Red-light cameras out | March 7
Cameras work to improve safety
Red-light cameras were installed to prevent the horrible accidents caused by red-light runners. They work. Accidents are down. They were not there to make money; that was a fringe benefit.
The only people who do not want them are those who break the law and find themselves on tape. Whether you ran a red light, robbed a store or committed a street crime, you come to justice thanks to the ever-present eyes of the cameras.
The cameras are police without pensions or health insurance. What's that worth to the bottom line in St. Petersburg?
Maureen Zilles, Largo
Red-light cameras out | March 7
Eye on the bottom line
I have been coming to the Tampa Bay area during the winter for the past 10 years. Yes, I must confess I am one of those sometimes-disliked "snowbirds" who cause some of the traffic on "your" local roads. When I first started coming down, the traffic, frankly, sometimes scared me with the number of people running red lights (and I am not as old as you are surmising).
With the installation of red-light cameras, things were better. I no longer worried about someone ramming me from behind if I decided to obey the law and stop for a yellow light. And I have seen far fewer people try to "beat" a red light.
To find out that city leaders are not really worrying about the safety of the people but about the bottom line is appalling. Shame on the mayor and council members if this is their philosophy.
Sue Treciak, Treasure Island
How naive of me. I believed that the red-light cameras were to reduce accidents and protect citizens. Now I learn they were to make money for St. Petersburg. I should have known. I'll have to be more careful when I drive there.
Helen Mitchell, Clearwater
Investing in improvements
The health of our springs is not just a concern for those who enjoy Florida's natural beauty. It's a challenge for all who rely on our abundant fresh water to supply our homes and businesses. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is working hard to restore troubled water bodies, but each of us must commit to the task.
Gov. Rick Scott has responded to the urgency of the situation with a $55 million commitment in his budget for restoring our springs. This builds on the momentum from this year, when $10 million was designated for springs restoration. That $10 million was matched by water management districts and local partners for a total of $37 million for springs improvement projects. More funding is being designated for restoring our springs than at any previous time in state history. A science-based approach is being used to restore Florida's springs, and solid scientific research has laid the foundation for cleanup projects unfolding across the state.
The Scott administration has aided our springs like no other administration. It adopted in 2012 the state's first-ever springs-basin restoration plan, covering 80 springs and including science-based projects that must be completed within five years. These projects, in many instances, control the excess nutrients at the source — both urban and agricultural. Restoration plans are being developed for another 170 springs, including those along the Suwannee and Wekiva rivers and the Silver Springs group, which will be adopted this year.
More work is needed to restore our springs. That means working with every Floridian, from your local farm to your backyard, because so much of what occurs on a daily basis — pet waste, wastewater treatment, overwatering and overfertilizing — affects the flow and quality of our springs.
Herschel T. Vinyard Jr., secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee
Empty threats | March 5, letter
The diplomatic path
The letter writer posits that President Barack Obama's actions regarding Russia's incursion into southern Ukraine are either insufficient, laughable, or both. My question would be, what would he do? International diplomacy is extremely complicated, especially in a region of the world where centuries of history play a major part in current circumstances.
Obama immediately sent Secretary of State John Kerry to consult with his EU counterparts and to Kiev to confirm U.S. support and condemn the Russian actions. A large number and wide range of options is under consideration by the administration, including many political and economic sanctions. Some sanctions will be implemented immediately if it appears Russia will not withdraw.
There is no popular support among Americans for "boots on the ground" in yet another remote area of the world.
Frank Soos, St. Pete Beach
Board member seeks own meetings on bus safety | March 6
Less heat, more light
Although passionate and hopefully well intentioned, it is impossible to hear Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin's core message of concern for our students amid her considerable, distracting noise. She could help her cause by simply toning down her rhetoric and turning the corner from complainer to being part of solution. Pursuing her destructive, disruptive current path results in being avoided and her best intentions for our students dismissed.
School district accountability is one thing; inflammatory rhetoric and action that bypasses all civil discussion and aims at simply torching and burning the opposition to the ground is clearly another. Trampling over kindness and manners in the name of "trust"' is a destructive, wasted outcome.
Can we expect more distracting noise to make her point, or will she be a partner in a compromise solution? For everyone's sake, let's bury the hatchet and end the distraction.
Michael Doyle, Tampa