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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Letters To The Editor

Letters to the editor: A costly mistake


A costly mistake

Your article “Transportation upgrades save lives, officers say” (Metro, Jan. 5) reminded me of the days when I fought tooth and nail for city budget dollars but received only the crumbs left over after the police department got whatever they wanted or could dream up.

Specifically, my department maintained roads, which included pothole repair and resurfacing. And yes, every year at budget request time we had to compete with public safety for very limited municipal budget dollars.

I am not suggesting public safety needs to take a back seat to pothole repair, but there needs to be a good, old-fashioned cost-benefit analysis when the dollars are dished out. Otherwise, we take a huge risk in funding play toys for the police while simultaneously neglecting to adequately maintain very expensive public infrastructure.

My last year we requested enough dollars in the next year’s city budget to resurface about 5 percent of the total miles of roads that we had to maintain. Five percent is significant because it puts roads (actually, the asphalt tops) on a 20-year replacement cycle which coincides with the life of today’s asphalt. That year we got about half of what was requested. This same story occurred every year I was operations chief for 20 years. Ask for what we need — get about half.

Again, when replacement or maintenance of roads doesn’t get funded so that a reasonable life cycle is achieved (20 years), more potholes show up. And pothole activity on a road in itself is not a huge problem. They are easy to fix. But pothole activity is a precursor to much more serious structural road failure, which occurs if roads are left too long without resurfacing.

Roads, sewer systems and water systems have significant maintenance needs.

Fund one area disproportionately to its needs, and something else fails, costing lives and big dollars.

Scott L. Shaw, P.E.


The writer is founder of

Solving unemployment

The Obama administration’s war on the military has made sure that we will no longer have all-volunteer armed forces and therefore I suggest we bring back the draft ASAP.

I feel we should draft those 18 and older who are not in college and who are unemployed and drawing unemployment compensation.

I think this is the only way to solve our unemployment problem in this country.

After two or more years of service, a military person can either re-enlist, use his or her military training to obtain a civilian job, or attend college on the GI Bill.

Chuck Graham

Pinellas Park

Pot, minus ‘medical’

Recent polls indicate that 82 percent of Floridians are in favor of “medical marijuana.” I assume if the questions asked had not included the “medical” reference, the results would not have been as overwhelming.

I suggest it’s far too early for anyone without a medical, recreational or commercial interest in the outcome of the debate to pick a side. Marijuana, like alcohol, can have some very debilitating, at least short term, effects on the user.

Will the guy smoking that funny-looking cigarette in the car next to me on the interstate be breaking the law?

Ron Motto

Temple Terrace

A defensive measure

As a junior attending Steinbrenner High School in Hillsborough County, I was troubled to hear our elementary schools are soon to be receiving armed guards.

Like anyone else, I was horrified by the Connecticut shootings; however, I feel a defensive measure is a mistake.

Tragedies such as Sandy Hook reflect convoluted societal issues that cannot be solved with a simple solution — certainly not one that is costly and introduces weaponry to our elementary schools.

Melissa Ferrin


They turned their backs

Regarding extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed, an extension should be a no-brainer.

If the United States can deliver $3.1 billion of foreign aid — that is $8 million a day — for the last 21 years to Israel, how can we justify cutting benefits to the 1.3 million unemployed American citizens?

Israel long ago achieved economic independence through hard work and sacrifice. The per-capita income is in excess of $33,000; it is one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, our lawmakers in Washington continue to give the lion’s share of our foreign aid to this rich country — just one day after they turned their backs on hundreds of thousands of their own needy people.

Shame on them.

Jack Culkin

Lake Placid