The dirty politics of coal ash | May 27, commentary
Utility protects the environment
Tampa Electric is proud of our outstanding record of environmental stewardship. Because of that, I would like to set the record straight in response to Lynn Ringenberg's column published last Sunday.
Tampa Electric's Big Bend power station is one of the cleanest coal-burning plants in the country. In addition to having some of the lowest air emission rates, the plant has also had no impact on drinking water supplies. We have implemented extensive environmental controls to continue to protect these precious resources.
Tampa Electric has five ponds in which we store the residual products from the coal combustion process, such as ash. All of the ponds are fully lined and safely protect drinking water from potential contamination.
We also go a step further — by recycling 97 percent of these byproducts. This is a remarkable accomplishment, representing one of the highest recycling rates of any major power plant in the United States.
These byproducts are used in cement and wallboard, roof shingles, fertilizer and in the sandblast industry. In the past three years, Tampa Electric has recycled 3 million tons of byproducts that many other utilities would normally dispose of in a landfill.
These programs reflect our desire to serve our customers in the most responsible manner possible, with a focus on sustainable, cost-effective processes that minimize environmental impact.
Gordon Gillette, president, Tampa Electric
When the state kills the innocent | May 27, Robyn Blumner column
Robyn Blumner's column highlighting the wrongful executions of Carlos DeLuna and Cameron Todd Willingham was a very compelling argument against the death penalty. I am a Republican who rarely agrees with Blumner, but in this case she was spot on. While I believe that there are individuals who certainly deserve to lose their lives for the crimes they commit (John Couey comes to mind), I simply do not trust the government to administer such a process fairly or accurately. This is because the government is run by human beings, who like the rest of us are motivated by narrow self-interest and restrained by limited knowledge. Because those in government rarely face the consequences of their decisions, they often make the wrong ones, even if their intent is pure.
What I find puzzling is how Blumner can so effectively articulate these failings of government when it comes to civil liberties in one column, and in the next champion its abilities and competence in economic matters. A criminal trial is a grueling and exacting process that seeks to administer justice in a very narrow, specific instance. If government doesn't deserve our faith in doing that correctly, how can we trust it to control and coordinate the countless decisions that hundreds of millions of Americans make each day in our economic lives?
Matthew Curran, Lutz
Killing is killing
When the state kills anyone, are we, the state, not committing the same crime that the person convicted of killing is guilty of? Killing people is killing, whether one is innocent or guilty, by a person or a state.
Tom S. Brown, Pinellas Park
If saving your life is boring ... May 27, Perspective
The unsung heroes
I was pleased to see the laudatory article about my former co-worker Tom Haueter of the National Transportation Safety Board. He is one of the thousands of unsung heroes in public service at the federal, state and local levels who keep our country safe and strong, in spite of the politicians who demean them.
Every government agency is run by political appointees, many of whom have little experience in the work they oversee. Without honest, caring career bureaucrats like Haueter, no government agency would succeed.
Ray Smith, Tampa
Syria blamed as attacks kill 32 children May 27
Use missile strikes
Having spent over 20 years in the military, I believe an effective message to the Syrian government would be a battery of cruise missiles fired on all its military bases, arsenals, military supply and maintenance facilities. Additionally, all military command, control, communication and intelligence facilities should be targeted.
This could be done solely by the United States or a coalition of NATO members without the involvement of ground troops. This will not immediately bring down the government, but it will degrade its capability to wage terror on its own citizens.
Bobby E. Pope, Spring Hill
25 years of changes aside, retail basics still the same | May 29
Years of fine journalism
Congratulations to Mark Albright on his retirement from the Times, most prominently as the retail beat writer.
I have worked for years in the retail industry and also have been part of many of the name changes he points out. As Albright writes, as much as the "wheel of retail" has turned, the basics remain the same: price, selection and how you treat your customer.
The same goes for good journalism, no matter how it's delivered: in-depth research, valuing both sides of the story, and a compelling and succinct writing style. This also will remain the same for the next 25 years and beyond. Albright brought honor to his profession and to the retail industry. Best wishes.
Ed Carroll, Tierra Verde
PSC backs Progress' nuclear gamble May 29
Not serving the public
Why don't we just rename the Florida Public Service Commission for what it really is — the Florida Progress Service Commission (as in Progress Energy). We won't even have to change the acronym. This commission of political appointees (appointed by those who receive major campaign contributions from Progress Energy) and so-called protector of the public has served Progress Energy very well. And we have seen what happens to anyone who ever tries to say no to Progress Energy.
Where else do we get to pay in advance for something we have no guarantee of ever receiving, at least not in my lifetime. Well, thank goodness for the free enterprise system, where I can take my business elsewhere. Wait, there is no "elsewhere."
Jack Hanel, Largo