Citizens hamper powerful developer | Sept. 7
This is Florida, not Spain
Unfortunately Gov. Rick Scott gutted the Department of Community Affairs so that pesky citizens would no longer have an advocate to review large scale development such as Carlos Beruff's plan. It's also unfortunate that Scott appointed his friend Beruff to head the Southwest Florida Water Management District. That's like putting a fox in the henhouse.
Beruff has said it was a great idea to bring Barcelona's "Las Ramblas" concept to Sarasota Bay. What Beruff apparently doesn't realize is that Barcelona has different flora and fauna from Sarasota. Florida has hurricanes and is subject to flooding. And Florida is running out of water (Beruff has the ability as head of Swiftmud to help lower water levels in our springs to support projects such as this).
Beruff would be the only person to benefit from this 465-acre carnage on the environment. It's really sad that planners would support this project just because it's not just "another boring subdivision."
Karen Esty, Inverness
A rising flood of insurance price hikes Sept. 5
A crisis looms for homeowners who are required to have flood insurance. Expect rates to rise approximately 20 percent this year and every year after that for 10 years if you stay in your home. If you are selling your home, a potential buyer may look at $20,000 per year and likely decide not to buy.
A bill in committee in the Senate would delay these rate increases. Citizens should call their senators and urge them to support this bill and ask them and their fellow senators to do so as well.
Jim Heady, South Pasadena
Fatal bike crash suspect wanted to be a cop Sept. 5
Tale of two fatalities
My 26-year-old son was killed about a year ago by a careless driver who mowed him down on his motor scooter in Dunedin, so I am especially sensitive to stories about two-wheeled vehicles struck by four-wheeled ones.
The driver who hit my son remained at the scene, and she was ticketed for careless driving and tried in traffic court. Because no witness could place her behind the wheel of the car that hit my son, she was acquitted, even though she admitted to police that she violated his right of way and apologized for his death.
The young Dunedin man accused of hitting the cyclists in Clearwater last week left the scene of the accident and later turned himself in. He faces two felony charges and is jailed facing $125,000 bond.
Based on my experience, I offer this advice to motorists: If you run over a cyclist in the dark and nobody sees you, stay put and admit it.
Ken Lynam, Dunedin
The Syrian dilemma | Sept. 7
What if North Korea or Iran used chemical weapons? Would we bomb them? Why are chemical weapons any worse than blasting and shooting with bullets?
I thought our huge military budget was for national security only. I cannot imagine national security being a factor in the Syria conflict. Nor can I imagine air strikes having any impact on the outcome. Plus, we will be spending money we don't have.
Ronald Baltrunas, Clearwater
Nation's leaders must act to stop childhood hunger | Sept. 4
Farm bill folly
It is the poorest citizens who will bear the brunt of the 2013 farm bill cuts. Despite the fact that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been effective and critical to families and our economy during the Great Recession, House leaders want to force millions of low-income Americans off the program.
The $40 billion SNAP decrease would require every church, synagogue and mosque in the nation to contribute, on average, $114,000 to make up the difference. In contrast, the portion of the farm bill approved early this year allows food prices to remain high and continues a crop insurance program that is susceptible to fraud.
The Rev. Russell Meyer is right to ask our elected officials to step up to the plate with the same passion afforded the special interests of agribusiness. We look to our leaders to exercise moral governance.
Barbara Drake, Tampa
Much to learn on brain injuries | Sept. 7
Football here to stay
Charlotte Sutton writes a powerful piece about brain concussion suffered by football players.
Her piece is thoroughly researched and she makes her points clearly without hyperbole or rancor. But the message is starkly apparent. Sports that call for severe contact will produce brain injuries and other trauma. Sutton is wise enough not to call for a ban on high school football. But Sutton seemingly asks that football be de-emphasized in high school culture and be replaced by something less likely to induce trauma.
How abut a high school poker club? No one ever suffered a brain concussion from holding a busted flush.
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
Planes vs. Trains (Cont'd) | Sept. 6
Unnecessary rail line
A reader describes the ease by which one can travel from Manhattan to Washington, D.C., by train. But I wonder: Are Floridians ready to pay the price?
My wife and I were in Atlantic City and wanted to go to New York City for the day. My idea was to park at the Newark airport and take the train into Penn Station, a trip of 28 minutes one-way. Then I priced it out. It would cost $12.50 one-way for each of us, or about $50 round-trip, plus parking costs at an offsite lot.
The Northeast probably has the highest ridership on trains so the unit cost per rider should be low. But what would it cost to ride a train from Tampa to Orlando? And what would riders do when they get there? Rent a car?
I think most people in Tampa Bay would prefer to simply drive to Orlando. Then again, if we build a rail line, we would have created some "jobs" and spent a bunch of federal tax dollars, which is apparently a good thing to a lot of people in our area.
Drew Dolison, Bradenton