Shut off red-light cameras, fix flaws Feb. 27, editorial
Law aims at public safety
Your editorial is a lucid, cogent argument for amending certain aspects of the traffic camera law, to which I would add a modest change. Is it not time to dispense with the part of the discussion that questions whether the motivating factor behind the camera enforcement of running red lights is financial gain or safety?
It is the running of a red light that is a violation of law. That act itself is illegal — whether observed by a device or a police officer. That law seeks to make all of us safer. Public safety is the reasoning behind the law. How a government chooses to utilize funds that flow from those fines is no argument for abandoning the concept that public safety is the issue.
The other specious argument heard has to do with whether or not rear-end collisions are increasing due to the fact that fewer people are actually running red lights today. Even if this is factually correct, we cannot question the program because other drivers do not have their vehicles under control.
Thomas F. Fredrick, Port Richey
Red-light the cameras | Feb. 26
It's about the money
I can understand the problems red-light cameras are causing the clerks and the courts. These traffic enforcement robots were so quickly installed there was little or no planning for the paperwork consequences, much less an appeal process.
Once word spread that City A was raking in $100,000 a month, City B had to have them. Then came Cities C and D with little consistency in installation, operational parameters or common sense. One day it's just a poorly synchronized traffic light that allows 20 seconds for 12 cars to make a turn; the next it's a cash cow.
This technology can be a tool to enhance traffic safety, but the focus must be on safety first, not generating revenue.
To every elected official in any city employing red-light cameras: Stop regurgitating the vendor-provided propaganda.
Just look the public straight in the eye and say, "It's about the money."
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Late in the game
That officials should be wondering about the fairness of these cameras, at this late date, is amazing.
The red-light cameras violate commonly accepted rules of law every time someone is fined.
There is an old saying: If you want to steal a million dollars, it is easier to steal $100 from 10,000 people than $1 million from one person.
Mark Meysembourg, Tampa
Gerontocracy keeps gnarled grip on Cuba Feb. 26, Daniel Ruth column
Critique of the obvious
I find it interesting that the able columnist Daniel Ruth has spent so much space criticizing the obvious. We have known since the beginning that the Castro regime in Cuba is anything but democratic. I would not pretend to defend the Castro regime's "bungled governance," particularly as it relates to Fidel Castro's domestic economic policies.
However, I find it out of step for Ruth to devote so much effort to make a point about Cuba's dictatorship that most agree with. This is especially true in view of his fairly liberal views relating to local and state affairs, including supporting registries and other laws that enhance rights for gays and lesbians and his views favoring the people on economic and health issues.
What is Ruth's stance on the U.S. government meddling in other nation's affairs, in other words, imperialism? The Castro brothers, for whatever bungling or misdeeds on the home front, have been a bulwark against American imperialism in Cuba as well as an inspiration to such in many other countries.
U.S. interference in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, without exaggerating, aided in the murder of hundreds of thousands of people.
William Rosas, Tampa
Water plant's triple whammy | Feb. 26
The power outage at the Tippin water treatment facility, potentially subjecting Tampa water users to harm, points out a shocking vulnerability to critical infrastructure. That a cascade of events precipitated by the predictable behavior of a squirrel can deprive us of the clean municipal water, on which we depend, requires soul-searching by managers and engineers whose "job one" should be to ensure that vital resources are not threatened by the logical results of seemingly random occurrences.
This incident points out an unacceptable weakness in the electrical service provided to a critical facility, and the need for all utilities to thoroughly review their infrastructure and invest in necessary fixes. As they address the potential threats of terrorism and cyber attack, those in charge of our grids need to begin by ensuring that critical infrastructure is secure against more mundane but well-known hazards within the everyday environment.
Thom Kenning, Valrico
Holding them to account
Because of my liberal politics, I'm always suspicious of monopolies — whether they be "regulated" corporations or the government. When authority is concentrated, who holds it accountable?
Who, for example, will follow up with investor-owned Tampa Electric Co.?
TECO allowed a squirrel to chew through an essential power line, while it may also have ignored that a backup power source was poorly maintained and in danger of shorting out.
Result: No power to the city's water works, which led a half-million people to have to boil their water last weekend — if they didn't want to suffer debilitating bouts of diarrhea, or worse.
Who, as well, will follow up with the city of Tampa Water Department, which had backup generators available — but apparently never anticipated the load to be placed on them if both the usual power sources shut down at the same time?
Some may call this a "perfect storm." I say it's a clusterfiddle of inattentive maintenance and incompetent planning.
Who will figure out what happened and explain it clearly and whole? I'm hoping the Tampa Bay Times.
Jim Harper, Tampa
Fisher recovering after bizarre performance Feb. 27
Much ado about little
After viewing the video, I think you should be ashamed of yourselves for bringing this episode to our attention. To me it looked like Carrie Fisher was not drunk or high but perhaps just a little confused, which is one of the symptoms of her disorder. It also appears that the audience was enjoying themselves. She was not stumbling around or being obnoxious, just having a good time. At least she was not taking her clothes off or grabbing her privates like some of the so-called "stars" of this generation are doing for attention.
Maryrose Nicolazzi, Port Richey
Transit tax wins ballot help | Feb. 27
Boost for jobs, safety
Hats off to the Pinellas County commissioners for moving forward on a 2014 ballot measure for a transportation tax to improve roads and bridges and introduce light rail. This is a win-win for residents because the monies will be used to improve the safety of our current highway system and move us forward with light rail, a possible solution to the north/south traffic gridlock that exists during rush hour. Not only that, this work will create jobs.
Kitty Rawson, St. Petersburg
Obama rejects flexibility offer | Feb. 27
Spending out of control
We, as a nation, borrow 46 cents out of every dollar we spend. Yet if the administration is right, a reduction of 2 or 3 cents in spending will create havoc. I believe this contains a rather important message — our spending is, in fact, out of control.
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
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Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for February 2013 by visiting the website listed below by Wednesday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the Web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
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