Letters to the editor for Sunday, March 3, 2024

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Letters to the editor should be 250 words or less. Include your name and city or community of residence. Guest opinions should be 600 words or less and include a brief summary of the author’s credentials relevant to the topic. Guest opinions may include a head shot of the author. For the Fort Myers News-Press, email submissions to mailbag@news-press.com and for the Naples Daily News to letters@naplesnews.com

Accept the differences

One of the most tragic and incomprehensible things about the tragic and incomprehensible beating and subsequent death of Nex Benedict, a non-binary 16-year-old, is that his assailants, fellow students in their Oklahoma HS, did not even know Nex.

Where did the hate, the rage, the urge to punish a person different from themselves come from?  Some groups are shouting (yes, really shouting) that the schools are indoctrinating students by letting them learn that individuals, families, cultures may be different from their own experience and are worthy of respect.  We hear that "Don't Say Gay" laws will  "protect the innocence of our students."  The idea, I guess, is that If we pretend that people aren't different, in a myriad of wonderful and sometimes confounding ways, maybe we can subside back into our comfortable, smug, self-righteous bubble and just hope "they" will go away.

Tacitly or actively accepting  the notion that learning in school should remain silent on differences is not a way to achieve respect for and acceptance of differences.  In fact, this approach can be just as insidious as an active hate campaign.  Why?  When we choose to look the other way we are sending a terrible message to our  young people.  They learn these silent lessons well.

Where does this hate and rage toward "the other" − whether the persons be non-binary, from a different culture, a different color or a different religion − come from?  Logically, not from instruction at school, but, may I suggest, from indoctrination at home, on social media, from sermons at "Christian" and other "houses of worship." We have heard self-professed "Christians" at School Board meetings yelling that homosexuality is an "abomination."  How terribly cruel and how terribly false.

What to do?  What good educators have been doing for years −  teach students about the rich diversity that exists in a classroom, in a school, in a community, in the nation, in the world.  Embrace students' curiosity about differences, let them learn, open their eyes, open their hearts to a different world view.  Actively teach them to respect others − don't just mouth platitudes − help students learn that because a person, their family, their culture is different from one's own they need not succumb to blind fear and hate.  If we all follow this example, we might even learn to love one another and treat others as we wish to be treated.

Madelon V. Stewart, Fort Myers

DeSantis undermines education

George Orwell is spinning in his grave. Governor DeSantis expressed his dismay at the state of book banning and blames the teachers, school administrations, news media, and the public! False theater.He endorsed House Bill 1069 and created a war on education with the help of Moms For Liberty, fringe groups on the far right and Christian Nationalists. It requires school districts to restrict or cover approved books that they deem age-inappropriate or describe sexual conduct.

As a former high school biology teacher, I had my own classroom library of books for students to sign out. This college level reading allowed my students to expand their knowledge of the biological sciences. Teachers encourage reading. However, in Florida, books are required to be covered by overzealous administrations and fearful teachers. But one teacher refused.Mike Andoscia, a social studies 2023 Lee County Golden Apple Teacher had 600 books in his classroom. Mr. Andoscia came into his classroom on January 16th to find that all his books had been removed because they were not covered. He was allowed to retrieve his books to take them home only under supervision. Then Mr. Andoscia resigned, and rapidly received notification that he was under investigation, no reason given.Governor Ron DeSantis is responsible for the banning of books and the fear of teachers.He is creating a resultant uneducated population graduating from our public schools.Cindy Perouty, Fort Myers

What ails health care system

Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said that there are not enough doctors to see everyone who needs an appointment, regardless of whether they have insurance. Senate bill 7016 just cleared the House that includes $717 million in spending, aims to grow the state's health care work force.

In my opinion what ails the health care system Is not having enough doctors but the lack of access to doctors.During the past eight years, the Florida population increased by 15%, and the number of licensed physicians increased by 42%. In addition, the number of nurse practitioners and physician's assistants has now reached 30,000.The problem with the ailing health care in Florida is due to the insurance company policies. Many years ago, insurance companies started corralling patients into HMO's, then PPO's, EPO's, POS's and usually limiting the number of doctors that these patients have access to, including specialists. Patients that can afford a doctor or who are very sick, usually don't wait the 2-3 weeks to be seen by their assigned provider. They jump the “corral” and pay out of pocket to see other doctors. Sooner or later the legislator will have to deal with the elephant in the room to solve the problem of health care access in Florida.Letting patients choose their doctor is one way to solve the problem of patient access.

