Florida Forever conservation program
From 'forever' to sold as surplus
Forever isn't "forever" when it's Florida Forever. That was the message from the Department of Environmental Protection at a webinar last week.
Taxpayers purchased and protected critical environmental assets under the Florida Forever program. Apparently, the Rick Scott administration is literally the end of an epoch. "Forever" has come and gone under this governor's watch and environmental lands that once enjoyed protection "forever" are now declared "surplus" to be placed on the auction block.
Not content with destroying the last 40 years of environmental progress, as noted by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, the Scott administration now moves to destroy the Florida's future.
"Times being what they are," DEP officials can't even guarantee that they are going to recover the purchase price of the Florida Forever properties that they are selling off. It will be market price to the highest bidder as the Scott administration disposes of precious environmental assets.
When asked, "Why are we selling at the bottom of the market?" the webinar host responded, "Well, we are doing the best that we can. We have been charged with disposal of this property."
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been charged with the disposal of Florida Forever properties. Let no citizen of Florida allow this to pass unnoticed.
Kent Bailey, Thonotosassa
U.S. joins lawsuits over Texas voting Aug. 23
ID card not a high hurdle
For those of us who have to show our picture ID when we get on a plane, cash a check, go to the hospital, or pick up a parcel at the post office, it is simply inconceivable that our government has an issue with states that require a photo ID to vote.
People who are incapable of proving citizenship or even obtaining a picture ID are not likely to have the understanding of the issues they are supposed to vote on.
I earned my U.S. citizenship the hard way — I immigrated legally, waited for five years to prove myself, was sworn in and I am now a proud American. I'm be happy to show my ID anytime.
Peter Sontag, Clearwater
Tampa Bay Rays
Let the public have a say
I can't believe all the time and effort being expended by the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, the Hillsborough County Commission and the Tampa Bay Rays regarding a new baseball stadium.
The stadium for the Miami Marlins is a disaster. Miami politicians opted to subsidize a rich baseball owner with taxpayer money for a 37,000-seat stadium. Just watch a few games on TV and see the many empty seats. The facility and its surrounding parking lots cost $634 million. Financing experts agree that when all is said and done, adding the interest and other costs, the Marlins' stadium will cost Miami taxpayers almost $2 billion.
If politicians had thought about a new stadium when they were offered monies for a light-rail system, the trains could have brought fans from the Orlando area to Tampa. Will fans in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area travel to a Tampa stadium?
Now that football is about to begin, we should get ready to have TV games blacked out due to the absence of fans at Raymond James Stadium. This is a slap in the face to all the citizens who are paying for that stadium and its ongoing expenses.
We are paying enough for problems from the past — reservoirs under repair, nuclear energy plants that will never be built, a section of an expressway under construction, and now a section of road just three years old leading to Tampa International Airport. I am sure there are many more.
We must learn from our many mistakes. Any plans to build a new baseball stadium must not include any citizen funding and must be approved in a referendum in the 2014 elections.
Barry Kanter, Lithia
Court to help vets who commit minor crimes Aug. 23
Violation of equal justice
Extraordinary circumstances such as posttraumatic stress and substance abuse are prevalent in all segments of society — not just among veterans. Does a veteran who acquired a substance abuse problem while working in the Pentagon, leading to a criminal act, qualify for compassionate assistance? How about special courts for police, firefighters, EMTs?
Non-veterans who experience life struggles with the same types of issues do not have the enlistment-to-grave VA system resources available to veterans for little or no cost. A special law court is outside of the boundary of equal justice under the law for all.
David Cardina, Tampa
Jury awards retiree $12.6M | Aug. 24
Smokers were warned
I don't understand why smokers think they are entitled to money from tobacco companies because they can't stop smoking. No one made them smoke.
People are addicted to alcohol; I don't read about them suing distilleries.
I am a diabetic. I know that sugar is bad for me, so if I choose to eat candy and cakes and pies and it leads to the amputation of a foot, do I have the right to be given a large sum of money? I don't think so.
Cigarette packs have had warning labels for years. The person who uses something that is bad for his health shouldn't expect someone else to pay.
Harry White, Spring Hill
Health act uncertainty | Aug. 26, commentary
Dereliction of duty
Republicans John Wood and Aaron Bean say that Obamacare "uncertainty" prohibits the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation from doing its job of protecting consumers from price-gouging by rogue health insurance companies.
Wait a minute. Is "uncertainty" a valid reason for the OIR to abdicate its responsibility? Are we forgetting about OIR's mission to patrol the unregulated pricing powers of oligopolistic insurance providers in the state of Florida?
The two Florida legislators need to understand that decisionmaking under uncertainty is what's called management. Fortunately, the federal government is there to pick up the ball when the state of Florida drops it: Obamacare intends to expose those health insurance rates and products that are too expensive.
If Florida's agency for insurance regulation can't figure out how to do its job, it should be dismantled.
Brian G. Beatty, Wimauma