Environmental about-face | Feb. 20, editorial
Land could go to forest system
The state park system has declined to accept the donation of 4,100 acres along Peace River in Southwest Florida. As a result there is the possibility, as the editorial points out, of "a loss for public recreation and the state's natural resources."
That's why I have proposed an alternative to allowing the land to revert to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida: donating the property to the Florida Forest Service for inclusion in the state forest system. My recommendation is a balanced approach that would both ensure public access and preserve land that is home to endangered wildlife. Adding to the recreational opportunities that the land naturally provides an outdoor enthusiast, a portion of the land would be dedicated to Operation Outdoor Freedom, which provides limited hunting opportunities for disabled veterans. Furthermore, we would partner with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow youth education programs to take advantage of all the land has to offer.
Despite this most recent setback, the Peaceful Horse Ranch still has an opportunity to be a great success story in a way that would satisfy the requirements of the settlement agreement and preserve the land for many generations to enjoy.
Adam Putnam, agriculture commissioner, Tallahassee
Scott backs Medicaid | Feb. 21
It's fascinating to watch Gov. Rick Scott's transformation of late. The first two years in office he went out of his way to annoy, aggravate and insult the intelligence of most people in Florida. He had the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country.
Lo and behold, someone figured out that there will be another election soon, and Scott is trying to "make nice" with his constituents. But there are still a lot of us who can see through the games. Scott has one desire, and that is to be re-elected. All of the mea culpas of late are simply a ploy to get voters to change their negative opinion of him.
It is my fervent hope that as the elections come closer people will remember the long lines they stood in because early voting was shortened. Sorry it backfired on you, sir — and please note that we won't be fooled. Smart voters are used to empty campaign promises; we got enough of them from you.
Victoria Sidlauskas, Brooksville
When did Rick Scott travel the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and receive a heart from the Wizard of Oz?
Linda Reed, Tampa
Slow down, save money
The U.S. Energy Department states that if the speed limits throughout the country were dropped by 10 mph, and our airlines would also drop their speeds 10 mph, in one year we would save approximately 1 billion barrels of oil, or 28 billion gallons of gasoline.
To drive about 50 miles from Tampa to Sarasota on I-75 would save about a half-gallon of gas ($2), but unfortunately it would take 6 minutes more of our valuable time. Speeding is involved in 11 percent of traffic fatalities; it is quite possible that a lower speed limit could lessen that number of fatalities.
A plane traveling from Tampa to New York City, reducing speed from 500 to 490 mph, would take 4 minutes longer. Would that tremendous loss of time be so unbearable that it could never be accepted?
At lower speeds, vehicles consume less fuel. Could a large drop in demand help to lower prices at the pump?
We could be proud if Florida would be the first state in the country to drop those limits and profit from it.
Robert Steinwachs, Inverness
Florida rises to 4th in AP tests | Feb. 21
Retail jobs not the answer
Recent reports about improvements in Florida student test scores are encouraging. However, with more quality graduates chasing limited opportunities, the outlook is grim since minimum-wage job creation is the priority of the Hillsborough County Commission, as evidenced by the $6.25 million giveaway to lure a Bass Pro Shop to the area.
Retail is doing fine in this area already, but we are not doing a good job of creating higher-value jobs. Since there is a shortage of such jobs in this area, making this a priority is not an elitist position. If you grow this aspect of the employment base, retail, restaurant, entertainment, property development, and real estate also benefit and do not need to be directly subsidized.
Bud Wills, Tampa
Career training to start earlier | Feb. 22
Start out young
Long-term, starting career training earlier in our schools is the most important news story in Friday's paper. As a corporate training executive, organization and human development consultant, and having co-chaired a blue ribbon task force for vocational training in Hillsborough County years ago, I see two missing elements in the Pinellas school effort.
The first is increasing career interest testing and counseling at an earlier age. It works. Helping young people find the best career options in middle and high school helps them direct their energy and learning toward careers they will succeed in and where they can realize their personal best.
Second, schools need to define the DNA for career and life success and teach the elements and process — and I don't mean what most charlatans are purporting as "do one simple thing and you will be successful and rich." When you overlay all the work that has been done by many experts on career and life success, there are some common, overlapping elements that we all agree are valid. Identify these vital, valid elements and teach them just as we do math, English, science, etc.
Richard Mayer, Palm Harbor
A realistic, ambitious push | Feb. 17, commentary
Let them be children
Why the "ambitious" push for little preschoolers? Leave them be and just let them be kids. Let them play with toys, horse around, play on the playground, etc. What's the rush?
Children have so much pressure nowadays, especially from school and their disorganized home lives. Let these babies enjoy their childhood and let them be kids.
Caroline Saddler, St. Petersburg