I have spent considerable time in California over the last two years, where they have strict laws about cellphone use while driving. Normally, I am of the opinion that California serves as a bad example when it comes to the law. However, when it comes to their strict ban on cellphone use while driving, the rest of the country, especially Florida, could learn much from their lead.
You must use a "hands-free" device if you are going to use your cellphone when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. I dislike Bluetooth headsets, but after watching some of the clowns of all ages here in Florida driving with their phones held to their ear with their shoulder, I am a proponent of the "hands-free" law.
I have almost been hit by distracted drivers on numerous occasions here in the Tampa Bay area. Thoughtless people will let go of the steering wheel rather than let their cellphones fall. I have seen folks of all ages sit at green lights on major roads because they are too busy either reading or sending a text. It has been proven that texting is more dangerous than drunken drivers behind the wheel.
Until a law is passed banning texting while driving, I will continue to call the local police or sheriff's office when I see texters driving recklessly with complete disregard for the others on the road.
Gary Veyera, St. Petersburg
Trouble bubbling | Nov. 25
More on water worries
I would add three observations to Craig Pittman's excellent articles on the demise of Florida's springs.
First, I see many people buying "spring water" by the case. If they are buying it because they are concerned about the purity of the water that they drink, a bit of trivia is that tap water is held to much higher quality standards than spring water.
Second, about 50 percent of the drinking water supply in Florida is used to irrigate lawns. Homes with two meters, one for domestic use and one for irrigation, are charged a lower rate for the lawn water because it doesn't produce any sewage that has to be processed. If the irrigation rate was set higher, simple economics predicts that less water would be drawn from the aquifer for watering.
Third, I am the citizen representative on Hillsborough County's Cross-Connection and Backflow Control Board. There I advocate against Florida Department of Environmental Protection regulations requiring backflow prevention valves for homes that irrigate from a pond. According to the Health Department, without the valves, no one has ever even gotten sick from a backflow incident in Hillsborough County. It can cost up to $700 for a homeowner to have a backflow valve installed.
I irrigate from a pond. Most of my lawn water runs off and returns to the pond within a minute or so. Most of the rest probably returns to the pond within a day or so. Those of us who water from a pond are doing the DEP a favor by not using water from the aquifer. One way of protecting the aquifer would be for the DEP to ban residential backflow valves so that those who draw lawn water from a pond don't switch for economic reasons to water from the aquifer.
David Brown, Sun City Center
3 firms bid to run Tampa's bike plan | Nov. 27
City is just not ready
I applaud Mayor Bob Buckhorn's ambitious bike-sharing program, which has received three out-of-town bids. As much as it grieves me, Tampa is just not "big city" enough (yet) to step up to the plate and make this a safe, successful program.
All you have to do is take a drive on any street in the city and watch the motorized insanity speed right by you. Furthermore, bike lanes have yet to be set up so that a program like this one can have a chance to succeed without potential devastating consequences. And there is a very real question of whether people will use it.
The only consolation in this new endeavor is that it will be paid for by private investment and won't become a financial white elephant like the downtown streetcar.
Mike Merino, Tampa
Support, not stunts, for colleges Nov. 27, editorial
Instead of bashing Gov. Rick Scott's challenge, the Tampa Bay Times should admit that an unemployed New College graduate who majored in anthropology illustrates he was right that we don't need more anthropologists.
Edward Saint-Ivan, Lutz
Weather map | Nov. 28
You've put the "chill city" of Alamosa, Colo., right on the border between Wyoming and Montana. It's amazing how the U.S. map keeps getting reconfigured by your weather department. My faith in your knowledge of geography has bottomed out.
Harriet Browder, Clearwater
Thankfully, storms missed
With the end of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, we once again breathe a sigh of relief that we escaped the devastation inflicted on many others not so fortunate as us.
With that in mind, a couple of ways to express our gratitude would be to 1) donate our emergency stash of nonperishable food to a food pantry, and 2) make a donation for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Consider the thousands of dollars many of us would be shelling out if we took that kind of hit.
Louis A. Claudio, Safety Harbor
Democrats dig in on debt ceiling extension Nov. 28
Spread the sacrifice
The biggest problem in addressing the fiscal cliff has nothing to do with arithmetic, but with politicians trying to defend their voting records during the brutal campaign season.
There is a fix: Put everything on the table. From the military, Medicare, welfare, to the national parks, political ideologies are put on the back burner and all Americans must step up and pay their fair share regarding revenue increases.
This is the greatest country of all time, and together we have all contributed to the looming problem. Now we must all come together to resolve this financial crisis. Hopefully, our elected officials will put an emphasis on making these cuts proportionate to the size of the agency and the ability of families to contribute without extreme hardship.
In the end, politicians can rest easy during re-election because every agency, every politician and every American citizen made their fair share of sacrifice to secure the prosperity of this great nation.
Al Suarez, Odessa
Republicans vow to block Rice appointment Nov. 28
Republicans are desperate to conjure up some type of scandal they can use to steal the spotlight away from the beating they took on Election Day. However, the best they can come up with are some comments made on a Sunday morning TV show by a member of the administration.
It is ironic that one of the leaders of this partisan witch hunt is Sen. John McCain. This is a man who supported the re-election of George Bush and Dick Cheney in 2004. How many months, even years, did the Bush administration lie about WMDs in Iraq? That didn't seem to bother McCain, at least when it came to supporting a presidential candidate. Complaining about an interview given two weeks after the attack seems petty in comparison.
Republicans should stop the grandstanding and spend this precious time working with Democrats on solving the serious financial problems our country faces. Let the FBI and military investigators do their jobs. We already know our president will do whatever is necessary to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Lee Kasner, Tampa
Senators remain "troubled" about Susan Rice. They conducted their grilling behind closed doors, away from public view and oversight. That makes it easier to attempt to continue and reinforce a manufactured story about a coverup.
If the Republicans can knock Rice out of the picture, the president will be forced to put up Sen. John Kerry for the position. That leaves an opening for tea party favorite Scott Brown to win back a Senate seat. It may be the season of joy and peace, but in Washington, politics never stop.
Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa
U.S. needs minimum tax on high incomes Nov. 27, commentary
Go with Buffett
Whom would you rather go to for financial advice: Warren Buffett, John Boehner or Harry Reid?
When the undisputed champion money manager offers free advice, our representatives should take it seriously. It's time for Congress to unfriend Grover Norquist and embrace Buffett.
Ken Lynam, Dunedin