Board: Expedite wetland permits | May 21
Water projects need careful study
I am wary about the recent Swiftmud board decision to speed up the permitting of wetlands destruction. I am in favor of better responsiveness. Environmentalists need permits for projects too. Waiting is as frustrating for them as it is for any other homeowner or developer.
However, system inefficiency is only one of the problems that slow things down. Another is the recent drastic cuts in staff levels. The system lost wisdom when it laid off the people. Further, some of the projects are indeed complex and require careful study and interagency coordination. That can legitimately take time.
The board voting that permits have to be acted on in 60 days or they are automatically approved is like saying if the waiter doesn't bring your bill within five minutes after you finish dessert, the meal is free. Cute idea, but not fair.
Chair Carlos Beruff has it backward when he says that Swiftmud should be a service industry. It is a regulatory agency, one that oversees use of limited water and wetland resources for the good of the environment and all of us (developers, greens and the uninvolved) who live in west-central Florida.
Like the song says, take your time and do it right.
Rich Brown, Tampa
Obama backs Shinseki | May 22
We've heard this before
President Barack Obama has finally expressed his displeasure with the alleged VA misconduct by saying: "So if these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it — period." Is this the same "period" he used when he said if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your insurance, period? (PolitiFact Lie of the Year, 2013)
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
President finally acts strongly on VA May 22, editorial
Problems date back years
President Barack Obama's seeming outrage concerning the VA health care system would be laughable if the situation wasn't so tragic. He has been making speeches since 2007 on his intent to fix the system while doing nothing until patients started dying due to negligent bureaucratic mismanagement. This isn't something new; according to the inspector general it has been going on for years.
It is a good example of how inept the government is when trying to run a health care system.
Dayle R. Stevens, Largo
Diversity on campus? Perish the thought May 18, commentary
Assessing Rice and war
While I want to applaud this opinion piece by Timothy Egan, who speaks eloquently about the importance of listening to free speech even when we might not agree with it, I also applaud the students at Rutgers University. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that those students didn't follow the model set by students and faculty at Boston College in May 2006, when demonstrations were held against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The fact is, however, that the students and faculty of Rutgers did need to raise their voices in protest against Rice. While she is intelligent and gifted, she helped to foist upon us, and the world, one of the worst tragedies in recent history: the Bush-Cheney-led war against Iraq.
Not only did thousands of Americans die or suffer devastating injuries needlessly, but the people of Iraq suffered mercilessly and continue to suffer today in a protracted civil war.
Ralph N. Madison Jr., St. Petersburg
Change in health law adds bailout | May 22
There seems to be no limit to President Barack Obama's willingness to manipulate the Affordable Care Act to minimize the political fallout. Now we are told that the insurance companies will be protected from any losses they may incur. Can you say "bailout"?
I think it is unfortunate that news of such potentially far-reaching political and financial import was relegated to page 10 of the Times.
Edward Germond, Apollo Beach
Gov. Rick Scott
Numbers tell the story
Gov. Scott is shamelessly using his grandson in his latest political campaign ad, saying that he "worries every day" what his grandson will think of him in light of what the media says about him. What will Scott tell the lad about his involvement in the biggest Medicare fraud in history? As Scott says in another ad, "the numbers tell the story."
Numbers as in: $1.7 billion fine, largest in history, for the fraud committed by Columbia/HCA, his company; and 75, the number of times he pleaded the Fifth in another Columbia/HCA matter; and $300 million, the amount HCA paid him to hit the road, and perhaps, keep his mouth shut; and $70 million, the amount of that money he spent buying the office with vicious attack ads. Be sure to explain those to the boy.
David Alfonso, Largo
Redistricting papers ruled confidential May 23
No secret meetings
I don't understand how elected officials Don Gaetz and Will Weatherford can meet in secret about Florida's Fair District standards as if it is okay with the public. Thirty years ago it was smoked-filled rooms; now it is small groups meeting in secret, and then their "deal" is forwarded to Rep. Steve Precourt, chairman of the House redistricting committee, also in secret.
Then we have political operative Pat Bainter, who has a document he says can't be entered into the record because it contains his trade secrets. Where is the outrage from the people of Florida? Let's get everything out in the open and actually see what happened and how we might change things to make Fair Districts work.
Frank Carman, Sun City Center
Matter of fairness | May 23, letter
Parade is for everyone
The letter writer should know that the St. Pete Pride Parade — no longer the "Gay Pride Parade" — is his parade. It celebrates inclusiveness, diversity, acceptance and freedom for all. All colors, religions and preferences of love are welcome to enjoy and be a part of a unified community.
Scott Morse, St. Petersburg