Govern smarter for a better future
One year ago, the sage reporter George Packer writing for the New Yorker magazine captured the essence of the economic collapse in Florida with a seminal work, "The Ponzi State, Florida's Foreclosure Disaster."
Packer captured the essence of Florida's current economic collapse, a boom and bust state, with fast growth that required ever more growth to cover the cost of past development and the infrastructure and services the state would need to maintain a strong quality of life.
The fiction that growth pays for itself had been exposed, though we had seen the warning signs years earlier.
Boom and bust was the standard for those who enriched themselves off fast growth and then could afford to hunker down until the next wave of growth. But what of the rest of us?
The boom placed pressure on our core infrastructure, creating a network of overcrowded schools, failed roads, and overtaxed water supplies, leaving in its wake disgruntled residents weary from escalating property taxes and lousy services.
So what do we do? Some encouraging signs can be seen from the Legislature, which is focusing on building a strong foundation of roads, rail and industry predicated upon quality schools from K-12 to our universities. However, I do hope that they take a far more prescient view on issues such as growth management.
In Hillsborough County I would urge that we move forward with haste to build a leaner, more responsive local government that spends less and cooperates more with other local governments and nongovernmental agencies to provide the quality services that citizens should expect from their government. We should accelerate our partnerships with the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center, the VA hospital, and the superb network of local hospitals so that we can grow an industry predicated on the life sciences that will treat disease and injury better than before, while creating a plethora of new, high-paying jobs.
I believe in our future and am excited by the prospects that will come to a community that faces up to our challenges by being smarter in how we govern ourselves and bolder in how we move people and goods from home to market.
This year promises to be an important one, and one that, with courage and confidence exhibited by all Floridians, will be the beginning of a new economic story.
Mark Sharpe, Hillsborough County commissioner
Driving test of a lifetime | Dec. 31, story
More testing is needed
I just got done reading the article about Julian Andorka. He says he is a good driver and would take a road test to prove it. All the test did was confirm what his neighbor Roger Young is saying. This man shouldn't be driving.
Like most seniors with deteriorating driving skills and health, Andorka is in denial about his driving skills. I feel sorry that he lost his wife after an accident, but he was at fault.
The father-in-law of a friend drove when he should've quit driving many years before. He finally gave up his keys and truck at the age of 92.
About a year ago while I was sitting in a department of motor vehicles office waiting my turn, an elderly man was taking his eye test. He flunked the test not just once but three times. He kept telling the person giving him the test that he was nervous taking the test. It was obvious that this man's eyesight was not good as he claimed it was. Yet after the fourth test, he was given a passing grade and walked out with his license.
I'm not saying all seniors are poor drivers. The state has to take action on this. Pass a law that says once a person reaches a certain age, he must have an eye exam and driving test. And limit the license to no more than a year. Someone's eyesight can get bad soon after the test and no one would ever know.
I know this letter will anger many senior drivers, but as they get older, their driving skills and reflexes go down and they are not as keen as they once were.
Gary Feifer, New Port Richey
Driving test of a lifetime | Dec. 31, story
It's best to be in control
If you're in the upper age category and can't run a half a block in less than a minute, then you shouldn't drive. What does running have to do with driving? Nothing. It's just one of the skills you can't do anymore.
Also, if you make the decision to stop driving you will prove to everyone, including yourself, that you are in control.
The success in growing old is being in control. So to stop driving is more about being in control of your doings and not having someone making tough decisions for you.
Being in control is a trait you and your loved ones can be proud of for the rest of your life.
I've been there and done that.
Hartley Steeves, Tampa
Getting photo ID at age 91 can be daunting Dec. 31, story
Be flexible with elderly
After no flags went up when a 23-year-old Nigerian man was allowed to board a intercontinental flight, which he subsequently tried to blow up, I'd like to know why it's imperative for 91-year-old Mildred Mower to get a photo ID. Surely, her daughter and sole caregiver, Marcia Mathison, has more important things to do for her mother.
While I do realize that rules must sometimes be enforced, let us also remember that rules can be bent and sometimes even broken. For the last 91 years, Mower has done very well for herself without a photo ID. After all, she's no threat to society. And realistically speaking, her final years will have more than their share of medical maladies. So why make it even more difficult for her daughter, who no doubt does all of the leg work for her mother.
As far as I'm concerned, Mower, at age 91, and other seniors without IDs, deserve to be grandfathered into the system without one.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
Smile for the camera as you run that light Dec. 30, Sue Carlton column
It's about saving lives
If the powers that be won't do anything to punish careless/negligent drivers for slaughtering pedestrians who foolishly try to cross the roads here, it's nice to at least see the use of red-light cameras, which may prevent some lawbreakers from killing people in cars (which may perhaps have the unintended "benefit" of preventing the death of a pedestrian in a crosswalk from time to time!).
It's hard to imagine that anyone defends a callous behavior that every year results in terrible injuries and the loss of many lives.
Arnold Churchill, Clearwater