Defiant over water use | April 28, story
Florida-friendly yard better for environment
The greed and arrogance of some of these high water users is mind-boggling. Developer Al Austin says he likes his 6 acres to be lush and has to keep his St. Augustine grass watered. He has used 3.5 million gallons of water last year and a half-million gallons so far this year. He says he is sure his neighbors appreciate his "nice piece of property."
Well, I think my neighbors appreciate my piece of property, though it is far less than 6 acres. But I have worked hard over the years to have a designated "Florida-friendly" yard. I got rid of the St. Augustine grass that soaks up water like a sponge. I now have trees and bushes that shade and cool my home. I have many native plants that require little watering. Everything is mulched 2 to 3 inches throughout my yard so that water requirements are less. And as the mulch decomposes the soil is renourished. Some great mulch is free from the county. Certain plants and my garden, which require more water, are in one area, and these I hand water — no sprinklers that go on for hours and spread water where it is not needed. I also have a "rain barrel" to catch the water running off my roof when it does rain. My yard has become a haven for desirable wildlife. I use no pesticides except a soap solution if needed.
To have an environmentally friendly yard, check out your local university extension service for some great information.
Donald E. Longfellow, St. Petersburg
A sense of entitlement
Al Austin is symbolic of the attitude that is robbing this country of its natural resources: He feels entitled to use an excessive amount of water because he can afford it. So what if "Joe Six-Pack" (his term) is not allowed to wash his car or keep his driveway clean? After all, Austin needs to keep his property in "respectable shape" to the tune of 3.5 million gallons a year, while the rest of us are supposed to cut back.
I wonder if his sense of entitlement extends past the point where "Joe Six-Pack" is able to have water to drink. At minimum, he seems to expect us to feel sorry for him and the $2,500 he has spent on water bills this year.
I have a better suggestion. How about taking the water usage of the average home and doubling it? Anything past that is $1 per gallon — what it could cost to buy a gallon of drinking water for the rest of us when all of our supply is gone. If he can afford that, more power to him.
Heather Nichol, St. Petersburg
Our lawmakers abandon voters for special interests
After reading your powerful editorials on Republicans wanting to drill for oil 3 miles off our gulf beaches, Republicans refusing $444 million from Washington to help our state's unemployed workers (with the state unemployment rate at nearly 10 percent), and Republicans trying to deny many seniors the right to vote by not accepting their senior center photo IDs, I've got to ask, "Whom do our public officials represent?"
It's certainly not the millions of residents and tourists who enjoy our pristine beaches, and the businesses that benefit from tourism; it's not the unemployed Floridians who are struggling to buy groceries and hold on to their homes; and it's not seniors who have a photo ID for voting other than those issued by the department of motor vehicles.
The answer is simple: The Republicans represent special interests and lobbyists, including big oil, that bankroll their party, and have shown a callous disregard for those unemployed people who are suffering from the current economic crisis while placating their special interest benefactors.
We should remove them from office.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
State House passes looser growth regulations | April 30
Putting development first
People should recognize that a Republican Legislature that would eviscerate development laws and reject $444 million in aid for the unemployed does not care about the well-being of this state's citizens.
This realization should be highlighted by the example of Reps. Dave Murzin, a Realtor, and Chris Dorworth, a developer, who should be representing the citizens of their districts but in fact are representing the interests of development.
If these individuals truly cared about the long-term economic health of the state they would advocate efforts to bring high-tech industries to Florida, and they would do so to the exclusion of promoting development, not in addition to it.
The only people who benefit from a real estate boom are the developers, mortgage companies, investors and real estate brokers. When the bubble bursts, these people leave with their profits and the average citizens is left upside down in their home with a relatively small return, if any, on a 30-year investment.
And what are we left with when it's all over? Florida is destroyed by development: tract housing, condominiums and strip malls as far as the eye can see. It is no surprise that much of our population does not view Florida as their home. My family has lived here for more than 150 years and I struggle with the urge to leave daily.
Matt King, Tarpon Springs
State House passes looser growth regulations | April 30, story
Hidden tax increase
The Republican state House's vote for looser growth regulations was a vote to tax middle class Floridians in order to deregulate development and provide welfare to developers.
These handouts to campaign contributors mean that infrastructure costs that are not paid for by developers get passed on to those who live in the areas surrounding the unregulated development.
Thus the party that decries taxes in general has in effect voted to increase taxes.
Martin Peters, Tarpon Springs
Offshore oil production
State is missing out
Congratulations to the Florida House of Representatives for voting to approve oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. Other Gulf Coast states are reaping billions of dollars each year in fees and royalties to help pay for schools, infrastructure and assistance to underprivileged families.
Florida, meanwhile, has passed up such substantial benefits while buying into the unrealistic fears purveyed by environmental activist groups. Where are all the oil spills in other Gulf Coast states?
James M. Taylor, Parrish
Florida should contribute | April 29, letter
Worth the extra cost
Concerning the letter writer who believes if Floridians can't contribute to our nation's energy needs by allowing offshore drilling we should pay an extra $2 a gallon tax: I agree.
I would gladly pay that as opposed to ruining our environment with the small gains drilling would provide. Ultimately it is a much better solution since the money could be spent on mass transit and alternative energy sources — real long-term solutions not "Band-Aids" like more drilling.
