900 children in Florida become daily smokers, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The smoking rate is going down. Not as fast as we'd like, but it is going down. So the tobacco companies are now marketing candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products to entice kids into using them.
If you are outraged by this and want to help, become a member of the Tobacco-Free Coalition of Pinellas County and/or SWAT: Students Working Against Tobacco.
Chris Lewis, St. Petersburg
Islamists can't make democracy July 8, commentary
I agree with most of what David Brooks had to say, but have to wonder if it occurred to him when he wrote, speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood — "They reject pluralism, secular democracy and, to some degree, modernity. When you elect fanatics … you have not advanced democracy" — that he could have been writing about the Republican Party in this country.
He quoted other writers who describe an Islamist follower as one who does "not accept the existence of an objective fact separate from how he feels about it." This description could be applied to any one of the Republican governors, legislators or Supreme Court justices attempting to enforce their power on a woman's right to decide what will happen to her and her fetus; to prevent workers from organizing; to deny voters the right to vote through obstructionist amendments; and all the other underhanded, disgraceful machinations today's Republicans have engaged in to supposedly make us all in their God-fearing but gun-loving image.
Gail Morris, Safety Harbor
Serve the voters
Two weeks ago the Senate passed S. 744, a bill that addresses immigration reform. The historic vote has long been awaited by pro-immigrant groups. The bill cleared the Senate with a bipartisan majority of 68-32, including every Democrat and 14 Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, has demonstrated his opposition to immigration reform because it provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Florida's 12th Congressional District covers most of Pasco County, an area that has seen an increase of Hispanic voters in the past years. There are 20,609 Hispanic voters, and most are registered Democrats. Many of these voters support immigration reform and they have vowed to remember Bilirakis' voting history when they cast their vote in November.
Bilirakis needs to remember that he was elected to vote in favor of the people he represents in District 12. A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling indicates that 67 percent of voters in the district support citizenship and 52 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports citizenship.
Jose Ceballos, Wesley Chapel
World's greatest dysfunctional body July 10, editorial
Time for a change
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell claims that "breaking the rules to change the rules would fundamentally change this Senate."
Good! Anything that fundamentally changes this dysfunctional Senate is a step in the right direction, and the sooner the better.
James Nelson, Largo