Skyway land swap bad idea for state | Feb. 19, editorial
Plan aids environment, economy
This editorial negatively characterized a vision for the Skyway Preserve on the causeway. The vision includes a commercial area, public boat launches and parking and a marine mammal research and education center.
The area in question has been impacted by the mining of sand for Skyway construction. It is not pristine; it is disturbed. It is not flowing with abundant sea grasses; the bottom has been impacted from the construction of the Skyway Bridge. The whole point of the land swap is to have development in the most impacted area. Calling this a "scheme" is unfair. To summarize a few of the misconceptions:
• If a land swap were to take place, property that completes the Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve and protects real environmental and cultural assets would be protected — forever. Trading roughly 100 acres of the disturbed area for roughly 1,000 acres of property the state has wanted for a long, long time is a good deal for everyone.
•About one-third of the private property has vested dredge and fill rights. Even without a land trade, a project can be developed; it would just look very different.
•Support facilities for the marine mammal stranding network in the Southeast United States are both woefully underbuilt and underfunded.
The Tampa Bay Times suggested that financing the project is at issue. But visions are not financed; finished plans are.
The people involved in this project have been part of community-benefiting undertakings in the Tampa Bay area ranging from the Florida Aquarium to the redevelopment of Ybor City. We are leaders in efforts to protect Florida's native plants and habitat, successful business people and outdoor enthusiasts.
We are determined that this project will feature both economic viability and environmental sustainability. To suggest otherwise is wrong.
Bill Blanchard, managing partner, Skyway Preserve, Tampa
Food truck debate drags on in council Feb. 24
Consumers want choices
Why are food trucks such a problem for St. Petersburg when other cities have had great experiences with them? New York, Chicago, Austin, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver seem to have found a way for them to operate in their cities without all this drama we are seeing in St. Petersburg. Even Tampa has them.
Let's start paying attention to consumers. We want more choices. Stop procrastinating and bring food trucks to St. Petersburg.
Alan Aipel, St. Petersburg
No carnival atmosphere
Our brick-and-mortar restaurant owners and builders have made a huge investment in our downtown area, and we have their foresight to thank for the popularity of St. Petersburg. Food trucks parked on downtown streets, and even worse, in our parks, will degrade the image of the city and unfairly compete for the customers coming to downtown.
Now that the city has revived, let's not destroy what has taken so long to build by allowing the carnival atmosphere of food trucks.
Bruce Matern, St. Petersburg
Holy oil won't help Children's Board gain traction | Feb. 27, Ernest Hooper column
Simply a form of prayer
Ernest Hooper asks in his column: "Do you trust an agency head who thought having her office anointed with holy oil would help resolve tensions with board members?"
He is referring to Luanne Panacek, CEO of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County. If by this question he means, "Do we trust someone who thinks prayer makes situations better and God's blessing can only be a good thing?" then the answer is yes.
The oil represents no more than prayer and could only help. The prayer was conducted on Sunday and was not meant to infringe on anyone. It's concerning to hear anyone would criticize this CEO for asking for God's favor and blessing over this agency. God bless Panacek and the Children's Board.
Lacy Welch, Lithia
Senate approves Poly; USF cuts would be reduced | Feb. 24
Partial victory on funding
It was great to read that an agreement was reached between legislators in Tallahassee and USF. The decision to cut 58 percent of USF's state funding was shocking. I want to thank lawmakers from the Tampa Bay area for their efforts in negotiating the deal. However, we cannot ignore the fact that USF will still face a cut of 26 percent.
What will happen to USF funding in 2013-14? Our legislators should be talking about closing tax loopholes and making corporations pay their fair share instead of cutting crucial services that affect the lives of many citizens of Florida.
Katherine Harriel, Safety Harbor
Police called in after Nike shoe buyers get unruly | Feb. 25
Poor values on display
What a horrible example of our values: rioting over $250 tennis shoes made in Asia by an American company using cheap labor.
Robert Biggers, Clearwater
Audit: Schools top-heavy | Feb. 25
$20,000 to state obvious
This is another classic example of tax dollar waste. The Pinellas County school system spent $20,000 to do an audit "in hopes of identifying ways to be more efficient." The results of the audit showed that the school system is top-heavy.
This answer could have been found free of charge by asking myself or any other veteran classroom teacher.
Jim Toth, St. Petersburg
Bad bills still lurking at Capitol | Feb. 25, editorial
Checks, balances erode
Republicans and tea party supporters are quick to claim deference to the Constitution. However, they are creating a slow drip that is washing away the checks and balances critical to our democracy.
Witness Florida House Bill 971, which gives the governor more power over the appointment of judges. The slow drip unchecked becomes a flood. We must stop it now to preserve our democracy.
Marek Knop, St. Pete Beach