All aboard now, or we'll miss the train | Oct. 13
Two sides of bay must join forces
This column on the Tampa Bay area's transportation dilemma was on target.
Count Tampa/Hillsborough County officials as the culprits for failing to support a regional transportation system. Begin with ignoring the opportunity to connect the Gandy Bridge with the Crosstown Expressway.
Second, there is no clamor for advancing the construction of I-275 through the Tampa airport overpass. That improvement is years in the pipeline, while thousands of cars are backed up on the Howard Frankland Bridge every workday.
Our neighbors across the bay have "gone it alone." The two counties must collaborate to advance the construction of highway connections, and join forces to find the money to connect both counties by rail and bus transportation.
The backbone of the transportation system must be a heavier rail that connects USF with downtown Tampa, Westshore and the airport, the Gateway in Pinellas County, and downtown St. Petersburg including its USF campus, the medical center and Tropicana Field. Relocating the Rays' stadium to the Gateway area with rail at their front door will greatly expand their market.
The light rail systems in each county should be connected to the "spine," and the "spine" should be connected to the Central Florida rail system.
Obviously money is the problem, and it always will be. Leadership finds money.
New businesses with high-paying jobs will locate where their employees are able to cut their time and expense to and from work.
Donald R. Crane Jr., St. Petersburg
Washington, D.C., reboots | Oct. 18
'Victory' at high cost
As the Democrats dance in celebration of their big budget victory, let's reflect upon what they've really won.
They won Obamacare, an unfunded 11 million-word collection of taxes, free stuff and regulations that will add $2 trillion of debt over just the next few years, reduce employment, and punitively tax middle-income earners.
They won billions of new borrowing with countless more to come. President Barack Obama has almost doubled our national debt in just five years.
They guaranteed that workers in their 30s, 40s and 50s will see drastic cuts in their Social Security and medical benefits as these programs are actuarially broke. The baby boomer tidal wave will be the coup de grace.
They guaranteed that defense spending, which as a share of GDP has fallen by half over the last 50 years, will be gutted. Mandatory spending, which has grown 240 percent by the same measure, will continue its exponential engulfment, funded by borrowing and currency destruction.
They guaranteed that job-killing taxes — high corporate income taxes, for example — will inhibit growth and lower our standard of living.
Congratulations, liberals. Your victory ensures that America will be weaker and our children will be impoverished and enslaved by the burden of it all.
Raymond A. Baker, St. Petersburg
Voters need another option
It's time for a third political party to form that represents the moderate 50 percent of the U.S. population.
The 25 percent on both the right and left (especially the right these days) have lost touch with reality. Our state and federal government is being gridlocked by inflexible mentalities concerned only with getting re-elected, which leads to the best politicians money can buy.
A centrist party would balance the lunatic fringe on both sides and force all parties to negotiate a common ground benefiting most Americans.
National moderate politicians like Jon Huntsman (Republican) and Evan Bayh (Democrat) need to step up. Most Americans are fed up with the current system, and the time is now. Middle/moderate America is ready for real change.
D. Scott Joseph, Clearwater
No cause to celebrate
The most offensive images to come out of Washington portray senators and representatives giving each other congratulations and fist bumps to celebrate the end of the stalemate.
Exactly what have our legislators done to warrant such self-congratulations and pride? They finally did their job after messing up enough to close the government, lay off government employees, create havoc in financial affairs, and wound our credibility. They have nothing of which to be proud and, if they are re-elected, neither do we.
Jim Stillman, Lutz
A vote for ideology
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, voted "no" and therefore against the reopening of our government. He should be ashamed. He continues to put ideology over the good of the country and his constituents, a position that caused grief and hardship for many these past 16 days.
Ione Townsend, Plant City
Swiftmud treads lightly as growers exceed water limits | Oct. 18
Fines are in order
It's unbelievable that Swiftmud executive director Robert Beltran finds it hard to penalize somebody for doing something they think is right. I think it's right to have a nice green lawn instead of a brown dry one, so should I be able to water every day as much as I want?
Beltran says he's "no expert." Yet he is director of a water regulating agency, not a used car salesman. If I overwater I get fined. Everybody should comply with the water pumping rules. Swiftmud needs to find a more educated and informed director before Hillsborough County becomes a giant sinkhole.
Don Green, Tampa
The response of Robert Beltran, executive director of Swiftmud, to the excess pumping of groundwater by a Brandon-based grower is nothing short of astonishing. Pumping down the aquifer can cause serious sinkhole activity, and while one can sympathize with the farmers, surely Beltran is required to convene his executive committee and officially decide on an appropriate course of action before he turns a blind eye to this potentially damaging activity.
Michael J. Clarke, Clearwater