How gracious of Caillin Heron and her family to share her story of recovery with her eating disorder. Sadly, this is a common problem for many young girls. In recent years, the hype of the media, entertainment industry and social pressures to have a "perfect, beautiful" image has caused so many to suffer. God has created each and every one of us in his perfect image; we are fearfully and wonderfully made!
How wise of Caillin's parents to accept the situation, love their daughter and seek the proper medical help. How wonderful for Katelyn Greenleaf to step up and encourage Caillin to have faith in God to give her the strength she needs to overcome. What a difference it makes when a peer walks alongside someone to give love and support as opposed to passing judgment. Belief, spiritual growth, a loving home and caring peers are so important for a young person to build a healthy self-image. We all need this regardless of our age.
Thank you, Caillin and Heron family, for opening your hearts to share your experience of faith, love and healing. God will use this for good; you will reach and help more people than you know. Praying for continued success with your recovery Caillin, blessings to you and your family.
Evelyn Owens, Oldsmar
Legislature stands in way
It will be fun watching Rick Scott trying to make the Legislature work as though it were a business; isn't going to happen. The legislators are so entrenched with lobbyists, etc., there is no way he can get much done. He's pretty much neutered when you come right down to it.
The person to worry about is incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos. He said that the last Legislature wasn't conservative enough and he would change that. He said it was too sympathetic to unions and trial lawyers. When you remove those two entities from the working class, they have no one to stand for them. No one. Unions are what made the middle class in this country and thus, the envy of the rest of the world. Without trial lawyers to take large corporations to court when they have caused egregious pain or death, there would be nothing to keep corporations even close to honest.
Every citizen needs to be wary of losing those who speak for them and keep them reasonably safe. The Republicans need to be very careful about what they do because when people are pushed against a wall with no recourse, bad things can happen, and we really don't want riots and mayhem to take over this state or nation. It's time for all citizens, regardless of party, to pay closer attention to what is actually happening as opposed to 30-second sound bites that push buttons but tell us nothing.
Kay Kelly, Clearwater
Remember our positives
Now that we have survived the elections, where we were incessantly told what is wrong with America, perhaps it is time to reflect on what is right with it. I realize there are still hard feelings on both sides of the political spectrum, but we should shake it off and begin by thanking God we had a peaceful transition and not a bloody military coup like some countries experience. It proves the system works. We have had more than enough scurrilous rhetoric that shows how embarrassingly barbaric we can become; let's try something more positive instead.
Many people, particularly our opponents, see our cultural diversity as our weakness. Actually, it is our strength. First, it proves people of all religious, ethnic and racial types can live and work together. We may have disagreements because of our cultural backgrounds, but it also brings a lot of ideas and innovations to the table. It is remarkable to see people of diversity work together, be it in the classroom, playing field, workplace, or to defend their country. Frankly, this mystifies our enemies.
One American trait that is often overlooked or taken for granted is our philanthropy. When havoc strikes, people look to the United States first for help. We are generous to a fault, and I believe this is again due to our cultural diversity. Not only do we contribute with our pocketbooks, but with our hearts and hands. How many times have you seen Americans drop what they are doing and rush to the aid of someone else? In 2010 alone we made substantial contributions in the Chilean miner rescue, the Haitian earthquake disaster, as well as the earthquake in Peru — all of this while we simultaneously cleaned up after the Gulf Coast oil spill and continued to fight the war on terrorism.
We are a country with plenty of natural and man-made resources. Some would say we foolishly waste our resources, and they may very well be right. Our record for waste and pollution is well known, but so is our ability to overcome such problems.
We have some of the most intelligent, energetic and creative people on the planet. Why? Because our free enterprise system encourages people to take risks, express themselves, and encourages innovation and exploration.
It all comes down to the U.S. Constitution, a brilliant document that defines how we are governed. Without this document, God knows where this country would be. In all likelihood, there would be no "checks and balances," there would be no individual liberties, and no sense of empowerment in its citizens. Consequently, we would probably not be as philanthropic as we have been, nor would we be the defenders of freedom in the world.
As a country, we are certainly not perfect. For example, we are much too reactive as opposed to proactive for my liking; we still struggle between social classes; and we are too tolerant of injustice, not to mention our social graces are lacking. Regardless, I have seen a lot of systems in other countries, and we look pretty darn good when you compare us to others.
What is right with America? Our freedoms and liberties, our people, and our system, thanks in large part to a piece of paper called the U.S. Constitution. This is why all of us, not just our officials, must always be vigilant to preserve, protect and defend it.
Now if we could just do something about common sense …
Tim Bryce, Palm Harbor
Listen to the voters — again
The people have spoken, again. The voters of this county and of the state of Florida have once again clearly said "lower class size" in our public schools. I am sick of reading in the Times about how school districts can get around doing what parents and teachers want.
Our new governor cannot wait to "do in" the educators in our state. I defy anyone who thinks that upwards of 30 students in a high school class is a good "educational" experience. As a longtime educator in Pinellas, there were times when I had 42 to 47 in an Algebra I class — with not enough chairs, books, and certainly not enough time to help them all. What a difference it was when a smaller class came along and I could at least help everyone during the period at least once.
The school districts need to put smaller class sizes at all levels and make cuts in other areas to facilitate this mandate from the people. There is plenty of space in the budget where cuts can be made or items readjusted to make this happen. So, suck it up, and let's do what is needed.
