Where's the outrage about Fla.'s springs? | May 28, commentary
Water users and weary warriors
In response to Sonny Vergara's column, I expect that most people fall into one of two categories: users and tired warriors.
The vast majority are in the group using the groundwater pumped from under these springs and most of west-central Florida. They've been told repeatedly that their water bills will increase if alternative water sources have to be developed. And to prove it, the installation of desalination in Tampa was bungled.
Maybe the rest of us already fought the fight and now understand the futility. Our property is next to the Cross Bar Wellfield. We spent most of the '90s "seeking out our elected representatives," water management officials and water authority representatives, and giving them our "disaster tours."
What was the end result? A promise to reduce the pumping, which you can't tell by our land. And we were given a couple of water wells and concrete troughs for our cattle since they have no surface water to drink from. Plus we are "allowed" to augment the Fish Lake, once the centerpiece of the ranch. This barely keeps it alive. It is currently less than 40 acres and has not met its minimum healthy level since shortly after El Nino.
The environment will not win the economic battle in west-central Florida when fighting for its fair share of the water.
Jan Dillard, Barthle Brothers Ranch, Dade City
Punished for her stance | May 28
I was amazed to read that numerous employees were fired (or, in this case, suspended) from various state environmental agencies for doing their jobs — in other words following laws and regulations to protect our environment — because their supervisors told them to ignore the law. This is another example of short-term thinking to put money in the pockets of those for whom the laws just don't suit their needs.
The Times ran a series of articles in 2006 about these flawed mitigation banks. Perhaps it's time to run another investigative series exposing these unlawful practices by those people we are supposed to trust to follow the law but who, instead, run their agencies as if they are running their own private businesses.
Diane Kornick, Clearwater
Wrong person punished
After reading this article concerning the punishment of Department of Environmental Protection wetlands expert Connie Bersok, it's obvious that the wrong person is being punished. Since DEP Deputy Secretary Jeff Littlejohn stated, "I don't speak wetlands ecologist," what made him believe he had the right to ask Bersok to bend DEP rules? I hope the Times will follow up on the outrageous treatment of Bersok for doing the job "we the people" pay her to do.
Joe Whetstone, Valrico
Vets' disability claims soar | May 28
Costs of rushing to war
I read, with anger, this article about recent war veterans' record disability rates.
It is clear that in light of the consequences we face in treating these veterans — whom we absolutely must take care of — that the United States should be required to have a clear consensus across party lines and among voters before going to war with any country. The nation should also exhaust all possibilities of peaceful resolution before taking military action, and establish that there is an imminent danger to the American public if we don't take action.
At this point, the United States government and citizenry have a moral obligation to pay for any and all disabilities our war veterans have suffered based on the decisions we have allowed our leaders to make.
Let me not read again that we can't keep the promises that we made to them after they have fulfilled their obligations to us.
Beth Crosa, St. Petersburg
Boat slams jetty, tossing 9 out | May 28
Having driven commercial boats through Clearwater Pass and Bayboro Harbor — location of the jetty where the teen was killed several years ago when the boat she was in hit an unlit jetty by the Coast Guard station — I can attest that jetties can be very hazardous at night. The reason is the red and green channel lights in the passes can be seen over the top of the rocks, but contrary to the assertion that the jetties are "lit up like Christmas trees," they are dark.
When the boater sees the channel lights and wants to enter the pass, he or she aims for the lights and runs right in to the rocks.
Boat operators are responsible for being knowledgeable about the area they operate in, but over the years so many boats have hit the jetties, resulting in a number of deaths, that in the name of safety high-intensity flashing yellow caution lights should be installed on top of the rocks.
Jim Heady, South Pasadena
All not equal in face of camera | May 23
Looking out for citizens
I was a police officer a long time ago, and we regularly went past red lights, safely and slowly, not interfering with pedestrians or cross traffic. On the midnight shift, especially, it would be considered unproductive to sit at a light looking straight ahead. Imagine the time lost within eight hours. The idea of a patrol is to keep moving and observing. Even our unmarked units slipped through lights for the same reason. They are not disobeying the law; they are looking out for the citizens.
John Culkin, St. Petersburg
Change for Catholic schools | May 14
Schools of excellence
This article addressed the changes facing the future of Catholic schools within the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Mention was made about the enrollment challenges facing some Catholic schools. As a proud parent of students enrolled in Catholic schools, I feel it is important to clarify that there are several schools within the diocese that are thriving and enrollment in some schools has actually increased over the course of the past few years.
Two of the schools have recently been named "National Blue Ribbon Award Winners." Three schools are adopting the International Baccalaureate Program. The article's underlying tone was negative.
I want to convey that excellence in education is unparalleled in Catholic schools and will remain so in the future.
Carol Purcell, Safety Harbor