House passes fiscal deal | Jan. 2
Remember them at election time
I trust that no one in Washington is taking any credit or satisfaction for this last-minute reprieve from the cliff.
The performance of Congress, the president and the media has been and will continue to be regarded as a study in juvenile bickering, blind party loyalty and despicable self-serving. And failing to consider the Hurricane Sandy aid bill was absolutely beyond comprehension.
Whether you are Republican, Democrat or independent, I urge you to keep these last weeks fresh in your memory at least until it's time to vote again in 2014. None of these "public servants" of either party deserve to be re-elected. The long-term damage they have done to this country will be felt for decades or perhaps longer.
Michael P. Catalano, Palm Harbor
Rubio's disaster aid vote | Jan. 2, letter
Clear bill of pork
A letter writer suggested that Sen. Marco Rubio's "no" vote on the Sandy aid bill was a reflection of Republican apathy and a me-first mentality. The truth is, the bill presented was loaded with unnecessary pork having nothing to do with hurricane relief. I view Rubio's action as one protecting the taxpayer and not as being uncaring and unfeeling.
I'm sure he would vote yes on an unadulterated bill intended for the purpose of helping hurricane victims.
Joan P. Comitos, Palm Harbor
Ready for light rail progress | Jan. 2, editorial
Light rail isn't only option
This editorial communicates a foregone conclusion that this is our only option for a regional transportation system. I agree that a modern transportation system for our region would be beneficial to residents and visitors alike, but light rail limits moving people between fixed locations — without serving the entire county. This would take years and cost billions.
We need a modern transportation system that is flexible, efficient and affordable. The county should consider leasing bus routes to private bus companies that run their buses on CNG fuel. This will allow competitive pricing, flexible routes, variable-sized vehicles and low environmental impact — all at no cost to taxpayers.
Bus lanes could be established. Passenger loading could be adjusted for countywide events and venues such as to beaches, museums, sports events and to and from taverns, reducing DUI on our roads.
If our leaders keep an open mind and use their imagination, this issue could be solved to benefit all.
Ken Gagliano, Clearwater
A regional approach
I lived in Baltimore when that city was contemplating a light rail system, which just happened to coincide with the need of building of a new baseball park for the Orioles. For me, it's deja vu all over again.
Build a ballpark for the Rays just north of Tampa and St. Petersburg. In phase one, both cities build a light rail system from their downtown/business centers to the park so they connect. In phase two, Tampa builds a connection to the airport and St. Petersburg to a hub on the Gulf Coast with trolleys servicing various beaches.
With this plan businesses connect, St. Petersburg can get to the airport, Tampa can get to the gulf beaches, and everyone gets the Rays.
Initial costs will be expensive, but in the long run worth it.
Paul Smith, Kenneth City
Stray bullet hits woman | Jan. 2
Trace bullets to owners
It seems that a simple solution to track errant bullets back to the owner would be to put numbers on all ammo and keep records on whom it was sold to. Of course, it would be a fight to overpower the NRA on this simple method to ensure responsibility.
Overall, crime rates are dropping because the perpetrators are finally realizing that with all the video surveillance bad deeds come with swift penalties.
James Teske, Tampa
If you simply must fire a gun in celebration, please have the good sense to fire it into the ground, not into the air. What goes up must come down; but not the other way around.
Jim Tight, Palm Harbor
New Year's nuisance
I think it is time to stop allowing fireworks in residential areas. First of all, what is the fun of lighting a little wrapped package of gunpower and having it go boom and doing it over and over? This New Year's Eve my neighborhood was loaded with loud bangs and booms. It keeps the elderly awake and scares the pets. Our cat was terrified all evening. I went out and the air was heavy with the smell of gunpowder. It was disgusting.
My question is: Why can't an isolated park or area away from homes be provided for these adults (still acting like children) to go and shoot off their fireworks until they are satisfied, and not be a bother to others?
George Grodesky, Port Richey
Forge a Florida identity | Jan. 1, commentary
Protect the environment
As the titular head of a group of some 100 seniors who belong to our state chapter of the national nonprofit organization Great Old Broads for Wilderness, I confront daily the difficulties of diversity David Colburn considers in this article.
I doubt even a third of our group is made up of native Floridians, yet these older folks, including a number of snowbirds, have taken the time to learn and care about our natural environment and our issues, especially overdevelopment. We help with river, parks and coast cleanups. We bird-sit native summer nesters. We help rehab trails and generally support all attempts to maintain what's left of Florida.
Currently, we're helping to petition to resurrect the once-popular Florida Forever plan — organized by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service — that used a percentage of Florida document taxes to manage state-owned wilderness and park areas. Our current so-called leaders tossed that important responsibility.
It's time we check the identities of those running for office, state and local. If they don't know a native plant from a power plant, they have no place in our state.
JoAnn Valenti, Tampa