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Saturday letters: Bees should not have been destroyed

Isn't that just wonderful! There's an alarming shortage of bees to pollinate our food sources as well as flowers, and now I read that 200,000 of these desperately needed bees were killed!

Surely there must have been some way to relocate at least a portion of the hive along with its queen to a more useful location. There doesn't seem to have been much forethought regarding this matter.

Sue E. Conrad, North Redington Beach

Preserve the pollinators

Pinellas Park's solution to the honey bees in an old camper was about as intelligent as creating an international oil slick in the bay. European bees, sadly, are disappearing. In addition, the migrating of the dangerous African bee continues.

Killing 200,000 European bees is a crop disaster. These little friends are essential for pollinating every living plant. That camper could have been covered with screen, hauled to a remote location and left for these wonderful little critters to expand and do their job for our survival.

Al Brown, St. Petersburg

Don't make things worse

Regarding the killing of the European bee hive in Pinellas Park, I hope I have misunderstood the point of this article. Were the bees actually killed? Couldn't the hive just be moved? I think professional beekeepers can be brought in to move hives.

Most of us know that the honeybee population is in trouble. Researchers do not fully understand why. Our food crops depend on bee pollination. Let's not make this problem worse by killing hives unnecessarily.

Sara Hendricks, Lutz

Not a smart move

What a great idea, killing 200,000 European honeybees. Anybody whose IQ is higher than their age knows they're highly endangered, as well as being essential for pollinating nearly every plant that grows.

One would think that in 2010 we'd be wise and considerate enough to find alternate ways to remove a harmless colony of much-needed bees, but I guess there's no limit to our arrogance and lack of thought.

Walter Roberts, Inverness

Friends of the food chain

I was surprised to read these bees were killed. I keep reading and hearing that our bee population is declining.

Was it not possible to relocate all or part of the hive? I don't care about the honey — save the bees. Our food chain depends on them.

Jean Alli, Belleair

A USF traffic camera brawl | April 25, story

Red light cameras make driving safer

The main source in the article about the University of South Florida and photo enforcement states that red light cameras "actually make intersections more dangerous," but it is the reliance on poor research methods that is the danger.

The USF report cited in the article is not independent research, but an opinion piece based on several existing studies dismissed by experts in the highway safety field as having serious methodological flaws.

In one study the article cites from Greensboro, N.C., for example, researchers treated data from intersections with and without cameras as if the cameras had been randomly assigned to their locations. In fact, officials in Greensboro installed cameras at intersections with higher crash rates — more than twice as many crashes as other intersections in the city before the cameras were installed. The study ignored this difference and concluded that, because crashes at intersections with cameras outnumbered those at the comparison sites, the cameras must be the culprits.

Meanwhile, peer-reviewed research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is criticized as "unscientific" for using sound methods to compare crashes before and after photo enforcement began in Oxnard, Calif. One such method was to include intersections without cameras in the analysis because photo enforcement reduces crashes communitywide, not just at camera sites. Excluding intersections without cameras dilutes crash reduction results. The appropriate comparison is with all intersections in similar communities without photo enforcement.

Finally, insurance institute research is alleged to be biased because it is funded by automobile insurance companies. Study after study concludes that red light cameras are effective in reducing crashes. Most of this research was conducted by government agencies and other traffic safety experts not connected to the insurance industry. The article ignores the fact that in most places there is no insurance consequence from photo enforcement because the violation does not go on the driver's record and no points are assessed.

Red light runners are breaking the law and putting everyone else at risk. The crashes they cause kill about 800 people each year and injure more than 130,000. The body of research consistently shows that red light cameras reduce violations 40 to 50 percent and reduce injury crashes by 25 to 30 percent. The public supports photo enforcement, and community leaders need to know the facts about its effectiveness.

Adrian K. Lund, Ph.D., president, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, Va.

Obama too slow to act in dealing with oil spill | May 1, editorial

Obama yields too easily

The terrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was so predictable. For half a million bucks, BP could have bought an acoustic switch that would have shut off the spillage at the floor of the sea. Instead we have a disaster and BP is on the hook for billions.

