Letters to the editor for Sunday, March 5, 2023

Second Amendment

Our readers share their opinions on a variety of topics

Tax status in wake of Ian

Southwest Florida residents dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian are discovering that the federal tax treatment of casualty losses from Hurricanes Ian is not as expected.Unfortunately, Hurricane Ian has NOT yet been designated as “a qualified disaster” by Congress and as of now the IRS has not declared hurricane Ian a “Qualified disaster loss” which means less favorable tax treatment, since only “qualified disaster losses” are eligible for a waiver of the 10% AGI limitation and for deduction without itemizing other deductions on your tax forms. Federal legislation is required to grant the “special rules” to disaster losses attributable to losses from Hurricane Ian.Call your elected officials and ask them to submit and support legislation for this designation. Why is Florida being treated differently from other states’ disasters and has not received this distinction since Hurricane Ian was one of the worst hurricanes in over 100 years causing over $100 billion of damages to homes and businesses in Florida alone. Is it because we are in a red state and did not support the current administration or its policies in the last election?

Lou Walker, Cape Coral

Dry palm branches a fire hazard

The Royal Palm Golf Club, which is next-door to me, has left many dried palm branches in a large area adjacent to my property for about a year. The branches are tinder dry and ready to start a fire with the slightest spark. I have had to call the Royal Palm Golf Club in the past about the same problem and had to go to the fire department to get the club to clean it up. Now the fire department is pushing back and sent me to Code Enforcement whose representative said that “It’s an act of God” that these branches fell and Code Enforcement has no jurisdiction to make the golf club clean it up. Meanwhile I lie in fear for a fire to start and burn my house down, which is not made of cement but is a wood frame. People go through the area leaving garbage and maybe a lit cigarette butt someday. When I called the fire department they asked if I was calling about the problem in back of Winn-Dixie so I think many people are concerned about possible brush fires at the present time. I hope this letter will make people aware of similar situations and maybe act and save a life.

Rita Pyrdol, Naples

Poorly advised gun proposal

I applaud the Feb. 25 letters from Kim Finer and Jane Schlectweg concerning the upcoming and poorly advisedHB 543, which proposes to allow unlicensed and virtually unfettered “open carry” of firearms in Florida. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo (whose reputation I have come to respect), I expressed similar concerns about the recklessness of such legislation with regard to public safety and law enforcement. I pointed out to her the example of the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting where local and regional law enforcement officers cowered in a school corridor while a deranged sole gunman massacred children and teachers. If we cannot count on our law enforcement officers, whom can we trust? The “good guy with a gun”? Over the past several years, there is but one example –in Texas in 2017– where the “good guy” effectively intervened. Meanwhile, our police officers fear being “outgunned”– as well they might.

Senator Passidomo tried to assure me that “elected officials and some sheriffs” are vigorously pursuing “constitutional carry” legislation. She also informed me that the Florida Senate leadership is instituting a program to have “firearm detection dogs present on campus.” “These dogs promote school safety as well as positive relationships between students and law enforcement– it is a really exciting program.”Seriously? This is lunacy! How many firearm sniffing dogs are we talking about? Will they be trained to attack anyone with a gun? (Under the pending legislation, this could mean your average law-abiding gun-carrying citizen!) Or will they simply be reassurance to students sheltering beneath their desks? I write in the hope that our leaders are willing and able to take serious measures to prevent this gradual “dumbing down” of important public safety issues.Frank Scarpa, M.D., Naples

Censorship of ‘Dilbert’

The Naples Daily News censorship of “Dilbert” is totally anti-free speech. Your attempt to have everyone follow your stated “values” is anti-free speech. You claim on the front page of the paper to support free speech. Your deletion of “Dilbert” from the comics shows who you really are: a left-wing anti-free speech newspaper!

First “Mallard Fillmore,” now “Dilbert.” What is next, “Baby Blues”?

Marjore Hancock, Naples

The salutary effect of music

I wrote this after a Beach Boys concert: We went to the theater for enjoyment. I looked down the hallway as I entered and saw a woman walking carefully, one leg working with a great thought process behind it. I glanced several seats to the right, as the crowd strolled in, to view a man attempting to sit in his seat by moving the handheld items from right to his left hand. Both hands were shaking from some long-term illness. But when the songs flowed across the air and into their memories, their bodies began to sway. Their faces had a light of many past experiences pooling into places they hadn’t visited for years. They tapped. They swayed by rows. They tossed beach balls as far as their bodies allowed. They spoke of movies, cars, and places that engulfed their youth long before they really knew the world that awaited them.

