Saturday, June 16, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Toll roads keep Florida moving

Infrastructure Week

Toll roads keep Florida moving

As America recognizes Infrastructure Week, the magnitude of the deficiencies associated with our nation's transportation infrastructure are in the spotlight, largely due to the fact that federal gas tax revenues have failed to keep up with inflation. The unwillingness to increase the federal gas tax has left many states struggling to find alternative ways to fund the maintenance and improvement of our roadways, bridges and transit services.

Many states, like Florida, are seeing an increase in the use of toll roads. A national transportation industry group expects the total miles of toll roads in America to go from 5,000 in 2014 to 25,000 by 2030. There's a reason — a good one. Although no one likes paying tolls, these roadways give states like Florida options to serve a growing population without relying on the federal gas tax, which hasn't been adjusted since 1993. Since tolling agencies generally don't receive federal gas tax contributions, revenue from tolls collected are the only funds available to build and maintain those roadways. Without tolling as an option, there simply wouldn't be enough revenue to fund additional roadways needed to meet growing demands in our state and others. Imagine what our daily commutes would look like if we removed all toll roads and put those cars on non-tolled roads?

In addition, with the increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles, transportation agencies also recognize that the concept of the gas tax itself is outdated and needs to be replaced. Tolling is a viable alternative and equitable funding option where drivers only pay for the roads they use, and the tolls paid go directly to maintain those same roadways. Florida's transportation network ranks among the best in the country, and the use of toll roads is a critical element that keeps our commutes and economy moving forward.

Charlie Herndon, senior vice president, HNTB Corp., Tampa

Trump fires Comey | May 10

Reasons don't add up

Does this administration think the American people are stupid enough to believe that the Russia inquiry had nothing to do with James Comey's firing? On the contrary, I believe the FBI director was getting very close to the truth about all the interference in the election and the financial ties to Russia by the Trump administration. That is why he was fired.

And if the president acted so fast firing Comey because of information from the attorney general's office, why did he not do the same thing with Michael Flynn?

Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg

Independent inquiry

Why would Republicans object to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Donald Trump's associates' ties to Russian operatives accused of tampering in the presidential elections? Don't we all want the truth? Are Republicans afraid of the truth?

The president just fired FBI director who was leading the investigation into Trump associates and the Russians. How can we ever trust the Justice Department to conduct and impartial investigation into this serious matter?

Anthony Edl, Odessa

Congress should step up

President Donald Trump is neither king nor god. He was elected into the executive branch as president. We have three equal branches of government. The legislative branch has equal power to the executive branch. I suggest members of Congress start using it.

Deborah Gage, Wesley Chapel

Israel, a beacon for Mideast | May 3, commentary

Israel and human rights

In this column, the "major conference in Washington" where Tony Blair spoke was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This is a powerful lobbying organization, one that some would say acts as an agent of the Israeli government, with a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress.

Blair did make the comment that Israel is a "beacon for the Middle East," but he also went on to say the battle in the Middle East is against extremism and in favor of mutual respect across boundaries, race, faith and culture. And if we want the Middle East to succeed, we need to base this new partnership not just on interests, but on basic human values of dignity, respect and tolerance for all.

If you visit Palestine and talk to its people, you will learn, like I did, that Israel's actions do not square with any of these narratives when it comes to the Palestinians. It behaves as extremists with little regard for international laws or human rights. In fact, millions of Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes and country to live in refugee camps while their land is taken from them and their homes are bulldozed.

The columnist also made many glowing comments about the economy and wealth in Israeli. This is true. But why then are American taxpayers expected to endure cuts in social services while lacking the money to fix water pipes in Flint, Mich., for example, as we borrow money from China so we can increase the billions of dollars we ship to Israel every year? The answer is AIPAC.

Bob Horner, Orlando

FPL delivers savings to customers May 1, letter

No friend of solar

If Florida Power & Light Co. truly wanted to benefit its customers — while allowing its shareholders a good return on their investment — it would build out Florida's most abundant energy resource: solar.

It's cheaper than gas and, because the fuel is free, solar is naturally insulated from price spikes. Solar keeps money in Florida, generates local jobs and doesn't exacerbate climate change.

The letter's claim that FPL is "a national leader in installing solar affordably" must be meant as a joke. FPL generates a measly 1 percent of its electricity from solar. This fact, and FPL's staunch support of the anti-solar Amendment 1, makes it clear that FPL is no friend of solar.

Lynn Nilssen, Sarasota


Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18