Wetlands may lose some protection | March 26
Florida's treasures are given away
Anyone with a sense of smell just downwind of Trout Creek, which feeds into the Hillsborough River, knows we have had quite a spill lately, and it wasn't milk. As our river struggles to recover from this deluge of over a million gallons of raw sewage from a ruptured pipe, we're reminded that what will aid in its recovery are the wetlands strewn for miles and miles along the Hillsborough's banks. Thank God for wetlands, right?
Well, along comes CS/HB 991, government-speak for "wetlands, we're comin' for ya!" The boys in Tallahassee have decided there are just too many of those pollution-filtering, water-cleansing, habitat-nurturing wetlands, and they want to do something about it — like make it easier to mow them over.
Regulations would be eased — again — so industry and developers can continue chomping away at what's left of Florida. Mitigation banking is back with a vengeance too, offering itself up as a developer's saving grace. Just pay into a "wetland mitigation bank," and we'll put wetlands somewhere else while you pave away. Most, however, were "built" in areas not able to sustain a wetland.
Our "leaders" seem determined to donate much of natural Florida to the whims of developers. One wonders how much more concerned Floridians — and Mother Nature — will tolerate from the rapacious greed of developers and the complicity of our legislative body.
So, you think the Hillsborough River smells? That's nothing compared to what's coming out of Tallahassee.
Ron Thuemler, Tampa
Leadership funds are revived | March 25
Corruption: It's now official
Confirming what we were all pretty sure of anyway, the Florida Legislature, with "leadership funds," has made our state legislative leaders legally and officially corrupt. Now any business or cause with enough money can buy its way into influence, whether the law is for the good of the citizens of Florida or not.
This type of action seems particularly characteristic of Republicans, although Democrats are not immune. It was about 22 years ago that the Democrats got rid of a similar law to avoid this influence.
On the national scene, John Boehner is known to court legions of lobbyists to garner funds for his activities. In case there is any doubt, this is corruption.
Bill Balmer, Seminole
Prostitutes more honorable
Leadership funds? Are you kidding me? Howard Troxler's calling out of our Legislature as the "whores of Babylon" does a disservice to prostitutes. Ladies of the evening conduct their business in the shadows because they at least have the moral sense that their activity is not widely approved of in a civilized society. Our Florida Legislature on the other hand makes no such pretense. Open bags of cash are now welcome in Tallahassee.
Who needs lobbyists? All businesses have to do is drive their limos straight up to the Capitol and drop off their deposit with instructions on how they want the vote to go on their legislation. It doesn't get any easier than that. I would feel sorry for my fellow citizens, but they don't deserve my pity because they keep electing these buffoons.
As Americans, we like to think we're the arbiters of democratic ideals. In reality we could learn a couple of things from the people in Tunisia and Egypt about throwing the bums out.
Michael Savino, Seminole
At nation's control towers, safety first March 27, editorial
As a certified professional air traffic controller at Tampa International Airport, I would like readers to be aware that the controller who apparently fell asleep at Reagan National Airport was an FAA supervisor. In my 23 years of experience, it is rare to have a management official providing air traffic service. They normally perform supervisory functions.
The FAA controller work force is made up of hardworking, dedicated professionals. This instance appears to be a black eye to air traffic controllers, but it belongs to FAA management.
Thomas Moyer, Oldsmar
We had to act, Obama states | March 29
In his speech Monday night, President Barack Obama congratulated himself on the scope and extent of his consultations before authorizing American airstrikes on Libya: the Arab League, NATO, the United Nations — everyone, it seems, except the American people and their representatives in Congress.
For an American president to place American lives in harm's way in an area remote from American interests without engaging the public in justification and preparation bespeaks a contempt for the citizens who elected him.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
Consumers pay price
The only people who benefit from ethanol are the farmers, refineries, oil companies and stockholders.
It can damage your car (it cost me $750 to fix mine). It lowers your mileage, making you fill up more often.
Growing this corn causes rivers and ponds to be polluted from all the fertilizers. Farmers cut back on planting eatable corn since they can make more money with ethanol. This causes shortages and raises the price of food.
Alice L. Bertele, Clearwater
Sure of his tax territory | March 28
Grover Norquist states that "we stopped tax increases for 15 years, from Clinton in 1993 to 16 days into Obama's tenure."
In 1993, Clinton passed what Republicans called "the biggest tax increase in history." The economy took off. Bush came into office in 2001, cut taxes and the economy tanked. So what Norquist is really pointing out is that his ideas are a total failure.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
Losers of the week | March 27
We're the losers
I believe the Times erred in picking the Loser of the Week. The people of Florida are the true losers, as the Sansom case confirmed that lawmakers can be bought and paid for without consequence.
Furthermore, with the "leadership funds" bill, legislators will be able to preserve the status quo of influence-peddling without even having to pretend to be looking out for the ordinary citizen.
Joan Zawlocki, Seffner