Where the grass is always greener | March 19, story
Fairness is going down the drain
To all of the area officials who are now espousing further watering restrictions at a time when such unbelievable disparities exist between all of us down here in the real world and the Fat Cats as described in your article: Just stop right there!
Am I to understand that one house is allowed to use enough of our precious water to fill my swimming pool (if I had a swimming pool) every day for a year? I ask you: Where is the fairness?
I note that on the same page was a story about AIG, yet another situation in which the rest of us were expected to toe the line while the superrich plundered the system. Those responsible for the looting of our treasures, whether they be financial or natural resources, should be held accountable, and I might add, so should those who allowed them to do so.
I call on the citizens of the Tampa Bay area to stand up and be counted. Do not let these inequities continue. Let's hold all of the offenders accountable, whether they are the extravagant users or the uncaring and clueless officials who allow them to get way with this.
Charles Edwards, Tampa
Put thirsty people first
Pathetic! Your front-page article Thursday said that Don Wallace "used more than 6 million gallons of water at his Bayshore Boulevard mansion last year, enough to fill the average backyard swimming pool every day for a year."
Wake up! For years water has been wasted and nothing has been done. Give up your sodded yards and million-dollar landscaping and switch to xeriscaping. Or here's a thought: For those who can afford a $1,000 monthly water bill, fine them that much each month and use the money to put in reclaimed water systems everywhere or to get the desalination facility running correctly.
I would much rather have a glass of water to drink than a green lawn!
Kandi Byrd, Tampa
Stop the waste
I'd like to know what can be done so these "highbrow" people will cut their water usage. Though it isn't against the law right now, the fact that water levels are diminishing every day makes this a high priority for every person in this state, and it seems criminal to allow these people to continue this waste.
While I would probably be considered a "person of the slums" because I live in a house worth less than a quarter of a million dollars, I focus on saving water at every turn, as well as recycling.
Though I live outside your area, I'm troubled by this atrocious waste and cringe when I think of poor folks having to buy water when these people run the reservoirs dry.
Linda Allen, Beverly Hills
Investigate these users
Do you realize that Don Wallace's home is using more than 16,000 gallons of water each day? They have a problem, either a big leak or watering the property every day.
Our condo complex in St. Petersburg has 30 units, 80 bathrooms, a pool and spa. We use just a little less than 1 million gallons a year.
They should investigate these homes that you mentioned in your article.
Bob Weber, St. Petersburg
Determine normal use
In your story, Brad Baird of the Tampa Water Department said that just because these people are "high irrigators doesn't automatically translate into they're breaking the rules." This left me wanting more of an explanation from him as to how it means rules aren't being broken.
Do water departments look at the high users monthly or do they just wait to be questioned by the media? Apparently the residents in your story don't look at their monthly bills to catch a problem and fix it (i.e., a leak) because of their wealth.
I would like to see a comparison of what a house with a certain number of bathrooms, showers, pools, etc., with a certain number of people living there and irrigating as directed are expected to use. Then compare it to actual usage. Surely this could be done and then expose those who perhaps aren't following the rules.
Kim Viverette, Clearwater
A simple step
With all the talk and concern about watering and wasting water, why not make it mandatory that all developments with common areas be required to stop watering? That would be of some assistance and a very simple one to implement.
Also, I think it is foolhardy for the state Legislature to even think of trying to make it easier on developers. That is how we have gotten in this mess today. There are too many empty buildings and houses now.
Llewellyn Denny, Safety Harbor
The pool problem
Your editorial Tuesday on toughening curbs on water use by residents fails to mention the thousands of swimming pools that require large amounts water. Not only is the initial fill of an average size pool more than most families would use in a month, but in Florida's summer heat they also must be refilled often to function properly.
What we are experiencing now is the result of many years of uncontrolled growth and greed. I will stop washing my car once a week when you empty your pool.
Max Loden, St. Petersburg
Cost recovery for nuclear plants benefits everyone | March 14
Nuclear plants not good for customers or the planet
I must take exception to Barney Bishop's contention that "cost recovery for nuclear plants benefits everyone." The 2006 act of the Florida Legislature that allows Progress Energy to start billing customers 10 years in advance for nuclear plants that may never be built (Progress gets to keep the money either way) could be justified only if no alternatives existed (but they do).
The alleged "wisdom" of that act is questionable, given the judgment of both the credit market and the insurance industry that nuclear power is too risky (vs. "clean and safe"). Bishop's description of nuclear power as "emissions-free" overlooks the fact that it continuously produces waste that remains deadly for thousands of years after the plant and the company that built it have ceased to exist.
Building new nuclear plants here will not "ensure a prosperous future" for anyone (with the possible exception of Progress Energy). Construction will provide temporary jobs and tax revenue, leaving a few hundred permanent jobs.
The fact that investment in renewable energy is just beginning here is not an argument for beginning new investments in nuclear plants. All nuclear plants have to be "decommissioned" and totally replaced when they become too radioactive to continue operating (30-50 years) which means a huge recurring expense (starting from scratch, building new plants).
Contrary to Bishop's assertion, the alternative to nuclear is not "to leave Florida increasingly dependent on fossil fuels." The alternative to nuclear is to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, by legislating policy changes on both the state and federal levels (e.g., Gov. Charlie Crist's Renewable Portfolio Standard, Gainesville's feed-in tariff, and decoupling utility profits from the amount of electricity they sell).
