A chance to save trail bridge is disappearing | Sept. 14
This is a bridge too far — north
I never cease to be stunned by the decisions made by government bodies in the way they spend our tax money.
I am sure the Courtney Campbell Causeway walk/bike bridge is a wonderful thing, for the limited number of people who will be able to use it. But to build it to the exclusion of spending money to maintain the Friendship Trail Bridge boggles the mind.
The trail bridge connects Tampa to St. Petersburg and is in close proximity to the homes of many thousands of residents on both ends who used this pathway for both casual and intense recreation.
The northern bridge connects the much less populated Clearwater to, in effect, Tampa International Airport. Few people live near either terminus. It is hard to imagine that, over time, even half as many citizens will be able to take advantage of that path when compared to the past usage of the popular Friendship Trail Bridge.
But then again, common sense with our money is not recognized as an element of good governance.
Arthur Eggers, Tampa
The war-weariness myth Sept. 16, commentary
Eliot Cohen hits the nail on the head. He brings out that we have an all-volunteer military with the right to resign as opposed to those who served in World War II, Korea, etc., as I did. Meaning no disrespect to our forces, but we in effect have a mercenary military.
While I support the president, Cohen brings out the absurdity of announcing a withdrawal and surge, nearly simultaneously.
Henry L. King, Clearwater
The insurance quandary | Sept. 14
Creative solution needed
With skyrocketing flood insurance threatening to torpedo the housing recovery so vital to Florida's fragile economy, and Gov. Rick Scott touring the state trying to buy votes with a $500 million tax cut, here's a thought: Use a portion of that money to continue subsidizing the flood insurance policies until our homeowners can better handle the increases. Is it possible to get some creative thinking out of Tallahassee?
Stuart Berger, Clearwater
It appears that the federal government is responsible for creating a national catastrophe before one actually hits its shores. Based on the current flood tables, a Pinellas County single-family residential dwelling in flood zone AE is just one of the casualties.
As an example, a home built before 1974 with a total value of $400,000 and a building value of $250,000 currently has an annual flood premium of $1,749. Under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, a new homeowner or one whose policy lapsed after the enactment in 2012 could pay upwards of $20,690 for the same policy. That's a 1,200 percent increase in premiums — and more than the homeowner's annual mortgage payment.
The implications of this legislation are catastrophic for our community. Will homeowners turn in their keys to the bank because they can no longer afford their home? Is this essentially de facto eminent domain promulgated by the federal government — but without compensation to the homeowner? Will the tax-assessed value of the home drop drastically, reducing tax revenues? How would the city and county continue to provide its services without increasing the millage rates — causing other homeowners outside of the flood zones to pay substantially higher taxes to "keep the lights on"? How will that affect those home values? How will this legislation affect our quality of life?
Unfortunately, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 generates more questions than answers and exacerbates the problem. All efforts must be made to hit the "pause" button to allow more time to truly understand the long-lasting and devastating effects of this legislation, and find better, less harmful ways to resolve this nationwide problem.
J. Kurt Petersen, St. Petersburg
Part-time parks workers' hours cut | Sept. 11
This is in response to SeaWorld and its affiliates cutting their employees' hours to 28 per week in order to avoid paying health care. It is a disgrace. These employees do not make enough money working a 40-hour week to live comfortably. The cost to get in these parks is out of reach for the average family, and their profits are through the roof. I will not attend any of these parks until they change their policy.
And as far as our Legislature, they are totally irresponsible in not funding the Affordable Health Care Act or setting up sites for citizens to go to in order to sign up for this insurance.
Diane M. Drake, Temple Terrace
Sole gunman, a dozen killed | Sept. 17
Too many deaths
Wake up, Congress, the gunfire is getting closer. Another massacre, at the Washington Navy Yard, no less.
If Newtown and Aurora and Virginia Tech and Columbine and Fort Hood weren't enough, the slaughter just down the road ought to spur at least some minimal gun-control legislation. Just to show the electorate that there is a spine on Capitol Hill.
It's time for Congress — and some state legislatures, too — to recognize there's no inherent right to bear arms. But there is a right the rest of us should enjoy, the right the Declaration of Independence cites "to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The language of the Second Amendment, crafted two centuries ago in a vastly different environment, gives people the right to bear arms in the absence of a well-regulated militia. We are blessed today with law enforcement agencies and the standing military to preserve the public safety.
Please, lawmakers, restrict those who don't need and shouldn't have guns from shattering the lives of others.
Donald Rosselet, Dunnellon
By staunchly refusing to implement stricter gun laws on assault rifles, Congress and its big-money backers are to blame for this popular new sport of hunting humans.
Lynn Cannella, Tampa