Burning trash no
way to get power
If we needed any more evidence that proposals to expand Pasco County's Shady Hills trash incinerator are a poor alternative for dealing with solid waste, the St. Pete Times delivered it March 14, Smog added to area hit list. According to the report, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to require Pasco, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota Counties to take expensive new steps to reduce smog and attain air quality standards.
Additionally, the EPA is expected to impose tougher restrictions on incinerators, like Shady Hills, which release nitrogen oxides, a key component in smog. Needless to say, considering expanding the incinerator in the face of this news is even more questionable now, on both environmental and economic grounds.
And the new standards represent a compromise as a result of lobbying. If they were established based on the recommendations of the EPA's own science advisory panel, the standards would be considerably lower, so even the proposed new standards leave a lot to be desired when considering human health effects. We should all remember the references in the article along the lines of "Where do you draw the line on saving lives" and "more sick days, school absences and deaths".
The trash-to-energy industry has been aggressive and skillful at portraying burning trash to produce energy as a wonderful and perhaps even an eco-friendly, solid-waste disposal solution. But it is a devil's bargain because of the human health effects. So rather than the win-win scenario that is often portrayed, this really is a losing proposition.
Jerry Kissel, Clearwater
Big business in Zephyrhills? No | March 18 letter
Businesses don't need to be big
If I am fortunate enough to be elected to City Council seat two by the registered voters of the city of Zephyrhills, it is true that I will work hard to assist our city and county's economic development teams in attracting big business to the areas of our community earmarked for commercial and light industrial users.
Many successful companies already exist here, quietly conducting their businesses right in our back yard, and employing many of our city's residents. The folks at Zephyr Egg, Florida Hospital, Heil Trucking, Morrow Steel and Oldcastle Concrete (just to name a few) provide valuable jobs and services to our region and help support our tax base. This revenue relieves some the financial burden of providing water, sewer, police and fire protection services to our community's residents. I have built my reputation as a vocal proponent of smart growth — defined as that which enhances our quality of life and doesn't compromise it.
I think most will agree that "big business" was hardly the cause of the residential construction boom our county experienced over the past few years. The situation was created by the expanding population in Tampa, the lack of affordable housing there and the availability of less expensive land here. There's certainly no shortage of vacant homes now!
And the letter writer's statement that "the greater percentage of year-round residents is retired" is inaccurate. Of the approximately 12,500 residents living in our city limits, only 4,900 or so are 60 years of age or older. Not that I would ever discourage seniors from retiring to Zephyrhills. Actually, I'd just like their families to be able to thrive here, too. One of the best decisions my husband and I ever made was deciding to raise our boys in this charming little town, affording them the opportunity to walk home from school, live next door to their grandparents and be a part of their daily lives.
Jodi Wilkeson, Zephyrhills
Stealing signs stifles free speech | March 17 letter
Candidates not likely culprits
I was disappointed in former Dade City Commissioner Bill Dennis' letter.
I talked to candidates and confirmed they all have had signs missing. It happens every election year. Mr. Dennis neglected to mention other possibilities:
A simple act of vandalism quickly done by someone passing by with nothing better to do.
Over-enthusiastic supporters of candidates who want opponents to look bad.
Some signs are missing because code enforcement took them down.
Some people have removed signs from their yards that were put there without permission. A couple who live on Church Street told me that. (I know that is not the case in Mr. Dennis' yard, of course.)
I can understand why he is upset, but it was unfair to point suspicion at another candidate he does not support by writing, "I'll let you draw your own conclusions.''
I do not believe any candidate running for office in Dade City is stealing signs. That would be a stupid thing to do and makes no sense since it is a misdemeanor and would only hurt the candidate.
Why is it only supporters of Mr. Dennis' chosen candidates are the ones complaining about sign theft? There are more important issues to address like the fair treatment of all city residents.
Jean McNary, Dade City
Deputies' arrest a slap to colleagues | March 18 letter
Some go beyond responsibilities
Like another letter writer, I was disappointed that two law enforcement officers were arrested. In the last weeks and months news stories about the Pasco Sheriff's Office do not shed a very good light on the department. We can all be disappointed in the performance of certain public servants.
Well, there is the other side of the story. There are dedicated employees who work in this department. On March 10, I was watching an empty rental unit in a community of residents 55 and older. A previous tenant was removed by court order five to six weeks ago. This ex-tenant showed up at the unit on March 9 and attempted to enter and was unable to do so. About 5 a.m. on March 10, I was told that the ex-tenant had returned during the night. I called the Sheriff's Office and Deputy D. Housel and a colleague answered the call. They investigated, but there had not been a break-in. I told the deputies about the history of the tenant and they left.
Around 8 a.m. I checked the united again and a window was broken, someone had entered after 6 a.m. Deputy Housel responded, he had all the information concerning the court order I had discussed with him two hours earlier. The deputies investigated the break-in. Before leaving deputy Housel talked with other tenants in the building and assured them the sheriff's department would do everything to find and arrest the ex-tenant.
Sometime later in the day, the ex-tenant was arrested. Deputy Housel returned in the afternoon and told the building's tenants of the arrest. He contacted me personally to tell me of the arrest and give me all the information so the owner of the unit could follow up.
I was extremely impressed with professional and caring attitude of this public servant. Was this the service I expected? No, it was more, much more.
Mike Goheen, Holiday
Evolution being oversold to kids | March 18 letter
Most scientists reject creationism
The pro-creationist letter writer is totally misinformed on many aspects of the inescapable accuracy of Darwinian natural selection.
"Creationism and other biblical principles are overwhelmingly accepted as absolute truth." By whom? In the American Academy of Science, 93 percent of members utterly reject the idea of supernatural intervention, and virtually every biologist, botanist, physicist and cosmologist worthy of the name unreservedly supports the fact of evolution.
And if he's referring to the many thousands who congregate each Sunday to affirm their faith, just hoping it's true, doesn't alter the facts one bit. After all, the Vatican only recently got around (in 1967) to forgiving Galileo for his heretical suggestion of a heliocentric solar system.
"The nonexistence of any transitional fossils." Just repeating a canard doesn't make it true. There are hundreds of thousands of fossils that lend credence to natural selection, with more being found every day. Read The Selfish Gene or Climbing Mount Improbable. By the way, on which day did God create the fossils?
Darwin's theory is anything but random, as explained in many of Richard Dawkins' books. It is a perfectly-realized explanation of every marvellous complexity of the natural world.
Nick Hobart, New Port Richey