Sunday, April 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Monday's letters: Bill promotes mitigation options

Wetlands mitigation giveaway | Feb. 28 editorial

Bill promotes mitigation options

This editorial mischaracterizes the intent of my proposed legislation, House Bill 599, relating to environmental mitigation of impacts from transportation projects. Simply put, HB 599 gives the Department of Transportation a choice — not a mandate — to buy mitigation credits that are the most effective and efficient. It provides more, not fewer, options for choosing mitigation. This bill does not seek to elevate a single private industry or allow anyone to corner the market, as the editorial claims.

The editorial also mischaracterized a 2007 study on mitigation banking. The study was described as an examination of the "viability" of the mitigation banks, when in fact the study starts off on the premise that mitigation banks are viable and then examines better policies for monitoring mitigation efforts, which the editorial supports.

I believe this is a good-government bill that encourages more private investment in Florida by buying lands for preservation and funding the management of those lands forever with escrow accounts, thus removing the burden on the taxpayer to manage these preserved lands.

We should want to save the taxpayer money and create a more efficient system that adds new preserved lands, rather than less when DOT is forced to only use existing preservation lands for credits. We should want to give DOT more options that meet both state and federal requirements. This legislation does just that.

Florida House Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota

Comeback puppy | Feb. 23

SPCA acts promptly

The story of Sox has captured the hearts of many people in our community who care about animals. Every case of abuse is heartbreaking. Getting the best results for the animals takes patience and procedure. SPCA Tampa Bay humane officers conduct more than 1,000 investigations each year with one goal: to save an animal's life. Different situations call for different actions.

When we receive a tip from the public, our first step is to visit the owner.

We make every attempt to improve an animal's situation through owner education and persuasion. Our officers give owners a specific time frame in which to make improvements. We always return to make sure an owner has complied. In many cases this is all that is needed.

When we suspect that an owner will not do the right thing, we ask a law enforcement officer to visit the owner with us. This process ensures that we can take immediate action to remove an animal and provide life-saving care.

Animal cruelty charges and arrests of the perpetrators are a police matter. Our role in these situations is to collect evidence, testify in court and follow the case through to resolution. By following proper procedure, animals have a better chance of never returning to an abusive situation and prosecutors have the best chance to bring charges and convict abusive owners.

Please report suspected animal cruelty to the SPCA.

Martha Boden, CEO, SPCA Tampa Bay, Largo

Utility ruse was pot search | March 1

Dangerous ruse

The story of a Pinellas County sheriff's detective posing as a Progress Energy worker reminded me of a similar situation we had in Northern California when I worked for a utility company in the 1980s.

The growing of marijuana in densely wooded rural areas was common. Federal agents would dress as utility line workers posing to work on the high-tension lines but were actually conducting surveillance operations. This became known to the growers and they began shooting at utility line workers.

The practice of posing as agents was stopped, and an extensive outreach campaign was mounted in the rural communities, assuring people that agents would no longer pose as utility workers and pleading with them not to shoot at unarmed utility employees.

Mike Wightman, Safety Harbor

Audit: Schools top-heavy | Feb. 25

Lessons of one-room school

This article made me reflect on my educational experience, which may have some relevance. In the 1930s I attended a one-room schoolhouse with no plumbing or electricity in Center Barnstead, N.H. Alice Powers had the responsibility of educating 20 poor children in grades 1-8 in the same room at the same time.

The eighth grade would be the last one attended by most of these children, as they had to work the farms. All of her students graduated from the eighth grade proficient in reading, writing, math, history and geography — which is hardly the case in high school today. Thanks to Alice Powers, I graduated from college and law school. The math skills developed in her class served me well as a U.S. Air Force pilot.

Why was Powers able to succeed in the education of children from poor, uneducated families, when with modern facilities, Head Start, highly paid superintendents and a plethora of administrators our schools are failing and falling behind nations that spend far less per student?

I am not advocating the return of the one-room schoolhouse, however, what immediately stands out is the competence of the teacher. What can we do so that every child can have an Alice Powers? Unfortunately, teachers are virtually guaranteed a lifetime job and it is almost impossible to remove an incompetent teacher.

The number of administrators has little to do with the education of a child. The emphasis should be on teaching. A first step would be to re-evaluate tenure and implement merit pay. Reduce the number of administrators and apply the savings to the teachers.

Harold H. Dean, St. Petersburg

No, (fill in the blank) is not like the Nazis Feb. 27

Hyperbole on the right

I agree with Dick Polman's criticism of using Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to describe today's politicians. However, he was trying too hard to be balanced. It is the right wing that seems to have a particular fondness for this type of hyperbole.

I have seen many a tea party sign with President Barack Obama's picture altered to look like Hitler. Rush Limbaugh has for years referred to "Feminazis." And Glenn Beck referred to the dozens of Norwegian youths slaughtered by Anders Behring Breivik as being like "Hitler Youth."

Michael P. Shanahan, Apollo Beach


Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Published: 04/22/18

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18