Letters to the Editor

Recycling will help us in changing our wasteful ways

Recycling has a new supporter: the mayor | Sept. 25, story

Let's start changing our wasteful ways Clearly, 30 to 40 percent of our trash is recyclable at present and when the summer growing season is here, this easily tops 50 percent. While it is a true breakthrough that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has endorsed a monthly curbside pickup of aluminum, glass and newspaper/junk mail, there are problems associated with this approach.

We, the Urban Design Consortium, highly recommend that St. Petersburg set a time frame so that, within a year of inception of citywide recycling, regular trash pickup is reduced to once a week. The summer season will require a return to the twice-weekly schedule unless a comprehensive composting system is created. There is a real incentive to create a citywide composting system as St. Petersburg residents can be treated to free topsoil every spring.

Without this strategy, participation will be marginal. Many residents will resist collecting used food and beverage containers because storage will attract bugs and vermin. Without real incentives, most will not participate.

Mayor Baker is right to be concerned about increased carbon emissions, too, with recycling trucks' monthly presence. Eventually, a totally automated recycling system could be at hand utilizing the incredible regular trash pickup system that we have. It could be adapted to include recyclable collection and pickup.

Until then, we should ease our way into changing our wasteful habits, take heed of the strong negatives inherent in the present curbside model, and conduct a study and test of an automated truck pickup of recyclables. We hope that Pinellas County is anticipating a long-term decrease in incinerated trash, which is a source of revenue at present due to the generation of electricity. Once a person starts recycling, it is difficult to return to the radical "use it once" behavior.

Most important, curbside pickup is a grueling task for the hard-working sanitation worker. It is truly not an easy job as recyclables are usually sorted by hand. Let's keep this in mind as we forge our future. We Americans are known for innovation that makes life better for everyone, homeowner and worker.

Rand Moorhead, director, Urban Design Consortium, LLC, St. Petersburg

Seek greater savings

Taking a new stance on a previous policy decision in the face of new information isn't a political defeat, but an appropriate response to facts and public will. With the city of St. Petersburg now willing to implement curbside recycling, I urge the City Council and the mayor to push for a greater goal. It is not etched in stone that we have regular trash pickup twice per week. Consider going to once per week for trash and biweekly for recyclables. Neighbors can be encouraged to share unused container capacity with each other, like what happens at condos and with alley pickup.

If this trial works, we could then possibly see a reduction in solid waste disposal costs of maybe 15 to 25 percent, which could then be passed on to the citizenry. How green does St. Petersburg want to go?

Scott K. Wagman, St. Petersburg

Look at all options

Hallelujah! The mayor finally sees the light. But curbside recycling doesn't have to require more trucks. There are many ways to run such a recycling program and not all of those require additional or special trucks.

The easiest, most cost-effective way to offer this service in our area would be to have our current trucks pick up garbage on one day of the week, then on our second pickup day, pick up recyclables. Instead of using the green recycling crates, residents would need an additional can like the one they use now — one for garbage and one for recycling. Put one can out on garbage day, put the other can out on recycling day.

I hope that in keeping with his philosophy of saving the taxpayers money, the mayor will consider all options in implementing this service.

Martha Goodwill, St. Petersburg

Environmental stewardship is important to Raytheon

In its Aug. 20 story, Raytheon's cleanup history is a bit spotty, the St. Petersburg Times incompletely reported facts and largely ignored Raytheon Co.'s strong record of environmental stewardship. The result was a piece comprised of jumbled facts pertaining to environmental sites completely unrelated to the situation in St. Petersburg.

Raytheon takes its stewardship responsibilities seriously in the communities where it operates facilities and where many of its employees live. The company is a leader in environmentally sound practices. For example, Raytheon continues to be recognized by regulatory and enforcement agencies for its environmental stewardship activities, and it invests significant resources in the cleanup of past environmental contamination. .

In keeping with its environmentally conscious culture, Raytheon accepts responsibility for the St. Petersburg environmental site, has already begun remediation activities, and recognizes the need to communicate effectively with the community on progress. The company began communicating to local residents within days of purchasing the previous E-Systems facility in 1995. Since that time, Raytheon has not used the compounds of concern in its St. Petersburg operations. More recently, Raytheon has performed exhaustive surveying and sampling through leading consultants using the latest scientific and analytical techniques, and will continue to do so as it proceeds through the remediation process. It is important to note that the relatively small number of private residential wells identified as exceeding stringent Florida drinking water standards are used only for irrigation purposes. These and other scientific findings have led the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Raytheon to independently conclude there is no health threat from the Raytheon site.

