The year's worst bill cries out for a veto | May 24, Howard Troxler column
Old Florida lost to overdevelopment
I heartily agree with Howard Troxler. The so called "growth management" bill is far too broad and lenient. His opinions on the weaknesses of the bill are certainly appropriate. But in addition there are the aesthetics involved.
Some time ago your own Diane Roberts put her thoughts on "a paradise lost" in one of her columns, and I agreed with her thinking on overdevelopment.
I first started coming to Florida in 1942. It was simple and uncluttered. It actually lived up to its picture postcards and travel brochures. But unfortunately, as Roberts observed, overdevelopment driven by greed and the lack of appreciation of our natural resources has all but eradicated those Kodak moment scenes.
It is, in my humble opinion, sad and inexcusable that, on a drive along Gulf Boulevard or any other beach road, the sea, the sand and those enjoying it all cannot be seen. In their stead is an almost solid line of concrete buildings. Where once there were beach houses, now stand condominiums, hotels, townhouses and apartments serving thousands.
If only we could do some reverse planning, and regain the beauty that once was, and which we allowed to be taken away. I fear it is too late. We are our own enemy.
Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole
We cannot prosper without a strong middle class
The perception of a rising stock market being a major factor in the solution of the economic woes of the jobless and low-income earner is unrealistic. The stock market generally benefits those few with above-average disposable income.
A strong upturn in our country's economic condition was noted following World War II, and was mostly fueled by the demand of consumers in the middle-class. "Joe" might have been average, but he was part of the majority, and had increased his disposable income to a point where aggregate buying power had a major impact on the economy.
Accordingly, many manufacturers and retailers geared up for immediate and future consumer demands. Profits soared. Their greedy eye was on a now expected increase in profits based on a continuation of growth in both the size of the middle class and its disposable income. Neither would last, and the consequences are evident.
The downward cycle began, as the numbers in the then-defined middle class shrank, and the majority of disposable income was shifted to the elite. What future can an oil company have that only sells gas to owners of Rolls Royces or Mercedes? They can't possibly expect to increase profits on such a limited market. The mega-corporations and conglomerates have trapped themselves, and some are paying dearly.
For a long time it was all right if a few of the little guys were swept to the side, victims of progress. You can give up a tooth here and there if you must, but if you lose too many teeth eventually you're not going to be able to enjoy your food.
Domingo de la Torre, Holiday
Condos are left starving for fees | May 17, story
Government bowing out
Thank you for Marlene Sokol's recent article about the financial crisis many homeowner associations are currently experiencing. I could write volumes about the dysfunctionality of a system of governance that is neither democratic nor fair. I place the blame on our Legislature for creating this nightmare. Clearly, the legal profession and property managers have had a cash cow in the past. Only now the cow is giving much less milk due to the financial devastation foisted upon homeowners by a largely unregulated free-market system.
As is usually the case, ordinary working Americans are paying the price. Attorney Robert Tankel said it best: "The community association operations are really the privatization of local government. Government is getting out of the business of government."
What an apt description of our state Legislature. Herein lies the root of the problem.
John Gallo, Ruskin
It's not so bad — we could be California May 21, editorial
A system in failure
Ha! Florida may not look like California — yet. You actually think our elected officials are going to step up to the plate and start facing reality? When pigs fly!
Our tax system (among many other systems) is so convoluted it defies logic. But all legislators, Republicans or Democrats, only seem to kick the can down the road, so as not to disrupt their re-election efforts (and the money-trough that goes along with it). And the "sheeple" keep re-electing them. It's hysterical.
The same thing happens in our federal government. The system is broken? That would be an understatement. It's a cesspool of corruption.
Nearly all elected officials have long since forgotten the interests of the people of Florida or the nation. Special interest groups and lobbyists run roughshod over us all. And until such time as the people of this state (and country) stop getting caught up in all the "mass distraction" hysteria created by the media at large and make the effort to demand real change and accountability of their elected officials, the cycle will continue, ad nauseam.
Carolyn Beardsley, St. Petersburg
Let environmentalists pay for the Everglades land | May 19, letter
Remember sugar subsidy
The letter writer says that this land purchase is a waste of taxpayers' money on "perfectly good, revenue producing arable farmland." The facts are that the majority of the land in question has to do with sugar production, and for decades the U.S. taxpayer has subsidized this industry. Recent annual amounts are estimated to be about $1 billion to $1.2 billion; in all probability millions of dollars of taxpayer money are going into the hands of Florida's sugar-growing corporations.
The other egregious statement concerns labeling the Everglades a "swamp," and that if environmentalists want to "save the land" they should pay for it themselves. Actually, it is just as much about saving Florida Bay as it is about the land. The Everglades acts as a broad filter for the sheet flow of water that empties into Florida Bay. Over the years, because of hydrological manipulation and pollution of this natural system due to agricultural, commercial and residential development, the bay has degraded greatly
Although this does not eliminate sugar from South Florida, it initiates a reduction, and a beginning for the restoration process of the Everglades that is long overdue.
Ben Mercadante Jr., Odessa
The true issue of abortion
President John I. Jenkins made a serious mistake by inviting President Barack Obama to Notre Dame and granting him an honorary degree. Although an intellectual argument might be made to justify this invitation, a more important argument against this invitation comes from the media presentation that has been made to the world.
E.J. Dionne (Obama faces critics, controversy, with grace, May 19) states that Obama endorsed a broad agenda on the abortion issue and that he did so with grace. His agenda is lip service that has been uttered time and again by abortion advocates without ever addressing the true issue of abortion: It is the taking of a human life. Fine speeches do not change facts. There is no middle ground or compromise on this point.
It is telling that the so many writers are animated about water boarding, saving the snail darter and making electric cars but see only a "choice" in the taking of a human life. It is worth noting that recent polls suggest that more Americans are now against abortion. Let us pray that we can come together and love all, including the unborn.
Bill Magoulis, Tarpon Springs
He has no excuse
I am very surprised to read that a man as respected, admired and likeable as Tony Dungy would say that Michael Vick made a mistake!
There are people who make mistakes all the time. A mistake by definition is something done intentionaly. What Michel Vick did was intentional, as he did it over and over again. There is no excuse — period.
Michael T. Lemen, New Port Richey