This is a perfect example of why the leash law should be enforced. If there hadn't been an unleashed dog, this horrible, heartbreaking incident would not have occurred.
However, regardless of the cause, it is terrifying to know that there is a police officer armed with a deadly weapon who had such poor judgment and such a trigger-happy finger that he shot and killed two companion dogs who were leashed. What happened to pepper spray and mace? Either could have stopped a dog fight with no lasting effects!
There is plenty of blame to go around. First, an irresponsible pet owner who did not have his old, blind dog on a leash. Second, a trigger-happy police officer who failed to engage his brain before taking deadly action. Third, the Police Department for failure to select a competent individual and/or for failing to provide training in how to react to non-life threatening cases. (This is not intended to knock St. Petersburg's finest, who are doing an excellent job of taking care of us and our pets!)
My deepest sympathy to the "parents" of Missy and Quincy who were loving, responsible pet owners.
D.J. Ellis, St. Petersburg
Pet owners, be responsible
The police officer was correct in shooting the dogs. The key phrase in this article is: "Somehow, the dogs got into it."
Somehow, the owners of these animals did not have control and allowed another dog to be injured and an officer to be at risk for injury.
Pet owners should be responsible. No ifs, ands or buts. The breed doesn't matter. That officer had every right to protect himself because the owners of the dogs were not responsible enough.
I love my dogs, and protect them and others by socializing them and keeping them under control.
Kathy Shepherd, Tampa
Poor police judgment
What kind of police officer would shoot two innocent dogs? The owners have stated that they were trying to separate the dogs by themselves, that both the dogs that were shot were on leashes, and that "the officer wasn't helping."
He clearly had no idea of any solution, other than to shoot both dogs. This was incredibly cruel and shows a lack of good judgment by the officer, since he created a very dangerous situation for Chris Clark and the bystanders.
Why is this man still on duty? He has shown an extreme lack of compassion and common sense and is a disgrace.
I hope he will be permanently removed from duty.
Jan Craig-Olinger, St. Petersburg
Why do we continue to invest in oil?
The announcement by the White House energy advisor in August that 75 percent of the oil spilled from the BP Deep Water Horizon rig had been captured, burned off, evaporated, or broken down was unbelievable. I wondered how this could be possible considering the magnitude of the spill. How could such claims be made so quickly?
I am excited to see independent research vessels going out in the gulf to study the impacts and locations of the spilled oil. The Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, is currently in the midst of an expedition in the gulf transporting independent scientists who are studying the impacts of the oil spill and chemical dispersant to the marine life and the gulf ecosystem. Our own University of South Florida as well as other universities have also had scientists out in the gulf studying the oil spill. We need real science, and these independent scientists will give us just that.
We deserve to know the full extent of the damages caused by the BP oil disaster to our environment and to our sea life. We deserve to know if the oil and dispersant are making their way up the food chain and onto our dinner tables.
The spill was a wake-up call for us to stop new offshore drilling. The recent accident at the Vermilion 380 rig has only served to drive the point home.
Why do we keep investing in oil? We need to move on. We do not need to keep putting people's lives, our economy and our ecosystems at risk. We need to transition to clean energy like wind and solar now. The technology is there. It's time to tell Congress that we do not want new offshore drilling.
B. Howard, Gulfport
Solar is good business
"Now is not the time for solar." "It's too risky." "We can't afford to deal with things like climate change when the economy is in trouble."
These are common misconceptions people may have before they learn that in fact solar power and renewables make perfect "business" sense. Solar energy is not a new or mysterious technology. Much is made about the cost of renewables compared to fossil fuels. The very big assumption this makes is that fossil fuel prices will remain low.
Companies that take a long-term view realize that they need to protect themselves from long-term exposure to rising commodity prices. For instance, we know that airline companies buy fuel years in advance to lock in prices. What if you could lock in your gas prices at say $3 a gallon, but it was guaranteed for 20 years? You would be smart to see that as a good deal.
Renewables are no different; they are a hedge against future energy price increases. The cost of solar today is more than coal or oil, but you would have huge security in knowing that your costs are fixed and falling, whereas the costs of coal and oil are rising.
If you are a business, municipality or even a person on fixed income, knowing that your energy costs will not increase gives you financial stability and predictability. That's good business.
Rob Sterrett, St. Petersburg
Mixed message on oil spill damage | Sept. 16, story
Keeping us informed
It's not news to anyone that news today is generally under-reported and more political PR or fluff than facts we might actually need.
Craig Pittman's 1A story points to just that poverty of good reporting on the BP gulf mess by the New York Times and Associated Press.
When the likes of the NYT and AP blow the story, you can imagine what lesser media are getting wrong. This is part of the fallout when experienced, specialty beat reporters have been axed and news is owned by nonjournalists.
Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, for keeping bay area readers well informed on important environment and science news. Keep Pittman on the beat, please.
