Tense rhetoric, threats get hotter between U.S., Iran | Dec. 29
Put pressure on the oil producers
It appears Iran has reversed Theodore Roosevelt's adage and is now speaking loudly and carrying a small stick. The threat Iranians pose to the stability of the Middle East and the flow of petroleum has given justifiable concern to the United States and Europe.
There is no doubt the Strait of Hormuz must remain open. The crude oil exported through this strategic passageway accounts for 40 percent of the world's oil supply, of which an estimated 18 percent is exported to the United States. Meanwhile, at a time when the U.S. economy is starting to recover, the price of crude oil is hovering around $100 a barrel.
There are 32 American military bases in the Middle East. Do these greedy and selfish oil-rich nations realize their precious oil would be lost to aggressive countries in their region if not for our presence in the Middle East? Talk about the dog biting the hand that feeds it.
Maybe it is time for our elected officials to take off their kid gloves and send the leaders of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries a simple message: "Either you compensate us for every barrel of your oil we protect through the Strait of Hormuz, or we start closing U.S. bases in your region."
I don't think that would be asking too much of OPEC, considering the United States provides stability to the Middle East and each day puts our most precious assets — the young men and women who serve this great nation — at risk. It's time for Washington to play hardball.
John Botelho, New Port Richey
Six for 12 | Jan. 1, editorial
Money isn't the problem
Contrary to this newspaper's recommendation, our education system in Florida may not need more money. What it may need, just like the rest of American education, is to spend only on programs that are known to work.
All other spending in the area should be thought of as experimental and subject to defunding in future years for proven nonperformance.
Where are the truly serious change proposals, such as vouchers for every parent? Deep-sixed by the existing system's beneficiaries, that's where.
Rolf H. Parta, Bradenton
A welcome new voice
Not being a sports fanatic, I didn't know anything about John Romano, the new Times metro columnist. However, I took a moment on New Year's Day, the first day of your paper's name change, to read his personal introduction to readers of this all-important section. I was quite pleased with his overall candor and simple, blunt honesty. In addition, it was fitting that he gave the readers a brief history of his lifelong ties to the bay area. I also appreciated the fact he acknowledged that he has some big shoes to fill as he replaces former columnist Howard Troxler. That shows character.
Therefore, as a daily Times reader, I welcome Romano with an open mind. Besides, anyone who hates reality TV as much as I do is now a friend of mine.
Good luck, John!
Mike Merino, Tampa
Breath of fresh air
Welcome to John Romano as the new metro columnist. Based on his self-description, he will be a breath of fresh air.
I don't miss Howard Troxler and his coarse tirades. He and Daniel Ruth seem to belong to that group of writers and politicians who think that the only way to influence people is through insult and inane metaphors.
I wonder how many people actually understood all the references in Ruth's Dec. 30 column. He went on and on and on: "Bowery Boy dunces vying for votes," "pulled a George Patton," "Hedley Lamarr gang recruiting scene," "attention to detail of Mr. Magoo," "went all H. Rap Brown," "the Gracie Allen of the hustings," "more … unelectable than Archie Bunker," "the Bluto of the hustings," "somewhere between Who's on First and What's on Second," "the Louse That Bored." Is Ruth writing for us or for himself?
I hope Romano will be writing for me and people like me who are offended by tirades and attacks and want our discourse to be civil and thought-provoking.
Virginia Walker, Dunedin
Child hit by stray bullet in Ruskin | Jan. 2
The tragedy of this young man might not have happened if the state of Florida enforced the "faux" fireworks law that is in place. He more than likely would not have been out on the porch after midnight watching his neighbors' display of "illegal fireworks," but instead watching it in a controlled situation.
Chances are, someone could have determined where this shot came from if the shot fired was not in competition with an illegal display of fireworks. Stop the nonsense.
Cathy L. Meeker, Riverview
Be an informed voter
There is a lot if misinformation going around about the identification requirement for voting in Florida.
If you vote by mail, your signature on the envelope containing your ballot is sufficient. If you show up at your precinct on election day without your ID, you are issued a provisional ballot. When your signature is validated the following day, your ballot is counted.
Our supervisor of elections, Deborah Clark, has all this spelled out at www.votepinellas.com. I encourage all voters to visit the website of your county's supervisor of elections and be an informed voter.
Dennis V. Hughes, St. Petersburg
Tampa Bay Times
Well done, except …
Congratulations on the name change to Tampa Bay Times. I agree that it is fitting with our overall region's identity and growth.
However, I can't understand why the Tampa Bay Times, and formerly the St. Petersburg Times, covers up its brand and identity on the front page with stickers hawking auctions and department store discounts. It really diminishes the professionalism of the paper, which you have been promoting for over a hundred years.
I can't imagine Coca-Cola, Apple or any other major company covering up the brand that they worked so hard to build.
Jeff Chilcott, Tampa