Political bullies to decide water use? | Feb. 22, Dan DeWitt column
Keep water control in local hands
This column on the water management districts unveils a very real threat to Florida residents. As the Florida Legislature continues to consider and promote a bevy of truly bad bills through committee, bay area residents should take particular interest in SB 7092, or in its newly configured form, SB 1986.
These bills propose to put control of the regional water management districts in Tallahassee, considerably reducing local access and control of water resources. The governing boards would be dissolved, and all projects and budgets approved at the state level.
The core mission would no longer be regulation of our water (preventative, proactive management), but instead would be water development projects (regressive, reactive management of our water).
Many counties are fighting back, with at least 16 county commissions adopting resolutions opposing this legislative seizure of control of our water. The Hillsborough County Commission has not yet acted on this, nor has it sent a strong message to Tallahassee to leave our water alone. Citizens can help by writing to commissioners, asking them to pass an emergency resolution for delivery to the Legislature clearly supporting the water management districts (specifically the Southwest Florida Water Management District), asking for full funding to be restored to the districts, and voicing their opposition to state control of our water resources.
Mary Barnwell, Tampa
U.S. embargo on Cuba: half-century of failure | Feb. 22, editorial
Don't reward the dictator
It is always interesting to hear those who ignore the plight of Cuba or the inhumanity of Fidel Castro comment about the embargo in a detached, calculated manner. The Times editorial staff have never had their homes or businesses taken from them overnight, nor have they been removed from their families and sent to work farms where starvation and rape are commonplace. They never had unarmed family members murdered before their eyes in order to "send a message." And they've never been put in prison because they tried to buy food for their hungry families. All the while Castro has quietly accumulated millions and millions in personal wealth stolen from hard-working Cubans. How on earth can you ignore this?
You subscribe to the theory that everyone in Cuba will be better off if the embargo is lifted. Where is the evidence/historical track record to support such a conclusion? I am neither Cuban nor Hispanic, but I know this much: Normalized economic relations with communist China have done nothing but make China more belligerent and more dangerous to the United States. Put a little money in Hugo Chavez's pocket, and he funds anti-U.S. campaigns at every stop. Put more money into Cuba (and Castro's pocket, because most assuredly that's where most of it goes) and Castro may expand his military and develop a missile program with a nice little 500-mile range.
Too often we as a nation let the concept of free enterprise drive foreign policy and, in the process, compromise our principles and all that we believe in as a country and a people. Before the Times flippantly passes judgment on the appropriateness of policy advocated by Cuban-Americans, it should engage its crack investigative team to better understand what is indeed happening "under the covers" 90 miles off our shoreline.
Rick Perry, Treasure Island
Jim Morin cartoon | Feb. 23
Culture war's first shot
I assume the cartoon with the elephant touting a culture war while people in financial need sit nearby was aimed at Republicans who the cartoonist thinks are not focusing on the most important issues.
First, according to President Barack Obama, the economy has gotten better. Second, it was Obama who fired the first shot in this culture battle with the recent Health and Human Services decision to force Catholic-run enterprises to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, which is against their doctrine.
Eric Greenbaum, Tampa
Comeback puppy | Feb. 23
Reading about that poor puppy's ordeal absolutely sickened me. Thank goodness for the astute teacher who listened to and believed the two children who told her they thought their "puppy was dying slowly in their bathroom."
What I don't understand are the actions of the SPCA investigator who saw the appalling situation of the pup with its mouth rubber-banded shut and its body covered in feces, urine, fleas and filth. It was locked up in the same bathroom that the children probably had to use.
Then the investigator left the pup there for another day of hell, not to mention the welfare of the children living in the house and being witness to that level of torture.
I anxiously read the article to see the punishment for this pet owner, only to see she was merely charged with a misdemeanor. Is anyone suffering in that house now, I wonder?
Geraldine Williams, Seminole
First, justify the demand
I sat through a board meeting of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority last week and came away with a question that needs to be looked into. A portion of the meeting was devoted to the expansion of bus routes in the north portion of Pinellas County. What I found disturbing was the purchase of eight new vehicles for this expansion without a feasibility study being conducted to justify the need or demand for these new routes.
Several board members asked if there were any feasibility studies conducted to warrant the routes and number of vehicles needed, and the answer was that none had been conducted and it was assumed that there would be a demand for the expansion.
I would think the PSTA committee pushing this expansion of routes and the purchase of new vehicles would be tasked to justify the need and demand for the expansion prior to the purchase of any additional new vehicles. This smacks of mismanagement.
David Bellinger, Largo