United customers facing key choices | Nov. 27
Money more important than care
Your articles about BayCare hospitals can be combined into an impression that money is more important to them than health care availability.
BayCare hospitals demand $11 million from UnitedHealthcare insurance. Instead of litigating the contract dispute, BayCare throws thousands of UnitedHealthcare subscribers under the health care hospital bus. BayCare's letters blatantly point insurance company subscribers to rival companies, while denying those subscribers access to their hospitals.
At the same time, BayCare hospitals are found to owe, and agree to pay, more than $10 million for overbilling Medicare patients for cardiac procedures.
In the background, the BayCare hospital chain expands through a series of costly mergers. These actions give them more power. However, those of us who are or might be a patient in a BayCare facility will end up paying more for what they deliver — much more.
John P. Fernsler, Oldsmar
Science over scare tactics | Nov. 28, editorial
Leadership on fluoride
You are to be commended for an outstanding job of informing your readers concerning the benefits of water fluoridation. Your articles helped not only in promoting fluoridation's safety, economy and effectiveness in preventing tooth decay, but also in assisting Pinellas County citizens in deciding who should represent their interests as county commissioners.
Your leadership on this vital issue showed that when a responsible newspaper and other health professionals work together to keep citizens informed on a technical matter, people reject the scare tactics and political threats used by those who would rather wallow in their scientific ignorance.
The only correction I might offer is that fluoride is an element, not a "mineral" as stated in some of your articles, but this is a very minor technicality.
Stephen Feldman DDS, MSEd., Valrico
Texting suspected in fatal crash | Nov. 28
It doesn't make sense
I can't believe we have to actually make it against the law to text while driving. What has happened to common sense? Are parents and teachers not teaching this any more?
I am shocked that someone would even talk on the phone while driving. What has happened to us that we need to make it against the law?
Stephen Gregory, Tampa
The fact that texting and talking on a cellphone while driving is still legal in Florida is hard to believe. The National Safety Council and the American Automobile Association have repeatedly reported that texting and cellphone use substantially increase a driver's risk of getting into an accident. It's called "distracted driving," and it injures and kills innocent drivers who are victims when distracted drivers of other cars use their gadgets.
A Tallahassee legislator recently said he didn't favor such safety laws since they violate individual liberty. I'm one American and Floridian who didn't know that our liberty includes the right to kill innocent motorists in other cars while we text and talk on our cellphones.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
Views mixed on Lens tweaks | Nov. 28
Keep it simple
The ideas for the Pier are way out there. They really are not what that beautiful piece of land deserves.
When you see what happened to the present Pier, why would you put that much money into another flop? We don't need these fancy ideas; we just need a straightforward Pier — to walk on, with benches to sit on, and a few vendors.
Just rework the old Pier idea, make it shorter and build a new police station instead. That's something St. Petersburg really needs.
Donna Beach, Pinellas Park
Before search, a tourism favorite Nov. 28
Padding their pockets
As this article points out, the main purpose of Tampa Bay & Co., a nonprofit $10 million operation funded by the county's tourist tax dollars, is to book the publicly funded convention center.
I wonder: What does the city's Tampa Convention Center's director, or the sales and marketing staff with four national sales managers, do for their tax-supported salaries?
The kicker to the story is that Tampa Bay & Co. pays its CEO significantly more than the Pinellas County tourism director. This is another example of tax-supported back-slapping and pocket-padding we the tax-paying citizens get to pay for.
S.D. Leichner, Tampa
Kelleys' lawyer fires back | Nov. 28
Social climbing isn't a crime
Jill Kelley has been made to appear silly, or worse. But how can any of us know the truth amid a media circus like this? America creates big expectations, and Kelley seems to be a person who desperately wanted to be somebody. She violated South Tampa social conventions and ruffled some feathers there. Last time I checked, that is not a crime.
In any event her lawyer, Abbe Lowell, correctly points out that her sudden notoriety is not only extremely bothersome, but uninvited — it was thrust upon her as a consequence of reporting something she felt she had an obligation to report.
Brett Geer, Tampa
Alas, no 200 mph Gandy sprint | Nov. 28
Let me get this straight: The Florida Department of Transportation agrees to close a major Tampa/St. Petersburg thoroughfare on a business day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so that an exotic sports car can be driven over the bridge at 200 mph?
What makes this even more ludicrous is that the show's producers, not FDOT, canceled the run "due to concerns about safety."
Your tax dollars at work.
Michael Finch, Pinellas Park
Talk, no action as 'cliff' looms | Nov. 29
It's simple math
The inherited spending portion of our budget deficit — two wars and an unpaid-for prescription drug plan — plus the lost revenue due to the Bush tax cuts, all add up to the spending problem that the Republicans keep expounding on of late. What's so hard to figure out?
Lyle Hirschinger, Zephyrhills