Juan Puerto, M.D., Immokalee

Say no to Newsom

If the Democrats draft Gavin Newsom, run.People generally have mixed reactions when I tell them that I come from California. The reactions generally fall into two categories − either “welcome” or “don’t bring that here.” It might be hard to believe but California was a nice place to live. One day just to do it I surfed in Malibu in the morning and drove up to Big Bear Mountain that afternoon to do the half-priced night ski at Snow Summit. Homelessness and crime weren’t visible.The first term of Jerry Brown as governor wasn’t all that bad. The second term things started to go sour and when Newsom took over things went off the rail. The Stanford Institute of EPR, found that homelessness in California increased 42% between 2014 and 2020. An LA Times piece by Doug Smith in 2019 found that 51% of the homeless in Los Angeles were mentally ill and 46% suffered from a substance abuse disorder. The encampments were responsible for over 80% of the fires in Los Angeles. Millions of dollars in property was damaged and citizens evacuated in the dead of night.AB-109 added a new dynamic to our misery. Thefts under $1,000 became ticketable offenses. Stores would be looted in broad daylight while you were just stopping to pick up some shaving cream. People would be assaulted at random in the streets as violent criminals were released from prison and joined the homeless encampments. You never knew when a beggar would turn violent.

Anthony Rainone, Cape Coral

Trump deficit shocking

On February 27 Nikki Haley posted a truth on Twitter (X) which should have every Republican questioning the economic competency of Donald Trump. Nikki posted:“Donald Trump put our nation $8 trillion in debt in just four years, and there’s no indication that he’ll stop the spending sprees if he’s back in the White House. Our kids are the ones who have to deal with that mess.”Eight trillion dollars in deficit should shock every principled conservative.

Joe Haack, Naples

Resolve border crisis

I am writing to express my deep concern about the crisis at the border. As a constituent, I urge Senator Scott to use his influence to support the Senate bill that aims to address this critical problem.

The situation is dire, with thousands of migrants and refugees facing unsafe conditions and lack of access to basic necessities, overwhelming our border states, and major cities. It is our moral obligation to provide the necessary resources and support to resolve this crisis and Senator Scott, with his strong influence in the House of Representatives, can ensure this good bill gets a vote.

Furthermore, the consequences of inaction will be severe. The humanitarian crisis will worsen!

The Republican  Party will be blamed,  Scott especially! Significantly. He has stood by and done nothing!

Samuel B. Stewart, Fort Myers

Restore Trump border policies

Anybody with common sense had to know that eventually the Biden open border policy was going to lead to issues. The recent crimes by illegal immigrants, including the murder of the college student in Georgia and the beatings of police officers in New York are just a couple of current examples with many more to come. Biden has allowed a large number of Venezuelans into the country and the word is that Maduro has sent the criminals and he will not take them back. These illegals are basically unvetted and unvaccinated for almost any disease and the current spread of measles is an example of what can happen. The other major issue is the cost to U.S. taxpayers for these people. Schools, lodging, food, health care, crime, etc. are examples of the costs. Some of our major cities are buckling under the cost and demanding the federal government bail them out. Some 10 million or so illegal immigrants in Biden's three years. It is obvious that they will not stay at the border. Common sense said that they would head to major cities. It took some time, but reality has now set in and Biden finally recognizes he needs to do something solely because the polls say the public has it as a high priority. That appears to be the only reason Biden is now suggesting action. Remember, it was not an issue until the polls said otherwise. However, he is the one who reversed all of former President Trump's border policies and has no one to blame but himself. Reverse the executive orders and put the Trump orders back in place.