Denise Allis, Fort Myers

Printing last words unwarranted

The Naples Daily News should be ashamed for publishing the diatribe of a convicted murderer’s last words against Ron DeSantis as the lead story in last Saturday’s newspaper. Why would you give any credence to the  political statement from a man who brutally murdered a woman, mother and wife?

Robert M. Williams, Naples

Beyond outrageous

The News-Press has finally sunk to a new low regarding hate for Gov. DeSantis. Your headline quoting a Florida death row inmate expressing his opinion of our governor is beyond outrageous.  Is this reporting?

Elaine Paolella, Lehigh Acres

Growth jeopardizing wildlife

Today I am writing about my concerns about congestion, growth and overbuilding in Naples and Bonita Springs. I reside in Bonita but work in beautiful Naples. There has continued to be an explosion of development over the past ten years.My question is to the mayor and city councils of these cities, what is the ten-20 year plan for development of these cities? Do they have a plan to purchase any land to create nature preserves or corridors for animals and birds?

A good example is in the North Naples corridor by Wiggins Pass has now been destroyed, including the trees and brush for wildlife, and replaced with condos. There used to be an eagles nest there. Where is the space now for these eagles?

Not to say I have not gained any benefits from the growth in terms of better restaurants and shopping which I thoroughly enjoy.Please, I’m begging you to reassess the growth in these environmentally sensitive areas.

Dr. J. Polito, Bonita Springs

Second Amendment outdated

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, gives the people the right to keep and bear arms, and shall not be infringed. It’s the Second Amendment to the Constitution, drafted in 1787.

It’s important to understand what the setting was at that time and the objective of the drafters. The typical firearms of the day were muskets and flintlock pistols. They could hold a single round at a time, and a skilled shooter could hope to get off three or possibly four rounds in a minute of firing. Times have certainly changed.

Over the years, there have been many court cases addressing this amendment. But with all the opinions regarding this amendment, one thing stands out, we still define “arms” to include not only the single-shot musket, but a semi-automatic AR-15 today. As of 2016, the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates there are approximately 5 to 10 million privately owned AR-15s. They’ve said hunters justify their use for such animals as dangerous feral pigs and fast moving jackrabbits. Who knew there were so many feral pigs and jackrabbits loose in our country, and that they could be threatening.

So how far away are we from allowing personal hand grenades? Surely the NRA would find a way to justify them.

Chuck Gass, Naples

Crisis among teen girls

Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle wisely points out that “Digital media, social anxiety, bullying contribute to crisis among teen girls” (Feb. 28). Might there be another factor that also leads to girls “feeling like they are not enough”? Just at the time when girls are becoming women, our culture is unable to say what a woman even is. Girls’ bodies are priming them for motherhood, but as a culture we belittle that role. Girls still dream of committed love, of being special to one man, but they would be mocked for admitting to such desires. Only male desires for the more the merrier are accepted. If I were a teen in today’s environment, I too would be feeling hopeless.

Laurie Cherbonnier, Naples

Don’t think Biden’s the greatest

Just a quick question or two to the contributor who compared Joe Biden to Tom Brady and is rooting for him to run again in 2024 because “his mind, vision, and negotiating acumen are excellent.”

How do you know that? Are you a doctor? Have you been to any meetings watching him negotiate?

He also said that “his communication skills are better than most and he always gets his point or message across.”

Are we talking about the same Joe Biden?

He must be looking at different speeches than I am and don’t blame it on his lifetime of stuttering. Some of the words that come out of his mouth are sometimes totally unintelligible.

But the biggest shock I got was when he said Joe Biden has done more for the American people in his first two years than the last seven presidents combined with the possible exception of (of course) Barack Obama and the ACA.

Wow ! That is quite a statement. I would have thought he’d follow it up with a list of all he’s done but I didn’t see any.

Maybe he was talking about the great job he’s done of raising food and gas prices.

