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Sea grass bill is not bad news

Sea grass bill is not bad news
As a biologist who has worked in Florida for more than 30 years, I have been closely monitoring the sea grass legislation and news stories written about HB 7059. While many seem concerned that this new legislation will ultimately harm sea grasses and our fragile environment, I sincerely believe that the public has been misinformed about the bill's ramifications. Recent articles imply that this new legislation would allow more events that would impact sea grasses since it provides a potential avenue to compensate for these impacts.

This legislation does not affect current regulatory permit standards — the Florida Department of Environmental Protection still maintains the requirements of providing public benefit and demonstrating avoidance and minimization of impacts prior to obtaining a permit.

Environmental regulatory agencies statewide require that all applicants must first demonstrate avoidance and minimization before mitigation options are considered. Even if there is a potential mitigation option that could compensate for the unavoidable impacts, that does not automatically authorize more impacts to be permitted.

Currently on Gov. Charlie Crist's desk, CS/HB 7059 allows for regulators to provide for the establishment of sea grass mitigation banks. The language contained in the bill simply and clearly states that the regulators may do what the trustees (of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund) currently can do under existing law.

This legislation, which is supported by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, benefits all Floridians. I urge my fellow citizens to support HB 7059 in order to effectively protect and restore our state's sea grass ecosystems.

Thomas Ries, president, Ecosphere Restoration Institute, (a nonprofit organization) and co-chair, Conservation Committee, Tampa Audubon Society, Tampa

A blatant attempt to mislead the voters
June 1, Howard Troxler column

Mischief amendments

Howard Troxler's column deserves mighty praise even if he is only half-right. Yes, Amendment 9 clearly violates the "single-subject" rule as it seeks both to direct funding to public schools and at the same time encourage a voucher scheme. But he also claims that the proposed Amendment 7 removes the Blaine Amendment, which is an "old part if the Constitution that prohibits the use of tax dollars in support of religious institutions." This reference to Florida's 1885 Constitution ignores the fact that the language was included, as well, in our state's 1968 Constitution. Perhaps 40 years is "old" for Troxler, but not for most of us!

Troxler's admirable piece also gives too much credit to the clarity of the title "Religious Freedom" placed on Amendment 7. Who gets "religious freedom" from the passage of Amendment 7? Only those who want to be free to use our hard-earned tax dollars for partisan and particular religious education and other purposes.

They both should be removed from the ballot, and if they appear, should be voted down with a torrent of indignation!

Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, Palm Coast

Cutbacks endanger victim services | June 2, story

Advocates are valuable

For the savings of just $7,600 each, Pinellas County wants to cut two critical positions? This cannot be a serious or realistic thought process.

I have recently met with a Pinellas County victim advocate and found her to be an essential part of the Sheriff's Office team. These are people who are there to help when you are feeling very fragile. When you find yourself so fragile and surrounded by mostly male police officers, the questioning and the all-business style feel harsh and scary.

The victim advocate is the only one you feel is there for you with a calm soothing voice, a supportive manner, and she does not rush you. She lets you knows she's available, supportive and there for you.

They can find the money for these advocates easily by not letting deputies take home police cars. The savings on the cost of gas would easily cover the yearly expense.

Elizabeth Salvucci, Safety Harbor

Hillsborough taxable property values fall
May 31, story

Budget scare tactics

It amazes me that all politicians are crying about having to spend less since Amendment 1 passed.

As reported in the Times, Hillsborough property taxes had risen in 2005 by 15.7 percent; 2006, 21.5 percent; and 2007, 12.2 percent, which equates to about 49 percent in three years.

Just think of that amount and compare it to the 4 percent decrease for 2008. What have the politicians been doing with all the money in last three years? Like all good politicians, they spend and spend. Some spending was for good things, but as we know, most politicians have their own agendas for spending. Remember, the last time property values dropped was in 1992. Lots of money has been turned over to the spenders in all levels of state government since then.

So stop crying about having to cut your budgets. Do you think we cannot see through your method of scaring us so we will not ask for more decreases in property taxes? This tirade is for all levels of the state, and not just for Hillsborough County. Even good old Pinellas County, where I reside, is guilty.

Gabriel Arnold, St. Petersburg

Chief defends crime stats | May 31

Crime stories sell

The conflict arising from the St. Petersburg police chief battling "the perception of crime" is a full exposure of the disconnect between crime reality and personal mythologies that drive crime policy.

Under any measure, the crime rates nationally are down in recent years. But most everyone thinks crime is out of control.

Though there are many reasons for this contradiction, the marketability of crime in the media is a principal if not dominant component. The Times and all other media outlets are guilty. Fear sells, but in this case the cognitive dissonance generated by suspension of belief in true crime numbers leads to much unnecessary rancor, which is ironically also very saleable.

Dale Friedley, St. Petersburg

Sexual ads

Think of the children

I don't believe that you should have an advertisement in your paper with the words "Bring Sex Back" (See Page 5A, June 4).

While I know that ads for Viagra and other products are out there, they aren't as explicit as this ad is, with its photo and its bold lettering.

The problem I have is that if we are trying to bring our children up-to-date on current events by having them read your newspaper, we might have to speak to them about this ad. I know that this is meant to catch an adult's eye, but it also works on children. Do we need to filter the newspaper along with the television to make sure that our kids aren't exposed to things that they aren't quite ready for?

I'm asking you to be responsible in what type of pictures and ads you place in your newspaper.

Linda Lynch, St. Petersburg

Sea grass bill is not bad news 06/08/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 11:12am]
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