JoAnn Valenti, Ph.D., Tampa
Evolving economic realities
When I taught economics at Palm Harbor University High School, I included a lesson on income distribution in America. We broke society down into quintiles (five rank-ordered 20 percent blocks) and compared them. I justified the fact that the rich got richer and the poor relatively poorer because the rich had massive capital to invest and the rest (the bottom three quintiles) did not. This fit well into my lesson units on personal finance, and the need to financially plan and save.
However, I have since come to believe that there is much more to the story. And that is, in a nut shell, that our economy (and perhaps many others as well) has become increasingly dominated by the oligopolistic market structure. Every essential major industry today (be it food processing, oil, software, insurance, aluminum, newspapers and communications, pharmaceuticals, or banking and finance, to list just few) is now dominated by a few big firms surrounded by a bunch of copycat companies.
Mergers, buy-outs and consolidations over the past several decades, which have been approved by the SEC and other antitrust regulators, have concentrated the management of huge amounts of resources into the hands of a gradually reducing percentage of managers and corporate structures. Accordingly, these people have increasingly compensated themselves better and better.
We may do well to remember that we outlawed monopolies in the early part of the last century. The Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department was set up to deal with them. Since then, however, I will assert that the growth in oligopolies has increased our economy's opacity to the point that no one saw the current economic difficulties coming until it was too late.
Today, analysts who specialize in specific industries are necessary to peer into the "soup," but even banking and finance industry analysts failed to predict and prevent the collapse of 2008.
I am not arguing that we outlaw oligopolies. This is much more complicated than that. But I fear that until our regulatory institutions are empowered to deal with this evolved reality, we will continue to face such things as massive food recalls, huge oil spill disasters, financial system collapses, billion dollar Ponzi schemes, and the continuing increase in the disparity of wealth in our country.
William Trembour, Belleair
Making the wrong move
The mayor of St. Petersburg and his lock-step City Council members just don't get it. Their decision to tear down the Pier is shortsighted, pedestrian and just plain ignorant.
It is hard to imagine a more finely tuned, recognizable and successful architectural statement. The structure has just the right amount of daring, forward thinking and flair while, at the same time, being downright welcoming with its sense of boldness and fun!
I wish I could say it is also hard to imagine what they will build in its place. We can guess. It will be yet another one of these tourists traps built to resemble a Spanish nunnery, in the nice and safe so-called Mediterranean style with pastel yellow walls, complete with fake columns and a fake red-clay tile roof. I suppose we can also look forward to a fake lighthouse and maybe even an automated pirate hanging out a window, waving. And, oh yes, let's build it much closer to shore. Why even bother?
If the Arch in St. Louis or the Space Needle in Seattle need refurbishment (and they both have, at one time or another), don't you think the taxpayers in those towns step up to the plate? Sure they do. These things are symbols and their meanings go far beyond whether or not they are "viable retail space." Is it too bold to think of the Pier in that same light? To this shortsighted mayor and his go-along-to-get-along council, evidently it is. They were all elected to protect this city, not to ruin it by dragging it down into mediocrity. What a shame.
John Buhler, Tampa
Florida Republicans vs. Obama
As a Florida voter, you have to laugh whenever you see a campaign ad from the Florida Republicans complaining about President Barack Obama's policies and how they have ruined Florida. At the same time, you know that they have nothing else to run on.
The Republicans have controlled state government for the better part of the last 10-plus years. It's their policies that have not done much to make Florida a better place to live and work. It's their policies that have spent money, raided trust funds and set up government run property insurance. All of their policies have one thing in common: They have drained the state of much needed funds.
And when Marco Rubio runs his ad showing his children and saying that if he doesn't get to Washington to stop the crazy spending his children's future will be in danger, well, how come he didn't feel that way about his children when he controlled the state's checkbook and went on a spending spree? Keep the hypocritical commercials coming. We all need good belly laughs in these challenging times.
Jim Steinle, Clearwater
Remember our flag | Sept. 16, letter
Too many forget
I also ask why weren't all the flags flying on 9/11. Rarely have I heard anyone comment about it either.
People seem to have forgotten what our flag stands for. I believe we have become a society of individuals too self-centered to realize and care about what is going on around us. Maybe this is what happens when the law is changed and we are given the "option" of pledging allegiance. No one cares anymore.
V. Hathaway, Pinellas Park
Remember our flag | Sept. 16, letter
"Is not the American flag a great symbol of our religion and our patriotism?" the letter writer asks.
I must have missed something. I always thought that our country was founded on the principle of the separation of church and state. When did we get a national religion, and what is it?
James Nelson, Largo
Leaving Tampa in good shape | Sept. 3, editorial
Not so good for all
Not so fast! Your blanket statements that Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio focused on "small projects that impact the everyday life in an area" and refused "to give away the store to developers" are overstated.
Mayor Iorio is currently the driving force behind a project in New Tampa that will undo the "quality of life" for more than 3,500 families. Her reason for doing this relates directly to promises made to — you guessed it — developers and business interests.
This project, called the "Bridge to Nowhere," is costing the city a bundle of money to defend in court, where outside legal counsel was hired to fight for it despite tremendous opposition by two large communities. In this instance, safety, health and welfare of people were secondary to a political agenda.
Albert Romano, Tampa