Or maybe he was talking about the sieve at our southern border or maybe even the record amount of fentanyl coming through that same border. Or perhaps the great withdrawal in Afghanistan. All things to be proud of, I guess.

I don’t care how far to the left you are but please don’t tell me Joe Biden doesn’t have some cognitive issues. You may be selling it but I’m not buying it and you may rue the day if he’s at the top of the Democrat ticket in 2024. I don’t even think ballot harvesting will save him.

Rick Manuel, Dade City

Biden not so brilliant

I read a letter in The News-Press last week which claimed that President Biden had achieved more in two years than the “last seven presidents” with the exception of “Barack Obama and the ACA.”  I found this claim beyond incredible.  Everything Mr. Biden has touched has been a disaster, from the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan right up to his bungled handling of the tragic Norfolk Southern derailing in New Palestine, Ohio.  One of those seven presidents mentioned by the writer was Ronald Reagan.  The writer may not have experienced the Reagan presidency but I did.  President Reagan pulled us out of the malaise of the Carter years, giving Americans renewed pride in their country.  The economy recovered, interest rates dropped to a reasonable level, Americans were released from captivity in Iran, and, most notably, along with Pope John Paul II, Mr. Reagan was instrumental in the dismantling of the Soviet Union.  I was a teacher in the Reagan years and my standard of living improved more dramatically then than at any other time in my 40-year career in education.  One last point: in the two-plus years of the Biden presidency, my own retirement account has dropped 20% in value. So much for the “brilliance” of the Biden presidency.

William Dillon, North Fort Myers

Opinions masquerade as news

In his article “DeSantis, GOP lawmakers target local governments” columnist John Kennedy asserts that Gov. DeSantis has pulled state government “far right.” This isn’t a quote from a news source, it is pure opinion. Kennedy is entitled to his opinion and to express it, but since it is opinion, it should be clearly labeled as such. Instead, it appears as simply one of a number of articles that a reader would assume to be news.Much has been made of Americans’ declining trust in institutions including news outlets. Opinions masquerading as news are among the reasons we no longer trust our newspapers.

Andrew Terhune, Naples

Far-reaching pollution

The toxic pollution emitted in the atmosphere is far more reaching than the 20-mile radius from that community. The prevailing wind currents carry them for hundreds of miles, as did those pollutants spewing from the smokestacks of the steel and chemical plants in the Midwest during the Sixties and Seventies. Those pollutants killed many aquatic species in the pristine lakes and rivers as far away as the Northern Adirondacks of New York State Killing all the the food fish and halting sport fishing in Lake Erie, Ontario and the largest inland lake in New York. It took many decades to clean that mess up. Why are there no great American politicians to answer the questions of those people who are affected? Where were they carrying this toxic waste and how is it disposed, questions for another day?

Frank J. Setera, Naples

Social Security solution

Reading much angst lately over the looming demise of Social Security. It can be funded in perpetuity with one simple stroke of the pen. End the cap on contributions! The tax is 12.4% of the first $160,200 of a workers wage. If you make $160,200 you will pay $19,865 toward Social Security. If you are, example, a pro athlete making millions of dollars what would you pay? The same $19,865.

12.4% of a million dollars is $124,000, that’s per million. If everybody who makes those huge incomes, think all of pro sports and all highly paid professionals and executives, were to pay the full 12.4%, Social Security would be solvent  basically forever. And maybe we could get better benefits also. Perhaps it should be given some thought?

John Sinclear, Fort Myers

Chilling effect on academic freedom

When I read “Professor investigated” for allegedly indoctrinating students about racial justice in English classes, I was disheartened but not surprised given certain state legislators’ fear of higher education’s focus upon critical thinking and the power they hold over (some) higher education administrative staffs.

As a former university professor who taught for five decades, I find it ludicrous (and counterproductive) that  academic officers would initiate an investigation of faculty based upon the accusations of a parent.  The  college experience is designed to empower students to speak up and out when they perceive wrongs on the  college campus.  College is the means by which students assume personal responsibility for their lives which entails a severing of parental oversight.  It also bears mentioning that college faculty are routinely evaluated by students at the close of each semester and by their peers (department chair, tenured departmental colleagues and/or Pre-Tenure Committee members).  Regional accrediting bodies, e.g., Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) exist to ensure institutions deliver the knowledge, behaviors, and habits of mind that they purport students will master upon program completion. Quality teaching and learning are the hallmarks of academe and numerous objective and subjective means are in place to assure those outcomes.