Your editorial correctly criticized President Barack Obama's recent decision to open up the gulf to more drilling. But what you neglected to add is that this decision is part of a larger pattern with President Obama. Whatever the issue — whether it is health care, or regulatory reform, or immigration reform, or Afghanistan, or the environment — Obama makes concessions to corporate interests and to the Republicans without getting anything in return. Unlike the Roosevelts (Teddy and Franklin), his approach is to give ground instead of standing his ground.

As one who strongly supported Obama in the 2008 campaign, writing dozens of letters to the editor on his behalf, I now view him as a disappointment — despite his wonderful speaking ability. I know that other progressives feel much the same way but so far our views have been absent from your opinion pages. You print wild accusations from the right —that Obama is a socialist and so on — but these are tiresome and far off the mark. The real flaws and shortcomings of this gifted man need to be honestly discussed.

Bret Raushenbush, Clearwater

Officials assail BP for spill response May 1, story

Move to energy's future

We have a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico inadequately managed, destroying our precious environment, killing endangered marine life and threatening the livelihood of many. And yet, this too could eventually be forgotten as we go about our business of "Drill, baby, drill."

That would be the real catastrophe. Hopefully this will become our "Sputnik moment." Sputnik was the first Earth-orbiting Soviet satellite in 1957 that galvanized Americans to enter and eventually win the space race.

This tragedy should galvanize us to take the lead from other countries now ahead of us in renewable energy. And we have a plan to do it. Devised by ex-oilman T. Boone Pickens, the plan uses America's plentiful natural gas to replace oil as a transportation fuel. And it starts creating millions of new jobs by moving to solar and wind energy sources.

We need to wake from our long slumber relying on the last century's energy solutions and start work on the ones that move us forward in this century.

George Chase, St. Pete Beach

Drilling, disaster, denial | May 4, Paul Krugman column

Nature will win

In this column, Paul Krugman said "that the environment (that is, nature) won't take care of itself."

This is nonsense. Of course it will.

Nature will always win out — even if it has to kill us to succeed.

David Derrick, Pinellas Park

Time to join forces and save millions April 29, editorial

Money is being wasted

Your article was very good and mirrors what I've been saying for years about fire and police consolidation. But you should be asking why this wasn't done years ago. You know the answer: Most public officials aren't worried about spending the taxpayers' money until the money is scarce! Tell the public the truth!

What you really need to do is educate the public on how incompetent many of their public officials really are. Examples below:

Pinellas is enacting a fertilizer ban at the same time you reported (State fines Pinellas for polluted water, May 1) that the county is being fined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for improper sewage discharge carrying many of the very same contaminants the fertilizer ban is to stop! Don't you see a problem? As a ridiculous excuse, they attempt to "spin" the subject by saying the contaminants aren't toxic. Well, neither are fertilizer contaminants. Cost to repair the sewerage problem: between $2 million and $15 million. Doesn't anybody think somebody should be fired?

The county spends nearly $24 million on the new Eagle Lake Park which took taxable land off the tax rolls (which has to be made up by the taxpayers), remained closed for several months at the same time they were laying off park employees and reducing hours. In truth, while beautiful, the park was expensive, unnecessary and will be expensive to maintain in future years.

Then the commissioners are shocked by their inability to fund the repair of potholes (Pothole report jars County Commission, May 1).

Anybody think they should have fixed the sewerage and pothole problems before spending nearly $24 million on a new park as described above ? What incompetent management by our elected officials!

How about telling the public the truth?

Jim Harpham, Palm Harbor

Water scooter crash kills 1 | May 3, story

Questions about a tragedy

Recently, we learned from the St. Petersburg Times that a water scooter accident on the waters of northern Tampa Bay claimed the life of a 20-year-old rabbinical student visiting from New York. A collision with another scooter, both rented from a nearby facility, apparently threw the subject into the water where he floated facedown while his companion on the other scooter departed to seek help.

Certain questions are raised regarding this incident. How much do individuals need to know about common safety procedures on the water before they are allowed to rent and operate these types of vessels? Why would someone leave a person floating on the water facedown to seek help? How long did he think the floating person could live with his face in the water? Why did he not have a portable radio with which to summon help while he attempted to rescue his companion?

I am certain these questions will never be answered, but they should be raised and considered if we are to prevent these tragedies in the future.

Alvin H. Felman, M.D., Tampa

Saturday letters: Bees should not have been destroyed 05/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 7, 2010 6:08pm]
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