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Thursday letters: Curbing fertilizer use is no way to improve water quality

Fertilizer curbs won't clean water

On Jan. 19, the Pinellas County Commission will hold a hearing and potentially vote to restrict homeowners' ability to continue using fertilizer to keep their lawns and landscapes healthy.

The commission is well meaning in trying to protect water quality. We're all committed to that. However, a vote to restrict and ban fertilizers may cause just the opposite! It may end up compromising healthy lawns and landscapes from doing exactly what they're supposed to do — filter out pollutants and nutrients so they don't enter our waterways.

A mere seven months ago, the Florida Legislature passed a law regulating fertilizer use. It established a statewide model ordinance based squarely on sound science. The state model is designed to protect our precious waters. It recognizes state uniformity is necessary because water flows beyond county borders. It requires commercial fertilizer applicators be trained and certified. The new state law recognizes some local conditions may need additional regulation, but going beyond the state's model must be based on economically and technically feasible solutions and sound science.

So, why are Pinellas commissioners even thinking about ignoring this new state law? Its very objectives are what county commissioners say they want to achieve. Is the commission privy to some special science research that trumps the sound peer-reviewed science recognized and embraced by the Florida Legislature and Department of Environmental Protection?

It seems those pushing this proposal are seeking a quick and easy fix to a complex and scientific issue. It seems, in the name of water quality, those pushing this proposal are infringing on the desires and rights of Pinellas County residents to do what they can actually do to help our water quality — maintain healthy lawns and landscapes. Before imposing a whole new layer of local restrictions, wouldn't it be a more appropriate use of county resources to partner and invest in educating residents on the impacts and dangers of misusing fertilizer products?

Ben Bolusky, CEO/executive vice president, and Debra A. Butler, Pinellas Chapter president, Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association

We must work with Muslim-Americans | Jan. 12, commentary

We have to get real about mainstream Muslims

Which sentence is likely to promote the greater good: We must work with Muslim-Americans, or Muslim-Americans must adjust, embrace and promote our system of modernity?

I have no doubt professor David Schanzer is a nice man who intended balance and insight in his piece about Muslim-Americans. However, two years of study is not an impressive credential in this matter, and it shows in his article.

First, his findings about vast rejection of ideology, positive steps taken, and cooperation with the law rings hollow in the face of the 24/7 news cycle. Perception is reality.

Second, Schanzer's recommendation about more "outreach" infrastructure is the kind of muddled condescension that denies the Muslim community includes many educated professionals, the best merchants on earth, and ultra-family-oriented humanists. These decent folks can take very good care of their own, thank you.

Much has been written about the language of obfuscation, blurring and mollification with respect to the West's response to radical Islam. Professor Schanzer obviously did not include Eboo Patel in his research. Patel was quoted in both USA Today and in Time magazine this week: "Here's the sad truth: Mainstream Muslims have zero influence over extremists. In fact, if one of those guys had a single bullet in his gun and you and I were up against the wall, he would shoot me first. He hates me more because not only do I not follow his perverse vision of Islam, I also represent an alternative interpretation."

Study this, professor.

Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg

We must work with Muslim-Americans | Jan. 12, commentary

Join the community

If we must work with Muslim-Americans, conversely Muslim-Americans must work with the rest of American society.

It's called assimilation.

Once again we recognize "their community." Unfortunately the rest of us are viewed by "their community" at best as infidels and at worst the devil. And if you read the Times very much, who could blame them? But despite the often shamelessness of Western civilization, the rest of us are a pretty welcoming bunch.

How about we drop our prefixes and join the American community?

Mark Campbell, St. Petersburg

Relationships defy Mideast struggle | Jan. 3

Bridging the divide

Thank you for publishing this article from the New York Times about these two children, a Palestinian girl and an Israeli boy, who despite their different ethnic backgrounds and conflict-ridden states, can become such great friends. It is unfortunate their friendship was made in a hospital where both are recovering from wounds from an Israeli missile and a Hamas rocket, respectively.

I cried when reading the article because it made me so happy to see such a beautiful relationship between two opposing cultures despite the hatred of each other from both sides. But it is these children, and other Palestinian and Israeli children, who don't have to hate their neighbor. As the article stated, "Someone forgot to tell them that they are enemies." If only it could remain that way.

Nora Zaki, Lithia

Plug-in electric cars

A chilling choice

It a good time to stop and think. Where would the power come from to recharge these cars at times when the weather is like this?

The utility companies can't keep up now. Would you rather save a little gas or be sitting home in a cold dark house?

Randall Gill, Clearwater

Old autos are winners

I want to compliment the St. Petersburg Times for frequently running the "My first car" feature .

For an old car buff it is one of the highlights of my day. And to the readers who take the time to send in the pictures and information on their old cars, I thank you. This alone is worth my subscription.

Dan Hutcheson, Weeki Wachee

Thursday letters: Curbing fertilizer use is no way to improve water quality

01/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 8:06pm]
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