Opioid crisis herds kids to foster care | Jan. 9
Bay area foster care shortchanged
As mentioned in this article, the growing opioid epidemic is unfortunately bringing more children into the Florida foster care system. While substance abuse has historically been a leading cause of children being removed from their home, the complexity of opioid addiction and recovery has only exacerbated the issue and is not unique to Florida. But Florida and Eckerd Connects can be leaders.
In Hillsborough County nearly 4,000 children and young adults receive foster care and related services daily, with 36 percent of removals due in part to substance abuse by the parent. Unfortunately, the child welfare funding model has not kept up with the growth and impact experienced by many communities, particularly those in the Tampa Bay area.
For example, Hillsborough County serves nearly 700 more children and young adults daily in the foster care system than Miami-Dade, yet receives nearly $20 million less in core funding annually. Across the bay, Pasco and Pinellas counties serve as many children and young adults as Miami-Dade, yet those counties receive nearly $28 million less annually than Miami-Dade.
Certainly, the opioid epidemic is tragic, but striking is the fact that Tampa Bay children receive significantly fewer resources to help their families compared to those in Miami. This troubling trend calls for a more equitable child welfare funding model, as well as more funds from the Legislature, so that the community and local agencies can invest in proven strategies that will enable Florida’s vulnerable children and families the opportunity to heal.
V. Raymond Ferrara, Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives, Pasco Pinellas board chair, Clearwater
Joseph W. Clark, Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives, Hillsborough board chair, Tampa
Move Capitol to Orlando
When the cat’s away, the legislators will play. In the 1800s, locating Florida’s Capitol in Tallahassee made sense. Not any longer. It has been proposed before, but I will propose again the wisdom of moving Florida’s Capitol to Orlando, the epicenter of modern Florida.
While this would be an expensive endeavor, Orlando business interests would undoubtedly contribute to this move, whose impact would put any professional sports team to shame. Most good men and women of Florida who value their families, livelihoods, friends and communities won’t consider running for statewide office for a host of reasons, but a significant one is having to drive or fly to Tallahassee, a backwater throwback to a bygone era. Additionally, its very isolation makes for a cesspool of sexual interaction, hoped-for interaction and harassment.
I don’t pretend to imagine that moving the show to Orlando will eliminate bad behavior, but I do believe that it will engender better scrutiny and accessibility that will diminish the mess that we now find Tallahassee in.
Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg
An American story
I can only imagine what it was like for my dark-skinned Sicilian great-grandfather who arrived in Newport News, Va., in 1898 during the very depths of Jim Crow. Yet, he managed to send his son — my grandfather — to Virginia Tech, where he earned an engineering degree and played football in the late 1920s.
This is the story of America; almost every American family has one. It’s the story of how we continue to fight to overcome our original sin of slavery and how we welcome not the most advantaged — that’s the easy way — but those from around the world who weren’t born into advantage and simply seek a better life for their families.
Pete Cardillo, Tampa
Texting while driving
Strengthen the law
Until now, Florida law considered texting while driving to be a "secondary" offense — meaning officers do not cite you unless you are first cited for another offense. The 2018 Legislature is considering a new law that would make texting while driving a "primary offense," meaning a driver can be given a ticket if an officer witnesses them texting and driving.
Everyone should support this life-saving law.
The message will be clear if it passes: Put the phone down. Focus on the road. Care more about others than yourself. Your children in the back seat or those walking to school will thank you for your focus on the road.
Richard Schwamm, Orlando
Putnam moves beyond citrus | Jan. 16
Appeal to science
I am happy to read that Adam Putnam believes that we should listen to scientists to solve the citrus greening problem. I am confused, however. Does this mean that he has left the Republican Party and could now address the science of global warming?
Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg
The series of recent meetings between President Donald Trump and various members of Congress have portrayed a repertoire of behaviors that seem to characterize Trump’s leadership: inconsistency, unreliability, bullying, profanity and disregard for facts. One can imagine that these behaviors might enable a person to achieve some questionable form of "success" as a "businessman" in some arenas — real estate development maybe?
One of the reasons given by some who voted for Trump was that they wanted a "businessman" in the Oval Office instead of a politician. Do you suppose Trump’s performance is what they wanted? I am at the end of a 40-plus-year run being gainfully employed in a variety of professional roles. I have never, and would never, work for a business where the boss behaved this way. I certainly do not want a person who behaves this way working for me as president.
Jonathan Jaberg, Largo