Survey finds 4,831 manatees | Feb. 7
Protect manatees from pollution
Manatees are my favorite aquatic animals, so this article reporting high survey counts was a great read. I believe that we can coexist with manatees, and that doing so does not require much from us. All we have to do is avoid dumping our pollution into their habitat. Power plants need to be especially wary of this, since the manatees are drawn to the warm water they discharge.
Each of us can take pride in disposing of our waste in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. Unfortunately, industrial polluters can still use nonnavigable waterways that feed into the manatee's habitat as their dumping grounds. We must urge the Environmental Protection Agency to propose a rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways.
Danny Fry, Gainesville
Officers: Teens run wild | Feb. 11
A change is overdue
On reading the sheriff's statistics on the number of ejections and arrests of students on the first Fridays at the Florida State Fair, one must conclude that the Hillsborough County school system has no choice but to discontinue the tradition of canceling classes on that day.
The total of 296 ejections and 31 arrests through 2014 is a sad commentary on allowing students to roam the fairgrounds, free of charge, to potentially molest and rob paying patrons, disrupt businesses and overwhelm security with their disorderliness and fisticuffs.
Although the fair is officially a state-sponsored event, in actuality the activities are mainly a private enterprise of gaming, rides and vendors selling food. This in no way aligns itself with the precepts of a tax-supported, public institution like the Hillsborough school system.
There are certainly more noble and worthwhile reasons to be considered for closing schools rather than the one that has led to these sad and disgraceful episodes on the first Fridays of the Florida State Fair.
Earl A. Myers Jr., Tampa
NFL hopeful reveals he is gay | Feb. 10
Keep private life private
Michael Sam's "Look at Me, I'm a Gay Football Player" tour has brought him a lot of attention: news conferences, shout-outs from the White House, probably some interesting endorsement deals in his future. But wouldn't it be better if he just played the game and piped down about his private life?
Being gay isn't a crime. It's not a mental illness. It's merely a genetically mapped preference. That's why it simply doesn't deserve the attention that some of its advocates demand.
How embarrassing was talking about sex with your parents? How much more awkward was that talk with your kids? It was difficult because it's the ultimate private matter. But Michael Sam wants to share his sexuality with teammates, employers, fans, friends, family, adults and children. Frankly, I don't care to hear it. Just play the game, Michael. Do your job.
David Fraser, Clearwater
Test scheduling unfair
Although it could have done otherwise, the Pinellas school system has scheduled the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test during the Jewish holiday of Passover this year.
This is unfair to our children and the Jewish community in general as Passover is celebrated with Seders on the first two nights, which are religious services around a traditional meal that normally ends quite late. At a time when children should get a good night's sleep before FCAT, those who go to school will be up later than usual, putting them at an unfair disadvantage. Additionally, many Conservative and all Orthodox children observe the first two days of Passover and do not attend school, nor do their parents work.
Granted, children who miss the testing can take a make-up, but they will be singled out because of their religion. My son will be in a room all day, missing assignments and class instruction just because he observed his religious beliefs.
Florida has a law that a student cannot be penalized for observing his or her religion. I ask the school board: Isn't this penalizing Jewish students?
Lori H. Lampert, Clearwater
Leading edge of legalization
The push to get medical marijuana on the ballot has little to do with the medical part of the issue. I was asked via email to sign the petition a few months ago. Wanting to read the verbiage, I clicked the link and was directed to a list of supporters and locations where to sign. Interestingly, there wasn't a legitimate doctor, medical facility or hospital on the list. Who did make the list? Nightclubs and bars, tattoo parlors, liquor stores, smoke shops, pain clinics (and we really trust those guys, don't we?), several individuals and of course our friendly "we the people" attorney. Enough said.
Janice Smith, Tierra Verde
High times for lawyers | Feb. 11, letter
Relief from pain
The letter writer forgot about the fifth "entity" who would benefit from legalized medical marijuana: the injured, ill and infirm who would get some relief from their pain.
My daughter has had all of the drugs available yet suffers every day from a tragic auto accident. Her doctor says she would definitely benefit from marijuana, but she lives in Ohio and it is not legal there.
I am tired of hearing people say that the drug will be abused, that some people will become addicted and so on. People who want to use or abuse the drug have been getting it illegally for decades and will continue to do so.
Do you remember that alcohol was once illegal? My folks told stories of bootleggers, "bathtub gin," and people driving across the frozen Detroit River to Canada to buy booze. Some did become alcoholics and some died. However, when the selling of alcohol was legalized not everyone became addicted. Not everyone drank or to excess. So stop crying wolf.
Alice Hershberger, Brooksville
Wrong-way driver ID'd | Feb. 12
Devices causing severe tire damage should be placed on Interstate highway off ramps to prevent wrong-way traffic. This would reduce the number and severity of these types of accidents.
Richard Eldridge, St. Petersburg