'Stand' law change proposed | Feb. 19
Don't erode right to self-defense
The George Zimmerman case had nothing to do with "stand your ground." It was never used as a defense in his trial. His entire defense was based on his use of deadly force because he reasonably believed that it was necessary to "prevent imminent death or great bodily harm." It was not a factor in the Michael Dunn case either.
Dan Gelber and others are misrepresenting the facts in their determination to weaken Florida's self-defense laws because of their anti-gun bias. The "stand your ground" law has simply relieved those law-abiding citizens in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm of the duty to retreat, which would put them at a disadvantage in defending themselves from serious criminal attack.
To force law-abiding citizens to risk criminal charges while legally defending themselves because they did not make a "reasonable" attempt to retreat is absurd and self-defeating. The "stand your ground" law puts the attacked on a more even keel, more likely to succeed in legal self-defense.
Lee Hanson, Hudson
A shameful policy on restoring rights Feb. 19, editorial
Your editorial on the restoration of voting rights for released felons was on the mark. Missing, however, was another compelling legal argument for their restoration. These ex-offenders are, at least at some level, taxed. Taxation without representation was just one cause for the establishment of our democracy and our system of justice. Sadly, your missive will fall on the customary deaf ears of the governor.
Harold Mathews, Riverview
Work for restoration
I disagree with your editorial on voting rights for felons. There is nothing shameful in making felons work to have their voting rights restored. They proved that they did not have the best interests of the community at heart when committing their crimes. They have served their prison sentence and are back in society. Making application for restoration of their voting rights is just one more step in becoming a full-fledged member of society once again.
Sharon DiPiazza, Seffner
Duke Energy's profit soars 58% for quarter Feb. 19
Consumers left holding bag
As I read this article I thought about the cost consumers are paying for a never-to-be-built nuclear power plant, electric rates rising almost annually, and the useless Public Service Commission sitting on its hands as usual. Businesses are in business to make a profit, and they deserve to when they provide reliable and affordable service, but to raise rates and come to the consumer to pay for a mystery nuclear plant while reaping a quarterly profit of $688 million is nothing short of being greedy and selfish. One year's profit could wipe out the debt of the mystery nuclear plant and still refund what ratepayers already paid.
Ken Gagliano, Clearwater
Universal recycling on way | Feb. 21
Trash burned for energy
For years St. Petersburg residents have been told, and your paper has described, how our waste treatment facility is a world model for burning all trash, and recyclables, and producing energy in the process. In prior council discussions of recycling, this has always come up. However, in your paper's last two articles on this subject there is no mention of this fact. So does the city's waste facility in fact produce energy from all trash or not? Residents of St. Petersburg deserve answers from the City Council that passed the new recycling law, since we are being asked to do more (separate trash) and pay more at the same time.
David Mokotoff, St. Petersburg
Bloody chaos in Kiev | Feb. 21
Echoes from history
Anyone following events in Ukraine must be hoping history doesn't repeat itself. Unfortunately, western Ukraine's struggle for fair trade and independence likely will lead to increased pressure from Moscow, more violence, and a possible civil war.
Similar unrest in Kiev has happened before, but its lessons hardly resonate with us today. While Germany recognizes its painful past, Russia continues to ignore its history of genocide, in this case the Holodomor, or "death by hunger," which it inflicted on Ukraine in 1932. Ukrainians wanted more independence, as well as the freedom to work their own farms and businesses. In response, Josef Stalin locked down the country's borders, confiscated property and crops, and starved to death millions of children, women and men. The critical grains that otherwise would feed the Ukrainians were sold to Europe — with profits feeding Moscow's five-year plan of transformation.
No one is suggesting such extremism will happen again, but Russia's vested interest in the direction of one of its former republics will intensify in the next few months. Pain will fester as western Ukraine envisions alliance with the European Union and Moscow opposes it. History might not repeat itself, but it most certainly will be reinvented.
Kurt Loft, Tampa
My wife lost her job months ago, yet her unemployment benefits have not been paid. I keep hearing about this "new online system" having problems. With all the grief President Barack Obama received about the health care online start-up, perhaps we should hang this around Gov. Rick Scott's neck.
Of course the difference is that the Affordable Care Act is an honest attempt to make life better for millions. On the other hand, it's been shown that Florida's hurdle for qualifying for benefits is one of the highest, compared to the other 49 states.
My wife and I have been waiting for these unemployment benefits since October 2013! Unlike many families, we had a reserve that allowed up to weather the storm for the short term, but this is ridiculous.
Lester Beals, Lutz
Bilirakis loses leadership post over flood vote | Feb. 21
A vote of conscience
I applaud Rep. Gus Bilirakis for voting his conscience on the flood insurance issue. The fact that he was punished for his vote is of great concern to me. This should raise a red flag for all those who believe in our democratic form of government. Our elected representatives are not supposed to be punished for voting to support the citizens in their district.
Robert K. Powell, Spring Hill