Beach, turtle needs collide | June 29, story
Building on barrier islands is folly
The plight of residents on Singer Island follows a time-worn script.
People buy homes or condos on a barrier island, and when their residences are threatened by the sea they want the taxpayers to bail them out of trouble.
Politicians looking for votes are more than willing to pull strings and apply pressure on state and federal officials to throw money into the sea knowing it will not solve the problem.
Most people who live on the coast know barrier islands are always moving and not to build on dune lines. Those who do should pay for their own stupidity.
John Ennis, Hudson
Stop the overdevelopment
Thank you for keeping Times' readers informed of an ongoing debate in the community of Singer Island that is representative of larger issues facing communities throughout the state of Florida.
The article describes the erosion of shoreline near condominiums built too close to the beach, as well as the efforts of several local politicians to construct a breakwater that will certainly endanger the already threatened sea turtle population while not stopping — and perhaps even exacerbating — erosion.
The current erosion is clearly the product of rampant development executed with no thought to the future — only a focus on short-term financial payoffs.
The situation that Singer Island now finds itself in may be the fate of many Florida towns thanks to the passage of SB 360 (the one that loosens growth restrictions) by our Legislature and governor.
Despite the lack of leadership at the state level in ensuring the thoughtful and limited development of our state and its natural resources, Floridians still have a chance to protect our beautiful home by voting for the Hometown Democracy amendment in November 2010 and electing local and state politicians who will respect appropriate limits on new construction.
As the hopelessly self-centered Singer Island resident Marie Bianchini says, "We're on the top of the (evolutionary) chain." Yet, unlike Mrs. Bianchini, I believe our position does not give us the right to trample the environment or destroy species that are "less advanced" than we. Rather, it is a privilege that comes with a certain responsibility, to the Earth and all its creatures, including the next generation of people.
I hope that all Floridians take into consideration the attitude and voting record of their elected officials toward the environment and toward creating a sustainable future for our state when we go to the polls.
Catherine Wilkins, Ph.D., St. Petersburg
Education is needed
I urge Sen. Jeff Atwater, Rep. Ron Klein, Mrs. Marie Bianchini and other science illiterates who build edifices — or granted permits for such building — on a barrier island to find a basic marine biology or Florida ecosystems book and look up the meaning of barrier island.
Seems the only creatures who are not "wackadoos" (Mrs. Bianchini's term) are the turtles. Thank you, Craig Pittman, for again reminding St. Petersburg Times readers that our state is run by and full of woefully uneducated folks.
JoAnn M. Valenti, Ph.D., Tampa
Look who's talking
Marie Bianchini, a resident in a condo on Singer Island, calls people who like sea turtles "wackadoos." She goes on to say she's for environmental causes but "we're on the top of the food chain, right?"
She lives in a high-rise condominium built on an unstable barrier island in an area known for being hit by hurricanes as they come off the Atlantic. Even though she was convinced her condo was going down in a recent storm, she didn't move.
Ah, who's the "wackadoo" here?
Required reading for all before buying on a barrier island: Condominium by John D. MacDonald.
Ellen J. Pfau, Palm Harbor
Food chain continuum
When a superior race of aliens lands on our planet and loads Marie Bianchini on the bus to the Soylent Green factory, I wonder if she'll go quietly while thinking, "They're on top of the chain, right."
Sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug!
Richard Pane, Spring Hill
Climate bill vital for Florida | June 26, editorial
Energy legislation will be costly for taxpayers
The U.S. House voted on climate legislation on June 26 that Speaker Nancy Pelosi heralded as a landmark and the Times' editorial board claimed is "vital" for Florida. The editors trumpet the cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office as $15 per household, per month. That estimate is low, and the analysis does not reflect the bill as passed. Further, only folks with the monopolist senses of a newspaper editor could claim that a tax on your utility bill "is a value" that "you can pass down" to your consumers.
The Democrats reached a low up-front cost. According to the Heritage Foundation, the legislation would really cost $28,825. That's right, the $165 dollars you'll pay for the first five years of the CBO score, plus the $28,000 per person this bill would add to our national debt. Finally, the bill is designed with formulas that would penalize Florida. The $165 average is a national average, so seniors in Florida will pay a lot more than the residents of California, who will pay almost nothing.
I do not like to complain about process, but unbelievably this bill was not even complete before the vote took place. In fact, pages of text were in piles being passed around the speaker's desk by clerks. Who knows what we voted on? Members of Congress sure didn't, and neither did the editors. Putting aside the probity of passing legislation that no one has read, let alone assembled, this bill does almost nothing to lead to energy independence. In fact, it has been reported by Bloomberg that if this became law, America would be more dependent on foreign oil then ever before.
Keep in mind all of this is just "a starting point." Apparently, we're to believe that having the president regulate every bulb, every lamp, every appliance, every by-law in your homeowner and condo association, and the location of the outlets in your home is also just "a starting point." One wonders, where will this finish?
