Duke looks for solar farm sites | Aug. 23
Clean energy is just the beginning
For the first time I am proud of my local power company and want to praise their decision to diversify their energy source portfolio with renewables.
Going forward, I would urge Duke Energy to consider applying for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environment and Energy Design certification. There is an opportunity for Duke Energy and its customers to get much more value from this investment than just clean kilowatt hours. There is an opportunity to design a space that also supports carbon-sequestering plant life while providing a high-quality space for the public to enjoy.
My challenge to Duke — and hopefully they will pass on these words as a design challenge to students, amateurs and professionals — is to design something special that symbolizes and serves Pinellas County residents and guests. This is a huge opportunity — let's make something world-class of it.
Aaron Metz, Palm Harbor
Duke looks for solar farm sites | Aug. 23
Offer incentives for solar
Since solar energy isn't economical for bulk power systems, why not offer incentives to homeowners who would like to install solar in their homes? Some states already do this, but here in the Sunshine State, with as much or more sunshine than almost every other state, these incentives aren't offered.
My son-in-law, a master electrician certified in solar, installed solar in his home and hasn't had a bill over $2 since installing it. Most of the time he is selling it back to the utility. It's time for the politicians to start looking out for their constituents instead of catering to the utility companies.
Daniel Ward, Zephyrhills
Assets in the classroom
The school year is off to a bright start. The value of teachers has been recognized with some raises, and students tote bright and shiny school supplies to tackle the year. But the assistant teacher, again, starts the year unrewarded.
Amid changes in education, and as parents demand more personal attention for students, the role of the assistant teacher is more valuable than ever. We expect them to reinforce lessons presented by teachers in smaller, more personal groups and to help students achieve academic goals. They are tasked with enforcing school rules and helping teach proper behavior. They are held to the same standards as other teachers in terms of conduct.
In spite of this important role, it has been said that they are working at below poverty-line wages. It is time to take another look at the adage "price to value" and increase our price to get the value provided by the assistant teacher.
K.L. Jessee, Brandon
Programs pay big dividends
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German theologian, once said: "The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." By that metric, Florida is doing better — but not well enough.
In the most recent legislative session, business leaders, policymakers and child advocates came together to celebrate Children's Week. Handprints from children hung in the Capitol rotunda, but the real work being achieved can be seen in classrooms around the state, reflected in better student performance, higher graduation rates and more jobs filled by better-prepared graduates.
When we invest wisely in our children, we invest in a brighter tomorrow. If we want a booming economy, we need to put our money where it counts. That means Florida needs to invest more in early learning.
Florida TaxWatch research shows that for every $1 invested now, $7 is saved in taxpayer burden later. These savings come from prison costs, meaning that children who participate in early learning programs are far less likely to enter the criminal justice system; education costs, because children in early learning programs need less remedial instruction; and all the other expenses we bear because of societal shortcomings.
It's not just investments in early learning that save taxpayer money, it's all the results — increases in academic achievement, economic activity and higher revenue. Children who participate in high-quality early learning programs generally make more money, have greater disposable incomes, and pay more taxes than those who miss out on the opportunity for exponentially higher growth afforded by programs like brain-stimulating, genuine-quality child care and Florida's voluntary prekindergarten program.
Dominic Calabro, CEO, Florida TaxWatch, Tallahassee; David Lawrence Jr., president, Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, chair, Children's Movement of Florida, Miami
Arms to police getting review | Aug. 24
U.S. as combat zone
The unrest and violence in Ferguson, Mo., is sadly indicative of what is wrong with having a military state. Police were hired by the citizens to "protect and serve." The United States has yet to be declared a combat zone, yet citizens are treated like "terrorists" and either shot and killed or injured and jailed for protesting militia treatment.
We cannot as citizens let this continue. We must get to the root of the problem — whether that is racism, sexism, a militia mentality or all of the above.
Amy Eisler, Clearwater
A better use for armaments
The Kurds in Iraq now face serious threats from ISIS. Their Peshmerga fighters are seriously handicapped by a lack of modern armament and equipment. Wouldn't it be a much better use of American surplus military equipment to ship it to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces rather than to American police forces? Use of this equipment has only exacerbated the street violence in American cities.
Jay Hall, Tampa
Do your duty as citizen
When we vote, we are hiring people who directly impact our life. Think you have no power over bureaucrats making decisions? Vote. Take the job of county commissioner. Vote if you use any of these county services: roads, fire protection, hospitals, ambulance service, health and welfare programs, parks, museums, water supply, waste collection, public transportation, beaches and libraries.
Do some research on the candidates and vote in today's primary.
Marie Cunha, Hudson