The letter writer obtains his information from the state and federal partners in law enforcement, and I'm sure he believes everything they tell him. I'm also sure he has the best interests of his community in mind when he says how extremely dangerous smoking marijuana is.
I think marijuana is similar to alcohol as far as driving when using it, and I'm sure that will be addressed just as with the DUI laws.
Youngsters don't need this, as they are developing their minds and bodies, and if anyone enables kids to acquire marijuana there needs to be penalties in place for such actions. With that said, let's not forget that Kennedy, Clinton, Bush, Obama — they all smoked it and it didn't ruin their lives, did it?
I realize the war on drugs was a cash cow for local and federal policing agencies as they confiscated possessions of drug dealers — boats, cars, trucks, whatever they could sell and/or use. And it also filled the prisons, which also filled the coffers of the private prison-operating systems. These are things that are very hard to let go of, but perhaps law enforcement might be better suited focusing more on felonious crimes. That might help make our streets safer.
Daniel Orsello, Tampa
Bringing up black boys with love — and fear Feb. 18, commentary
Focus on the real problem
Rare is the type of crime perpetrated by Michael Dunn, but it has provided fodder for members of the black community as they rush to position it solely as a racist act and condemn the justice system for its perceived injustice toward black males.
What is much more common is black-on-black murder and black neighborhoods held hostage by gangs, drugs and scores of illegal weapons. Where is the outrage by the black community over this? Why no extensive media coverage or editorializing by black leaders and columnists?
Why? Because that behavior is the norm, almost an expectation in those communities. So please direct the vitriol and hand-wringing toward those communities where black-on-black crime is rampant.
Polly White, St. Petersburg
Just walk away
The recent shootings of black teenage boys is sad and scary, as is the shooting of the unarmed man in the movie theater. All three involved guns and males. Maybe the lesson is: Just walk away. Assume every 30-plus-year-old male is armed and, especially when he is behaving aggressively, just walk away.
As women, we've learned over the years that we have lots of "rights" that are dangerous to enjoy — jogging alone in a wooded area, leaving any place alone at 2 a.m. and arguing with a man who has been drinking. We have the right and often the desire, but it is in our best interests not to do it.
I think males — young and black and white and middle-aged — have to be reminded to consider the risks. It isn't fair, it isn't right, it isn't always needed, but it often keeps us alive.
Madlyn Blom, Sun City Center
'Stand' law change proposed | Feb. 20
Not many politicians who want to stay in office in Florida are willing to take on the "stand your ground" issue in a way that might upset the NRA or seem to question any Second Amendment right.
My friend, an airline pilot and a big, strong guy, on leaving my house the other day, holstered his Glock 10mm pistol before venturing onto I-275 to a mall in Tampa. This guy trains with his weapon, like the proficiency training required for an airline captain, and feels the threat is great enough from irate drivers or crazed shoppers to make it wise to carry a concealed weapon.
If this guy carries, I wonder how many folks are armed with concealed pistols at most public gatherings in anticipation of a face-off with some road-rage bully or freaked-out gang member found stalking the mall. No doubt, many of these gun toters have Hollywood-enhanced illusions reminiscent of John Wayne in Rooster Cogburn or Gary Cooper facing down Frank Miller in High Noon. Let's just pray that our gun-toting want-to-be saviors can shoot as straight, and at the right targets, as the heroes from these flicks.
Stanley Cole, Palm Harbor
Caution advised on renewables Feb. 18, letter
Rooftop panels work
A simple answer to the letter writer is: Do more research on solar and photovoltaic energy. If it were possible to have photovoltaic panels on every roof in Florida, our dependence on fossil fuel would be a small portion of our needs.
In my city we have two city buildings with photovoltaic systems. One is the emergency operations center and the other is a very large public works garage. The buildings were built about three years ago, and in the public works garage we have not paid a utility bill during those three years.
No one system is the answer; we need a combination of them. The sun is forever. It's not free, but it's close to being free.
James Quinn, Seminole
The technology exists
The letter writer is half right. Large-scale thermal solar power plants like Ivanpah are uneconomical and impractical in Florida. The same can be said of so-called "solar farms." Both are examples of how investor-owned utilities are trying to force renewable technologies into the obsolete business model of big power plants and long-distance transmission lines, which are notoriously inefficient.
Photovoltaic technology is economical when solar panels are mounted on roofs distributed throughout the communities being served (hence the term "distributed solar"). Excess power generated while the sun shines can be economically stored in multi-megawatt vanadium redox batteries located at electrical substations, thus providing firm baseload power.
The Navigant report, commissioned by the Public Service Commission in 2008, concluded that solar photovoltaics could realistically generate 175.8 terrawatt-hours in Florida by 2020. That amounts to 71.7 percent of all the electricity generated in Florida in 2007. Instead, billions of ratepayer dollars have been wasted on failed nuclear projects (courtesy of our state Legislature).
Thomas Eppes, Thonotosassa
Textbooks in question | Feb. 14
This latest attempt by religious zealots to control the content of the schoolbooks reminds me of an incident I had a few years ago with a USF student from Saudi Arabia. I was impressed by his knowledge of science, and especially relativity, which he said he learned while in high school in Saudi Arabia.
He knew a lot about Albert Einstein and that he had lived in Germany until he moved to the United States in the '30s. He even knew that Einstein had developed most of his findings while still a young man, but he had no idea that Einstein was Jewish. When I told him that, he said I must be wrong since his books never mentioned that, and he had a difficult time accepting the fact that his books might have left that fact out.
That is the problem with allowing people with a rigid view of the world to decide the content of schoolbooks. They'll get some things right, but they will leave out facts that go against their beliefs. The result will be students not ready to compete with students from countries like China and Germany.
Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor
Climate advocate builds ad war chest Feb. 18
Facing Florida's challenges
Big money demanding climate action could be our best news in years. Florida's leaders have ignored this threat to pursue short-term profits. When the state's underwater, they'll have the cash to move to higher ground, but what about everyone else?
Climate change may be our most intractable problem, but pollution and habitat destruction are huge threats as well. Human health and wildlife suffer because we refuse to protect our air, water and open space. Let's hope some billionaire steps up to finance the end to sprawl, toxic waste and a host of environment perils.
Liz Drayer, Clearwater
Venezuelan opposition leader surrenders after protest rally | Feb. 19
Stand with Venezuelans
This week nearly 300 Venezuelans stood tall across from Tampa's City Hall and showed solidarity with their brothers and sisters who dare to challenge the ever-increasing repression in their native land. I was proud to be present.
As a Cuban-American I am saddened by the proposition that had Cubans been able to take care of their own problems and rid the hemisphere of Fidel Castro, this political virus would not have infected the land of Simon Bolivar and Venezuela would still be a land of freedom. But we Cubans failed despite our best efforts, so the least we can do is support the struggle against the Nicolas Maduro regime.
This is not a matter for Cuba or Venezuela alone. It impacts the national security of the United States and has dire consequences for every American now and for years to come. In the last decade, we as a nation have engaged in combat and conflict in faraway lands when some of the gravest dangers faced by our people are just off our shores. The time to support the efforts of those who struggle for freedom in the streets of Caracas is now.
Ralph E. Fernandez, Tampa