Florida is home to the best water resources in the nation, and the Department of Environmental Protection works tirelessly to protect them from nutrient pollution. Last week, we moved forward with standards that will improve the health of Florida's lakes, rivers, streams, springs and estuaries.
These standards, when adopted, will be the most comprehensive in the nation. They provide a clear process for identifying waters impaired by nutrients, preventing harmful discharges and establishing necessary reductions.
They benefit the environment and all Floridians, and it is unfair to characterize them as a gift to industry. In the Tampa Bay region, and around much of the state, a majority of the nutrient loading is not due to industry but to wastewater produced by individual households. Every one of us leaves a nutrient footprint, and these rules address that issue efficiently and effectively.
They provide a reasonable and predictable implementation strategy, avoiding unnecessary costs on Florida's households and businesses. By focusing on the individual needs of a water body, upholding established restoration efforts and eliminating procedures that do not add environmental value, these rules allow us to focus resources where they are most needed.
Florida has dedicated years and millions of dollars to understanding and improving the health of our waterways, and we lead the nation in research, knowledge and action. Under these rules, we can build on restoration efforts already in place to reduce and treat nutrients in valuable estuaries in your area.
These rules were not created in a vacuum. DEP developed them using input, feedback and cooperation from our federal partners and Florida's stakeholders, just as we've done in previous restoration efforts. We have the support of the Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor estuaries programs; the city of St. Petersburg; and Hillsborough, Sarasota and Pinellas counties to move forward with these rules.
Drew Bartlett, director, Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee
A farewell tour | Nov. 6
Just enjoy the music;
ignore its notorious fan
It was disappointing to note Stefan Sanderling's displeasure with the music of Carl Orff because it had captured the fancy of a maniacal dictator, Adolf Hitler. Carmina Burana was not a paean to Nazism but a celebration of ancient Gothic rituals embedded in the daily lives of medieval European folk.
Perhaps out of the same sentiments, during his tenure as the Florida Orchestra's music director Sanderling has rarely performed the works of Richard Wagner, a volatile, intermittent anti-Semite who paradoxically had the support of innumerable Jewish friends, and who chose Hermann Levi, the son of a rabbi, to conduct his last and most religiously inspired opera, Parsifal.
World-class Jewish musicians such as Daniel Barenboim and James Levine, as well as the recently formed Israel Wagner Society, demonstrate that Jews are not prohibited from enjoying the sublime music of Wagner just because one crazy Austrian chose to do so.
Richard Rotella, secretary, Richard Wagner Society of Florida, Redington Beach
To fix housing crisis, write down principal Nov. 8, commentary
Joe Nocera's simplistic solution to the so-called housing crisis is misguided.
First, it is premised on the assumption that price declines are unacceptable and that there is apparently a right to ever-increasing appreciation in housing prices. While price declines may be upsetting to individual homeowners, there is no law of nature dictating that the market cannot and should not find its own bottom.
Second, the principal reduction concept to which Nocera appears religiously devoted is already embodied in various forms in the bankruptcy code, although there it is usually a writedown of the debt to the value of the collateral. Those provisions of the bankruptcy code giving borrowers the right to seek such relief are accompanied by creditor protections designed to prevent the abuses that would inevitably flow from a government-mandated principal reduction, i.e., the moral hazard issue.
While this last real estate recession was more disruptive than most, vesting in borrowers the "right" to principal reduction is an invitation to them and to their lawyers to game the system.
Jeffrey Meyer, Tampa
I found this article disturbing. It advocates blatant theft of private property — stealing from one set of private owners to give to another under cover of fixing a national "crisis."
Principal reduction will destroy mortgage lending in America. And that will cause the housing market to collapse further, driving far more homes underwater.
James J. Klapper, Oldsmar
Puppets of Wall Street
Republicans claim that those they are supposed to represent who are "underwater" financially should be held accountable for their plight. In their next breath, these politicians defend their Wall Street puppet masters and refuse to hold them accountable for their immoral economic misdeeds.
We should not be surprised that Wall Street mounts opposition to any move to hold them accountable for the economic quagmire they have created.
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater
Mississippi 'personhood' amendment defeated | Nov. 9
Government gone too far
In what is ranked as the most conservative state in the nation, Mississippi voters decisively rejected the so-called "personhood" amendment in Tuesday's election.
Voters understood it was government gone too far. The amendment would have allowed government to have control over personal decisions that should be left up to a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith.
Our Planned Parenthood affiliate, with the help of supporters and students, is pleased to have participated in the defeat of this outrageous amendment. Mississippi is now the second state to reject "personhood." Colorado defeated the so-called "personhood" amendment by wide margins in 2008 and 2010.
It would appear unlikely that a similar attempt will now be made in Florida.
Wendy Grassi, director, public affairs, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, St. Petersburg
Open up incentives to scrutiny Nov. 9, editorial
Bold action required
Recent reports on the failure of incentives to produce promised jobs — and the dismal job-creation results from our governor's economic development plans — should prove that we are on the wrong road to recovery from this Wall Street-induced recession. Why keep doing the same things expecting different results?
In Seattle there is a massive freeway demolition and reconstruction project under way that could inspire our leaders to bold action. They should look at that jobs plan.
Wasting time and money on incentives that inspire corruption, or maybe bring 50 jobs to one city, has been a failure. We need leaders unafraid to undertake big projects that will create jobs and spur prosperity across arbitrary city and county lines.
Terry Hammonds, Dunedin
Cain calls claims 'bogus' | Nov. 9
Poor crisis management
I find it interesting that the "family values" party that came after Bill Clinton with such disdain is making excuses for Herman Cain.
However, regardless of the final outcome of the sexual harassment charges, a troubling aspect of this matter has been overlooked. POLITICO uncovered this matter. Before publication, they gave the Cain camp 10 days' notice that the story was going public. After 10 days, during which time the story could have been vetted and a rational response could have been prepared, Cain had no idea how to respond.
He knew nothing; then he knew something; then he did not know these women; then he admitted knowing them but the payments to the women were not "settlements" but "agreements"; then it all became a Democratic "conspiracy" to keep a businessman out of the White House.
Herman Cain wants to be president, but he cannot respond to a story with 10 days' notice. How would he react to a threat to the United States? How would he handle a crisis of any type?
Take notice, voters.
Mary Louise Ambrose, Belleair Bluffs
Snapshot shows love for libraries in Florida | Nov. 6, Bill Maxwell column
Centers of learning
Bill Maxwell's column is right on message regarding libraries, which are evolving — thanks to progressive managers and technology — from stodgy "book warehouses" to community cultural centers for a lifetime of learning.
Such venues are essential in our underprivileged communities to celebrate and promote diverse heritages as catalysts that empower individual self-esteem and a desire for education.
James J. Harkins IV, Sun City Center