Rail is rife with problems
Some people never outgrow their love of trains. However, these promoters of trains as public transportation for Florida must look at the logistics and problems associated with their use.
No. 1 is that cities using trains have a very dense city population so that train stations are within walking distance. The majority of that population does not own a car.
No. 2 is that these cities have high-density business centers so that more people are coming into the city to work than are leaving the city. In Florida, we have no high-density population areas where people would take a train to a specific location every day to work. We have population sprawl that was designed for single-family homes and not apartments.
No. 3 three is the distance one would have to go to a station, which would have to have parking, security, bathrooms, lights, ticket sales and wheelchair accommodations. When the train gets to the closest stop to work or play, you will still need additional transportation.
The cost of the most basic use of rail service is still more than personal transportation. If Mom has to take the children to day care or school and then drive to the train and wait for the train, no time is saved. It will be too expensive for families to use and impossible if you have to carry groceries home or equipment back and forth.
When I see long lines at bus stops I will think we need a better system. What we do need now is a bus service that runs 24/7 so people can get to early jobs and home from late jobs.
Gloria R. Julius, St. Petersburg
Which is it, Marco? | Dec. 9, editorial
Rubio is right to be wary of rail
The St. Petersburg Times misreads Marco Rubio's position on the Legislature's rail plan. Today's disaster of an economy demands fiscally sound, thoughtful planning, not politically expedient fast-tracking.
Rubio has seen that Gov. Charlie Crist's promises of delivering on President Barack Obama's "Give me a hug, Charlie" recovery plan have been another disaster and have done nothing to ease Florida's growing unemployment and pressure to increase taxes.
Rubio is a leader, not a lemming. Only a fool would follow Crist into the fast-track rail financial abyss.
Enough "fast-tracking," governor. All it has done for Florida in the current economy is create fiscal problems.
Rubio is right: A fast train does not justify a fast track, especially when Crist's history has been one of fast promises with no delivery.
George Makrauer, The Villages
The Florida House and Senate passed a rail bill that will cost Floridians more than $600 million and get the state just over 60 miles of track from CSX. The liability costs are unknown, and possibly limitless. Residents of some Central Florida towns will also pay in quality of life, as truck and freight train traffic will increase, over their objections. How did this happen?
Some Republicans had to change their previous, principled opposition to the CSX deal because, as Sen. Mike Bennett confessed, "We're in a box where you can't embarrass the Senate president."
So legislation in Tallahassee is based entirely on how it makes the leadership look, and government by the people and for the people is an irrelevant slogan? It is as long as Republicans stay in charge.
Bonnie Agan, St. Petersburg
Think about the destination
During all the controversy about rail projects in Florida (funding, track rights, etc.) it seems to me that one key factor is missing. When going from Point A to Point B, what happens when you get to Point B?
I spent most of my life in Chicago, and when you get off the train, subway or "L," you have a continual flow of buses and taxis for immediate use, plus a concentration of buildings, all walkable destinations. By contrast, our region was built for the automobile and the hazards of being a pedestrian have been well documented in this paper. Where are all the buses, taxis and buildings here?
It's great for politicians to talk about the great steps forward and all the new jobs to be created (When? Where?), but if this concept is really going to work there needs to be a lot of thinking directed toward the "Point B" issue and all stops in between.
Bob Mathews, St. Petersburg
Mourning family questions care given in prison | Dec. 4, story
A familiar experience
My sympathy goes out to the Dukes family. When I read the article on Elijah Dukes and the events that took place prior to his passing, it read exactly like what happened to my husband. The only difference: He was not in prison.
In February, my husband had a complete physical and everything was perfect. No sign of cancer. In May, he started losing his appetite/weight and his stomach was bloated. In June he went to his primary doctor and for three weeks he was treated for an acidic stomach/acid reflux. He wasn't getting better so in July they did an MRI and found cancer that had metastasized into the liver, spreading to the outside of the abdomen. It's a cancer that is very "aggressive and silent."
Because of my personal experience with this disease, I can definitely see why the prison officials would not have detected his cancer. It is truly undetectable and untreatable. It's a devastating cancer and my heart goes out to the Dukes family.
Carol Janocha, Safety Harbor
We need to catch up
In the Netherlands, where I lived for 20 years, every year you got one glossy sheet of folded paper explaining all health care benefits — including dental! Premiums were low, with no co-payments or share of cost expenditures. A few private and semiprivate major players took care of everything. There was no fragmented system of thousands of HMOs, hospital-like clinics, health units and God knows what else these guys can come up with. No series of thick Medicare and HMO books, costing fortunes to print, stack and distribute (which are unreadable anyway). Even kids and grandkids holding degrees have a hard time explaining the contents to Grandpa and Grandma. To put it briefly, our health care system is a labyrinth in which even Ariadne with her thread would get entangled.
Waiting lists, a Republican scare tactic? Nonsense! I waited two months for a hernia operation because it wasn't acute — heart attack victims went first. Folks, is there anything more logical? My next hernia, though, was acute. It happened on a Sunday morning; I was operated on that very same day! No waiting list. Urgency comes first. Anything wrong with that?
And since I'm at it, I have lived in a poor Third World country where anyone could buy into the health care program of federal workers for reasonably priced premiums. Imagine — a poor Third World country!
While we in the richest nation in the world are still floundering, some of these people have been enjoying quality universal health care since the 1950s.
Paul A. Nijbroek, St. Petersburg
Whatever happened to the law of supply and demand? In a free-market system, it works every time. When supply goes up, prices come down and availability improves. When demand goes up, without an accompanying increase in supply, prices go up and availability declines.
The health care reform bills under consideration seem to run in opposition to the law of supply and demand. This bill expands coverage, which in effect increases demand. Without an increase in supply, this increase in coverage will increase prices and decrease overall availability.
We need to increase the supply side to decrease prices. This would include incentives for more physicians and health care workers, increasing the supply of and use of physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and increasing the regional availability of health insurance. It would also include legislation to prevent health care workers from having to have such expensive liability insurance.
David Hagan, Tampa
It's a doggone shame | Dec. 4, story
The dog is preferable
Memo to Michael Lombardi and his pencil-necked bureaucratic Department of Agriculture "inspectors": Get a life!
These folks would do far better to be inspecting the numerous greasy spoon eating establishments throughout this state, as well as the really contaminated human debris cooking and serving food within.
I'd much rather have Cody smiling to folks around the crackers and soda, thank you.
David C. Cumming, Clearwater