I write to express deep appreciation to some extraordinary Floridians who have "changed the game" for Florida's most iconic product.
When President Barack Obama recently signed the farm bill, he validated the hard work of many producers around the country. However, Florida came out a particular winner because of the leadership of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney, Vern Buchanan and Steve Southerland.
Those congressional leaders, at the urging of stakeholders such as Florida Citrus Mutual under the able leadership of Mike Sparks, and citrus growers and supporters across the state, secured $125 million in game-changing research funds to fight citrus greening. Those visionary leaders understood the profound value of Florida oranges, and we owe them our deepest gratitude for translating vision into action.
For too long, Florida growers, working closely with the Florida Department of Citrus, the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and many other organizations, have been fighting valiantly against greening with little notice from the nation's capital.
In waging that lonely fight, Florida's citrus industry has shown what makes us — and our nation — great: courage, innovation, vision and hard work.
Now we will add a new wave of cutting-edge, urgent research to the mix. The game has changed. America is united, and we stand ready to take on the day.
Marty McKenna, chairman, Florida Citrus Commission, Bartow
Nuclear plant tubes show wear | Feb. 23
Steam generators are safe
The steam generators at the St. Lucie nuclear plant are safe. Since their replacement in 2007, our team of experienced engineers, with validation from independent experts and oversight from federal regulators, has inspected 100 percent of the tubes every 18 months during planned refueling outages. These inspections have shown that there are no tube integrity issues that would cause failure.
Steam generator tube wear is not a new issue in the nuclear industry. In fact, there is significant data and operating experience detailing how to safely monitor and manage this issue. Like belts in a car engine, a certain amount of wear is expected over time. But, with regular monitoring and inspection, the belt will be removed well before it causes any mechanical issue. The same is true for steam generator tubes.
While engineering analyses have shown that steam generator tubes can function with over 60 percent wear, no U.S. nuclear plant would ever come close to that level. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that tubes with 40 percent wear be removed from service. Florida Power & Light's threshold, however, is even lower and more conservative than federal requirements.
The Times article also pays considerable attention to the number of wear "indications" on the St. Lucie generator tubes. In reality, there is a significant difference between an indication of wear, which could be anything from a scratch to a rub mark, and the potential for failure. Again using the car analogy, it's like having a dent in your car door — you can see it, but it does not make the vehicle unsafe.
With respect to how these components would perform given the plant's power uprate, the safety performance of the steam generators was both verified and validated by independent experts and then again by the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — all of whom have detailed specific experience with the systems at St. Lucie. Given this fact, it is highly disturbing that the reporter chose to all but bury the perspective of our federal regulator, the NRC, while giving significant attention to the comments of two antinuclear activists.
Finally, some have implied that St. Lucie is similar to the now-closed San Onofre plant in California. Nothing could be further from the truth. The steam generators at San Onofre were a different design, made by a different manufacturer and operated at a higher power level. In fact, the type of wear evident at San Onofre is not present at St. Lucie.
Joseph Jensen, site vice president, St. Lucie nuclear power plant, Juno Beach
Pointing to a new Sundial name | Feb. 25
Don't forget Beach Drive
This was an interesting picture in the Times, with the Sundial and Pier highlighted as premier destinations off the I-375 exit. I would have thought that Beach Drive, which has numerous fine restaurants and shops that attract significant numbers of city residents and tourists, deserved equal signage. Beach Drive has done so much to bring downtown St. Petersburg to life, and is the catalyst that can help Sundial become a success as well.
Cooper Petagna, St. Petersburg
Universal recycling on way | Feb. 21
Just another tax increase
There are some people who say the red-light camera fines are just another tax, but at least they have the choice not to run the red light and avoid the fine.
For years, we have been taking our recyclables to a recycling station in St. Petersburg and would continue to do so. However, we will be charged for the new service (even if we do not use it) since the cost for the recycling project will be added to the water/sewer/trash collection bill and we have no choice but to pay it.
Rest assured, we will remember this when it comes time for the re-elections of the mayor and City Council members.
Jim Toth, St. Petersburg
Jolly was driver in fatal '89 accident Feb. 26
Not relevant to campaign
The decision to publish the story about David Jolly being the driver in a fatal accident when he was age 16 must have been rather easy for a newspaper that pounds Jolly just as hard in its news columns as in its grossly one-sided editorials.
As appalling as it was to print the story, it becomes even more astonishing given the fact the Times was tipped to the 1989 incident by an anonymous source. Credible newspapers would never use an anonymous source in that circumstance, especially in the middle of a heated election campaign.
Clearly, a 25-year-old case in which the victim, and not Jolly, was ruled at fault should have been out-of-bounds for any objective newspaper. It has no bearing on Jolly's ability to serve in Congress. One can only presume that the Times is more interested in helping Democrats than in worrying about what is the right thing to do.
Larry Shores, Treasure Island
I agree that this is something that should be known about David Jolly. However, it appears he is completely innocent and a victim, in addition to the deceased, of a terrible accident. You placed the article on the front page. I wonder why you did not cover the offensive remarks of Alex Sink on the front page regarding illegal immigrants and types of jobs that they perform?
John Addar, Valrico
What makes us happy? | Feb. 26, commentary
Keys to satisfaction
This piece on what makes us happy was dead-on.
There are a couple of other factors. One is exercising. Another is that, at any age, making others happy is one of the biggest contributors to our own happiness.
David Cadogan, Gulfport
Arizona governor: No discrimination Feb. 27
Turning back tide of bigotry
The governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses in her state to refuse service to many on religious grounds. Arizona is a state whose reputation has already been soiled by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's sometimes blatant trampling of human rights.
As I watch my country backslide into the 19th century era of inhuman racism and bigotry, Brewer lit a candle of hope. Not supporting those who wish to hide behind religion to legitimize bigotry took political courage on Brewer's part. Other Republicans such as Mitt Romney and John McCain urged a veto.
Tolerance is a core value without which our country as a republic will not survive. United we stand and divided we fall.
Sinclair Lewis said it best when he wrote, "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and waving a cross."
Jeff Houseman, Weeki Wachee