Before ferry sails, many questions | Feb. 24
Use bay for transit improvements
After reading the cautionary editorial on the proposed ferry between south Hillsborough County and MacDill Air Force Base, I encourage the Hillsborough County Commission to think big on transit. We have such a beautiful bay area, and to ignore this wonderful asset for transit purposes defies logic.
On a recent trip to Australia, my husband and I saw examples where cities such as Brisbane and Sydney make full use of their waterways.
In Brisbane, a river runs through the city and there are at least four ferry services, one of which is free. The fast catamaran ferries constantly crisscross the river and provide low-cost or free transit for students, business people and tourists. Brisbane has converted its riverfront to a dynamic presence that provides athletic, cultural and business benefits. You can take a ferry basically anywhere in the downtown area due to the many docks on both sides of the rivers. It's an impressive system.
In Sydney, the waterfront is well-known. The city operates large ferries that are constantly in use to benefit residents and visitors.
I agree that the feasibility needs to be studied. I also believe that, if the commission thinks big — and involves the city of St. Petersburg in its planning — the benefits for tourism, a reduction in traffic, and a pleasant way to get across the bay in either direction will be fully realized. Not only will south county residents working at MacDill have a stress-free way to and from work, but the service will grow because it makes so much sense. I urge approval of this idea as the first step in addressing the transit needs of our lovely area.
Gail Carroll, Belleair
Jolly, Sink turn aggressive | Feb. 26
The claim by David Jolly that Alex Sink is an interloper who won't be able to effectively advocate for the citizens of Pinellas County is negated by the fact that already a large swath of St. Petersburg, the largest city in the county, is represented (seemingly ably) by a representative from Hillsborough County. Without getting into the gerrymandering that carved out this dense, mixed-income, multicultural section of the city into the 14th District in the first place, I would say the needs of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are similar enough from a national perspective that a representative from either county can adequately convey the needs of the region, as is already being proven by the representative we have in place.
Rebecca Davis, St. Petersburg
Barriers to democracy
The Pinellas congressional debate on Tuesday morning at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater among Alex Sink, David Jolly and Lucas Overby was a rare chance to see the candidates debate. Too bad the public wasn't informed that they were not welcome. Though the event was highly promoted, it seems that pre-registration was required. Citizen involvement is key to a strong democracy. Why the barriers?
Cherie Collins, Clearwater
Nuke plant tubes show wear | Feb. 23
I was very impressed with Ivan Penn's front-page article on the Florida Power & Light nuclear plant at St. Lucie and the erosion in the steam generator tubes. By presenting the science and technical issues so well, Penn enables readers to make informed decisions. We can weigh FPL's judgments about safety versus costs with a much better understanding of the situation. This kind of reporting is why the Times is the best paper in Florida, and one of the best in the country.
Guy Hancock, Largo
Virtual money, real woes | Feb. 26
Money for nothing
One of the most trusted Bitcoin exchange sites shut down unexpectedly, with allegedly 740,000 Bitcoins missing as a result. In October 2013, the FBI shut down the "Silk Road" website and confiscated Bitcoins stored there. In November 2013, the SheepMarket was closed unexpectedly, with allegedly $100 million worth of Bitcoins disappearing.
When a Bitcoin exchange site closes without warning, the site's "wallet" disappears with all the deposits. Imagine if you went to your brick-and-mortar bank to find it closed and all the deposits gone. It's the same thing, except with Bitcoins you may not be able to follow the money trail due to encryption.
These thefts/confiscations constitute some the most expensive thefts of currency in world history. Shouldn't there be better reporting and disclosure of the fact that, from Bitcoins' inception until now, they have proved not to be a secure currency?
Al Gallo, Holiday
Pot shots start over medical marijuana Feb. 25
Debate veers into comedy
The debate on the medical marijuana issue is getting downright comical. The experts on public policy and the antidrug advocates are funny enough, but the true comedian in this circus is John Morgan. I was ready to believe that his motives were pure and that the only reason he is spending so much of his own money on this issue is his love and concern for the sick and dying. However, it's hard to imagine there is not some economic reward waiting at the end of this cannabis rainbow.
Then to use God as a rebuttal argument? God put the plant on Earth for man because he knew it would work? Really?
Finally there are the youths who are suddenly so interested in a political issue. It's inspiring, isn't it? Although I doubt many of them will take a similar interest in the David Jolly/Alex Sink race. It couldn't be they see this as a pathway to a future legalization of marijuana for recreational use, could it?
This just proves once again that no matter what the subject matter, everyone has their own agenda.
Thomas Parnell, Tampa
Dangerous drilling | Feb. 25, letter
Noise, not pollution
A letter trying to scare people about fracking cited a Wall Street Journal article about the Exxon chairman's suing to stop fracking near his personal estate. The reason stated in the article was the "noise nuisance and traffic hazards" from the heavy trucks that would be needed. That's a different reason from what the letter wanted us to infer.
Tom Miller, Clearwater