Florida water standards
Hold water polluters to account
Thank you for recent reports on Mosaic and other industry giants' resistance to abiding by the decades-old Clean Water Act, as well as your editorials supporting the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in finally enforcing the act in Florida. A Times editorial has also addressed Polk County's desire to become a part of Tampa Bay Water, which occurs just as Mosaic breaks ground at a reclaimed mine for a luxury resort with two 18-hole golf courses. It is important that we connect the dots of these events and hold the right people accountable.
The role of regulation and the courts is to take a long-term view on the safety of our air, water and soil for our grandchildren's grandchildren.
But we should not be so sanguine to believe that the 15-month delay in implementation of the nutrient standards will be used by industry to "prepare" for the inevitable change, as suggested in one report. As they have all along, these big businesses will use the time to launch a disingenuous campaign that will blame the EPA for lost jobs and increasing the cost of water and stormwater treatment.
I hope the Times Truth-O-Meter will be working overtime to put their claims in perspective. For example, these polluters (and their shareholders) should pay the entire cost of enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida since they made bundles for decades by not having to be more careful with our natural resources. They should not be allowed to pass these delayed expenses to consumers.
Instead of using the economy to justify the delay, we need to replace 19th century industry with 21st century clean and green jobs close to home. Florida could be a leader in organic farming. Let's press our political leaders to work with the EPA to enforce regulations and make the polluters pay. Citizens have already paid dearly in the degradation of our land and water.
Jennifer Salmon, Gulfport
Panhandling ban doesn't get at problem Editorial, Nov. 23
Try partial panhandling ban as a first step
Begging on the streets of Tampa is a problem. Many residents are bothered by the increase in the number of people asking for handouts at almost every traffic light. The City Council is deliberating the issue and is considering a ban on all begging, selling of newspapers and collecting for various causes.
The real issue, as everyone knows, is the sudden rise in the number of beggars. Most citizens are angry and annoyed by them, and for good reason.
But to ban all street selling would impact hundreds of innocent people who are employed on a regular basis and will be put out of work. Selling newspapers on the street has been around for decades and has provided employment for the city's most needy with absolutely no threat to public safety. People who collect for charities also will be restricted for no real reason.
We should exercise some good judgment rather than embrace what seems like an easy solution. Here is one approach: Because Sundays are so critical to the livelihood of so many needy people, I suggest a partial ban. This would be in effect six days a week and would exclude Sundays. This would save many needed jobs, allow charitable collections and reduce the panhandling situation dramatically.
A temporary trial of this approach would have no downside and would allow further information to be gathered regarding any real safety concerns. This is not a total win-win solution, but as a temporary measure it has merit.
Tim Driscoll, Tampa
A matter of public safety
The Times editorial claims we should not enact a law to prohibit panhandling because it would not solve the root cause of panhandling — folks being out of work — and because it would be unkind in this down economy. Additionally, it claims that police have no hard numbers on the extent of the problem.
But it is a public safety issue, and people are tired of being accosted at every stoplight for donations. If you need hard numbers to identify the extent of the problem, get in your car and drive around town and start counting.
The claim that we need to solve the root cause of poverty before we stop people from being harassed at every stoplight does not hold water.
Doug Longfellow, Tampa
Bump up fuel economy
This Thanksgiving, Floridians are driving to visit friends and family in cars that gobble up too much gas at the pump, threatening our environment and unnecessarily stretching our wallets. Recognizing this, President Barack Obama has a unique opportunity to help jump-start Florida's economy, break our dependence on oil, and cut global warming pollution by setting strong new fuel efficiency and pollution standards for cars and trucks.
Getting Americans from Point A to Point B consumes more than half the oil used in the United States, so using American ingenuity to make more efficient cars and trucks is the easiest way to cut our dependence on oil and save Floridians money at the pump.
If the average car went 60 miles on a gallon of gas this Thanksgiving travel week, Floridians would save $13.9 million at the gas pump, or $12 dollars per family — enough to bring a few extra pumpkin pies to dinner.
And that's just the savings from one holiday. The president should seize this opportunity to put American ingenuity to work by calling for cars and light trucks to get 60 miles a gallon by 2025. On future Thanksgivings, cleaner cars would help Americans focus on clearing their plates, not clearing out their wallets at the gas pump.
Jenna Stern, Environment Florida, Miami
The left still doesn't get it | Nov. 19, letter
A letter writer comments that "making only 50 percent of us pay all federal income taxes seems unfair; everyone should have a vested interest in our country."
The federal tax system gives every individual a standard deduction. When some very poor folks make less than this, they do not pay taxes. Be thankful that you do not fall into this "50 percent of the country who do not pay taxes" category.
In addition, during eight years of the Bush administration, the country spent $3 trillion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time cutting taxes by over $1 trillion. Was this "everyone having a vested interest in our country"? Quite the opposite. Not all people sacrificed during the Bush presidency; this is why the country is in such a mess.
Steve Shrago, St. Petersburg
This prized bird well worth wait | Nov. 22
Wild and oblivious
I can confirm that wild turkeys aren't very smart and they don't always worry that something is out to get them.
A few weeks ago I was driving on Croom Road in Brooksville to meet some hiking buddies. I had to stop the car to let three wild turkeys cross the road. Had I not stopped, I might have had makings for a Thanksgiving dinner a bit early.
I guess civilization encroaching on their territory has made the wild turkeys even dumber. Happy Thanksgiving.
Wes Calhoun, St. Petersburg
Remember our needy
We have millions of American going hungry every day, but we give thousands of tons of food to other countries.
We have millions of Americans who have no health care or medicines, yet we give free medicines to other countries.
We are overpriced, overlooked and overburdened by the very government we elected to office.
Wake up, America, or there won't be an America.
John Pagucci, New Port Richey