Ron Wobbeking, Naples

Biden's memory a non-issue

Yes, President Biden is old and he has senior moments, as we all, young or old, have. But is that relevant in performing his job as president? Based on his job performances during the last three plus years, my answer is emphatically NO.During the last three plus years, Biden-Harris administration has delivered an economic miracle as can be observed by the consumer buying power, the goods and services that consumer can afford to buy. Yes, there is inflation and goods and services cost more than used to be. But that cannot be a measure of economic well-being when rising consumer income is more than compensating rising costs of goods and services and allowing the consumer to buy more goods and services than ever before.

For example, only a short three years ago, millions of people could not afford to feed their families three meals a day. And now, consumer buying power is sky-high − retail sales are going through the roof, restaurants are crowded, people are travelling everywhere as if there is no tomorrow, roads are jammed with traffic, and on and on. Biden-Harris has achieved such a fit by creating over 14 million jobs including 800 thousands of manufacturing jobs, 23 straight months of sub-4% unemployment rate, wages outpacing inflation.In addition, in this extreme partisan environment and with a slim majority in the Congress, and that only in the first two years, the administration has succeeded in enacting such major legislations as the American Rescue Plan, Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS Act, Infrastructure and Jobs Act with support from both parties, a feat that has not been achieved by any other administration in the last 20 years. It shows Biden’s extraordinary skills to work across the aisle, memory lapses or not.In the foreign policy front, Biden has expanded and strengthened NATO to counter Russian invasion in Ukraine without shedding any American blood. His achievement, both domestic and foreign, in a short three years proves beyond a reasonable doubt that age is a poor measure to assess the capabilities of a person.

Mukhtar Ali, Marco Island

Defend democracy in Ukraine

In the Civil War the support of democracy was the song "Rally Round the Flag."In WW I the words were " The Yanks are Coming Over There."In WW II we joined our allies against the authoritarian monster Hitler.Today the GOP finds itself in their elephant graveyard reformed by a MAGA movement led by a tax cheat, insurrectionist, who prefers Putin over USA intelligence as seen in Helsinki and prefers authoritarianism.If we turn our backs on Ukraine Russia will soon expand to Baltic States. China sees door to Taiwan with a weak USA already expanding in the South China Sea.It's time to defend democracy in Ukraine versus the goals of Putin.The strong GOP world leader elephant is rapidly going to its grave following a weak draft dodger who admires dictators over democracy.

Glenn Mueller, Naples

Liz Cheney's chilling account

Liz Cheney's audio recording: Borrowed from our library, her verbal account of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol Hill insurrection would benefit people from hearing her insider story of the Capitol insurrection day and what followed inside the Congress halls.

While I saw it happening in real time from the outside on TV, it is far more chilling and revealing to hear it from someone experiencing it at the same time from the inside.

How can people deny the insurrection and pretend it did not happen and allow that man to run again for the presidency?

It will be anarchy, according to the Atlantic magazine. And I agree.

Please listen to Liz's warning. And the Veterans Against Trump who were called losers and suckers. Which of course he has denied because he denies all of his detrimental behaviors.

A proud veteran who supports Veterans Against Trump.

 Former Air Force Nurse Captain Alice Mack, RN, BSN, Fort Myers

Gary Price demonstrated leadership

As the Naples city elections loom closer, my apprehension grows due to the unfortunate outcomeof the previous election. Throughout my 35 years as a city resident, I have never seen the citygovernment so dysfunctional. This can be largely attributed to Mayor Heitmann’s incompetency.Under Mayor Heitmann's leadership, a pattern of extremely poor decision-making emerges.From misguided staffing selections and record turnover to state sanctions, her tenure has beenmarred by a series of failures. When was the last time city and mayoral lawsuits dominated theheadlines? I certainly cannot recall such issues with past administrations. Furthermore, herfrequent references to her residency in Aqualane Shores only serve to emphasize her detachmentfrom the broader community.In evaluating candidates, I recognize the importance of conservative principles, of which MayorHeitmann has none. After a thorough assessment of Blankenship and Price, Gary Price emergesas the unequivocal choice. Despite Blankenship's purported conservatism, his recent arrival toNaples and lack of community engagement renders him unsuitable. He epitomizes the affluentnewcomers who attempt to buy influence without investing in our community. His boasts ofbeing a "titan" of business, based solely on a partnership at PwC, lack substance as thousands ofsimilar partners exist. Similarly, his claims of community involvement, limited to coaching trackoutside city limits, raise questions about his authenticity.In contrast, Gary Price's extensive involvement in local organizations and charities underscoreshis dedication to Naples. As vice mayor, he adeptly tackled challenges, ensuring the city'sprosperity. His nearly three decades of residency provide him with a profound understanding ofNaples' needs and values, distinguishing him as a true champion for our community. With Priceat the helm, Naples can confidently move forward, building upon his demonstrated leadershipand unwavering commitment to our collective well-being.Matt Simon, Naples

