As a former member of the Pinellas County Recycling Committee, I was one of those encouraging St. Petersburg to provide curbside recycling. So when the initiation of this service was announced, I signed up immediately.
Since then, however, Waste Services has missed my Monday pickup five times. The first two times I called and they told me to put my stuff back out Thursday and they would get it. I did; they didn't.
Also, initially the driver would sort my stuff into bins on the side of the truck according to type: glass, paper, plastic, etc. Lately, however, the driver just dumps all of the material into one bin. This makes me doubt if it is really being recycled.
The headline says "use it or lose it." I say, "Fix it or nix it."
Thomas Lynd, St. Petersburg
Too few take advantage
After many years of using the city-sponsored recycling locations, I was delighted to finally have curbside recycling.
It is rather disappointing to see how few of my neighbors avail themselves of this convenient and low-cost program.
It is even more disappointing to see the newspapers and unbroken cardboard boxes in our communal trash receptacle that could easily be recycled.
Debbra F. Halstead, St. Petersburg
Containers don't contain
Here is how recycling works in my neighborhood. My neighbor sets out his overflowing recycle bin. The wind blows, and now his recyclables are all over the neighborhood.
I now have to pick up his trash and place it in my garbage container (so much for recycling).
If they are not going to supply containers that will contain the content, then please stop the program. Some of us would like to keep our neighborhoods looking nice.
William Lancaster, St. Petersburg
Citizens inflated values, suit says | Feb. 8
Confusion on home costs
In light of the frivolous lawsuit filed against Citizens Property Insurance Corp., I'd like to provide some much-needed clarification on what replacement value is and is not.
When you purchased your home, you purchased the foundation, roof, cabinets and all the parts and pieces that made it your home. When you went to insure it, you probably wanted to make sure that if your house was destroyed, your policy would pay to replace everything — from demolition and necessary permits to the roof and your 42-inch oak cabinets. It is a simple number based on the sum of the various costs to replace your home. The replacement cost essentially gives you a "new for old" home.
Many people are confusing this number with the market value of their home. Replacement value is based on stable factors such as the cost of oak cabinets, the cost of a toilet, the cost of tiles; market value is much more unstable.
In 2006, home values were up significantly. A home that went up in market value did not necessarily have an increased replacement value because the cost to simply rebuild the home would not have drastically changed. Likewise, when the market crashed, the replacement value (which is not beholden to the whims of the property market) remained stable, because regardless of what's going on in your neighborhood, it still costs money to replace oak cabinets and install a new air conditioner.
Citizens is a government entity that has no interest in making huge profits, and thus has no incentive to make its policyholders pay "out of whack" premiums. If Citizens was a private company, it would have shut its doors a long time ago.
Citizens is utilizing a standard program to ensure that the homes it insures can be replaced at the actual replacement cost to restore the home in its entirety. The market value of your home will not be helpful if your home is destroyed. You need to be insured to make sure the right amount of money is there to replace the home.
State Rep. Bryan Nelson, District 38, Apopka
Monopoly power corrupts
Decades ago when he was still alive, my father — who'd been both a Democrat and a Republican — told me something I didn't then understand. He said America (and Florida) should never set its political course by letting one political party become so dominant that the normal checks and balances failed to control it in any meaningful way.
Sadly, that is exactly what we are seeing in Tallahassee today. I am a Republican. Never have I been more embarrassed by what the leaders of my party are doing at the state Capitol. Only the courage of nine GOP state senators and 12 Democrats prevented Florida from privatizing much of its prison system in a move attempted for purely political reasons.
As soon as this was halted, we were faced with another purely political move over the University of South Florida. I covered the Florida Legislature as a reporter in the 1970s. Without question, Sen. JD Alexander is the most arrogant state legislator I've observed in the last 40 years. He wants his precious Polytechnic university for his home county and if he has to gut USF's funding in order to achieve it, so be it. In my opinion, this is an abuse of power so great that it borders on being an impeachable offense.
But the bigger lesson is clear: The Florida Senate is institutionally corrupt.
Twenty-eight Republicans in a 40-person state Senate is too many. Twenty-eight Democrats would likely be just as bad, although the issues would be different. Too much power by one political party always hurts our nation and our state.
Michael Randall, Lutz
'We've always been a team' | Feb. 12
Thank you to Sarah Whitman, the Times reporter who wrote the very special article about my aunt and uncle and their 70-year marriage. Theirs is a story likely to become quite an oddity in today's world. Times photographer Kathleen Flynn was as thoughtful as she was professional. I am grateful it was newsworthy and hope it was inspirational.
Lianne White, Brandon
For price of a car … | Feb. 12, commentary
A full education
This column has provided one of the best arguments against home schooling that I have read. Although he was referring to college students, I believe "the need for full range of human contact" to mature and be able to fit into a society is even more essential to primary schoolchildren.
Ann Guiles, Sun City Center
As cows graze, Nelson saves | Feb. 15
Tax breaks for some
Here we go once again with our government officials taking advantage of tax loopholes not available to most of us.
Bill Nelson saved $43,000 in property taxes last year and paid a total of $3,696 on property valued at $2.7 million. I, on the other hand, paid over $6,000 on property valued at $442,000 (an absurd number in this volatile market).
I built the house in 2004 with a mother-in-law suite so I could not only provide for my mother's care but to also derive a well-earned tax break provided for in Florida statute 193.703. First I was told that this statute was never adopted in Pasco County. After it was, I wasn't grandfathered in because I didn't add the mother-in-law suite after the main house was built. I made a visit to the County Commission with this matter as well as to state Rep. Will Weatherford's office, to no avail.
Rick Burgess, Land O' Lakes
It appears the typesetter could not find the space to insert the customary (D) behind this senator's name, or anywhere else in the article.
Mark Haney, Pinellas Park
Where's the lesson in shooting a laptop? Feb. 15
Listen to the father's side
After reading this article, I visited YouTube to view the entire incident of the laptop shooting. I encourage other readers to visit the site to be aware of the father's side of the story. There was more to the incident than was reported.
The father had employed other methods to try to teach his daughter a lesson about her disrespectful behavior, to no avail. As far as I am concerned, the father was entirely justified in destroying the laptop, not as an act of anger, but as a lesson.
The psychologists and social workers say parents should ask their children how they feel — well, how about how the father feels after seeing his daughter's posting on Facebook? I guess it's okay these days for teenagers to say what they want, when they want, to whom they want with no punishment or repercussions.
Valerie Moustakas, Tarpon Springs