Boat slams jetty, tossing 9 out | May 27
Reduce speed for night boating
There is no doubt that this boat's operator and his passengers are lucky to be alive. Hopefully he and the readers came away with this lifesaving lesson: When boating at night near shore, stay in the marked channels and reduce your speed.
I have been boating for about 30 years, 12 here in the Tampa Bay area. Whenever we are night boating, we reduce our speed by half, even in the marked channels. We also post a "spotlighter" in front of the captain whose job is to continually sweep the water with a hand-held spotlight for any unexpected obstacles. Over the years we have seen it all: floating tree trunks, pallets, unmarked posts, manatees, kayakers, etc.
There is so much water and shoreline out there, and not everything can be marked and lit. It is the captain's job to use extra caution at night and slow down to ensure the safety of his passengers and others on the water.
Mike Olson, St. Petersburg
Punished for her stance | May 28
For developers' benefit
This article serves as a stark reminder of the state in which we live. Connie Bersok is, by all apparent evidence, an exemplary employee of the Department of Environmental Protection and a wetlands expert who was doing her job.
The trouble is, here in Florida, the rules are written for the benefit and enrichment of developers. How dare anyone try to inject real science and expertise into the equation? That would only hinder those who seek to profit here.
Until Floridians tire of this nothing will change, and real scientists like Bersok — as well as Florida's environment — will end up the loser.
Ronald Thuemler, Tampa
What are they protecting?
What exactly is the Department of Environmental Protection protecting? Certainly not Florida's beautiful springs and wetlands. Gov. Rick Scott's blatant disregard for Florida's natural treasures is just another example of his determination to cater only to businesses that benefit his friends.
How many jobs has the Highlands Ranch Mitigation Bank provided for jobless Floridians? It is past time for Floridians to stand up and protect our state from the likes of Scott. Save Florida from further destruction. Time is running out.
Melinda Galaher, St. Pete Beach
Vets' disability claims soar | May 28
Not worth an American life
The enormous anger I feel every time I see a picture of another wounded soldier is hard to put into words. Why we continue to sacrifice our young men and women in these senseless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan defies logic.
The lifelong challenges faced by these maimed and wounded veterans and their families are hard to contemplate. The billions of dollars wasted on these wars are mind-boggling considering our growing national debt.
Hardly a day passes without a headline of a bombing with military personnel and civilians killed or wounded, and the perpetrators often turn out to be our "allies," security forces or police we trained.
The countries where we are fighting don't want us there. They will continue their tribal and factional ways regardless of our efforts. Let them fight their own battles and not waste one more American life.
Barbara Cabrera, Beverly Hills
Original family feud | May 27
Poor location choice
While enjoying this article about Kevin Costner and "the quintessential American story" of the Hatfields and McCoys, I was stopped in my tracks when I read that the film was shot entirely in Romania. This was obviously something the producers and stars wished we had never found out. I'm glad it saved them some bucks with tax breaks.
Appalachia is among the poorest areas in the United States and sure could have used the infusion of film crews and all the supporting personnel and services that are needed for such a film.
What a slap in the face to us all.
Sandy Moore, Wesley Chapel
Concerns go well beyond birth control May 27, commentary
Drawing the line
St. Petersburg Bishop Robert N. Lynch argues that the government should not force his church to provide something for its employees that is against its teaching and beliefs. He goes on to ask, "Where does a denomination, a church, draw the line in allowing government to define what is legitimately church ministry?"
Lynch is correct, and the Constitution clearly states that there should be separation of church and state. This allows the churches to carry on their ministry as they see fit. However, there are already laws on the books in all states that do not allow this freedom of religion.
There are religions that allow men to have multiple wives, for example. But 40 states have passed amendments to their constitutions and laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman. And no state allows polygamy. Are these laws not an infringement of these denominations?
In states that allow same-sex marriage, there are denominations that are performing these marriages. Again the one man and one woman definition of marriage infringes on these churches to carry out their ministry in the states that have adopted this marriage definition.
I hope that the bishop and his colleagues are successful in clarifying where the government can and cannot dictate its beliefs on religious denominations. I also hope that this decision sets a precedent that not only affects birth control but all facets of religious freedom.
Dennis Blaha, Tampa
36,000 face retention | May 25
Lengthen school year
With regard to the recent decline in reading scores, I suspect that it is a direct result of the amount of time spent teaching that subject. A partial solution would be to lengthen the school year by four weeks (with additional compensation to teachers) for the sole instruction of reading and reading comprehension. I believe that improved scores in other subjects would also occur.
Witness my experience in Flushing, N.Y., where there was an influx of Koreans some 30 years ago. The children attended city schools Monday to Friday but were required to attend three-hour sessions on Saturday in the study of math and science, taught by volunteers from their own community. Their scores were always higher in comparison to other students in New York City.
Rudy Skolnik, Clearwater