Saturday, June 23, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Drilling poses threat to sanctuary

DEP fine unwarranted, oil company says | April 25

Drilling poses threat to sanctuary

A recent Tampa Bay Times article reported that an oil well operated by the Dan A. Hughes Co. is surrounded by the National Audubon Society's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The story also reports that Corkscrew is a major nesting site for wood storks.

Hughes' well is close to but is not surrounded by Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The well is within an area targeted for protection as part of the Corkscrew Ecosystem Watershed. Audubon's 13,000 acres include the site of Florida's historically largest colony of nesting wood storks, which forage throughout the watershed. Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is also an international ecotourism destination hosting 100,000 visitors each year.

Audubon had received assurances that exploratory drilling near our property would be lawful and protective of the environment. We were shocked to learn that Hughes violated its state permit. We are also concerned that production methods being used include pumping water and chemicals underground including processes that the state says are untested in Florida.

During this year's legislative session Audubon members rallied against a bill that would have begun the process of allowing fracking — pumping chemicals and pressurized water underground to produce oil and gas. We strongly objected to a bill that would allow the use of trade secret provisions to keep citizens in the dark about chemicals injected underground.

We urge the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to enforce our laws and make protection of human health and the environment paramount in every decision and action.

Oil and gas exploration is not the only threat to Southwest Florida's environment. For too long state agencies have been too lenient in granting permits to drain the wetlands in the Corkscrew watershed. We call on all citizens to come together to insist on strict enforcement and protection of all water resource laws.

Eric Draper, executive director, Audubon Florida, Tallahassee

Rubio defends gun owners | April 26

Appeal to the emotions

In his impassioned speech to an NRA audience, Marco Rubio declared that gun ownership is part of the American Dream; that providing a safe and secure home rests on the possession of a firearm for self-protection.

There are many Americans whose dreams did not rest on owning guns and who have grown up to be fine, upstanding, loyal and concerned citizens, parents, friends and neighbors. Rubio says gun policy should not be guided by emotionalism, and yet that is exactly what he is serving up.

Linda Halperin, Sun City Center

Ignoring safety interests

In order to pander to the fringe elements of his party, Sen. Marco Rubio perverts the idea of the American Dream by suggesting that it includes gun ownership. My dream (and, I believe, that of most of my fellow citizens) is to live in an America that is safe and secure, making guns unnecessary.

My dream is also to live in an America where leaders actually lead and act in the best interests of their constituents. Only about one-third of American households even have guns. An overwhelming majority of Americans favor reasonable gun control measures. Rather than pursue that, Rubio seeks personal political gain by pandering to a small, extreme minority. He blatantly ignores the best interests and safety of his constituents.

Kirk Gibbons, Tampa

A nation divided | April 27, commentary

Playing with stacked deck

Leonard Pitts nailed it when he described how relevant The Grapes of Wrath is to our current times, where folks who work at Walmart qualify for food stamps while elected officials balk at raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour as corporations report record profits. I am a hospital homebound teacher who sees daily the suffering of sick kids living in poverty whose families struggle against a stacked deck.

I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath when I was 17 and being stunned by the ending, when Rose of Sharon, in grief, cradles and nurses a starving man. I was brought to tears reading Pitts' reminder that when we have nothing else, we have our common humanity.

Maryellen Mariani, Seminole

Florida's failing Legislature | April 27, editorial

Money's the difference

Why should the editors of this newspaper be surprised? After all, our elected officials realize that regardless of what they do in Tallahassee, the voters will keep sending them back to office as long as they run on a platform of religion, gun rights and opposing Obamacare.

Due to their lack of leadership, ratepayers have "donated" millions of dollars to Duke Energy's bottom line because they refused to fix a law passed at the behest of lobbyists.

Other areas where they have failed the people include the continuing privatization of public education, lack of meaningful growth management, and the child welfare system.

To see what really will be accomplished during a legislative session, just follow the money. Any disinterested party will come to the conclusion that lobbyists are deciding the future of this state.

Alan Hawkins, Ocala

States fails slain boy | April 26

Give children a chance

As the mother of two adopted sons, I would like to have my say on why states are failing children. I was sickened to read in the article that 477 Florida children since 2008 have died from abuse by their own families after having been in contact with the Department of Children and Families. I know that those 477 children would have been loved and cared for by adopted families had the DCF personnel and the state laws allowed children to be taken away from their birth families who have no interest in parenting them.

Parenting is a hard job. I am afraid some birthing adults (I will not call them parents as they have no interest in the task) are more interested in keeping their offspring because it brings them larger government payouts. There are couples eagerly waiting for years to be able to adopt a child to love. It is senseless that the state not give unloved and unwanted children a chance.

Sara King, Clearwater


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