Protect Florida's environment
The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that nearly 20 percent of Florida's homes — close to 1.6 million — are vacant. On top of this, more than 1 million dwelling units have been approved but not yet built across the state. With the economic downturn, home property values in our state have been slashed in half — from a high of $287,800 in the summer of 2006 to $133,400 in the summer of 2010. What is the Florida Legislature's response to this pressing problem? Pave the way for even more massive development in Florida.
This session, the Legislature is slashing planning rules designed to protect our drinking water sources, lessen congestion on our roads, safeguard our beaches and rivers from overdevelopment and maintain our quality of life. It is streamrolling over state standards that developers pay for the costs of roads, sewers and schools associated with development. Developers no longer will have to show that there is any need for development, or even demonstrate that the development is financially feasible. Citizens' ability to participate in their local planning process will be diminished. Legislators say this to promote economic development.
Florida's environment and quality of life are this state's best economic development tools. To destroy these assets is sheer folly. And to force taxpayers to pick up the costs for irresponsible development is unconscionable.
Jean Charles Marks and Randall Marks, St. Petersburg
Journal wants kinder words for companions May 4
It's seems that the leading academics in Britain have gone off the deep end. The word "pet" is insulting? To whom? They would prefer the term "companion animals."
Isn't the term "animals" more insulting? If you call someone an "animal" it conjures up someone regarded as "devoid of human attributes or civilizing influences … someone who is cruel, violent, or repulsive." If you call someone your "pet," that conjures up images of someone who is there for "companionship or pleasure and treated with care and affection."
Ronald Melone, Clearwater
Code name Geronimo
A fitting tribute
Geronimo was an almost forgotten American Indian hero until our U.S. Navy SEALs used his name as the password in their successful capture of Osama bin Laden. What a perfect tribute to the memory of Geronimo.
Donald E. Burke, St. Petersburg
With each breath, woes grow | May 5
Care for least among us
The theory of survival of the fittest has morphed into a new form. The fittest can now be defined as those who have enough money to purchase their health care, allowing them to continue functional living well into their 70s or 80s.
The young man Enock Mezilas in this article cannot get the health care he needs, even with health insurance. As our medical technology advances, I am hopeful that our ability to care for the least among us — those not the fittest — also advances.
Mike Ferreira, St. Petersburg
Legislature has no right to make it harder to vote | May 3, commentary
Early voting is a relatively new concept. While citizens have the right to vote, early voting is a convenience. It is the citizen's responsibility to make sure he or she is properly registered to vote; citizens are free to contact their supervisor of elections and register at their convenience.
Sen. Bill Nelson is against the Legislature reducing the time frame that groups conducting voter registration drives have to turn in their results. These groups are not responsible for registering voters. The individual voter is. Most often, groups conducting voter registration drives are only interested in registering people of a certain political party to increase the chances of their candidate winning the election.
Nelson's reference to the fact that half of the provisional ballots in Florida during the 2008 election were not counted makes it clear that greater scrutiny of the election process is necessary to guard against voter fraud.
The Florida Legislature is not taking away any citizen's right to vote. It is simply trying to reduce fraud in the election process by requiring voters to follow guidelines that will help ensure the validity of the voting process.
Mark McDaniel, Oviedo
It's about greed, not supply
There appears to be a lot of confusion among the public about the price of gas. Oil companies do not set the price of oil (or gas), unless they are flooding the futures market with speculative hundreds of millions of dollars themselves.
Gas and oil futures are formed by those who use great quantities of the commodities, such as airlines, trucking companies and the like in order to set their airline prices and fleet costs. They try to get the best price for the next six months or so.
There are others who are speculators. It is the big speculators of mutual funds and large financial institutions like Goldman Sachs that throw hundreds of millions at the price of oil and gas.
They take any unrest in Libya, which controls about 2 percent of the world's market, as if it's an extreme emergency. Of course, it has nothing to do with the amount of oil available — there is plenty. It's about greed.
Congress and administrations wring their hands and say they can do nothing. They are wrong. They could take oil and gas futures off speculative markets, or at least limit speculation to $500,000 within a six-month period, per company or individual. That would solve the problem.
Or we could do nothing and continue to pay $60 per fill-up and line the re-election pockets of conservatives.
Don Hayes, Tampa