Stay the course in Naples

The City of Naples is not under siege as claimed by Gary Price and his team of candidates. The city actually is doing remarkably well after the Barnett years.  Things can always be better, but that is not Gary Price’s goal.

Price and his team of candidates are obviously in the pocket of big money.  The obvious question is why.  The obvious answer is to be elected and change the city’s future.  Money will be made by many and big money objectives achieved by others.

Nothing is ever perfect, but let’s stay the course for four more years.

The city has made tremendous progress post Barnett and Price.  Let’s not go backwards. Let’s stay the course.

Slate Dabney, Naples

Trump tells us who he is

You would think that with all the different sources of news information it would be easier to know the truth. Unfortunately, it seems to me to be more difficult. We all know that certain news outlets only present their slanted views. So how do we know the truth? My only way is to listen to what comes directly out of the mouth of the candidate. Donald Trump in his own words tells us what type of person he is. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” “I am your retribution.” “We pledge to root out vermin.” “Dictator for one day.” “Kim Jong Un speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” Putin: “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.” John McCain: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” Jeffrey Epstein: “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. terrific guy.” Concerning women “Grab them by the p…., you can do anything.” Bill Barr his attorney general: “gutless pig.” Mike Pence: “delusional” and “not a very good person.” As for the rioters found guilty of attacking the Capitol and our democratic system: “I call them hostages.” “We’ll be looking very, very seriously at full pardons.” Back in 2016 if he hadn’t gotten the nomination: “I think you would have riots.” Trump now faces 91 felony charges in the four indictments. Is this the type of person we want to represent the United States of America?

Warren White, Bonita Springs

We can and should aid Ukraine

Several months  ago, Putin stated that if the U.S. stopped sending military aid to Ukraine, he could easily end the war with them peacefully. In the meantime, he is getting thousands of rounds of ammunition from North Korea, thousands of military drones from Iran and improving his alliance with China. China wants Putin's support when they invade Taiwan.

Tuesday, Feb. 27, GOP House Speaker Johnson intimated that we couldn't send aid to Ukraine until our southern border with Mexico was secured. That's like saying we can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Where would the world be today if FDR ( Franklin Delano Roosevelt) did not send a lot of military aid and troops to Europe to help defeat Hitler in World War II? Where would the world be today if Ronald Reagan hadn't stood up to Gorbachev during the Cold War and emphatically told him to tear down this wall.

Putin knows how to get rid of his opposition. Just ask Mrs. Navalny. Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine. But he wasn't satisfied with that so he decided to unilaterally invade Ukraine. Who is next if Putin is successful? Estonia and the other two Baltic states. Putin won't stop until NATO, with U.S. leadership, delivers to Ukraine the help that they need and deserve.

The United States has the greatest military in the world. We have proven that many times. However, while Russia is getting military aid from North Korea, Iran, and others, Ukraine is running short of needed military supplies. Consequently, Ukraine is being overrun by better equipped Russian soldiers. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered because of a needless political stalemate in the United States.

Is Speaker Johnson saying, we can't send aid to Ukraine and at the same time, protect our border from foreign women, children and a sad group of men, looking for a better life for their families? Sure, there will be some bad foreigners getting through but we already have a lot here now and we are surviving. That's all the Ukrainians want. A peaceful democracy and we can easily help them achieve that goal before many more men, women, children, and innocent civilians never see tomorrow.

Gerald Curcuru, Fort Myers

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Letters to the editor for Sunday, March 3, 2024