The Aug. 20 story stated that Hughes Aircraft, a company acquired by Raytheon in 1997, opened a manufacturing plant in Tucson in 1950. In fact, the U.S. Air Force always has owned this property where Hughes operated as a contractor. The Air Force has been and continues to be responsible for the cleanup at that site, though Raytheon has actively participated in the state-of-the-art remediation program under way there.

The Times also reported that Hughes "operated a missile plant" in Rialto, Calif., which it did not. Hughes leased a bunker at the site solely for temporary storage of small, self-contained and sealed devices in impervious steel magazines under a lease Hughes inherited in 1992 and which it terminated in 1994.

Raytheon will continue to communicate with the residents of St. Petersburg through facts based on scientific findings relevant to the local situation.

Mitchell R. Lee, vice president and site executive, Raytheon Systems Co., Largo

Say no to the nanny state | Sept. 20, letter

Cutting fat and costs

This letter fails to recognize that the city of Los Angeles is not trying to "nanny" anyone. It's trying to avoid the unintended consequences of all those high-fat, unhealthy menu fast food restaurants in the low-income sections of the city.

Those proven consequences? That many of those same low-income people who are afflicted by obesity and its consequences such as diabetes and heart conditions, then strain the city's health budget because they show up in emergency rooms at city-run hospitals, then fail to pay the bills, thus passing their ever-increasing health care costs along to the taxpayers of the city.

It makes sense to me to try to fix that.

Bruce Nivens, St. Petersburg

Rays' winning ways erase a lost decade Sept. 23, editorial

A season for hope's return

It is with great joy (in a world where there is little joy at this time) that I cheer on the Rays. It has been a long time in coming, but it is here. My husband and I were season ticket holders since day one, until 2006. We were avid Rays' fans and even had an article about us in the St. Petersburg Times on May 11, 2002. For two years, I must admit that we lost hope. This year, we once again became season ticket holders.

We are so excited about the postseason now and love our Rays. They work hard as a team!

Go, Rays! We'll be there to cheer you on!

Marilyn Satinoff, Palm Harbor

Buses for baseball

While obviously the difficult parking situation needs to be addressed pronto, the viability of mass transit should also be explored in earnest. Many fans simply are not drivers. While there may be reasons why Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority cannot provide this service — unless private companies decline — both possibilities deserve a close look.

During the 1950s, the Cleveland Transit System (now RTA) ran "Baseball Special Buses," thus enabling many to attend who otherwise could not. Perhaps the Rays organization itself can step in to resolve this problem by contracting their own service. This should also reduce the number of cars competing for limited space.

Annette E. Sala, St. Petersburg

Focus on the children

I want to thank you so much for your article, Fundraising projects lead to hide-and-seek, on Sept 15. I am the program chair for Florida PTA and the past president of the Pinellas County Council of PTAs, and we are constantly encouraging our members to focus on the issues of child advocacy and not fundraising.

We know that during these tough economic times PTA monies can really help the schools, but our main objective is the health, safety and welfare of each child. I was thrilled to see you write, "If you are fed up with fundraisers, write out a check to your school PTA" and then suggest a "beg-off" form. We wholeheartedly endorse these form letters because the entire amount goes to the PTA, and children are not used to raise monies for the vendors.

If you would like any further information on the activities of the PTAs in Pinellas, please check out our Web site at www.PCCPTA.org.

Carol Conaway, Largo

State constitutional amendment on marriage

Be clear on measure's impact I appreciate your good-faith attempts to cover all sides of the Amendment 2 debate. But it would be better if you could describe the amendment more accurately. Amendment 2 would not just "essentially ban gay marriage in Florida," as your article says (Minority pastors rally for gay ban, Sept. 25). Amendment 2 would block any legal recognition of gay marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships in Florida.

This is not a matter of opinion, as your article seems to imply. It is in the language of the amendment itself, which says: "No other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

If you want to see the practical effect of this, just look at events in other states that have approved similar constitutional amendments, like Michigan. Local governments, public universities and the like have been told they can no longer offer domestic partnership benefits to unmarried employees, gay or straight. Elderly straight couples who have chosen not to marry to preserve their pensions and inheritance rights for their children can be denied medical decisionmaking authority and automatic hospital visitation.

Amendment 2 goes far beyond banning gay marriage — which, by the way, is already illegal in Florida. Amendment 2 would take away domestic partnership benefits that are already offered to teachers, police officers and other public employees in many Florida communities.

People are entitled to disagree whether this is good or bad. But it's the newspaper's job to describe the proposal completely and accurately, so that voters can make a fully informed choice.

James Harper, Tampa

Avoid deceptive labels

In a recent article on the opinion poll regarding Amendment 2 (Gay marriage ban is drawing closer, Sept. 20) you once again fail to clarify the real effects of this deceptively titled "gay marriage" or "marriage protection" amendment.

