Sunday, June 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Don't turn over pollution control to DEP

Nature meets wrecking ball | Jan. 6, Bill Maxwell column

Don't turn over control to DEP

As Bill Maxwell wrote in his column, Gov. Rick Scott's administration is laying off experienced regulators at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and replacing them with people from the polluting industries.

So this is the worst possible time to put the polluter-friendly DEP in charge of enforcing the Clean Water Act. But that's what could happen.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in November that it will do what the state of Florida hasn't — that is, set specific, enforceable numbers to limit how much sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution is allowed in our water. The EPA's standards are like easy-to-read speed limit signs. Instead, the DEP wants to use bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that allows water to become unsafe before requiring pollution control.

The EPA's number limits apply to about 85 percent of Florida waters. The DEP rules apply to 15 percent of streams, canals and estuaries. We need the EPA's enforceable numbers for 100 percent of our waters. The EPA is now hoping that DEP will propose its own rules for 85 percent of Florida's waters; that would allow the EPA to transfer authority over those waters to DEP as well. It is irresponsible to turn this over to the DEP — we'll be stuck with more slimy algae outbreaks and dead fish littering our shores.

The EPA has scheduled two open house public information sessions at the Hotel Tampa (formerly Hyatt Regency Tampa), 211 North Tampa St. — one on Thursday from 1-7 p.m., and another on Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

David Guest, Earthjustice, Tallahassee

Nature meets wrecking ball | Jan. 6, Bill Maxwell column

Effective against pollution

I have been an environmental regulator for the past two decades. In our district, and around the state, we have dedicated professionals working every day to create a model where we stop pollution before it happens.

While our daily activities and hard work aren't reported in the paper, it does not mean we are not doing our jobs and it is a great disservice to our staff for the media to report that because we have assessed our operations and made staffing changes and are attempting a new process, that any of our staff are being prevented from or not interested in doing the right thing.

Most people and businesses want the same thing: a clean environment to pass on to our children. They also expect cost-effective, responsive government. The staff at the DEP Southwest District is encouraged to work cooperatively with homeowners and businesses to identify and resolve pollution issues, rather than immediately jumping into enforcement. My experience has shown this to be a vastly more effective, faster and cheaper way to achieve remediation, rather than waging lengthy and costly legal battles while nothing gets cleaned up during the process.

Of course, there will always be that minority of individuals who don't care about the results of their actions. Be assured, enforcement is and will be taken swiftly in those circumstances.

Mary Yeargan, Southwest District director, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Temple Terrace

For safety, adjust timing of yellow | Jan. 10, letter

Goal is better drivers

I suspect that accidents decrease because drivers drive better, not because they avoid red-light cameras. The goal is to reduce injuries and accidents.

Red-light cameras are not the problem; some of the drivers are the problem. Adjust the timing and some drivers will quickly learn to time the light change sequence. The ones who know how to stop their cars will continue to do so. The automobile insurance industry will react when there exists a good business case for doing so. Lower overall accident rates over time would be a good example.

Ward Weinstock, Lutz

Mental illness is the trigger | Jan. 11, letter

Guns, not mental health

Our country's problem with mass murders is not a mental health issue. We have no more people with mental heath issues, on a per capita basis, than any other country. We just have easier access to guns. Suggesting that we address this problem from a mental heath standpoint is a wasteful journey that will not fix the problem.

Mental health is a gray science and fallible in diagnoses. Even if you were able to establish a mass murderer mental health litmus test, which you cannot, a person may pass today but a month or year from now an event in their lives can cause them to snap.

Kirk Williams, Hudson

Platinum $1 trillion coin just the ticket Jan. 11, commentary

A dangerous gimmick

Matthew Yglesias writes that we should entertain the idea of evading the law regarding the debt ceiling by having the U.S. Treasury mint $1 trillion coins.

This is not an intelligent solution. When the holders of our huge national debt get wind of this financial shell game, they will begin to divest themselves of U.S. Treasuries to protect themselves from the perceived increased risk.

There will be a resulting global reduction in the value of the dollar and everything we import will cost more. Adding inflation to relatively high unemployment is a recipe for disaster.

The only real long-term solution will cause us all some pain and sacrifice — we must reduce deficit spending by the federal government.

Nathan Rice, Lutz

Realism in Afghan plan a must | Jan. 10, editorial

Listen to the Afghans

In your editorial, you state that "Washington … needs to be … more willing going forward to put America's interests first."

The suggestion is that the Obama administration's policies in Afghanistan are for the good of the Afghan people. This is either naive on your behalf, or blindly nationalistic.

Listen to the words of Malalai Joya, one of Afghanistan's most prominent voices for peace and independence: "Your war, waged under a fake banner of human rights and democracy, is in fact a war against poor Afghan people. You are not only traitors to the Afghan people, but to your own people as well. You are stealing from the pockets of poor Americans and Europeans and wasting billions of dollars on killing and looting in order to safeguard only the interests of a very small, elite minority."

The United States invaded Afghanistan, has killed thousands of Afghans, and you have the audacity to state that Washington should now base its decisions on what's good for the American people? You should ask the Afghan people what they want the occupying U.S. forces to do.

Larry Cutler, St. Petersburg


Monday’s letters: College instructors need classes in active shooter training

Active shooter perceptions disproven | June 21We need active shooter trainingThe only guns that I had seen before coming to the United States of America were in glass cases in museums. When I came to America to get a Ph.D. in English at the Unive...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Friday’s letters: What a new Rays ballpark would mean

Rays exec hints at stadium timeline | June 15What a new ballpark would doThe Tampa Bay Rays 2020 organization is working diligently with local business leaders and civic organizations to rally support for the Rays’ new ballpark in Ybor City. The ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Thursday’s letters: On immigration there has to be a better way

‘Zero tolerance’ ignites outrage | June 20Find better way on immigrationOver the years I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. My observation of the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is not about politics. It has to do with having...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Charters and traditional public schools each have their place

Public school as public good | Letter, June 17Both kinds of schools can workAs a mother and grandmother of children raised in both traditional public and charter schools in Pinellas County (and a 25-year supporting-services employee for public sc...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

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: 06/18/18

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