Power company pillaging | Oct. 22, editorial
FPL customers' bills have fallen
This Tampa Bay Times editorial incorrectly suggests that the Florida Office of Public Counsel was "shut out" of negotiations regarding a proposed Florida Power & Light Co. rate settlement. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the first and last place we visited, beginning last year, was the Office of Public Counsel who inexplicably refused, over many months, to participate in negotiations intended to lead to a fair and equitable settlement.
So FPL, the South Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Industrial Power Users Group and federal executive agencies worked together to craft a thoughtful compromise that would limit base rate increases for our customers for four more years. The settlement would limit the impact to a typical residential customer bill to about 5 cents a day. Bills for most commercial customers would be flat to down 3 percent. Compared with current rates for Florida's 55 electric utilities, our customer bill is projected to continue to be the lowest in the state. The settlement agreement is under review by the PSC — an open, evidentiary process that the Office of Public Counsel has stridently sought to prevent and now seeks to block via the state's Supreme Court.
The Times' editorial ends by asking, "Who will speak up for all Floridians?" At FPL, we are working hard every day to deliver exceptional value for our customers and our state, and we hope that our actions speak volumes. Not only are FPL's typical residential bills the lowest of the state's 55 utilities, they are about 25 percent lower than the national average. While the costs of groceries, gasoline, health care and many other things (including the Tampa Bay Times) have increased significantly in recent years, FPL's 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential electric bill has decreased. That's right — you read that correctly. In fact, our typical residential customers pay 13 percent less than they did in 2006, while our typical business customers' bills are down an average of 14 percent.
That didn't happen by accident, and we know that our investments in fuel-efficient technology and focus on operational excellence help our customers make ends meet and enhance our state's competitiveness and reputation as a great place to live, work and do business. At FPL, we're proud of our award-winning track record, and we are always open to finding more innovative ways to help Florida move forward.
Mike Sole, vice president, government relations, Florida Power & Light Co.
Obama has earned second term Oct. 21, editorial
We cannot continue to support more and more social programs with fewer and fewer jobs. You cannot dismiss the multitudes of business people who have stated that the Obama administration will continue with a stranglehold of regulations and taxes on businesses.
When the Bush tax cuts expire under President Barack Obama, it is not just the rich who will pay more: All taxpaying middle-class earners will see their taxes go up. Seniors depend on dividends they have worked a lifetime to earn, and eliminating the Bush tax cuts will force them to pay additional taxes.
On foreign policy, the administration's lack of protection for embassies on Sept. 11, 2012, is appalling.
You have failed all along to get Mitt Romney's vision and plan for this country in your newspaper, which is why we get the real news from the Internet and television and from the candidates in the debates.
Patricia Dalton, Clearwater
Justice for the poor
An essay on wealth in the Times outlined that 20 percent of Americans own 84 percent of the wealth; the bottom 40 percent own less than 1 percent of the wealth. How can this be just, whether or not it is judged to be "legal"?
Since 2009 we've seen an increasingly bitter discourse over who's responsible for vast inequalities in wealth and the administration of justice. As a retired clergyman I am influenced by Scriptures: Psalm 82 portrays God as a just ruler, and Psalm 72 prays for the ruler to be just to the poor and the needy and those who have no helper.
Are these psalms blueprints of justice and liberation, or rationalizations of the powerful to twist justice into self-service of those who buy influence through lobbying or electioneering? Is the Golden Rule an impossible ideal or a difficult but essential practice worth learning? Jesus' own outline of ministry echoes the Hebrew prophet Isaiah: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me to bring good news to the poor."
Voters should support the candidate whom they believe will promote the well-being of all the people, rather than the protection of the wealthy.
Robert Palin, Dunedin
A busy day of stumping in Florida | Oct. 20
At cross purposes
Color me confused. Thomie Holloway has "$6 million in orders ready to go," but can't get the funding. So she wants to vote for Mitt Romney. Exactly what funding is Ms. Halloway hoping to receive from an administration whose avowed purpose is to cut government funding? This baffles me.
On the one hand folks bemoan government spending and on the other they decry the lack of funding for themselves. I have no idea what she is trying to ship, but I fail to see how it is the responsibility, or the fault, of the current administration that she cannot get "funding." By every metric the economy is better than it was when the president took office. Perhaps the fault is in the product and not the Obama administration.
Christopher Jonathan Gerber, St. Petersburg
Man accused of NYC terror plot | Oct. 18
Creating a threat
So we are again led to believe that superhero FBI agents saved the day and the N.Y. Federal Reserve building from a crazed al-Qaida operative. Many of these terror dramas have been facilitated by the FBI, whose undercover agents pose as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naively play their parts and are arrested.
This is a prime example of how our federal government creates a fearmongering atmosphere in order to keep funding the security and military-industrial complex. The federal government has determined that America has to be at war or have "make-believe" enemies around every corner just waiting to harm us in order to keep the funding up for the defense and security sectors.
Andrew Vincent, Tampa