The truth is that this amendment would not protect anyone's marriage. Same-sex couples are already prohibited from being legally married in Florida, and this unnecessary amendment would not affect that.

However, the amendment could do serious harm to 360,000 unmarried partners in Florida, 90 percent of whom are heterosexual couples (including seniors, firefighters, teachers, police officers, government employees, university staff and countless others) who may get their health care and other benefits through domestic partnerships. For these Floridians, Amendment 2 helps and protects no one.

Please help all who will be voting on Amendment 2 by including in your reports a clear explanation of its potentially harmful effects.

Catherine Smith, St. Petersburg

Judge not

According to the letter writer (Pushing beliefs, Sept. 21) by trying to protect the rights of the gay community we are pushing our beliefs onto her and those who follow the Bible literally. I must differ with her.

She is in no way affected by giving gays basic civil rights that she and I are privileged to have. No one is telling her that she must agree — she has every right to speak her mind. But by voting to deny those civil rights to others, she is affecting the lives of thousands. And why? Everyone is not of one mind when it comes to living by what the Bible dictates.

I will not judge her for using the Bible as her guide to life. Please let those of us who don't have all the answers have the same right. That's my definition of "a love of mankind."

Marie Chapman, Palm Harbor

Gay marriage ban is drawing closer | Sept. 20, story

hed here and here and okay

Subject: Amendment 2

In your recent article on the opinion poll regarding Amendment 2, you once again fail to clarify the real intent of those who are backing this deceptively-titled "gay marriage" or "marriage protection" amendment.

The truth is that this amendment would not protect anyone's marriage. There are already several State laws which define marriage as "the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife." Same-sex couples are already prohibited from being legally married in Florida, and this unnecessary Amendment would not affect that prohibition in any way.

However, the Amendment could do serious harm to 360,000 unmarried partners in Florida--90% of whom are heterosexual couples (including seniors, firefighters, teachers, police officers, government employees, university staff and countless others) who may get their healthcare and other benefits through domestic partnerships. For these Floridians, Amendment 2 helps and protects no one.

The Florida Constitution should protect citizens, not take away benefits already relied upon by millions of Floridians. Please help all Florida citizens who will be voting on Amendment 2 by including in your reports a clear explanation of its potentially harmful effects.

Catherine Smith, St. Petersburg

Subject: "Minority pastors rally for gay ban" (9-25

I appreciate your good-faith attempts to cover all sides of the Amendment 2 debate. But it would be better if you could describe the amendment more accurately.

Amendment 2 would not just "essentially ban gay marriage in Florida," as the lede of your article says.

Amendment 2 would block any legal recognition of gay marriage, civil unions OR domestic partnerships in Florida.

This is not a matter of opinion, as your article seems to imply; it is in the language of the Amendment itself, which says: "No other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

If you want to see the practical effect of this, just look at real events in other states that have approved similar constitutional amendments, like Michigan. Local governments, public universities and the like have been told they can no longer offer domestic partnership benefits to unmarried employees, gay or straight. Elderly straight couples who have chosen not to marry in order to preserve their pensions and inheritance rights for their children can be denied medical decision-making authority and automatic hospital visitation.

Amendment 2 goes far beyond banning gay marriage -- which, by the way, is already illegal in Florida. Amendment 2 would take away domestic partnership benefits that are already offered to teachers, police officers and other public employees in many communities across the state.

People are entitled to disagree whether this is good or bad. But it's the newspaper's job to describe the proposal completely and accurately, so that voters can make a fully informed choice.

James Harper, Tampa, FL

Pushing beliefs | Sept. 21, letter

hed

According to Joan Jenkin, by trying to protect the rights of the gay community, we are pushing our beliefs onto her and those who follow the Bible literally. I must differ with her.

She is in no way affected by giving gays basic civil rights that she and I are privileged to have. No one is telling her that she must agree---she has every right to speak her mind, but by voting to deny those rights, she is affecting the lives of thousands. And why? Everyone is not of one mind when it comes to living by what the Bible dictates. By denying those who disagree with her to have their own beliefs, in my mind, that's called bigotry. And I'm sure she doesn't see herself that way. It seems like those who believe that they have the answer to the way we should all live our lives, are not a bit interested in listening to those of us who believe differently. I'm not trying to get into heaven, since I don't have a really good idea of what or where that is---I am living my life on this Earth day by day in the best and kindest way I know how, and my reward will be that I have done all that I can to make this world a better place for everyone, even Ms Jenkin. And, if by chance I do end up in heaven, then I'll know. I will not judge her for using the Bible as her guide to life. Please let those of us who don't have all the answers have the same right. That's my definition of "a love of mankind".

Marie Chapman

Palm Harbor

Marie Chapman , Palm Harbor, FL

Recycling will help us in changing our wasteful ways 09/26/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 1:47pm]

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...