Sunday, April 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Citrus growers not the bad guys

Swiftmud treads lightly as growers exceed water limits | Oct. 18

Citrus growers not the bad guys

The Florida citrus industry, one of the state's true economic engines, is battling an insidious bacterial disease known as HLB, or citrus greening. The disease has the potential to wipe out our $9 billion industry, its 76,000 jobs and a way of life across Florida's rural interior.

There are a lot of unknowns about growing citrus in the era of HLB, including when and how much irrigation is needed to restore growth and health to the blotchy, wrinkled leaves that are a hallmark of HLB. Studies are underway to figure it out.

So it was disappointing that an article and subsequent editorial in the Times regarding a handful of growers overpumping water painted them as the bad guys. In an era of uncertainty, unintended errors will be made, especially when a grower is trying to save his livelihood. The citrus industry is in crisis, and to compare our situation to homeowners having to install low-flow shower heads is small-minded and inaccurate.

In fact, despite disease challenges, citrus growers in the Southwest Florida Water Management District have reduced their daily water pumping by more than 37 percent over the past decade, according to the district's annual water use reports.

This significant decrease has been achieved through a number initiatives including robust communication between the district and growers, advances in technology such as micro-jet irrigation, and innovative programs that incentivize farmers to use less water.

Growers need quality water to maximize tree growth and yields. They understand the importance of a healthy environment, conservation and efficient production techniques. Unfortunately, this context was not reported in the Times. Jumping to conclusions without giving context does a disservice to your readers.

Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president/CEO, Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland

Obamacare website may take weeks to fix Oct. 21

Be patient; site is working

In less time than it takes to drive from here to Orlando, with far less peril but merely the equivalent frustration, I was able to assist two middle-aged women without health insurance in obtaining reasonably priced coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Their multiple, treatable pre-existing conditions worsened because they lacked access to continuing health care since the persistent Great Recession. I am happy that they will again have access to continuing care, preventive assessments, and lives freer from physical pain and unwarranted anxiety because of Obamacare.

While Medicare for all would be fairer, until then anyone without medical insurance and with an income of above $11,900 a year should enroll online, by mail or by phone. Be patient. Though if you are truly poor, childless and live in Florida you are on your own, sadly.

Woods Rogers III, Tampa

Hack attack?

I wonder how many hackers are out there hammering on the Obamacare website? This is exactly the kind of thing opponents of the administration would do. It would not surprise me if there are hundreds or even thousands of hackers trying to take down this site. The FBI should look into it.

F.M. Younglove, Brandon

$13B penalty for JPMorgan | Oct. 20

Tougher response needed

JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $13 billion in penalties to the Justice Department. Its sale of poor-quality mortgage-backed securities cost U.S. taxpayers $22.5 billion, which helped drive us into the Great Recession. Considering this, the fine is a slap on the wrist.

JPMorgan Chase has total assets of $2.5 trillion, annual revenues of $100 billion and net earnings of $21 billion a year, yet with its outright fraudulent practices no one went to jail and it's business as usual.

In the past, the United States used a "corporate death penalty." In the early 1800s, laws were passed in several states to make it easier for legislators to revoke corporate charters if businesses were operating against the public interest. This routinely happened.

It is time to revoke corporate charters in the United States of companies that act against our interests.

Scott McKown, Palm Harbor

Benefactor | Oct. 19

Young's marine science role

Inside USF's College of Marine Science and the U.S. Geological Survey are stained glass windows bearing a tribute to Congressman C.W. Bill Young: "A leader who shared our vision of a multidisciplinary research team creating new technologies for understanding the world's oceans."

The windows and bronze busts are part of St. Petersburg's extensive and internationally acclaimed marine research complex named for him in 2002. Young's research complex is a testimonial to his long-term advocacy that propelled marine sciences into international prominence. During collaborations spanning more than two decades, Young never asked about anyone's political affiliation but focused on the ideas they advanced. The funding he made possible enabled USF's scientists and engineers to develop powerful new sensing systems such as the underwater mass spectrometer that was a key to understanding where, and how rapidly, the oil and gas from the BP oil spill were moving in deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Young's belief in the importance of supporting talented scientists and engineers led the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership to create an endowed fellowship that recognized accomplished graduate students in USF's College of Marine Science.

In 2006, when SRI decided to build a research facility and to expand in St. Petersburg, its decision was triggered by the innovative group of scientists and engineers operating in USF's College of Marine Science.

Young almost single-handedly fueled a revolution in Tampa Bay that is still bearing fruit.

Peter R. Betzer, president, St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership; former dean, College of Marine Science at USF St. Petersburg


Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18

Wednesday’s letters:

Poverty and plenty in bay area | April 7, editorialStruggling poor are not a priorityI commend your newspaper for continuing to produce real and relevant news, particularly the recent editorial pointing out that a prospering Tampa Bay should not ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for April 20

Bar Association celebrates Law WeekPresident Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. Every year on this day, we reflect on the significance of the rule of law and rededicat...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Tuesday’s letters: Stop cooperating with ICE

Sheriff’s ICE policy blasted | April 10Pinellas should end partnership with ICEPinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri recently participated in a community conversation on his controversial agreement with ICE to voluntarily detain immigrants in the...
Published: 04/16/18

Sunday’s letters: The future of oyster production

Shell game | April 15Future of oyster productionThanks to Laura Reiley for an excellent synopsis of the current state of oyster production in Florida. The collapse of the Apalachicola oyster fishery is merely the latest example of the demise of a...
Published: 04/14/18

Monday’s letters: Public education is foundation of the nation

Voters beware of ballot deceptionApril 13, commentarySchools’ role underminedIt was with great pain that I read (not for the first time) that we must be aware of "ballot deception." Public schools were founded to make sure that future generations of ...
Published: 04/13/18

Saturday’s letters: Health Department should butt out

Judge: Grow pot, Mr. Redner | April 12Health officials should butt outThe Times reports that the Florida Department of Health filed an appeal to the decision allowing a man who is a Stage 4 lung cancer survivor to grow pot in his backyard for his ...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18