Today's Letters: Banning Web sites a slap in the face for U.S. troops

Published May 21, 2007

Defense Department bans Web sites May 15, story 

Give me a break.

We can stop-loss them. We can back-door draft them. We can ask them to sacrifice everything, but we can't let our troops communicate with their friends and family?

We can outsource military funding to war profiteers like Blackwater and Halliburton while hiding the decay of military barracks and hospitals, but we can't let our troops enjoy YouTube?

This is insane! Let's demand one massive refund from the war profiteers and use it to take care of our military. Let's build them the best Internet access in the world with Web cams so they can see their babies. Let's build the best military hospitals.

Heck, let's go crazy and bring them home now and give them quality health care for life!

Megan Foster, Tampa

Why universities need tuition boost May 14

State should chip in

The op-ed contributions by John Boyles (University of Florida's outgoing student body president) and Frank Harrison (University of South Florida's outgoing student government president) described their positions in favor of the proposed tuition hikes at the three public research universities. Under the proposed plan, UF and Florida State University could increase their tuition by up to 40 percent over three years, while USF could increase its rate by a maximum of 30 percent over the same time period. This would amount to an estimated $25-million for UF and FSU and $20-million for USF by 2010.

There is no question that these universities are in desperate need of additional funding to finance the hiring of badly needed academic advisers and high-quality professors. Boyles and Harrison do an excellent job pointing out the facts, most prominently that Florida tuition rates are among the lowest.

There is, however, a different ranking that deserves equal mention; it is what Boyles briefly refers to as the "taxpayers' investment in their universities." Harrison writes, "It is true that a greater investment from the governor and Legislature is necessary to ensure universities provide a quality education."

In 2006, the state's investment in higher education amounted to 4.9 percent of its tax revenues and lottery profits compared to a national average of 7.32 percent. Suppose Florida's higher education investment were to increase to the national average. Given the 2006 tax revenues and lottery profits of $54.8-billion, this would amount to an increase of $1.3-billion per year, or, on average, an additional $118-million for each of the 11 public universities in the state. Compare that to the projected increase in revenue from the proposed tuition hike to get some perspective regarding its importance relative to what is really needed to "bring in enough money to end (the system's) problems, " as Boyles put it. Or, as Harrison explains, "until all parties agree to chip in, this state will continue to express its champagne taste while operating on a beer budget."

Etienne E. Pracht, Ph.D., assistant professor, Health Policy and Management, USF, Lithia

What?! A $107 steak?! May 16, story

Worth the price

I've enjoyed the same entree at Chateau France as Times food critic Laura Reiley, and agree it's a divine dish. But unlike her, I had no complaints about the bill.

French restaurants are notoriously pricey, but for good reason. Quite simply, the food is glorious. The standards of ingredient quality and preparation in most French restaurants are unmatched.

So please, let's not be the ugly Americans in our own country. If price shopping is important to you for fine cuisine, ask before you eat.

Bradley Jergins, Brooksville

Restaurant robbery

Two years ago my husband and I stayed in St. Petersburg for our anniversary weekend. We went to Chateau France with an 8 p.m. reservation. Although the place was empty, we were made to wait before we were seated. We waited 45 minutes to place our order and begged for bread.

Our waiter described a filet mignon special. I ordered that. An hour later, my steak arrived undercooked and a la carte (we were not told there would not be any sides). Our bill stated that my steak was $85. It was not Kobe beef. We're from Miami and therefore used to ridiculous South Beach-style markups. But $85 for a filet mignon? This isn't about being a cheapskate or ill-informed about cuts of beef: it's about getting robbed.

Marta Moakley, Miami

For healthier kids

As the parent of a 16- and 18-year-old and president of the American Heart Association Greater Southeast Affiliate board of directors, I've been concerned about the health of our nation's children. Over the past 30 years, the number of overweight children in the United States has more than doubled, and the number of overweight adolescents has tripled. Now, studies are saying that today's generation may be the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents. Sedentary school days with no physical education would be a missed opportunity to help keep our children healthy.

Thankfully, our legislators agree. With the passing of the PE Bill (HB 967), all elementary school students in Florida will receive at least 150 minutes of physical education each week, which translates to 30 minutes a day. Until now, Florida was one of only 14 states with no mandate for physical education. Physical activity is crucial to help protect the health of all children, especially the nearly 23 percent who don't get any free-time physical activity.

I applaud Florida lawmakers for passing such important legislation. Together, we are changing the fate of Florida's youth, and this is a step in the right direction.

William Gower, Seffner

New stadium not on deck May 9, story

Keep a lid on it

Attending a baseball game in a covered stadium is much enjoyed by myself, family and friends. It allows Rays fans to avoid the hot rays of the sun - plus many people in Florida have precancerous skin conditions and are advised to avoid extensive time in the sun. Therefore, a covered, air-conditioned stadium is indeed a blessing for our beautiful area.

Please consider a closed stadium if and when the Trop needs to be replaced. Until then, the Rays are our home team. We are happy for them when they win and sad for them when they lose.

As for Tropicana Field, we are thankful for all the improvements that have been made. We are all loyal Rays fans.

Margaret Heater, New Port Richey