This article is an example of one issue that the business community faces when it comes to transportation in Hillsborough County: Whom do we talk to in order to get something done? When the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, or any business group, speaks to our elected officials on transportation, we get multiple answers to the same questions.
We have come to the decision that the better action for us as the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is to form a transportation committee to understand the needs of our members, their employees and their communities. We know that we can't build enough roads to meet demand, but do people want other transportation options? Do we want wider roads or more pedestrian access? And who would plan, fund and build out our new system?
It is clear to the business community that it is not just our outgrown road network that is a problem. It's also the lack of a robust transit system, our region's poor pedestrian safety record and a planning process that has no power to implement. While we are encouraged by the County Commission and the mayors of Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace working on the Transportation for Economic Development Group, they have yet to move the transportation conversation in a new direction.
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce will have our transportation committee moving quickly this summer. I would imagine that our members would ask our elected officials to act boldly and beyond the status quo.
Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa
Loss spells trouble for Democrats March 12, Adam C. Smith column
Why Sink fell short
Alex Sink came across as a carpetbagger, and that is what hurt her. I think Adam Smith's premise in his column is off-target. First, the vote was pretty darn close: 48 to 47. That's no huge statement in favor or against David Jolly.
This race was not a referendum on the Affordable Care Act, either.
What left voters with a bad taste against Alex Sink was her leaping into a race that she probably thought she could win handily. Well, maybe if she lived in Pinellas County. To move into a district for the sole purpose of running for local office looks like it is: opportunistic. So, does she want to do public service, or just win an election?
I'm a Democrat and if I could have I would have voted for her anyway, because I think in the long run Jolly is out of touch with most people today.
But ask, why did Sink run? Just months before, after a lot of foot-dragging, she finally decided she wasn't going to run for governor. But when Bill Young's seat became vacant, she dove into Pinellas County like she was jumping into a big vat of whipped cream. It came across as mercenary. Well, heck, it was. People knew that.
Last, I don't think this is any harbinger of what will happen to Democrats in midterm elections. This race had its own issues.
Gina Thomas, Tampa
Where was Crist?
The biggest election in a long time in Pinellas County, and where was Charlie Crist, Mr. Pinellas? The 800-pound elephant (now donkey) in the room was nowhere to be seen for Alex Sink. His silence was deafening: no endorsements in mailers, TV/radio commercials or robo phone messages. Any differences they may have had should have been put aside for one very popular Democrat and Pinellas politician to lend a hand to a fellow Democrat who could have benefited from his appeal. Instead, nothing. What was going on that no one seemed to be talking about?
Rick Carson, St. Petersburg
Works out to $68 per vote
I am not a resident of the area contested for Bill Young's congressional seat.
My observation concerns the campaign spending by the two candidates in the amount of $12 million ($9 million). For a total vote of 174,561, that averages out to about $68 per vote. What a country.
I also think this is somewhat the norm in other major races. Gov. Rick Scott spent a few bucks to get elected and is on track to repeat for a re-election bid.
At least it's a relief to be free of the negative ads flooding the media.
Charles Grubbs, Valrico
The financial trauma of private health care March 11, Daniel Ruth column
It's all in the name
Daniel Ruth has identified the main problem with Obamacare: its name. Studies (well, Jay Leno's "Jaywalking") found people who don't support Obamacare do support the Affordable Care Act. (For those who don't dig into the details, they are the same thing.)
Some people just don't like Barack Obama, so they don't like Obamacare. But if you ask people if they like the main parts of Obamacare, they say yes. They like that policies don't discriminate against women. They like that people can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, and that people aren't discriminated against for a prior illness.
So what would be a good name for the nation's health care plan? It was mostly copied from Massachusetts' health care plan signed into law by, wait for it, Mitt Romney. So, to increase advocacy of Obamacare, just rename it Romneycare and support will swell exponentially.
Christopher Lewis, St. Petersburg
Warning card needed
I have my documents for my health care surrogate, living will, and do not resuscitate. Do I now need a card in my wallet saying "Do not take me to a trauma center" so the so-called health care system doesn't deplete my estate? Do you think if the card carried a warning that nobody will be paid if I am taken to a trauma center, that might work?
Tony Leisner, Tarpon Springs
The Sunshine State lags in solar power March 2
This piece about solar power hails the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and one of its lobbyists, Susan Glickman, as visionaries for our energy future. But does anyone remember the last time SACE championed a renewable project? We do. And so do the people of Gainesville.
In 2010, Glickman praised a new biomass energy plant in Gainesville that uses wood to make power. The community's leaders could have built a traditional power plant, using natural gas, for example, but SACE and others persuaded them to "go green" by using biomass. Glickman even told then-Gov. Charlie Crist and his Cabinet that SACE supported the biomass plant as a way to "cut harmful air pollution" and "support economic development in the region."
So what really happened? As many predicted, the biomass plant is a drain on the Gainesville economy. Power from the plant costs far more than estimated, about double the going rate for electricity from a natural gas plant, meaning the average customer in Gainesville is seeing significant rate hikes. That's more money from the pockets of low-income families and seniors dependent on Social Security.
Thanks to the biomass boondoggle, the people of Gainesville pay the highest electric rates in Florida. If agenda-driven groups have their way, other communities will see just the same.
Conwell Hooper, director of advocacy, Generation America, Austin, Texas
School chief's topic: arrests | March 11
Put parents in the hot seat
The Pinellas school superintendent's backside was the wrong one to be placed in the hot seat. I hate to use the expression "when I was growing up," but I will, and when I was my family was the unit responsible for teaching me to behave in school.
Why waste the precious time of the school employee trying to determine what to do in the event your "child" is breaking the law in school? If the parents had used their own valuable time training the child, this wouldn't be an issue by the time they are old enough to really do some damage. Parents need to take responsibility and not blame the public education system for their own neglect.
Glenda Pittman, St. Petersburg
Simply follow the rules
Faith and Action for Strength Together, FAST, should gather its 830 members from 43 congregations and mentor 830 struggling Pinellas County students. FAST members should also mentor the parents who have failed to teach their children the lessons of respect for authority, hard work and self-discipline. FAST members should concentrate their efforts on the 6 to 7 percent of "frequent fliers" in each school responsible for most of the trouble.
Many students in Pinellas high school remedial classes already have parole officers, so Father John Tapp is out of touch stating that, "Using this as a first response only gets them an arrest record that keeps them from getting jobs for the rest of their lives." Students who do not wish to have an arrest record should follow the rules, pay attention and stay out of trouble. It is that simple.
Pinellas students of every ability level are being deprived the fullness of a proper taxpayer-funded public school education because we pander to the lowest common denominator in the classroom, the disruptive student. If only this extraordinary expenditure of time and effort were spent on the eager, average and honor student, it would truly make a difference for our country.
Donna Marie Kostreva, St. Petersburg