Will chaos close debates? | July 12
When democracy is disrupted
I attended the candidate forum last week organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association and conducted by the League of Women Voters. As your article states, the event was severely disrupted by a small group of Uhuru-affiliated individuals. The ground rules for the forum were clearly stated at the beginning and this group willfully ignored them in spite of many entreaties from the moderator.
This kind of behavior has no place in the democratic process. There may very well be valid issues that this group is raising, but these tactics generate a backlash that is not good for anyone. In spite of the disruption, there were many opportunities to hear from the candidates who were not part of this organized effort to restrict free speech.
Paul Carder, St. Petersburg
Will chaos close debates? | July 12
Voices of the community
As a St. Petersburg resident and homeowner, I support the black community's right to be heard. The growing enthusiasm for the campaigns of Jesse Nevel and Eritha "Akile" Cainion is electrifying. Nevel and Cainion are the only candidates whose campaigns are based on reparations and social justice for the black community.
It's wrong to portray the passion as "mayhem" and the voice as that of "the Uhurus." The Uhuru candidates represent the black working class community, as well as growing numbers of white people, who want to end the gentrification, poverty and police brutality so rampant on the south side. This is not a fringe movement, and these are not fringe issues. Nevel and Cainion are raising the issues we must address if we're going to move forward as a city.
The statement that Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker were "barely able to answer questions" is a cover for what really happened — neither status quo candidate had any real answers. When Kriseman was asked to identify his five major campaign contributors, he floundered. The audience simply challenged him to answer the question. But Kriseman couldn't answer the question without being exposed as the corporate-backed candidate he is.
I encourage the Tampa Bay Times to cover these debates in an honest fashion. Isn't a democracy supposed to celebrate the will of the people and not attack it?
Zoe Hauser, St. Petersburg
Free markets and health | July 11, commentary
Seek a long-term solution
I've always held simple solutions as suspect, especially when the problem is exceedingly complex, such as how our nation should fund its health care. The conservative solution is "choice," which when combined with a "free market" always creates the optimum economic environment. Wish it were so simple.
As Dr. Farzon Nahvi points out in his excellent opinion piece, health care and health care funding are too complex an equation to solve with such a simple solution. It's obvious the Affordable Care Act is suffering from neglect and could use an overhaul. But it's even more obvious the House and Senate repeal and replacement plans are weak, half-sincere alternatives. They're crafted to reduce the cost of health care for the healthiest and the wealthiest while serving up a healthy (pun intended) tax break for the very rich.
Either plan would be far worse than the ACA with the additional downside of the terror of "pre-existing conditions" threatening to leave families without affordable health care. The reductions in Medicaid funding border on immoral as they create gaping holes in the safety net.
I'm hoping we can move to repairing the parts of the ACA that need fixing while keeping the good parts intact. A better long-term solution, however, would be a single-payer system. Given that the majority of the countries in the industrialized world have single-payer systems, and that each one of these systems shows lower costs and better patient outcomes, it seems obvious it should be a part of our discussion.
Jon Crawfurd, Gulfport
Your life is at stake
I set my speed at 45 mph on Little Road and/or U.S. 19 and I'm holding up traffic. People are blowing my doors off, passing me at 55, 60 and up. On the Suncoast Parkway and I-75, I cruise at 70 mph and cars blow by at 85 and 90. Yet I get where I'm going, relaxed and on time except when traffic is stopped because some idiot smashed up and blocked the highway.
I know you are all good drivers. I see it when you drive by with no headlights but your windshield wipers on. Or when you change lanes without a turn signal. But I know you're a good driver because you've told me so.
I won't try to correct your faults or give you advice. I only ask that you ask yourself one question: How many times have you ever heard of anyone saying, as he or she leaves the house in the morning, "I think I'll go out and get killed today"? I'm sure your answer is "never." And yet almost 100 people do every day on our streets and highways.
So if you don't want to change your driving habits, please make sure your life insurance is paid up.
Alfred J. D'Amario, Hudson
End fixation on cars, tolls
For the first time in my five years living here, I just rode the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit bus from my house in Seminole Heights to the Tampa airport. The buses came on time, the trip took exactly one hour door to door, and it was free for me as a USF student. I had a good experience, but it doesn't work for everyone, especially daily commuters using the bus at all hours.
It's a shame that Tampa Bay will not invest in proven transportation solutions that benefit all citizens, like expanding/improving HART and developing light rail, rather than obsessing over cars, roads and toll lanes. On a recent trip to New York and Washington, I conveniently got around using affordable public transit. Tampa will be an exponentially better place to live, work and visit when we make real investments to fix public transit.
Suzanne Young, Tampa