Tamara D. Badders, Largo
Airport stops are vital
Traveling to Europe a half-dozen times a year on business, I appreciate the convenience of high-speed rail firsthand. I am supportive of the Tampa-Orlando-Miami high-speed rail, provided that it is designed with the travelers' convenience in mind. That means that the high-speed rail makes sense only if it connects TIA to MCO and MIA airports — anything short of that makes no sense.
Having to make a change to light rail defeats the entire purpose of convenience and will ensure failure on the magnitude of Amtrak losses. If the airports are not connected, you'll lose every passenger with luggage. Light-rail connections are an anathema to convenience.
Peter Sontag, Clearwater
I think the new electric cars will turn out to be a glorious and expensive boondoggle, and will fade away, leaving a lot of infuriated customers.
It's impractical to expect many drivers to spend the seven to 11 hours recharging a flat battery. The streets and interstate highways will soon be clogged with useless, very expensive "Leafs" with flat batteries.
In this country, it takes 11 hours to recharge the battery from the standard 110-volt supply, which is what the Leaf comes with.
Or if you want the 220-volt power supply for a seven-hour recharge, you have to fork over at least $600, and then hire a licensed electrician to install the unit within plug-in distance from where the car is at that moment. And of course, if you park on the street, forget the electric car anyway.
And what if you come in late at night? There isn't going to be an 11-hour waiting time for the recharge.
The whole thing is going to fail because the average person just isn't sophisticated enough to handle the battery problem. We're going to forget to recharge, and then try to defeat the system by saying, "I'm just going to pop round to the corner shop. There should be enough battery left for a little trip like that." It's impractical to expect many drivers to spend the seven to 11 hours recharging a flat battery, when the thinking goes like that.
And the Chevrolet Volt is even more ridiculous. The manufacturer says the battery will run "up to 40 miles" before an 11-hour recharge. At that point, the auxiliary, gas engine is available for what the maker claims is "hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas." This being the case, why would anyone even bother with the electric motor, once the excitement had worn off?
Peter Vaughan, St. Petersburg
U.S. pushes sales of cheese
Waste of tax dollars
I was so relieved to read your article about federal tax money being used to help Domino's make a tastier, cheesier pizza to boost its sales. The government spent $12 million of our tax dollars on an advertising campaign to promote this.
If Domino's can't figure how to make a tastier pizza on it's own, the free market will reward businesses that do. Last time I looked, there was no shortage of pizza places that already figured out how to make an incredibly delicious pizza without the help of the federal government, including one in my very own neighborhood. I think I'll eat there.
Lori Degaetano, Largo
Prescription drug abuse
Painful lack of treatment
I see a lot of information in regard to the prescription pill abuse epidemic and the dangers that are consequences of it. As pointed out in your article, advocacy for accessible substance abuse treatment is missing.
My son walked in to Manatee Glens Hospital in Bradenton on Feb. 24, 2010. After completing a questionnaire and a brief visit with a triage nurse, we were advised that "he is not addicted enough" to receive the in-patient detox that he was requesting. Despite the fact that the treatment would have been covered 100 percent by my medical insurance and a medical spending account, he was denied treatment twice in as many days for the outpatient and inpatient programs of this facility.
Six months later, he is being held at the Manatee County Central Jail on burglary charges — an attempt to fund his addiction. I sincerely believe that he would not be in his current position if he had received the treatment that he requested.
Shutting down pill mills is a good start, but it is not the answer. Without access to adequate substance abuse treatment, addicts will turn to street drugs. Abstinence and recovery are two completely different concepts with two very different outcomes. Recovery produces functional members of society with the necessary life skills to survive and excel. Abstinence produces an addict looking for another means to satisfy an urge.
Opiates are highly addictive. Simply eliminating easy access to prescription opiates will turn users to street drugs — specifically heroin — thereby creating a new epidemic.
As a community, we have a responsibility to follow up with those currently plagued by substance abuse by providing the treatment necessary to carry out the daily activities that most of us take for granted. How many more overdose deaths need to occur before we address this important aspect of the epidemic?
The United States allocates 70 percent of "drug war" funds to prisons and police, leaving a meager 30 percent for education and treatment. We have been engaged in the war on drugs for years, and never once has treatment been the focus of this war. Maybe it is time to re-examine our focus.
Laura Tanksley, Bradenton
System needs changing
I received a fine from Hillsborough County for watering my yard on the wrong day. My sprinkler system has been set to the same day for over a year (when I moved in) and I never knew that I was using the wrong day. I understand that my ignorance does not justify my action and have paid the $100 fine.
I do however have an issue with the process in place to identify those who are in violation. In my case, there are pictures of my sprinkler system at 5:15 a.m. Does this mean the county has employees who are simply driving around during watering hours (8 p.m. to 6 a.m.) in order to identify violators? If that is the case, I'm thinking that isn't the best use of my tax dollars.
Additionally, I'd be curious as to how these employees are being paid. Due to the hours being "worked," are they compensated at a higher rate? How many violators are identified? How much revenue is being generated by this process? The county sends out a monthly bill that is fairly detailed, displaying water usage by the day. Since the county has my address and daily water usage, couldn't an automated system be developed to warn folks first?
I assume those in violation probably don't know or have a justifiable reason for a particular time period. If a justifiable reason is present (new landscaping, chemicals applied, etc.) then after a few weeks I would expect the water usage numbers to return to normal. If high usage continues, then maybe action would be needed by the county.
Either way I think this would be a much better system than what is in place.
Chris Bell, Tampa