Making parks profitable | March 1
Keep Florida parks as wild spaces
Our state parks are a wonderful treasure. More than 30 million park visitors last year are an indication of their value. Three national awards speak volumes about how wonderful they are. State parks created 29,400-plus jobs and returned at least 86 percent of their cost, not to mention all the water they protected and air they helped clean. We need clean water, jobs and, yes, wild spaces.
We do not need our parks being places for running someone else's cattle. We don't need them to be stripped by logging or palmetto berry or frond harvesting for someone's personal gain. We don't need more golf courses or RV parks on public land. We don't need people to be dumping landscaping waste on our public land. We don't need hunting in our parks, and we don't need fancy conference centers when people come to see the wild side of Florida.
The draft proposal to permit any or all of these activities in Myakka River State Park should be stopped. The little bit of gain to be realized from them is much less than the total of the damage that would be caused — damage that takes years or decades to repair.
Mary Keith, president, Tampa Audubon Society, Tampa
February job gain a robust 235,000 March 11
President Donald Trump is so happy with the robust job gain in February that he retweeted the report. After months of denying the government job reports as phony, he is now accepting and happy. White House spokesman Sean Spicer talked to the president regarding the about-face and said, "To quote him clearly … 'They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now.' "
Translation from Trumpese: If I don't like the news, it's phony; if I like it, it's real.
To quote the president again: So sad!
Cynthia Hazlett, St. Petersburg
Get set for pill mills all over again March 11, letter
Patients need relief
As a former resident of Massachusetts who recently moved to Florida, I can tell you that legal marijuana, in fact, does not act as a catalyst for what the writer stated: "Parks began to be cluttered with homeless, crime increased, unemployment increased, high school dropout rates increased."
In order to have a medical marijuana card in Florida, one must pay $200 to see a specific doctor, wait 90 days and then pay another $50 for a follow-up phone call before a prescription can be written. Once written, the state currently waits another 90 days to provide said prescription, which is specific for product and amount.
Having family in Colorado, and having spoken to them many times, I have heard that the streets of Denver are, in fact, not covered with the above mentioned problems. Also, there are many reasons for these issues other than medical marijuana.
As a retired medical social worker, I can also state that when questioning a patient in the hospital and asking what his or her first drug experience was, the answer was invariably alcohol. The patients would become outraged that I would clump alcohol with drugs, as they felt far above drug addiction with their alcoholism, but I will tell you that alcohol remains a far greater risk to our children than marijuana.
I ask Floridians to do real research and believe real information. People suffering with cancer and chronic pain deserve non-narcotic relief.
Tobey Burwick, Dunedin
Let's stick to the facts
This letter reminds me of the bumper sticker "Better to be informed than opinionated." Since more than 25 states have legal medical marijuana dispensaries and have not reported any of the problems described in the letter, it is obvious this was opinion and not knowledge. Having visited a few of these states and having seen corner dispensaries, I have never seen lines or patients waiting outside the facilities.
Furthermore, addicts typically do not seek out marijuana. The illegal substance of choice for addicts remains legal prescription opioids and illegal controlled substances. So, let's have an informed conversation and not resort to hysterical misinformation.
Ray Day, Spring Hill
Educator bonuses could expand | March 11
Build a team, build success
As a teacher, counselor, assistant principal and principal for over 40 years in Miami-Dade County, I think the "Best & Brightest" reward plan will only divide educators and create resentment that will lead to a negative school culture. Rewards should be designed to foster community building where all are involved in the success of all students.
When our school was awarded a monetary bonus we, as a shared decisionmaking school, voted to share the bonus with all of our employees. How great we all felt to be a part of the winning team.
Allan R. Bonilla, St. Petersburg
Floridians support rentals
A recent poll from Mason-Dixon research showed that Florida residents overwhelmingly support vacation rentals, with 93 percent of respondents saying visitors should be allowed to stay in accommodations other than hotels.
Vacation rentals bolster Florida's reputation as a premier destination by offering visitors a different experience than hotels, while also driving visitor spending to Florida homeowners and businesses. Vacation rentals generate over $30 billion for Florida's economy.
Sadly, special interests are pushing for outright bans on short-term renting in municipalities across the state.
State Sen. Greg Steube and Rep. Mike La Rosa introduced bills to protect vacation rentals. I urge legislators to stand with Floridians and support these bills, SB 188 and HB 425.
Denis Hanks, executive director, Florida Vacation Rental Management Association, Kissimmee