Big vision for Skyway's south end | Feb. 13
Shoreline project ugly, unneeded
This proposed development is by any objective measure an ugly idea and needs to be terminated. Our natural shoreline is important for the commercial and sports fishing industries as well as our tourist business. These segments of Florida's economy do not need this type of commercial shoreline development.
The first aquatic preserves established by the Florida Legislature were Boca Ciega Bay in 1969 and subsequently Pinellas County. This was done because Pinellas County had become a national example for how not to dredge and fill.
Ironically, the developer's name for this new waterfront development, Skyway Preserve, is an oxymoron. Let's save the Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve not only as a concept, but also as a reality for Florida's fishing and visitor industries.
Roger H. Wilson, Seminole
Stadium not doing its part
My wife and I are Buccaneers season ticket holders. Every year we witness the lack of recycling initiatives at Raymond James Stadium. Other Tampa sports venues, such as Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, are successful in their environmental practices. The Bucs' staff initially responded by deferring stadium issues to the Tampa Sports Authority. TSA, in turn, referred us back to the Bucs.
We were told that based on TSA observations, 20 percent of stadium visitors are aware and actively look for recycling containers; 60 percent will recycle if a recycling container is close; and the remaining 20 percent don't recycle. The current stadium initiatives are restricted to isolated general seating areas and are grossly inadequate.
I do not believe the Bucs organization should have to wait for fans or the public to convince them to recycle before they do something about it. That should be their civic duty and responsibility. In addition, I do not believe the Tampa Sports Authority is standing up in their civic role to support this recycling initiative at the stadium. They should play a larger role in developing a solution.
Dan Fisher, Tampa
Obama aide dismisses budget plan criticism Feb. 13
U.S. borrowing crisis
Looking at the front page this week, I gasped at the financial crisis in Greece, the rioting over austerity measures and the need for another $170 billion in rescue funds.
I said to myself that I hope this can't happen here, but then I turned the page and read in the very same edition that President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Jacob Lew, was dismissing criticism by Republicans who say the numbers in the Obama budget plan don't add up. And they don't.
The bottom line is that we're going to have to borrow money too, from China, or print more money we don't have, and before long we'll be in the same shape as Greece and upside down in our mortgage payments to China.
Lew can skew the numbers all he wants, but that isn't going to change the dim outlook, with a projected $1.33 trillion deficit this year and an additional $901 billion budget gap in 2013.
Ray Brown, Tampa
While taking the trash out this week, I noticed that my neighbor was flying his American flag upside down. I consider him a connoisseur of flag etiquette, so I knew this wasn't sloppy flagmanship.
When I called to get an explanation, I was impressed with the response. "It is a call for distress when the U.S. flag is flown upside down. Each year, when the Florida Legislature is in session I fly the flag upside down. When the session ends, I flip it over."
I admire the understated civility of the statement. It isn't the pot-banging rant that has become so common. It is one citizen exercising his freedom of speech with one of the great symbols of that right. I think I need to get a flagpole.
Greg Belew, St. Petersburg
It's simple to register
I followed the debate over Florida's new voter registration requirements — particularly the one requiring new registration after an address change. Commentators have stated repeatedly that this will "disenfranchise" voters by placing an undue burden on them.
My wife was at the public library the other day and, by chance, found herself face to face with a voter registration worker who was helping people verify their voter information. As she had not changed her address from her mother's, she decided to see how difficult the process was.
When she got home she related her experience to me. It was one of the easiest things she had ever done. She received her new voter registration card in the mail a mere three days later.
People who claim they are "disenfranchised" by this requirement are just plain lazy.
Richard Kohls, Pinellas Park
Senate lame duck still squawking Feb. 14, Daniel Ruth column
Right on target
Reading Daniel Ruth is usually good for making my teeth hurt and getting my blood pressure up, but he was dead on target with this column regarding Lake Wales poltroon JD Alexander. No wonder people joke about "Flori-duh."
David Little, Clearwater
Antiquated tax system
At times it is truly hard to fathom how rapidly technology is transforming our lives. What a difference a decade makes. America's appetite for digital services is unquenchable, and content providers are scrambling to meet the demand. This is no small feat, which is why it is crucial that the laws regulating digital services don't interfere or hinder this steady stream of progress.
Currently, Florida's Communications Services Tax is over 10 years old. This may not seem old for a tax, but when you also consider that this tax functions as a regulation on technology, it is downright ancient. The tax made sense when communications came largely over phone and cable lines, but now digital information and entertainment comes to us through multiple channels. However, the CST indiscriminately taxes consumers on some but not others.
For example, Amazon and Netflix provide movies and TV programming through the Web, and such purchases incur no tax through CST. But other providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, are required to collect the CST on consumers for these services, hurting the consumer.
Inadvertently then, Florida is picking winners and losers in the marketplace. This unintended consequence of the current CST must be remedied.
Steve Lucas, St. Petersburg