Tuesday’s letters: Hawaiian volcano is to be watched in awe, not fear

Published May 7 2018
Updated May 8 2018

No end in sight as volcano in Hawaii
destroys 26 homes | May 7

Volcanoes erupt

The recent eruption of one of the Earth’s most studied active volcanoes is being reported, at least on TV, in cataclysmic terms posing threats to human activity and life. Although there is certainly much to be learned about one of the most significant natural processes in the geologic history of our planet, the Kilauea volcano is the centerpiece of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and home to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This research facility focuses on Kilauea and is staffed by some of our best earth scientists constantly examining data from this heavily instrumented and monitored feature. Kilauea has been erupting, on and off, for many decades. This most recent volcanic activity on the Big Island is about as predictable as the near-hourly eruptions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Perhaps this particular event is a bit more powerful than others in the past. But its occurrence should be of no surprise.

For sure, safety is paramount and the National Park Service and the state of Hawaii should keep spectators at a safe distance. But why small settlements and villages exist within the volcano’s dangerous reach is a beyond me. If human habitation is threatened, it is the fault of the state’s planners. Evacuations should be mandatory and future redevelopment anywhere nearby should be banned.

Instead of viewing this most recent activity as a threat posing an emergency, we should be amazed and awestruck at one of our Earth’s incredible processes that has been going on for the past 4.55 billion years. The beauty, power and the knowledge of what Kilauea tells us about how our planet behaves are the real stories.

Albert Hine, Seminole

Budget shortfall affects prisons | May 7

Making money on my taxes

I was amazed that one simple question was not asked. If the prison system contracts with for-profit companies and the shortfall was $28 million, how much profit did those companies make and why did they make a profit at all if they need another $28 million to cover the budget? No legislators asked about the profits but instead were finding programs to cut. Tax dollars should be spent on state-run prisons, not on for-profit companies, just as tax dollars should be spent on traditional public schools, not on charter schools run by for-profit companies. Why is it okay to raise the budget every year to pay more to for-profit companies running state facilities and then cry that we need smaller government?

Richard Gentile, Tampa

Build up city’s staff of inspectors | May 7, editorial

Do inspections actually help?

Your editorial assumes the city inspectors actually perform a vital service. Now a retired property manager of 25 years, I frequently contracted roofing contractors to re-roof properties. Each job requires two inspections, one when the roof is dried in and another upon completion. Most inspections were drive-by. Never did I see an inspector on a roof, really checking to see if the roofers followed specifications. I did experience some roofs that were not properly done, yet all were approved by inspectors. In my opinion, the permit is little more than a tax since there is no actual inspection or warranty.

I also was involved in the construction of new homes. I recommended that clients hire a private inspector, who would review building plans and then ensure the work was properly completed by a series of visits while the work was being done. Private inspections often caught contractors using inferior materials and sloppy work. Every time a private inspector performed, my clients appreciated my advice and felt the money was well spent.

Hardy Bryan, St. Petersburg