Cuba travel rules
Plan reverses progress on Cuba
President George W. Bush imposed a draconian law on Cuban-Americans, who were allowed to visit close family members in Cuba for only 14 days every three years and restricted to spending only $50 per day. Uncles and cousins were not considered family, and family remittances were limited to $100 per household per month.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama rescinded this measure, and Cuban-Americans have voted approvingly with their feet: More than 300,000 have visited their families in Cuba, loaded with gift parcels, medicine and food and reinvigorating family ties.
Rather than encouraging such exemplary family values, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and others have introduced legislation to revert to the Bush policy.
These public servants seem bent on subverting a booming Cuba-related business atmosphere in Miami, an increase in cultural exchanges and a significant reduction of tensions across the Florida Straits.
Alberto N. Jones, Palm Coast
Sneak attack on state parks | June 28, editorial
Camping and state parks: It's a good combination
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection takes very seriously its stewardship role over state parks, including the preservation of natural resources within the park and the unique character of our state park system. Family camping and state parks go hand in hand. It is part of what has made the Florida Park Service a two-time Gold Medal Award winner, a top award given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.
The Times' editorial suggested the department was making "radical policy changes" and operating "mostly outside the public's view" as it considers expanding family camping opportunities in four parks throughout the state. In fact, the process of determining whether camping is a viable option is an open and transparent process, beginning with meetings for the public to express their thoughts on the proposal. Providing opportunities for the public to voice their comments and concerns is critical to our success, and we look forward to healthy dialogue about Honeymoon Island State Park on Tuesday at the Hale Senior Activity Center in Dunedin.
Furthermore, the department is not "turning over portions of state parks to private enterprises." If family camping is approved, all campsites would be designed and built to the park service's strict standards, and the department would maintain complete oversight of any private vendors to guarantee compliance with the park service's core values.
The Florida Park Service prides itself on providing the public with quality recreation opportunities and a place to enjoy the state's pristine natural and cultural resources. Rest assured that any new enterprises will adhere to the award-winning practices our state parks are known for, including high-quality visitor services and unwavering protection of Florida's natural and cultural resources.
Bob Ballard, deputy secretary for land and recreation, DEP, Tallahassee
Honeymoon Island listed for RV camp June 25
Remember who's in charge
I was under the impression that the Department of Environmental Protection was supposed to care for the environment of Florida, not destroy it. Silly me. Nothing says welcome to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country like a row of RVs, bathhouses and generators.
Whenever Glenn Beck and Gov. Rick Scott are mentioned in the same article endorsing this plan, you know we are in deep trouble. When is their mother ship finally going to arrive and save the citizens of Florida from this lunacy?
Let us all pause and remember that we live in a representative democracy. The governor and his sycophants in the Legislature work for us. We are their bosses, not the other way around.
Michael Carr, Clearwater
Profit motive not welcome
Some things just need to be left alone. If there's a potential for profits, Americans are going to figure out a way to grab at the gold ring.
We have already opened the door for commercialization of Honeymoon Island State Park with private enterprises doing business there. Stop the contamination now, before the waters of greed flood over our prized island.
Bill Coleman, Dunedin
Too small for camping
The proposal to create up to 45 camping spots on 17.5 acres, including some for RVs, at Honeymoon Island State Park is a mistake. In fairness, there may be some parks that, by merit of their size, could accommodate a few RVs. When it comes to state parks the size of Honeymoon Island, the creation of RV staging areas, dump stations and the amenities needed to accommodate them would disrupt the ecosystems and wildlife that defines this park.
Despite what Florida Park Service director Donald Forgione says, our parks are not a "brand." They are a gift from nature to all of Florida. If you want to package and sell something, go into the retail business, because our parks are not for sale.
Ronald Thuemler, Tampa
Where the jobs are going
Did anyone else see the irony in having an article on Page 3 of Sunday's paper telling how bridge parts are being made in China and shipped to the United States, while on Page 14 in an article about creating "good, middle-class jobs," President Barack Obama says: "It means rebuilding our crumbling roads, railways and runways"?
Are we trying to create jobs for the people of China or the United States? If we are going to rebuild roads and bridges to create jobs, maybe we should be making the parts in this country as well.
Richard Tron, Wesley Chapel