Sunday, January 21, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Letters: Hernando wrong spot for drone testing

Say no to drone testing program

What is the Hernando County Aviation Authority thinking? Anything for a buck? Why would they solicit an experimental program for drones that could have the potential to turn Hernando County and all surrounding counties into a laboratory for success or failure?

Commissioner Diane Rowden seems to be using the paranoid ploy to downplay real and valid concerns. Gary Schraut, chairman of the authority, likened citizens who would protest this move to ignorant, medieval fear mongers afraid to fall off the edge of the Earth.

Many well-informed residents of this county, on the other hand, fear the known, which is to be taken as a sign of intelligence. We do have some knowledge of drones from their use in the Middle East.

When average citizens are asked the purpose of drones, they inevitably say to spy and kill. Of course there are other uses, like border patrols, but they are still in the experimental stages. By some accounts, drones have killed close to 3,000 people in Pakistan including 160 listed as children and 20 as mourners at a funeral. The ratio is 10 bystanders to 1 al Qaeda or Taliban terrorist target. Civilian casualties are reported between 74-90 percent.

Do drones go awry? Have accidents? They most assuredly do. Remember the NATO drone strike that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Salala incident? How would you feel if a 45 foot wing-span drone came crashing onto the school grounds of one of our elementary schools, killing hundreds of children? A March 2013 article in National Geographic detailed spine-chilling drone accidents including one incident in 2011 in Afghanistan in which a 400-pound shadow drone crashed into a C-130 Hercules transport plane.

How will our light aircraft at the Hernando airport fare? I believe we'll lose local air traffic business, as well as many other businesses when word gets around. I wonder if the motor coach rally folks want to share the runways with drones?

We in Hernando County and central Florida could become an experimental crash lab. How dare our elected officials and government servants in this county tell us that we are paranoid or ignorant. We are neither. Many citizens of Hernando County are understandably concerned if not alarmed by the lack of research and judgment on the part of the aviation authority.

The sole purpose of government is to protect the lives, liberty and property of its citizens. This drone testing program has the potential to destroy all three. We appeal to our commissioners to turn down this proposal and protect the citizens of Hernando County who elected them for that very purpose.

Shirley Miketinac, Brooksville

Use drones in military airspace

I just read about the possibility of drones in Brooksville. As an avid private pilot in central Florida I can tell you that all general aviation pilots are against unmanned airplanes.

There are many poor judgments made by pilots who have their lives at stake. How bad could it be if the pilot was sitting in an office somewhere with nothing to lose?

There are hundreds of miles of restricted airspace in Florida already that is not well utilized but the military will not give it up. If we must have these spy drones here they should use airports already under-utilized by the military. There is one east of Avon Park, for example, in restricted airspace that appears to be abandoned. It is controlled by MacDill Air Force Base.

Pete Putnam, Lady Lake

Ban on Net cafes is misguided

What will happen if our legislators ban Internet sweepstakes cafes?

Seniors who rely on these cafes as a source of local entertainment will now seek other means of entertainment. They can go to bingo establishments like church, veterans and private bingo games. They operate the same as sweepstakes games by providing game cards for a fee and paying cash to a winner.

Better still, these seniors may now purchase a bus fare for $20 to Hard Rock, travel two hours to get there and spend five hours there at what cost? Five hours at the Hard Rock will result in these same people spending hundreds of dollars as opposed to $20 or $30 for a night of entertainment.

Our seniors patronize these cafes because they are local and are usually 10 to 15 minutes from their homes. It's their form of entertainment. Regulate these cafes as you do bingo, scratch off gambling and lottery from the state. Ban liquor in these establishments if this is a problem, although I have never seen any sold there. Or, ban whatever other violations you see fit.

These cafes should be regulated and treated like any other business. They employ people who then pay taxes. The establishment will pay taxes and they can be monitored at any time. Cafes that violate the rules would be subject to heavy fines and/or worse.

Reconsider banning and consider regulating these cafes. This is why legislators are in office — to legislate what's best for the public and not just the few special interests that are yelling foul. These are the same people who are losing bingo patrons and that's why they are opposing this, not for any other reason.

Vic Gonzalez, Spring Hill

Nugent is in thrall to the tea party

U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent is not able to think for himself. He's a Norquist no-tax-pledge signer and a member of the Tea Party Caucus. Both of those groups make it clear that if you don't follow their philosophies you will lose campaign money and will (probably) face a well funded challenger during the next election.

I asked Rep. Nugent why he signed the anti-tax pledge and he told me, "I agree with what the pledge stands for and I would have voted with them anyway.'' But was it necessary to box yourself in with a very binding pledge? No answer.

It sounds like it's more about being in D.C. than actually representing his constituents.

Lea Folland, Nobleton


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