Don't take it out on good judges
"I might vote against the retention of every judge on my local 2nd District Court of Appeal, out of spite," ranted Howard Troxler in his Sept. 19 diatribe against the ill-conceived $48 million courthouse built for the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.
What? Two Jeb Bush-era insiders cronied up with Jeb Bush-era legislative holdovers to snooker the other legislators, the Florida Supreme Court, the taxpayers, the frontline press and columnists like Howard Troxler in order to erect an offensive, wasteful monument to themselves at public expense. (That was three years ago; where was Howard Troxler?)
Meanwhile, the judges of the 2nd District Court of Appeal and every other appellate court in this state have been working harder than ever — trying to stay on top of a burgeoning caseload with an appellate judicial work force that the Legislature hasn't deigned to increase in nearly 17 years, with a staff that in recent years has been reduced to late 1990s levels. And for the last six years — since long before the state government revenue shortfall began — they have done so without so much as a cost of living pay increase, let alone a meaningful raise. To the contrary, last year their pay was cut.
Does Troxler really think citizens should remove highly qualified, hard-working men and women from the judicial branch of government on the basis of spite?
Citizens who believe otherwise, who wish to make informed, responsible decisions when casting their ballots, should know this: In a recent poll, Florida's attorneys overwhelmingly recommended keeping the 2nd District judges who will appear on the upcoming merit retention ballot. That extraordinary vote of approval by those who observe firsthand the work of the 2nd District confirms that its judges, overburdened and underpaid as they are, nevertheless perform their duties diligently and professionally, unswayed by notions of spite.
Howard Troxler should take a lesson.
J.E. Hanna, Tampa
Jail's rehab program slashed | Sept. 23
A costly cut
This is absolutely the most ridiculous move that Pinellas County could make. The jail is already a revolving door, especially for those who don't get rehabilitation while they are in. One of these programs saved my son.
The bottom line here is the majority of inmates are in jail due to drugs, many for prescription drugs. They are addicted to opiates and deserve rehab. Addiction is a disease and should be treated like a disease.
The inmate may be charged with another crime, but when you get to the bottom, most have an addiction.
Overcrowding will only worsen due to this budget cut. How about getting a grant from the pharmaceutical companies who continue to push their pills, or perhaps the Florida medical board? These two combined are also responsible for the amount of pills on the streets.
Lynn Locascio, Crystal Beach
Billions wasted on oil
Imagine what downtown St. Petersburg would look like if we spent a billion dollars a day there. It's an exercise in fantasy to be sure, but each and every day, we spend billions of dollars on foreign oil. What would happen if we spent that money creating jobs here, instead of helping prop up unfriendly regimes overseas?
For one, we'd be a lot healthier. Our communities are suffering from the consequences of using dirty energy owned by corporations that aren't concerned about the health of our children or our planet. Instead, we need to invest in clean, renewable energy sources like wind turbines and solar panels — and we need to invest in technologies that will improve energy efficiency. Smart energy policies can create jobs in our community, and 1.9 million jobs nationwide.
Clean coal and capturing greenhouse gas emissions for storage does not solve the problem. The greenhouse gases still exist and are only being stored. What happens when, like a landfill, there is no more room for greenhouse gas emissions? There certainly is no more room in our atmosphere as we are above the 350 parts per million acceptable level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere at 390 ppm.
American oil corporations are more concerned with profit overseas than with the health of the American economy, and 95 percent of all recoverable oil has been used or is being used. Solar industries create jobs of all types within America, as using solar power becomes cheaper for the average consumer. The time is now to invest in clean energy. If not now, when?
Chris Hastings, St. Petersburg
Yesterday's pioneers made a trail west, one mile at a time. Today's pioneers are moving into new energy fields, one installation at a time, with windmills and solar panels.
The pioneers of yesteryear loaded their belongings in a wagon, with little money in their pockets, and searched for a new life in the West. Today's pioneers sacrifice to free our nation from foreign oil, improve the atmosphere we breathe and to be free of electric light bills forever.
Pioneering requires sacrifice, but the success is always worth the means.
Hartley Steeves, Tampa
Vast European wind farm opens | Sept. 24, photo
I was thrilled to see the picture of the Thanet Wind Farm off the coast of England!
Why can't we do the same off our Gulf Coast to help the thousands of our citizens who are now struggling over the BP disaster?
Marilynn and Randall Wingert, Sun City Center
Engineered salmon is safe
The federal Food and Drug Administration is reviewing an application to approve genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. If approved, as it should be, it will be the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. It could reach the market in several years.
The salmon has been developed in the United States after more than two decades of scientific research by AquaBounty Technologies. Genetically engineered salmon will be safe and more efficiently produced food than conventional salmon. We must overcome the fear of eating genetically engineered fish. Crossbreeding to produce better food is nothing new. "Genetic engineering" seeks to modify genes so that they express desirable traits, such as growing faster and bigger while resisting diseases.
The term "natural" does not imply better because natural diseases do occur. What genetic engineering does is control the kinds of changes we want to see in genes. Eating genetically engineered salmon will provide safer, more nutritious, and more affordable food, while protecting its native species and taking a step toward eliminating world hunger.
Jian Zheng, USF medical student, and Dr. John Sinnott, director of the Division of Infectious Disease & International Medicine at USF, Tampa
FBI raids homes of protesters | Sept. 25
What has our nation turned into? We have invaded more than 20 countries since the end of World War II and spent trillions of dollars on war.
Now the Obama administration is using extreme tactics on antiwar activists in an effort to intimidate those who dissent. No matter how you feel about U.S. wars, every American should be outraged by this behavior.
Michael D. Knox, Tampa