Coalition pressures utilities | Aug. 15
No one looking out for ratepayers
The basic problem with the Duke Energy situation is that legislators are primarily lawyers and not businessmen and have little or no exposure to investments.
For centuries there have been three primary groups in business transactions: 1. customers who buy products or services; 2. companies who produce; 3. shareholders (investors) who assume the risk of investing to gain the rewards of the profits, if any.
Typically customers who are dissatisfied with the service or cost leave and go to a competitor. Public utilities are a monopoly so customers are stuck and regulators' role is to look out for their interests. The problem apparently began in 2006 when legislators, with obvious lobbying help from the utilities, decided they would change the relationship and pass the cost (and risk) of ownership from the company to the customers (ratepayers). This corruption of the balance has given Duke (formerly Progress Energy) a unique environment. They do not have to raise money from the investment community, which is sophisticated and would demand a higher return on riskier ventures. The money comes from customers who have no say in decisions, nor their "return on investment," which is actually a higher electric rate.
It is good that Duke can report record earnings while charging record rates. This should be the concern of the regulators. The PSC (Preserve Shareholder Compensation) has proven to be deaf to any voices other than the utilities'. The recent virtual elimination of investments in energy efficiency merely compounds the lack of consumer interest. Since they pay no attention to citizens, the citizens (taxpayers) should pay them nothing in return. Have them look to the utilities for all their compensation. Maybe they can even get a hunting trip to the King Ranch added.
Jim Hunter, Lutz
Duke Energy coverage tells only half the story | Aug. 15, column
The president of Duke Energy Florida stated, "Solutions seem simple when you don't have to take responsibility for considering every factor in ensuring nearly 4 million Floridians, who call this area home, have sufficient, cost-effective energy 24/7." So, what was Duke thinking when it broke the CR3 nuclear plant in Crystal River? Where was Duke's responsibility? If Duke "took responsibility" for bumbling the repair job at Crystal River, it would pay for the damage it has inflicted on its customers by cutting the dividend to its shareholders. Instead, Duke Energy's customers are stuck paying for Duke's irresponsible stupidity while its management and shareholders profit.
Jim Stiteler, Homosassa
Preventing more suicides
As a mental health professional and advocate, it is entirely distressing to read about the death of such a talented individual. However, we have lost over 5,000 people in the state of Florida over the last two years to suicide. How many of these deaths could have been prevented with intervention and access to essential mental health treatment and substance abuse services?
Our legislators continue to inadequately fund these types of services, which have scored us a ranking of 49th in our country. Mental illnesses are diseases, can be treated and in most situations the symptoms can be managed. How many of our fellow estimated 750,000 Florida citizens could be eligible for Medicaid if our legislators approved Medicaid expansion and are suffering from untreated, undiagnosed mental illnesses today?
It is not "funny" to have a mental health disorder, nor any addiction, or issues with substance abuse. In fact they are degenerative and debilitating illnesses without treatment. We need to have honest discussions about these diseases and educate our ignorance. We need to demand that our elected officials provide adequate funding to save lives. When people receive treatment, they generally improve their quality of life; most even lead productive exemplary lives in their workplace and communities.
I know this to be a fact since I not only accomplished this for myself; but also colleagues, advocates and family members have helped others achieve the same result.
Joan M. Andrade, Pinellas Park
Jeb Bush: Medical pot bad for Florida | Aug. 15
Remember Terri Schiavo
You would think that after his shameful performance in the Terri Schiavo tragedy, Jeb Bush would be too embarrassed to offer any advice on the rights and well-being of patients suffering from serious and debilitating medical conditions. But here he is, once again, trying to impose his views on medical treatment for Florida patients.
Amendment 2 is about allowing those suffering from debilitating conditions to access treatment plans that include using marijuana as a medicine, under the supervision of a doctor, to alleviate pain and suffering.
Apparently the former governor is counting on the people of Florida forgetting about his history of using the power of government to invade people's medical choices, such as when he used his power as governor to push aside years of court decisions that determined that Terri Schiavo would not have wanted to be kept alive in a vegetative state. He then attempted to command the machinery of state government to force feed a person who was brain dead.
Jeb Bush was wrong about interfering in and trying to dictate treatment in the Schiavo tragedy, and he is wrong now. These are medical decisions to be made by doctors about what is best for their patients; it is not a role for politicians.
Howard L. Simon, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Miami
Bush in denial
So, Jeb Bush believes Florida's reputation would be harmed by the passing of the medical marijuana bill? Between illegal gerrymandering, attempts to restrict the vote, hanging chads, long lines at the polls, foreclosures and massive income inequality, Florida long ago lost any semblance of a good reputation. If Bush is truly concerned with the reputation of Florida, I would suggest instead of looking at the very popular citizens initiative for medical marijuana that he take a deep look at the poor performance of his party over the past couple of decades.
Ray Day, Spring Hill