Help choose Letter of the Month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for July by visiting the website listed below by Tuesday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three July nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Poll finds most Floridians concerned about climate change | July 26
Voters' concerns ignored
I've heard Republicans like Rick Scott and Marco Rubio claim that they can't speak about the issues of climate change because they're not scientists.
They're also not teachers, but they have some pretty specific ideas about education. They're not economists, but that has never stopped them from talking about job creation. They're not doctors, but they have plenty to say about health care. They're not seniors, but they weigh in on issues of Social Security and Medicare all the time.
They have a lot of opinions on areas where they lack the background or experience, so claiming they are not scientists now is clearly just an excuse — and a poor one at that — for them to not comment on an issue many of their constituents feel very strongly about.
Heidi Halsworth, Tampa
Misleading energy issue coverage July 29, letter
Benefits of efficiency
As a former member of the Florida Public Service Commission and a board member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, I was disappointed that the president of our largest utility, Florida Power & Light, resorted to attacking the Times and the alliance on the benefits and potential for savings of energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency is the lowest-cost resource available to meet electricity demand. Utility-sponsored efficiency programs reduce energy use so customers save money on bills. Unfortunately, what's best for customers doesn't create the need for costly new power plants for shareholder profits.
Strangely, FPL has proposed historic rollbacks of 99 percent of its energy efficiency goals to the PSC. FPL, and other monopoly utilities, would eliminate the cheapest energy savings measures in order to rely more on fossil fuel plants. This means fewer energy options for customers hit hard by electric costs — especially those with lower incomes.
The disingenuous excuses of utilities to slash conservation programs while raising rates and blindly pursuing new power plants — including speculative nuclear projects — fails Florida's citizenry. Florida law allows utilities reasonable profits, not guaranteed income. Duke Energy customers are already on the hook for billions of dollars for power they'll never see.
FPL saw a net income in 2013 of $1.35 billion, versus $1.24 billion in 2012. It seems an act of desperation that the leader of a billion-dollar enterprise attacks my nonprofit organization for advocating for meaningful efficiency goals before regulators. As a leading corporate citizen, FPL with this message sadly misses an important opportunity to shape responsible energy policy.
E. Leon Jacobs, Tallahassee
Racial targeting in the war on drugs July 30, commentary
Let's be fair and balanced. The column excerpted from a New York Times editorial claimed that blacks are targets in drug enforcement. The editorial reports that blacks are targeted due to drug use outside in the street compared to white users who "smoke safely behind closed doors." This is not targeting; this is enforcement.
Robert Shaw, DeLand
Vote for the future
I'm a senior citizen and veteran. I'm asking the senior citizens of our state to stop thinking only of themselves and start thinking of their kids and grandkids.
Legislators are bent on blocking every effort to allow your prodigy health care, not to mention every other effort to move America forward.
Until we stop putting our own narrow self interests before our children's, we can only point to ourselves as we pull the rug out from under those we profess to love.
David Childress, Palm Harbor
It doesn't belong on ballot
Neither a famous law firm nor the public at large has the necessary medical training to practice being doctors with such a controversial, illegal and potentially damaging compound as cannabis. The Food and Drug Administration has already approved a non-hallucinogenic derivative helpful with nausea and convulsions, and it is the responsible institution to approve the use of new drugs, not the voters. Medical practice should never become a political issue, much less a constitutional amendment.
John B. Harrison, St. Petersburg
Glut of lawyers leaves grads looking for work July 27
Having closed my law office nine months ago after 40-plus years, this article brought back a lot of not-so-pleasant memories.
About three years ago banks and securities firms began to aggressively advise account holders to add the letters POD, payable on death, and ITF, in trust for, to their accounts so probate would be avoided. Add to that to living trusts and the large estates largely became a thing of the past.
In a recent issue of the Florida Bar News an attorney-economist wrote that 85 percent of personal and business disputes are resolved without lawyers. Then came the Internet and Legal Zoom, alleging that lawyers charged thousands of dollars for documents we really prepared for much less.
David P. Carter, Seminole