Bill Fain, Clearwater
Next up: Ration health care | April 27, Charles Krauthammer column
Care already rationed
Charles Krauthammer writes that the inevitable result of President Barack Obama's national health care proposal would be rationing of health care. He conveniently fails to mention that health care has been rationed to U.S. citizens for nearly half a century using the wrong criteria: affordability and profit.
Inability to afford health insurance is the reason more than 40 million Americans don't have it. Our private health care insurers also drive medical decisions by approving some procedures and disapproving others based on cost, which equates to profit for them.
We need a health care program that makes affordable health care available to all and, yes, "rationed" based on reliable medical research and what's best for the patient. Our current system rations care based on who can afford it and what maximizes profits for the insurance industry.
John Ford, Dade City
How about we just give columnist Charles Krauthammer his own page in the Times called "what Barack Obama did wrong today." For a man with a degree in psychiatry, he seems to have figured how to fix the banking crisis, save the auto industry, reinvent Medicare and Medicaid and solve the medical insurance problem.
It is true that many nations with nationalized health care must ration to the most needy, or reduce or cap costs. But it is also true that no other nation looks at our health care system as a replacement for their own. If you don't think we ration, join one of the many iron-fisted HMOs that make even the sickest wait weeks for treatment.
America spends more dollars per capita on health care than all of these other nations and has less to show in the overall health of its people. Calling Obama's long-term plans a "social democratic agenda" is just more of the same from the ones who lost. You can't scare us anymore.
Ray Day, Spring Hill
To boost prescriptions, sling swag | April 7
Dedicated to relieving pain
I believe there is another side of the story that was not taken into consideration. As a migraine sufferer, I experienced the excruciating pain of migraines for seven years before finding Dr. Maria-Carmen Wilson. Dr. Wilson is a neurologist with extraordinary expertise.
Migraines are a serious medical issue directly impacting countless citizens. They can be so debilitating the sufferer is unable to perform rudimentary life functions. Until recently, the research on migraines was minimal. It is only due to the dedication of physicians such as Dr. Wilson that migraine sufferers now have the hope of a brighter, less painful future. How fortunate Tampa Bay is to have a physician of the caliber of Dr. Wilson.
I am grateful that Dr. Wilson has agreed to attend global conferences where the most recent facts concerning migraines are presented by the individuals who have conducted the research. I am grateful that Dr. Wilson is willing to investigate the pharmaceutical products as they are released into the market. I have the confidence of knowing Dr. Wilson is fully informed of the latest medical innovations when she is treating me.
Betsy Latiff, Crystal River
100 days in, Obama earns solid marks | April 30, editorial
A too lenient evaluation
The Times editorial staff must surely be grading on the curve. So far President Barack Obama's main efforts seem to be his re-election campaign. He is still spending most of his time finger-pointing at the previous administration while blowing the same smoke as his campaign promises.
His accomplishments thus far have been digging a financial hole beyond comprehension, taking over the auto and financial industries and hiring his left-wing, tax-evading cronies. He seems to have been on every TV program except Wheel of Fortune. Even the NCAA is not immune from his desire for control as his Congress thinks college football needs a playoff system to anoint a national champion.
Remember, C and D are also solid marks.
Don Niemann, Seminole
Reinstate assault weapons ban | April 28, commentary by Jimmy Carter
First, assault weapons are "selective fire." In other words, you can fire one round per trigger pull or flip a switch and empty the entire magazine with one trigger pull. These weapons are legal to own, but only after much paperwork, background checks, and a lot of money. They have been regulated since 1934 and not a single crime has been committed by a legally owned one since then. The weapons they are trying to ban are not selective fire, they are civilian, legal versions of assault weapons, which are only able to fire one round per trigger pull. They are used for hunting, target practice, competition and collecting. It is a federal crime to alter these weapons to make them selective fire.
Second, I've never seen a pistol, rifle, shotgun, or even a true assault weapon shoot anything by itself. It requires a person to pick it up and pull the trigger. So why aren't we enforcing the laws already in place and punishing the behavior and tracking down how lawbreakers got the weapon to begin with?
Lastly, the weapons they are recovering in Mexico and saying are from the United States are true assault weapons. The only way these weapons get into the wrong hands in Mexico is through other countries or from the Mexican military and police who receive assault weapons from the U.S. government. With all the corruption down there, is it any wonder how guns get "transferred" to the bad guys?
Common sense I can understand, but not reacting with a "knee-jerk" or panic response.
Kenneth Buck, Clearwater
Low-flying 747 frays nerves in NYC | April 28
More wasted money
So, some fool in the government decided it was a good idea to scare workers in lower Manhattan on Monday for a photo op, raising the fears of 9/11 all over again for no reason. Two things come to mind:
1. Has no one in the government ever heard of Photoshop or any of the hundreds of photo management software packages on the market? Would it not have been a little easier and less chilling to meld an existing picture of Air Force One with an existing picture of the Statue Of Liberty?
2. In these hard economic times, how much taxpayer money in jet fuel expense was incurred for this idiotic stunt, which could have been just as easily done by Photoshop? Note to Washington: Stop wasting our money.
Walter Korschek, Palm Harbor
Low-flying 747 frays nerves in NYC | April 28
Public could have helped
Why wasn't this flyover announced to the public? Air Force One will be flying over New York in the next day or two, so if you see a low flying 747, wave, take photos, send photos to the White House.
People would have waved flags, thousands would have taken photos— photos of Air Force One by citizens, what a concept. Better than Photoshop.
Linda Terrell, Dunedin