It's not that I don't think we need to take action to protect our environment. On the contrary, when Democrats first took over Congress I sided with their initial efforts to bring balance to the carbon-centric approach of America's energy policy. I have a long record of supporting conservation, even winning recognition from the Sierra Club for my efforts to protect our precious water resources. But I have always fought for pragmatic efforts that will improve our environment and our economy. I believe strongly that we can green the economy and grow it, but drastically higher taxes will do neither.
I do agree with the editors that we should all step up and do what we can. That is why I am calling on the St. Petersburg Times to cease the publication of its printed edition. The carbon footprint of the largest paper in circulation in Florida must be enormous. Forests have been felled to print crossword puzzles and Sunday comics. Countless barrels of foreign oil have been guzzled to transport this energy hog to your door. New technologies have made news delivered on paper obsolete and outdated. Craigslist proves we no longer need printed classified ads, and the Internet provides limitless column space with little carbon emission. Instead of the taxpayer paying to replant trees cut down to make paper, a subsidy in the bill endorsed by this paper, an online-only edition would leave our forests standing. So to the publisher of the St. Pete Times, I challenge you to be a leader and step up to the plate. After all, eliminating your print edition won't stop global warming, but it would be a good start.
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, member of Congress
Girl, 2, strangled in crib by python | July 2
Outlaw exotic pets
I'm not sad. I'm not angry. I am furious! Not at the pet owner, but at the authorities who allow people to buy exotic animals of all kinds that are wild animals and not "pets," whether people consider them to be or not.
The state issues permits, the pet stores buy them to make money, some people buy them to call attention to themselves. Some buy these animals illegally. Many do not keep these animals in healthy or safe conditions, endangering all of us and the animals trapped in their suspect care.
No one can guarantee the safety of individuals or other animals from exotic "pets." When people get tired of these animals, they end up in the Everglades, your back yard or in canned hunts. This poor 2-year-old child was a victim of this cavalier lapse of state oversight by not outlawing the owning of exotic pets.
We need a law passed outlawing the owning of all exotics. Now, I am starting to feel extreme sadness for this child.
Marilyn Weaver, Tarpon Springs
Girl, 2, strangled in crib by python | July 2
Government must act
So now a 2-year-old child has been killed by a python — a "pet" python. It feels like we're living in a Hitchcock movie where no one else around you notices how whacked out things are.
How many red flags (like strangled children and destroyed ecosystems) do we need before we wake up? The fact that Florida's authorities permit ownership, breeding, selling or trade of exotic pets demonstrates shortsighted, money-hungry arrogance at the expense of safety and common sense. The situation in the Everglades is proof positive that you should never provide the opportunity for people to be irresponsible with such dangerous animals. This young girl's death was an unnecessary symptom of naivete and carelessness.
The child as well as the exotics are at our mercy, so who should we hold accountable? The government is a great first start. They have the authority and obligation to protect Floridians and our home — and we pay them to. We cannot have an "exotic animal market" if we seek to protect our safety and sustainability, while respecting the lives of the animals subject to self-serving interests of incompetent entities.
Contact Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, www.myfwc.com. Tell them you're mad as hell and you're not going to take this anymore. Ban exotics as pets!
Andrea Barlow, Seminole
Crist bows down to developers again July 1, editorial
Not in state, not in Senate
This editorial, describing how Gov. Charlie Crist has once again put his personal political ambitions ahead of his duties and responsibilities to the people and the state of Florida, is not surprising.
What is surprising are the last two sentences suggesting that we should send him to Washington as a senator to reduce his ability to do further damage to Florida as governor.
This is exactly wrong. Our country has too many self-serving politicians. What should be done is to end his political career now so that he can't inflict further damage here or elsewhere in the future.
Carl Roccia, Sun City Center
Concerning this last cigarette tax, I had one of our employees who is 59 years old who has smoked all of her life call me in tears.
She had just purchased a carton of cigarettes and they cost her $60 — that is $3,200 per year for her! She is a janitor with us and she said she did not know how she could effort the next carton but she had to, and she just cannot quit smoking. Her gross earning are $20,800 per year.
The question came up as to why "they" are always taxing us smokers for funding and not everyone equally in the state. The reply I give her is that our politicians don't have any backbone, that smokers are easy targets who are hooked on a drug and that our politicians were exploiting the addiction that many people are not capable of overcoming.
A parallel here between politicians and drug pushers, in my opinion, is that they both exploit an addiction for the sake of money.
Raye Minor, St. Petersburg
Put them to the test
In the state of Florida we require high school students to pass the FCAT to demonstrate their knowledge of language, mathematics and science in order to receive a high school diploma.
As teachers and taxpayers, we propose that all members of Congress be required to pass the DCCAT. An independent testing company would create a test, which might, of course, need to be revised if there were last-minute amendments to a bill. Members of Congress would be required to pass the DCCAT to demonstrate their knowledge of a bill in order to be allowed to vote on it.
We realize this may impose a burden on some members of Congress for adequate study time. They might have to skip the White House luau, return early from a Caribbean caucus, or have the tome delivered to their residence in rehab.
If there are accountability standards for teenagers, however, should we not at least have accountability standards for our elected "public servants"?
Carol Mathis, St. Petersburg