Limits on fertilizer go too far July 12, letter from Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson
On wrong side for wrong reasons
On June 15, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson convinced five Hillsborough County commissioners to free the fertilizer industry from all responsibility for its portion of the nutrient pollution problem in Tampa Bay.
Why did Commissioner Bronson weigh in on this? Agriculture would have been completely exempt with a strong rule but now it may be on the hook for Tampa Bay's nutrient pollution problem.
So whose bidding was Bronson doing? The answer to that is Big Fertilizer — at the expense of area farmers. We have all seen it before: corporate interests trumping the needs of our farmers and our environment. Bronson's involvement in this case is a perfect example of this. His words in his July 12 letter to the editor are a verbatim representation of the remarks made over and over again by Scotts Co. lobbyists over the past months.
Bronson's claim that the summer blackout would impede the growth of healthy lawns has been disproven in both Sarasota and Lee counties over the past three years. He contradicts himself when he recognizes that turf can be fertilized during the growing season months of May and October (outside of the summer ban period) and his intentional neglect of the use of control release fertilizer is disingenuous.
Bronson misleads when he claims that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's model ordinance calls for no summer blackout. The FDEP model ordinance encourages noncommercial applicators to follow the Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program. This includes the recommendation to apply an iron source instead of nitrogen in the summer to prevent water pollution from nutrient leaching and runoff.
And finally, Bronson's admonition that the summer ban "could wind up triggering more nutrient runoff" is pure conjecture and without any basis in science. The Sarasota experience and scientific research have proven that fertilizer application bans keep nutrients out of watersheds.
Shame on Commissioner Bronson for taking the wrong side for all the wrong reasons.
Cris Costello, regional representative, Sierra Club, Sarasota
Political shell games
Charlie Crist is playing a shell game with the Florida voter. After recognizing the impossibility of defeating Marco Rubio for the GOP senatorial nomination, Crist has embarked on a flirtation with the Democratic Party. Now an independent, Crist is not holding back in his quest to appeal to Democrats.
The governor must answer the following question: Whom would he caucus with if elected to the U.S. Senate? The voter has a right to know. Elected to Tallahassee as a moderate Republican, Crist has consistently disappointed many of us who sent him to the capital. Now this.
On the national stage, Barack Obama was elected to the presidency as a so-called moderate Democrat and then turned out to be the most liberal president we've ever had. We've had enough of this political shell game. We've had enough of striking a pose in order to get elected then dropping the pose when it suits. I call upon the St. Petersburg Times to be an honest broker in the quest for this information. Anything less is a disservice the Florida voter.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
Maneuvering lasts long after session July 21, story
House Speaker Larry Cretul said, "As a co-equal branch of government, it is our prerogative to consider the governor's suggestion and to dispose of it in the manner we see fit."
Mr. Cretul, as the citizens are the superordinate to all branches of the Florida government, including you, they have the prerogative to consider and vote out all elected individuals who deny the citizens of Florida a say in their government.
Walter Gay, Dunedin
I wonder if most of the whining about legislative inaction on the governor's suggested amendment banning oil drilling is as insincere as was the governor's request. Did anybody with half a brain think lawmakers would actually hand Charlie Crist a political victory? He lied to them and the public, took their donations then defected when things got rough.
This is simply a Democrat environmentalist tactic: use the gulf spill to beat Republicans over the head and further label them as the party of no when none of these constant complainers ever expected a debate much less a vote.
Tell me who is more disingenuous, GOP lawmakers cheated on by Charlie Crist or Democrats faking angst to score points at the state level. They know a day of reckoning is coming on a national scale and Tallahassee may be the only place they can win anything.
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Its almost impossible to believe that anyone would want to elect or re-elect a Republican who is way more interested in "getting back" at the governor than he or she is in doing what is best for the citizens of Florida.
And it's not only in Tallahassee. The national GOP couldn't care less about the people of this country; they only want to ensure that President Barack Obama fails. Well, he won't. The major bills that have passed in the last 18 months are all for the citizens of this nation who don't have a voice except when voting for their representative or senator. Equal pay for equal work for women; health care; financial reform that focuses on consumer protection; and most important, the stimulus bill.
Ask any police officer, firefighter or school teacher who is losing their job this year how they feel about the GOP blocking aid to the states to cover these jobs as well as more Medicaid money to keep the states from cutting services to nonexistent levels.
Kay Kelly, Clearwater
To all Republican members of the Florida Legislature who made a mockery of the special session: Shame on you for voting not to even debate the oil drilling amendment.
Please do the taxpayers a favor and don't cash your checks or turn in any vouchers for your expenses. You just took up space and oxygen in Tallahassee Tuesday and don't deserve a penny!
There were lots of things you could have tackled while you were there, including extending the rights of unemployed Floridians to receive federal unemployment compensation.
You also could have addressed the needs of those Floridians whose businesses have been devastated by the BP gusher. But instead, you decided only to try to embarrass Charlie Crist and go home.
It is you who are the embarrassment. No wonder our state is in such a mess. You all need to go home, permanently.
Gary Gibbons, Tampa
Judge in Denver strikes down Stolen Valor Act | July 17, story
Rights vs. valor
While I am conflicted over the recent federal court decision declaring the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional, I feel that the decision was a courageous one given that our country remains at war. On the one hand I am pleased that the government is providing protection for the integrity of combat decorations awarded to our military, and on the other hand every time our government criminalizes a manner of speech it not only limits our freedom but also creates the danger of a slippery slope to a greater loss of freedom.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," is a quote that is often attributed to Voltaire and one that gives meaning to the First Amendment. The irony of it all is that many of those who earned the recognition that others falsely claim, died defending their freedom to falsely claim it. Those who falsely claim recognition deserve public ridicule and should not be protected. The First Amendment should.
Douglas deVlaming, Largo