Thomas Eppes, Largo
Cost recovery for nuclear plants benefits everyone | March 14, commentary
Don't pay in advance
I strongly oppose the piece by Barney Bishop where he said essentially that it was good for ratepayers to pay up front for a new nuclear power facility that would not come online for 10 years (if then). That is like asking someone to buy a Ferrari, pay for it now and we'll let you drive it in 10 years. If you would go for that proposal, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.
Utilities are investor-owned. Perhaps the stockholders should be asked for the money to enhance their vested interests. As a former manager with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters in Bethesda, Md., I know a little about the business and, yes, it is safe.
It is also horribly expensive, and accidents happen. I went to Three Mile Island. Don't buy the Ferrari unless you walk off the lot with the keys.
John C. Carr, Esq., Palm Harbor
Cost recovery for nuclear plants benefits everyone | March 14
Nuclear is too risky
If nuclear plants benefit everyone and are such a good deal, as Barney Bishop writes, then why won't the for-profit utilities, especially Progress Energy Florida, recruit their own investors, banks and Wall Street institutions to ante up?
Why are Bishop, the Associated Industries of Florida CEO, and the mostly for-profit utilities asking consumers to pay the early fees and take the risk? Because building a nuclear facility in America is still very risky. Ask the residents of Harrisburg, Pa., via the Three Mile Island accident. Ask the residents of Sacramento, Calif., who shut its Rancho Seco facility down due to high costs. The Levy County plant's projected costs will be $17 billion!
Ask most Americans who are concerned about the safety of living near nuclear reactors, and also about potential damage to the air, water and land. What about the vulnerability to a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant, or the guarding, transporting and depositing of nuclear waste? Alternative power via solar, wind, biomass and water are developing at a rapid pace, and should be cheaper, quicker and safer than uranium production.
Brian Moore, Spring Hill
Alternatives come up short
It is a myth that alternative energy sources such as wind and solar will eventually replace conventional generation if only we show the courage and willpower to get it done. It cannot and will not, and here is why: Picture a hot, muggy night when the wind is still and everyone wants to run their air conditioners. Conventional sources must fulfill the entire demand while alternatives stand by and do everything they would otherwise do if they had never been built. The conventional backup must be capable of satisfying the full peak demand.
So here is the choice. Do we want to build one generator or two to satisfy the same unit of demand? Nature offers us vast amounts of energy spread out over large areas over long periods of time. We require intense amounts of energy during brief intervals within a small space, e.g. cooking and air conditioning. Square peg, round hole. Until we develop the means to store vast amounts of energy, no degree of technology or willpower will conquer this fundamental dilemma.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Denmark has built thousands of windmills but has not retired even one conventional power plant. The alternative energy experiment we propose has already been conducted and the results are in. If we want clean, cheap, reliable energy that does not depend on foreign sources, then we must go nuclear. To solve the nuclear waste problem, we should follow the lead of France and resume the reprocessing of spent fuel which has been stalled since the Ford administration. Other than hydroelectric dams, nuclear is the only clean alternative there is.
William L. Bassett, Clearwater
Beyond its purview | March 13, letter
The letter writer asks where in the Constitution is it written that a limited government gets to make life a little better as it does by earmarking funds to control pig odors?
Sure pig odors make an easy target, but the underlying values conservatives ignore in their diatribes against government activism is that, in addition to "provid(ing) for the common defense" — which gets more than enough "providing for" from right-wing congressmen and defense contractors — the Preamble of the Constitution enumerates five other essential principles.
In fact, "defense" doesn't make the top three spots. Those go to "form(ing) a more perfect Union, establish(ing) Justice," and "insur(ing) domestic Tranquility." The Founding Fathers wrapped it up with "promot(ing) the general Welfare, secur(ing) the Blessing of Liberty" — and guaranteeing the right to obscene levels of wealth. Oh, wait, that last one's not in the Constitution. It's in the Republican Party platform.
H. Martin Moore, Largo
Downfall of a sex slave ring | March 15
Abolish human trafficking
Kudos to Jonathan Abel for the expose of human trafficking right here in the Tampa Bay area. While his story documented sexual slavery, both domestic servitude and field labor have also been the destiny of many of those unfortunate enough to believe the lies of their captors that their work in the United States will buy them freedom.
The work of Clearwater Police Department's James McBride and his task force has been a model for similar task forces at all levels of government. In addition, Nicholas Kristof has documented the horror of sexual slavery in Southeast Asia, and Bill Maxwell has focused on migrant workers. Organizations such as mine, Zonta International, join with World Relief and other nongovernmental organizations to inform everyone that slavery is not dead. Stopping human trafficking is the new abolitionist movement.
Paulette Kevlin, president, Top of the Bay Zonta, Palm Harbor
Tobacco hike hits early | March 13
Jobs will suffer
During these trying times I find it shocking that the federal government would endanger the American-owned tobacco companies and the hard-working American workers who are employed by them!
This latest huge tax increase will likely have a record number of smokers quitting. Along with that, more Americans can lose their jobs. And if many smokers quit, the tax revenue may go down. Then, who will they go after, the American wine growers?
If you want sin tax revenue, then let's tax people based upon their weight. When people weigh more, they are more likely to require more health care.
Anita DeBias, Port Richey