U.S. 19 construction | Jan. 13
Wacky use of incentives
While I am thrilled to see that the construction on U.S. 19 will be accelerated, I can't help but scratch my head over two things.
First, if it costs only an additional $4.8 million on a $113.5 million project to get this done sooner, why wasn't this done sooner? Surely, the lost revenue by the businesses along U.S. 19, not to mention the lost productivity of commuters, is many times this cost.
And second, $1.6 million of this additional expense is an incentive for the contractor to get the project done on time — which is really almost two years late. An incentive to finish on time? Really? How about a penalty for finishing late? That surely would have moved this project along.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs
Why be on time when you make more by being late?
The Florida Department of Transportation has it backward. When we had our first house built in the area, we and the builder agreed on the price and included a reduction in price for every week beyond the deadline for completion.
On the other hand, Hubbard Construction will get a $1.6 million "incentive" from DOT to finish its work on time — at least a year beyond when it was supposed to have been completed.
Our builder met the deadline — without an incentive.
Bruce Lowitt, Oldsmar
Parents ask for legal pot use | Jan. 10
Marijuana as medicine
The heart-wrenching story of kids with Dravet syndrome is the tip of the iceberg.
I have been petitioning to allow voters to decide in November whether patients can use marijuana without fear of arrest. I often hear stories of a close friend or relative who used it — or tried to get it — during chemo for pain and for appetite. Ten years ago I knew about pain, appetite and illnesses, but I would have dismissed the rest as just hype. Now I also hear anecdotes about Crohn's ("It's the only thing that works"), migraines, arthritis and now even epilepsy in adults.
If even half of these anecdotes are true, the federal government should be ashamed of itself for having blocked research for four decades. When marijuana is finally legalized we'll see it labeled with the content of THC and CBD. THC helps by making the patient feel good. But it is CBD that does the work against epilepsy in kids such as Charlotte Figi, and probably in the petition-signers I met recently.
It is important that this plant be made legally available, rather than entrusting it to the government, which has proved itself unable to put medicine above politics.
John G. Chase, Palm Harbor
Repressive culture | Jan. 14
No example of 'madness'
Regarding the letter referencing the University of Tampa baseball team's trip to Cuba: To say that this is a "mad, mad world" is probably true to some respect, but to equate UT's baseball team as part of the madness is untrue.
I am the mother of one of the UT players. My husband and I were talking about how blessed our son is to be part of a team that has so much integrity and class, including the coaching staff, players and support staff. In a world that is all about "me, me, me" and about "how much do I have," we think it is great that these players are giving up part of their Christmas break to meet with players who have no contact with the outside world — through no fault of their own. I almost cried at the airport when I saw the large number of gear bags the team was taking to donate to players who cannot buy equipment in Cuba — not to mention the personal equipment that each player will donate. What a great opportunity for these players to see how blessed they are to live in a free country.
Leslie Hughes, Tierra Verde
Saving the past | Jan. 13
Felonious acts indeed
Times reporter Ben Montgomery and columnist Dan Ruth dissed their readership by diminishing the importance of Florida archaeology and by continuing the idea that artifacts of prehistory are worth something in dollars and cents.
They are worth much more than that.
These remains have value intrinsic to the knowledge they can provide about the past. Montgomery and Ruth understate this importance when they minimize the fact that these objects were made and used by people that were entirely culturally different from us today.
Instead of selling our history short by relegating it to the corner of a collector's living room we should celebrate and honor it in the best way we can by preserving it where it is or at the very least preserving the knowledge hidden within it. The men and their "plight" profiled by Montgomery and Ruth in recent articles are not just stealing rocks from state lands. What they have done is to steal knowledge from past, present and future residents of this great and wacky state.
This activity is more than worthy of punishment.
Jeff Moates and Becky O'Sullivan
Florida Public Archaeology Network, Tampa
Police chase policy | Jan. 10
Keep it under wraps
Other than typical politics ("Look at me, I am the mayor"), please tell me who benefits by publicizing the police chase policy change? The only people who come to mind are car thieves.
Am I missing something? Just make the change and let the police officers — and only the police officers — know about it.
Ed Fleck, Tampa
Laurel and Hardy | Jan. 14
Now he's done it
I can be silent no longer. In the past Dan Ruth has stretched the bounds of propriety with his satirical slant on people and events in the Sunshine State. This time, however, he has stepped over that line that separates decency from obscenity.
By linking Gov. Rick "I plead the Fifth" Scott and Gov. Chris "I'm in the dark" Christie with two kings of comedy, Ruth has forever besmirched the names of Laurel and Hardy, the best and most beloved comedy team ever.
In the name of all that is right and funny, I must demand a retraction.
Jim Ahearn, Clearwater