Boat speeds near manatees readjusted | March 16 and Baby osprey is home again | March 17
We must help fellow creatures
I believe there are lessons to be drawn by the juxtaposition of these two accounts related to the welfare of two species that inhabit our state.
The manatees come by the hundreds to the warm waters of King's Bay every winter. Their presence benefits the economies of Crystal River and its environs. Sadly, in our state many are injured or killed by boat props each year.
Enacting protections, such as lower speed limits or prop guards, is our moral responsibility, stewardship if you will, toward them as innocent animals unable to protect themselves. The provision of these safeguards does not "elevate nature above people," as claimed by tea party activists. It does demonstrate that we care about the welfare and survival of creatures that share the earth with us.
Perhaps you've caught the beautiful sight of an osprey, or "fish hawk," headed to the nest with a freshly caught fish in its beak. Efforts to protect the osprey by replacing nests destroyed by storms (or relocated out the way of power line construction) have been widely successful. The good folks in Weeki Wachee are to be applauded. They have exercised the stewardship of nature that we owe our resident species.
The successful protection of the osprey should encourage a redoubling of our efforts to protect the manatee.
R. Wayne Bowen, St. Petersburg
School officials don't buy reading program March 20
Right call for public schools
It is both reassuring and calming that the School Board of Pinellas County felt the calling to resist this pressure that was being levied on them. In no way do I feel the need to diminish a faith-based group or the message that it hopes to spread, but it is comforting to me to know that there remains an iota of the separation of church and state.
There are many factors to be considered as to why certain schools have less than stellar grades when it comes to reading, I do not believe that allowing this curriculum into the schools will improve these grades. This curriculum is certainly a good one for faith-based private schools, but it has no place in the public schools.
Mark L. Grantham, Gulfport
Obama sets gas prices? March 21 Robert B. Semple column
Some have HDD
Those who blame President Obama for high gas prices appear to be suffering from HDD — History Deficit Disorder. They forget that when the economy was booming, before the Great Recession, gas prices were about $4 a gallon and that was under Bush, with the Drill, Baby, Drill plan in effect.
The economy is now on the rebound. A price of $4 a gallon was already established in 2008 as the new norm in a growing economy.
Those Republicans who wish to return to lower gas prices of $2.50 a gallon are failing to mention that they will do so by returning to the policies that led to the Great Recession.
Only those with History Deficit Disorder believe that gas prices will get lower in a growing economy.
Martin Peters, Tarpon Springs
Accounts differ as Tasered man dies March 20
Why not aim Taser at a leg?
Since Florida has had 65 Taser-related deaths, obviously there is a problem with this weapon. Instead of jolting people with this deadly weapon in the chest or back, why don't they aim it at a leg? It seems irresponsible to shoot it at any part of the body that could trigger a heart attack.
As for it being less painful than pepper spray, I can't speak for anyone else, but I would much rather be temporarily blinded than dead.
Christine Jamesson, Clearwater
Republican National Convention
A forced week off
My company has decided to close during the week of Aug. 27-31 because of the security issues next to the convention center, forcing employees to use their own paid time off. They also are not allowing us to work late to bank time. Is this fair? No! Most of us have families to support, doctor appointments and sick kids that already use the small PTO we earn through the year. We can't afford to miss a week's paycheck either. I think the RNC needs to provide funding to the citizens it is putting out. How can Tampa say that bringing the RNC is a good thing by boosting the local economy when it's really putting us out and further in debt!
Rebecca Roberts, Tampa
Nearly billed out of a home
It used to be the "American Dream" to own your own home. Well, here in Florida it has become the "American Nightmare." Not only are our houses underwater, but the insurance is costing more than our mortgage. I just got my FEMA flood insurance bill and my homeowner's insurance bill. The homeowner's bill went up another $497 a year, with a higher deductible on hurricane damage. My FEMA flood insurance bill went from $313 to $1,324, and I live in a neighborhood far from the gulf.
I am a Republican, but I am getting embarrassed to even say that. Those people up in Tallahassee are to blame. We are going to see a whole lot more foreclosures in Florida. It's not worth it anymore, and I personally am about ready to walk away. I have a feeling a lot more people, when they get their insurance bills, will do the same. Our governor and Legislature would be well advised, as with our gas prices, to rein in this absurdity!
Lisa Fackender, Spring Hill
Parents flexing political muscle | March 20
Raise status of teaching
I was delighted to see that parent groups successfully fought the "parent trigger" bill endorsed by politicos like Jeb Bush. As a parent and former teacher, I would never have sent my kids to a charter school or homeschooled them. I'd want them to have the best education a public school could provide.
The way to improve education is not through competition — it's through raising the status of these public servants much higher in society, as is done in Asian schools. That way over time, you attract the best and brightest to the profession. There's no substitute for that route to improve schools. We know that "tried and true" method works.
Andy Reeves, St. Petersburg