Builders await Crist's pen | May 25, story
Ambition is governor's only value
Who is the real Charlie Crist? Or should I rather ask: Is there a real Charlie Crist? I guess the right answer is: No, there isn't. Weather vane Charlie Crist has no personal opinion, only personal political ambitions. He merely fluctuates with the political winds. I suppose his favorite word is: "But," as in: I'm for it, but … Or: I'm against it, but … He always leaves a door ajar, in case the wind turns.
His positive ratings are puzzling to me, and speak a lot about Floridians' "good" sense, as I still don't know what good he did during his short cameo impersonating a governor. But I do know what he did not do: govern. He abandoned the power into the hands of an ultra-right-wing House, left over from the ultra-right-wing previous governor, Jeb Bush, who sold, or should I say, gave away Florida to greedy and self-concerned Big Business.
And now, before slipping away to try other grazing meadows, Crist is about to condone the devastation of our environment by signing a devastating law, the latest Republican gift to Earth spoilers and GOP donors.
When will Floridians decide that enough is enough? Could 2010 be the year of our enlightenment? I hope, I hope — but I keep my fingers crossed.
Simon Agmann, St. Petersburg
Veto is needed
We already have major water shortages and other problems that will be further aggravated by uncontrolled building.
After the damning conclusion by the Sansom grand jury, our so-called representatives are proving that they really don't care what the voters think. Only money talks to them.
I am not a retiree and have my own small company, which would probably be helped by this growth management bill, but I can't sit by and watch what's left of native Florida be totally trashed by unrestricted building.
I know that Gov. Charlie Crist needs the dollars to get elected but, as a real Florida native, I believe not vetoing the growth management bill will cost him more than just the votes of me and my wife. Think about it, please.
David and Jean Duff, Pinellas Park
Old Florida lost to overdevelopment May 26, letter
With effort, we can restore some of natural Florida
The letter writer should know that all is not lost. Just as we have destroyed Florida's natural beauty, we can bring it back again, if we have the will.
Nothing man builds lasts forever. As buildings age and we tear them down, we can replace them with environmentally friendly structures that blend with the natural environment and surround them with native landscaping.
Why keep cramming people into waterfront high rises so they're sitting ducks for the next hurricane? That's so 40 years ago.
Let's be smarter this time and build fewer structures on our coasts. Instead of paving the state, let's stop building in our rural and coastal areas. We can buy land that goes up for sale and allow it to return to its natural state. We can clean up polluted water, soil and air and bring back the wildlife. We can replace roads and cars with mass transportation. The tourists will love it.
To do this, government, business and citizens will have to work together toward the common goal of a better Florida. We will have to simplify our lifestyles and make do with reduced tax revenues.
But we have a choice: more high rises, traffic and pollution, or sea breezes, nature preserves and beach cottages? We can repeat the mistakes of the past or find a new and better way for the future.
Liz Drayer, Clearwater
Florida builders poised to pounce | April 19
Until this state upgrades its infrastructure to support the population we currently have, it has no right to build another 630,000 homes that would add as many as another 2.5 million people to consume water that we don't have enough of now, electricity that can't keep up with the current demand, sewer systems to process waste, additional garbage that would overwhelm current disposal locations, and the extra lanes in our highway system to handle approximately 1.2 million additional cars.
Just say no.
Dolly Tickell, Gulfport
Does that tomato have a permit? | May 26, Howard Troxler column
Making gardens grow
Howard Troxler's column concerning St. Petersburg's proposed zoning for community gardens was naturally funny. Unfortunately, it was not particularly accurate. As the City Council member who worked for several months to work out the details of this proposal, I would like to share the rest of the story.
Currently, community gardens are not legal in the city. The garden that exists was allowed as a temporary exemption. We are trying to encourage community gardens by allowing them in all zoning districts.
Usually, a zoning change application is $900. Staff worked out a way to cut this to $50. All zoning changes in Pinellas County's most densely populated city require the notification of the immediate neighbors. This does as well.
Since gardens may exist on very small lots, there are provisions to deal with parking and noise issues. Frankly, would Troxler want this if it was next door to his home?
The organizer of the gardens was satisfied with the proposed ordinance. Several other community gardens are under discussion. Also, a number of groups are considering asking to use city-owned lots, and we will work that out as well.
Community gardens will spread across the city bringing healthy food, helping people save money and building a sense of community. I realize the rest of the story is not as funny.
Karl Nurse, City Council, St. Petersburg
For Fla. lobbyists, what recession? | May 26, story
After reading the article on the lobbyists, I thought: Did we not hire, by the election process, our own lobbyists (legislators)? Do we not pay them? So we elect representatives to work for "we the people," and then someone else or an organization or company, like AT&T, steps into the equation and spreads lots of money around to influence my lobbyist. Whose best interests are the representatives serving? Do the legislators now work for "we the companies" and put "we the people" on the back burner? I'm confused.
I am told there are 2,000 lobbyists in Tallahassee. That would equal 2,000 distractions from doing business for "we the people" who elected (hired) them.
Maybe a better solution might be to fire all the state legislators and let the lobbyists make all the decisions. Or, let's make lobbying illegal as being a conflict of interests for legislators. I know there is some law about allowing lobbying, but I know I did not have a chance to vote for or against it. Did you? I bet the legislators did.
Let's put it to a vote, by us citizens, of course.
Jeffrey G. Mikres, Palm Harbor
The civil and the sacred
The solution to this problem is so simple: A civil union should be one that provides state-sanctioned rights to couples, including insurance benefits, rights of inheritance, etc. Any couple — regardless of gender — should be entitled to apply for and receive the state's protection of their relationship under the law.
Marriage, on the other hand, begins with civil union and its protections, but adds benefits conferred by a religious body, if such benefits are desired. But marriage is a ultimately a spiritual issue, not a civil one and should be regulated by the churches, not the state.
If churches refuse to marry gay people, then gay people can formalize their civil union in a ceremony provided by the law of their state.
As Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."
Barbara Escher, Tampa