Professor Joeckel asserts that he has students “…read and analyze passages about (racial justice) topic(s), discuss them and write short essays of their own.” He further states that he does not share his personal view on these matters with his students.  I am quite confident that “racial justice” is but one of many diverse topics upon which students are expected to expound. Any and all topics serve as the means to a higher end, i.e., improved written communication skills in ENG Comp II. When students impartially evaluate the facts to an issue, draw realistic conclusions and then share those conclusions in a clear and convincing written form, then Dr. Joeckel has achieved his teaching objective.

Effective college instructors continually strive to help students make connections between one’s field of study and  the world at large.  Authentic learning occurs when students apply skills learned in the classroom in order to more  fully understand (and possibly solve) societal problems and find common ground among divisive ideas that matter  in today’s world. Palm Beach Atlantic University’s (PBAU) knee-jerk reaction to postpone his annual contract renewal has a chilling effect upon academic freedom by prioritizing social conformity to partisan politics ahead of seeking truth in a safe, open environment where all ideas are thoughtfully and respectfully discussed, challenged, debated, critiqued, argued, supported and refuted.  PBAU administrators should know better; PBAU students deserve better.

James L. DeBoy, Fort Myers

Donalds wrong about wind, solar

Our Congressman Byron Donalds attacks the “dishonest fantasy” of wind and solar power, saying they’re too expensive, unreliable and environmentally degrading, and that support for renewable energy is based on “politics” rather than “objective facts.” That’s wrong and beneath the dignity of his office.Wind and solar are in fact cheaper than fossil fuels and nuclear, due to low construction costs, rapid build times, and zero fuel expense, and getting cheaper all the time. According to Bloomberg, new wind and solar capacity is about 40 percent cheaper than new coal and gas capacity, all over the world.

As proof of unreliability and environmental harm, Rep. Donalds cites blackouts in Texas and California, which are making increasing use of wind and solar. But neither of those states’ problems had anything to do with wind and solar. According to Yale research, the culprit in Texas was a record freeze, crippling components in their natural gas and nuclear systems. And likewise, the culprit in California was fossil fuel systems melted by record-setting heat waves. And obviously, these instances of extreme heat and cold are only getting worse, and are driven by the warming of the planet, which is driven by – wait for it – our continuing burning of fossil fuels.

Why is Rep. Donalds so keen on the so-called “dishonesty” of renewable energy? Perhaps it’s mere coincidence that he received $55,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, and that Florida Power and Light, which gets the vast majority of its electricity from fossil fuels, spends millions on elections and lobbying, and has fought tooth and nail to kill rooftop solar in Florida.

The “objective fact” is that the Sunshine State has vast solar potential (but negligible wind). Cities such as Tallahassee and Orlando have committed to using 100 percent renewable energy. If Rep. Donalds weren’t so overwhelmed with politics, he might do his constituents a huge favor by working to make Florida a leader in home-grown solar jobs and economic development.

Scott Wallace, Naples

Grateful for science, vaccines

I have a scar on my left shoulder that has been there since I was an infant.  It’s spherical in shape, about the size of a dime.  I am assuming most people reading this probably also have a similar one, regardless of race, gender, nationality, or even political party affiliation.  I am very grateful for this scar, as are billions of other people, as it helped eradicate one of the most deadliest infectious diseases in all of human history.  I am also grateful for science and a democratically led government, although not perfect, that issued the smallpox vaccine, as well as the one for polio, MMR (mumps/measles/rubella), Covid-19, and others.  I am not naive enough to think that there are no risks involved with any vaccine, but so is eating some peanuts.  Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a society where these vaccines are not available to its citizens? The Lee County and state Republican Party need to look at their left shoulders to remind them how effective vaccines are in reducing the morbidity and mortality of an infectious disease before they vote on something that may have deadly consequences for countless others.  If they are so fearful of a government conspiracy or a mandate, then they should throw away their phone and not wear their seatbelt or obey traffic laws.

Larry Scrabis, DVM, Fort Myers

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