Unlikely cancers shake faith in Corps | Oct. 18, story
Marines deserve better
When I read this article Sunday morning I went straight to tears.
My father died a year ago from an unknown type of cancer due to the contamination. We have contacted the Marine Corps and all higher powers in the government and nothing is being done.
My father was a perfectly healthy man and went to the doctors because of back pain in October 2007. He was given medication because they said it was a pulled muscle. They then found a kidney tumor, and that was taken out in December 2007. It just went downhill from that point. He was diagnosed with an unknown type of cancer (it was in his spine) in January 2008 and was paralyzed from waist down by February '08. He passed away in May of that year.
Nothing is being done! If you want to pursue this further I would love to be of assistance in any way possible. We owe this to all the Marines who have passed because of a bad decision made by the government. I promised my dad I would find a way to settle this and I will keep my word.
Samantha Morales, Tampa
Many people associated with Camp Lejeune are experiencing deadly diseases. How does the Marine Corps answer this?
The Marine Corps spokesman, Capt. Brian Block, talks about "possible adverse health effects … related to past contamination" and says that "science has yet to find a link."
Maj. Eric Dent said the Marines' leadership "is committed to understanding the issue" and that "scientists cannot give us a clear answer."
The cherry on top? Maj. Dent says, "It would be extremely interesting to see how much time these men spent at Lejeune, where exactly they lived and when."
Really warms the cockles of the heart. I'm sure the families of these victims are filled with glee about the sporting comments! Shame on the Marines, the EPA and the government at large.
Georgia Timberlake, Sun City Center
Commuter rail is a more sensible goal
I couldn't help but notice that the above subject is in the news again. This seems to be pushed by the ambitious U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. It is amazing what a lot of ego and a little knowledge can do.
This project, if the estimates are even close, will cost the taxpayers "billions" of dollars, and will accomplish what? The stated goal is to appeal to the tourists descending on the Disney/Orlando area and suck some of their travel dollars into the Tampa area. Won't happen. I hate to tell the supporters of this plan but Tampa doesn't have enough appeal to attract the tourists it thinks will come here.
More realistically, politicians and planners should look very closely at commuter rail. Granted commuter rail is not as glamorous as high-speed rail, but it sure does have a very positive impact on the community. First of all, it gets the majority of the single-occupant vehicles that travel the same routes off the road each day. People would flock to the opportunity to park their expensive gas-guzzling cars in a lot near their homes and ride a fast, silent convenient train to work
In contrast, high-speed rail would have to fight to find enough passengers to fill a few cars a couple of times a day. Rep. Castor points to the thousands of construction jobs that the high-speed rail would bring for a couple of years. What happens after that? The rail authority would reduce employment to the bare minimum to try to break even financially with the low ridership that this fiasco would bring.
I have spent more than 30 years in my career traveling throughout this great country of ours and also extensively in Europe and Canada. I have experienced the travel industry up close and personal. What is being proposed will be nothing but another Democratic tax-and-spend boondoggle which will end up being a huge drain on the country for decades to come. If these folks really want to help the constituents, then they need to focus on local mass transit, and that doesn't mean another Ybor City trolley.
Robert Perkins, New Port Richey
Special session on rail sought | Oct. 20, story
The trouble with TriRail
During a three-week stay in Pompano Beach this summer, I never used the TriRail commuter train once, and I love mass transit, especially urban trains. It's disheartening to see this desperate effort to find more funding for it as part of the scramble to get our cut of the transportation stimulus package.
I wondered why the TriRail was installed in the middle of I-95 and how South Florida totally ignored the main commercial artery parallel to the freeway called Federal Highway, or U.S. 1. This north/south axis was built before the interstate highway system and, consequently, has the density of commercial and residential enclaves that is necessary for pedestrian access to urban rail. One has to drive to TriRail, park the car in a lot smaller than the one at St. Petersburg's main library, get to the destination station and wait to transfer to a bus or two in order to get anywhere.
What TriRail needs is more feeder lines — not buses, mind you — that get people from areas like Federal Highway to the line in the middle of nowhere, streetcars, monorails. I am not a planner; I just know that it is understandable that only 11,000 people per day ride the TriRail even though traffic congestion in South Florida is among the worst in the nation.
Once again, our officials think that sinking more money into an incomplete system will fix everything. South Florida needs to take a good hard look at expanding access to TriRail, not more expensive public relations campaigns.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
Put contributors on display
Recently my two sons and I were having a discussion about our government and why it doesn't work for us. The political election process is so expensive that the candidates rely on donations from large corporations and special interest groups. Since it is a political race, it requires sponsorship, like NASCAR.
Out of this was born what we think is a great idea. While in the political race, people running for office should have to wear white coveralls with the names of their sponsors (patches) on them. Then we will know who they really work for!
If nothing else, it would make a great skit. This would probably require extra large clothing or very small patches. Actually, the patch size should be commensurate with the size of the donation, just to be fair.
Bob Murphy, Seminole
How Snowe could make health bill better Oct. 16, E.J. Dionne column
Avoid employer mandate
Columnist E.J. Dionne criticized Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, for "her opposition to a strong employer mandate." His criticism is ill-founded. Such a mandate would lead to massive job losses.
A study released earlier this year by the National Federation of Independent Businesses concluded that an employer mandate would cause the economy to shed 1.6 million jobs within the first five years of implementation.
