There are plenty of compelling reasons why Floridians should vote for the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in November.
As soon as state Sen. David Simmons' springs protection legislation surfaced and the voter-initiated conservation amendment was approved by the Florida Supreme Court, the predictable opposition and spin started, with legislators, lobbyists, water barons, polluting industries and developers starting to squirm like snakes in a skillet.
Should voters trust the same special interests that have made careers on a record of broken promises to protect our water and environment?
In spite of a growing public recognition that something must be done to fix the growing environmental problems plaguing our state, corporate interests and legislators, joined at the hip by a compromised Florida League of Cities, claims that everything is just fine, that no changes or additional protections are needed.
We are expected to believe that corporations will protect the public interest voluntarily, apparently disregarding profits — after having poured money into legislators' pockets to block any new protections for our waters. All of which proves that investing in politicians has a higher rate of return than protecting Florida's tourism economy, water or quality of life.
When legislators and corporate-funded PACs oppose the amendment, just remember that it does not raise taxes, is funded from an existing and dedicated source, and is not "forever," being limited to a 20-year life.
Consider also who is responsible for what has happened to our springs, lakes and rivers, and that our legislators stuffed over $49 million into their pockets from campaign contributions in the last election, much of it from the very corporations now telling us we don't need any protection and don't have enough sense to know we need to fix the problem.
Show them democracy still works. Vote "yes" on the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in November.
Terry Brant, Melrose
Provisions for a Netflix binge | Feb. 13
Don't glamorize drug use
I find it sad, in light of the recent deaths of actors and the growing epidemic of heroin use in our country, that the Times would print a recipe for "Blue Crystal Meth Candy." Why are you glamorizing drug use?
Anne Hale, Riverview
I was surprised and frankly shocked that the Times would have a recipe for candy called Blue Crystal Meth. What was someone thinking when this was reviewed/proofread? In an era when many families and lives are being ruined by methamphetamine, why promote it as a candy? What's next — a brownie recipe with cannabis? I hope someone apologizes to the readers for this disturbing error.
John Foley, Clearwater
A loss, unanswered | Feb. 12
Officials did their jobs
Concerning your article regarding the 14-year-old boy who died after being ejected from the fair: Where is the parents' responsibility here? I feel very sorry for their loss, but pointing fingers seems a little hypocritical.
The article quoted a parent as saying, "He was in their custody. They were responsible for him." Actually, police are responsible for the safety of all patrons at the fair. Authorities are not hired to babysit. Parents are responsible for minors, not police. I don't see any wrongdoing by officials at the fair. They did their job.
Shanna McCue, Tampa
Use protective custody
A minor who, by definition, is not mature enough to consistently make adult decisions should not be forced into a situation by adults that requires decisions that, if not made correctly, could cost the child his life. When the teen was confronted by law enforcement and told he was to be ejected from the State Fairgrounds because he was not disciplined enough to be there, he should have been placed in some sort of "protective custody" until he could be released into the care of a relative or other responsible adult.
As it happened, he was soon another victim of the out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality that marks so much of society's attitude toward problems affecting our children. Fair authority officials are quoted as willing to provide any resources to help law enforcement deal with unruly youth. Maybe they could offer a supervised holding area where ejected kids could make a phone call and then safely wait to be picked up for a safe ride home.
Roger Crescentini Sr., Tampa
Baby business | Feb. 10
In vitro alternatives
I would like to clarify some issues in this report on in vitro fertilization. First, and most importantly, the majority of patients seeking treatment for infertility do not require in vitro fertilization to conceive — there are significantly less expensive treatments available. Second, the cost of IVF varies from center to center as well as geographic location. The cost of IVF quoted in the article was for a couple in California — fees elsewhere may be less.
Edward Zbella, M.D., Clearwater
FEMA's data detailed, accurate Feb. 11, letter
Better maps in the works
FEMA may have accurate land elevation and storm surge data; however, elevation is only part of the equation in determining the risk of flooding. Rainfall totals and stormwater runoff are huge factors. A recent publication from the Southwest Florida Water Management District said the district "is partnering with FEMA to replace outdated FEMA flood insurance rate maps that are often inaccurate."
New maps are in the works for most of the 16 counties within the district. It is projected that FEMA will be adopting these new maps sometime in 2015. The current flood insurance rate maps were last updated in 1996.
The district is currently hosting informational meetings with residents to gather input on what these new proposed maps will look like. My neighbor and I attended the Alligator Creek Watershed meeting to view the new maps. Having lived in our homes for 35 years and 55 years, respectively, we can attest to the accuracy of the new maps. In fact, the new maps should put us in a lower risk category. Congress needs to delay implementing any new laws regarding flood insurance rates. There's a lot more homework that needs to be done.
Jeanne Johnson, Clearwater
TIA unveils nonstop route to Seattle Feb. 12
The most recent nearly three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar investment by various airport and county entities to subsidize Alaska Airlines' once-daily Tampa-Seattle route is absurd and completely contradicts the concept of airline deregulation.
If the economics are beneficial and real for an air carrier, there should be no need for dangling carrots of economic incentives in front of them.
This continued tactic of subsidizing air carriers to come to Tampa is smoke and mirrors and undermines the true economics of the airline industry. It baits existing air carriers to seek similar compensation to new and existing cities they serve.
Robert H. Sebastian, Lutz
Caps in hand
Let me see if I have this right. The Tampa airport and surrounding counties are going to provide massive economic incentives and promotions to Alaska Airlines for servicing their own hub (Seattle) with one single flight per day.
How much are we paying American, United and Delta for servicing their respective hubs of Miami, Chicago and Atlanta?
Scott Hostler, Lutz
The GOP attacks Sink's 'resume' | Feb. 9
Capitalism at work
It is fascinating that Republicans would attack Alex Sink for "making $8.8 million in three years, even though she eliminated thousands of Florida jobs." While this statement appears to be true, as good capitalists they should realize that this is the free market at work. The market chose to reward Sink for her work as she made the enterprise more efficient and profitable by lowering costs through, among other things, the elimination of jobs. This is what capitalism is all about.
Given this, I would expect the GOP to laud Sink. Instead they try to vilify her for doing precisely what capitalist theory demands through free-market mechanisms. What hypocrisy.
Peter J. Throdahl, Clearwater
Board of Education
An enemy of science
Gov. Rick Scott has appointed Andy Tuck, who opposes the teaching of evolution, to the state Board of Education. Tuck is highly regarded among those who wish to undermine sound science education in our schools and tear down what President Thomas Jefferson called "the wall of separation of church and state." The creationism that Tuck wishes to have taught in place of evolution is a religious doctrine, not science.
Merrill S. Shapiro, Palm Coast