Get set for pill mills all over again
The state capital may be in Tallahassee, but the pot shop capital for the South may soon become Tampa. Hillsborough County commissioners stuck down a provision that would have limited the number of marijuana dispensaries/pot shops. What does that mean for citizens living in unincorporated Hillsborough?
They're back — only with a new sign. Resurrect the pill mill signs and replace them with: "Pot Shop Open for Business." The Florida Department of Health projected over 120 pot shops throughout Hillsborough. This means more than twice as many pot shops as McDonald's.
Anyone with access to a computer can Google Denver and see what communities experienced when "medical" marijuana was legalized. It isn't a pretty sight: Parks began to be cluttered with homeless, crime increased, unemployment increased, high school dropout rates began to increase — and all of this before recreational legalization. Who paid for this? Local counties and cities.
Tampa Bay, prepare yourselves for the fresh smell of our sunny, sandy beaches to be a memory of the past. New Tampa will be recognized by a skunk-smelling cloud of smoke hovering over I-75 as hordes of "sick" people come seeking their "medicine."
Teresa Miller, Tampa
Democrats' negative stance | March 2, letter
What Democrats believe
For those who ask, "What do Democrats believe?" a partial answer:
• All citizens have the right to vote and that right should be made easier to exercise, not more difficult.
• The security of this nation depends upon the maintenance of strong alliances throughout the world, not currying favor with dictators.
• Adequate health insurance for 20 million otherwise uninsured Americans and 10 million additional Americans stuck in poverty but covered under the Medicaid expansion program is not a luxury but an obligation of a free society.
• The perils of global warming and climate change, particularly in Florida, need to be confronted, not ignored.
• There are reasonable ways to address the epidemic of gun violence that do no violence to the Second Amendment.
• Tax policies that help the rich get richer while the poor get poorer will never lead to a prosperous nation.
• The U.S. Constitution meant what it said when it established as a pillar of government the obligation to "promote the general welfare."
This is just a sampling of the most strongly held beliefs of Democrats. Will we stand up to Donald Trump and his billionaire minions? You bet we will.
John Morse, Tampa
Senate Bill 1262
Don't sink youth sailing
To the international sailing community, Florida is the epicenter of youth sailing and Olympic development. However, Florida's role could be coming to an end. State Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat from Fort Lauderdale, has drafted Senate Bill 1262, which would effectively end most youth sailing in the Sunshine State. The legislation would prohibit minors younger than 16 from operating motorboats with at least 10 horsepower or sailboats greater than 10 feet in length. Oddly, the legislation would restrict youth access to safer and larger vessels while allowing sailboards and kiteboards, which are statistically more dangerous.
Although the proposed law includes an exemption for minors under the physical supervision of an adult age 21 or older, in practice the law effectively bans most youth sailing in Florida for the state's most accessible vessels. Since most youth sailing programs employ high school and college students, by placing an arbitrary age restriction on the available coaching staff, the bill prevents the majority of coaches from supervising Florida's youth. What's more, the legislation would have significant environmental impact as every young Floridian sailing on the water would need to be accompanied by a fuel-burning powerboat. Essentially the law prevents children sailing together in groups, a common practice in youth sailing programs that is an affordable method of self-supervision.
Gordon Lamphere, Miami
Tourism: Pinellas' lifeblood
Tourism is the No. 1 industry in Pinellas County, and that's not open for debate. Thanks to our 14.5 million annual visitors, more than 100,000 county residents are employed and $9 billion in economic impact has been generated for our community. The success of our industry is a direct result of tourism promotion on a state and local level.
Our beachfront resort has been locally owned by the same St. Petersburg family since 1969, and along with our 70 employees we rely on tourism to maintain our livelihood.
As a 30-year veteran of the tourism industry, I can speak firsthand to the vital need for promotion on both a state and local level. It is troubling that many lawmakers believe people will continue to visit Florida without tourism marketing.
We need Visit Florida to sell Florida to the entire world, and we need Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater to attract those visitors to our community. HB 9 would cause Florida and our community to miss out on marketing opportunities to attract visitors. Furthermore, recent calls to slash Visit Florida's funding would cripple small businesses and independent hotels like ours. Sen. Jack Latvala has said, "Eliminating Visit Florida would be a tremendous disservice to our state."
The intense regulations proposed in HB 9 all but eliminate Visit Florida, hindering the agency from doing its job. I encourage House members to support Florida's tourism industry and vote no on this bill during the legislative session, while supporting adequate funding for Visit Florida in the budget process.
Anthony Satterfield, St. Petersburg
The writer is vice president of operations at Alden Beach Resort & Suites in St. Pete Beach.