That makes sense. Forcing firms to provide health insurance to their workers will make the cost of employing someone even higher. Many companies will respond by laying off existing workers or refusing to hire new ones, whom they'd immediately have to cover. Perversely, an employer mandate may actually increase the number of people without health insurance.
Janet Trautwein, executive vice president and CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va.
Don Wright cartoon | Oct. 22
Bias on both sides
I can't dispute that there are biased commentators on Fox who clearly favor a conservative, right-wing agenda. But there surely seems to be a double standard being employed by our current administration. Have any of them ever watched MSNBC? It is virtually Fox News in Democratic Party clothing. Welcome, America, to politics even worse than usual.
Tom McKnight, Safety Harbor
The Obama administration has declared war on Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Fox News. They have apparently decided that any talk show host or news organization that chooses to disagree with them on the issues is a "fringe element" or "not really a news organization."
Barack Obama has made the calculation that he'll never get votes from Fox viewers. This is a major miscalculation on his part. Millions of independent voters watch Fox daily. He just lost many of them.
Rather than engaging their detractors with facts, liberals choose instead to marginalize, name-call, and issue boycott threats. Maybe they know they can't win a factual argument without playing these games and looking for cover. This is childishness and it's un-American. It's also what they wrongly accused George W. Bush of doing.
It is not the duty of people who oppose Obama's agenda to go away and shut up. Hopefully the Times does not support such drivel.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
Homeless shelter at Floriland Mall
Neighborhood is opposed
I'm the neighborhood watch leader for an area adjacent to the proposed homeless shelter. We are extremely opposed to this idea and will fight to the end to make sure it doesn't happen.
We all feel this is a ploy by Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White to deflect the focus off of his recent misconduct. At the same time, we cannot be subjected to what will happen to our neighborhood should this actually take place. We have huge plans in the works against this.
Kellie Nieves, Tampa
Progress' nuke hike is approved | Oct. 17, story
Citizens, speak out
The recent rate increase granted by the Florida Public Service Commission to Progress Energy amid our current recession, where federal bailouts have done little to alleviate the economic hardship at the individual taxpayer level, is unconscionable.
The rate increase will serve to increase the profits of Progress Energy, a publicly traded Fortune 500 company on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as increase executive compensation, and charge consumers for up-front construction costs for a new nuclear facility in Levy County with no return on their forced investment.
Florida Statue 366.93 allows the PSC to permit Progress Energy the opportunity to collect up-front construction costs from consumers for a nuclear facility that will not be online until at least 2018, if it survives environmental challenges to the plant location, and with no risk to Progress Energy stockholders who garnered a 9.6 percent return on their investment in 2008. The issue is made more unpalatable with the recent reporting of cozy relationships between PSC staff and utility industry officials.
The lack of action on behalf of the citizens of Florida by our elected Florida Legislature on this issue should be a bellwether issue for every voting Floridian in future elections. Write your representative and tell them what you want them to do for you, and vote based on their actions.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Senate needs to act
With so much attention being placed on our economy (and rightly so) less is being given to our wildlife. It may seem economically a good idea to ignore it. After all, does it really matter if we lose a few polar bears or wolves?
Actually, yes. By changing, shrinking and destroying habitat, wildlife migrates and adapts. This affects not only their world, but ours too. By 2050, if we don't take strong action, 20 to 30 percent of the world's plant and animal species will be at increased risk of extinction. The more they go, the more we as humans are at risk too.
Thankfully the House of Representatives passed legislation this summer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are triggering climate change. Now we need the Senate to do the same. Recent legislation introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry could do this.
Hopefully the people of Florida will understand the risks to their environment and act before it's too late by writing a letter to their senators.
Sarah Parrish, Clearwater
World Polio Day
Rotary keeps up the fight
I am too young to remember when children were not allowed to swim in public pools because parents feared they would contract polio. I was fortunate to not have the sound of an iron lung etched in my memory as a polio victim struggled to breathe. No one in my family was paralyzed, had withered limbs or was forced to use a wheelchair or leg braces. We in the United States are very lucky because of the mass vaccination programs for children that began soon after the Salk vaccine was created in the mid '50s.
But there are many children in the world that still contract this deadly disease. Since 1985, when polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children in 125 countries every year, ending polio has been Rotary's top philanthropic goal. Since then, polio cases have been slashed by 99 percent worldwide, with fewer than 2,000 in 2008, and just four countries remain polio-endemic: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Rotarians worldwide have galvanized governments, provided hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours and raised some $700 million to make eradication a reality. UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have joined the partnership. In fact a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation challenge grant of $355 million is being matched with a $200 million contribution over three years from Rotary.
I am proud that my Rotary club, Dunedin North, pledged $2,000 this year to help meet the challenge. Our members, along with their family and friends, willingly save and give their change to make a difference in the lives of many. One day, polio will be no more, and Rotary will have achieved a dream for the world that started so many years ago.
Sherrie Davisvis Kinkead, Dunedin
Recent Sunshine Skyway suicide
Add a fence
I believe most if not all of these tragic suicides could be eliminated by installing an 8- to 10-foot- high aesthetically enhanced security fence that would be extremely difficult to climb over. The type of fence I'm referring to has minimum obstructions, so it wouldn't hamper our wonderful view.
I think the cost would be far offset by eliminating wasted man-hours for both responders and folks stuck in traffic for untold hours.
Sanford Goldman, AIA architect, St. Petersburg