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Investment in Scripps pays off for all Floridians

By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published December 10, 2006


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Getting a cut from Scripps Dec. 4, story 

In response to your article about the Scripps Research Institute, contrary to your assertion, the state of Florida has already realized a return on its investment. An economic and program analysis is performed annually by the Scripps Florida Funding Corp. (SFFC), a nonprofit board created by the Legislature to oversee and manage Florida's investment in Scripps Florida. In 2004, after only nine months of operation, Florida experienced a $17-million impact on personal income. This number represents the additional earnings pumped into Florida's economy as a result of Scripps and more than $42-million in gross state product - the increase in Florida's total economic output attributable to all the additional people working and creating value added jobs.

In 2005, its second year of operations, those figures rose to more than $222-million and $552-million, generating more than $21-million in local and state tax revenues. That's not getting a cut from Scripps for a few people - that's a "cut" for all Floridians.

Furthermore, your view that companies providing service support to the project benefit from their political connections is just plain wrong. The SFFC board provides keen fiscal oversight coupled with business reality. The professional and financial services firms employed by the SFFC board were hired at market rates for their knowledge and demonstrated expertise and without regard to political patronage and without knowledge of their political contributions.

To provide one example and to correct an erroneous impression from your article, after extensive research and review by an insurance attorney, the SFFC board selected directors and officers insurance from Brown & Brown based on its ability to provide ample coverage at substantially lower bid submission than any other proposal. In fact, one of the other bidders commented that the Brown & Brown insurance "just can't be beat."

But the economics are just half the picture. The research that the world-class scientists at Scripps are conducting tackle some of the most daunting diseases and human afflictions known to man - exactly the type of advanced research we want to attract to Florida.

Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., is the No. 1 funded research institute in the nation and Scripps Florida, with 207 employees on its temporary campus in Jupiter, is performing extraordinarily well. In addition to hosting an international conference with more than 400 attendees, Scripps attracted more than $12-million in federal funding and has been awarded more than $8-million in philanthropic dollars.

Propelled by the success of Scripps, Florida recently attracted two more premiere biotech firms, the Torrey Pines Institute in Port St. Lucie, and Orlando's Burnham Institute. Not only do these R&D entities perform cutting-edge science, they create high-tech, high wage jobs for Floridians and fuel our knowledge-based economy.

Today, Florida is a force in the global innovation economy and an important hub of life science discovery, ranking as a top-10 biotech state. We need to acknowledge the importance of Scripps in terms of putting Florida on the bio/life science map, and also for the tremendous success of its scientific endeavors. Florida is well positioned as a high-growth center for the life sciences industry, and is poised to deliver economic as well as scientific benefits for generations to come.

Marshall M. Criser Jr., outgoing chairman of Scripps Florida Funding Corp., West Palm Beach

Press ahead with diplomacy on Iraq

I read your fine coverage of the report from the Iraq Study Group and I was particularly concerned about the recommendation for using regional diplomacy to help bring this war to an end. I'm concerned because President Bush's track record does not suggest that he's willing to do as James Baker, the Republican co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, suggests - that is "... talk with your enemies."

Prior to this administration, the United States usually had been successful in finding diplomatic solutions - the Cold War, China, reopening trade with Vietnam, etc.

We all need to stress to President Bush that he must act now. If he does not, our newly elected Congress should hold his feet to the fire. They were elected with a mandate to bring our troops home. As the Iraq report points out, diplomacy is an essential part of making that happen.

George Simms, New Port Richey

 

Give at home

I find fault with the current trend for the extremely wealthy to give their money away for causes outside the United States. They made their money by utilizing American sweat and labor, and it seems to me that charity should begin at home.

I see a nation, even though extremely wealthy, that has poverty in many of our communities due to the uneducated and to lack of opportunity. The state of Florida alone needs four or five new universities and needs support for new medical schools, yet this is not forthcoming.

The money that is being given to other parts of the world will only be squandered and stolen by those in power, and not reach the people who need it. I would prefer to see the Ted Turners, the Bill Gateses and the Warren Buffetts fund higher education with scholarships for the minorities in this country. In the long term, much more good can come from this.

Stanley S. Moles, M.D., Largo

Prohibition's problems

Remember alcohol Dec. 3, letter

Life with legalized drugs is bad, but life with prohibition is even worse.

The writer could have made his case even stronger by reminding us that national prohibition of alcohol was accompanied by reduced death rates from alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver (See Dr. Clark Warburton's 1932 book The Economic Results of Prohibition).

So what were Americans thinking when they ended national Prohibition? Consider this, from the 1930 resolution of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform: "... National Prohibition, wrong in principle, has been equally disastrous in consequences in the hypocrisy, the corruption, the tragic loss of life and the appalling increase of crime which have attended the abortive attempt to enforce it; in the shocking effect it has had upon the youth of the nation; in the impairment of constitutional guarantees of individual rights; in the weakening of the sense of solidarity between the citizen and the government, which is the only sure basis of a country's strength."

Those women knew life was better and safer with legal alcohol than life with illegal alcohol because they'd lived it both ways. They learned that driving a popular drug underground causes more societal damage than it prevents.

Priscilla M. Chase, Palm Harbor

Hypocrisy on high

Their demons make them do it Dec. 3, Robyn Blumner column

Thanks to Robyn Blumner for reminding us of the hypocrisy often associated with those who try to control the personal choices of others or legislate morality. As usual, her analysis was brilliant.

Michael D. Knox, Tampa

A setup for a backlash

Dean: Dems should keep out Buchanan Dec. 7, story

I see where Howard Dean is calling on the House to seat the loser in the 13th Congressional District race, Christine Jennings.

The Democrats control the House anyway, so their having that seat doesn't matter. Now, with that district being basically Republican, such a move will doom her to one term - and an embarrassing defeat in 2008.

It's hard to imagine anything that will outrage the voters more than something so blatant.

Ernest Lane, Trinity

[Last modified December 9, 2006, 20:58:36]


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