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Wednesday's letters: Growers' water pumping hurts homeowners

Strawberry growers

Water use hurts homeowners

It was reported last week that the Hillsborough County strawberry growers averted a potential crisis with minimal damage after two nights of continuous pumping of hundreds of millions of gallons of precious water from our Central Florida aquifer. At the same time, it was reported that a 50-foot sinkhole had opened in the Lithia area, potentially threatening groundwater. This is called cause and effect. They caused it, and we have to live with the effect.

After these two nights of pumping in the Dover/Plant City area, I have surveyed and documented cracks in my pool deck and both my exterior and interior walls. I have photographed the settling and sinking of poured concrete slabs and exterior doors that are now under stress and will not open and close properly. All of this damage did not exist before.

Insurance may ultimately pay for the damage, but the result will likely be my homeowner's policy being canceled. If there are more freezes, additional damage will be done.

The part of this story that continues to remain unaddressed is the effect pumping is having on the neighbors of the growers: the area homeowners. We have been on this piece of land for five generations. We were here long before the strawberry growers had fields in this area.

Local residents are under continuous water restrictions that limit us to the hours and times we can water our yards and plants. These restrictions even strongly "suggest" that we limit our use of water inside our homes. Because of their local political power, the growers and nurserymen are allowed to play by different rules with no compromise.

There are other means of protecting crops. Last week one area farmer was innovative enough to use a protective sheeting. Using other means requires time and costs more, so it might cut down on profit, but the cost would likely be passed on to the consumer anyway. Instead, the strawberry farmers and nurserymen just continue to suck hundreds of millions of gallons of water from our aquifer in a few short hours because it is easier and cheaper, creating the devastating cause and effect that we continue to experience.

Shirley David, Dover

Pizza shop robbery | Dec. 9

Shop owner's actions

not advisable for others

As a retail and restaurant loss prevention professional, I was concerned after the seeing the picture and article about the armed robbery of the pizza shop. Having investigated hundreds of armed robberies and several homicides at fast food restaurants, I think there may be some unintended consequences in depicting the grinning owner of the pizza shop as a kind of folk hero for wrestling the robber's gun from him. I have presented many robbery prevention programs, and no curriculum includes resisting an armed robber.

Months from now there may be another armed robbery and the victim may have read the article. In the back of his or her mind, at the moment of that split-second decision on how to react, he or she may recall that this incident of grabbing the gun had successful, heroic results. But perhaps in that robbery, we will be reading a very different headline — one full of tragedy and grief.

Will any of us connect it as an unintended consequence of how this incident was portrayed?

D.B. "Libby" Libhart, Dover

Hillsborough County Commission

Insulting to citizens

I read with great dismay and disappointment that the Hillsborough County Commission appointed a permanent county administrator who lacks the proper educational credential specified in the county charter: "full-time officer who holds a master's degree in public administration, management, or related field."

The intent of this charter provision is to ensure that a professionally trained administrator, not a political crony, is at the administrative helm. The commission either did not think this through or simply wanted to expedite the decision and perhaps save money by not conducting a national search.

The message sent by the commission, however, is dire. Men and women who aspire to the top management in Hillsborough County can claim a master's degree in any field of their choosing, including religious studies. This is shortsighted and insulting to the county charter and citizens.

Don Menzel, Tampa

Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg | Dec. 15, letter

Ellsberg's take

The letter writer seems to see no legitimate parallel between Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange. Whom better to ask than Ellsberg himself, on his own website?

"Every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time." And: "(I) strongly reject the mantra: 'Pentagon Papers good, WikiLeaks material bad.' "

Without discussing the merits of the leaks, as far as the specific Ellsberg-Assange comparison goes, that should settle the matter.

Daniel Vergara, Palm Harbor

System needs overhaul

Why does the media ignore the real problem with the WikiLeaks documents? Julian Assange gets tons of publicity and our government tries to figure out if he has committed a crime.

Nobody is asking what idiot on our payroll is responsible for the security of these allegedly sensitive documents. Who designed the system that could be compromised by one lowly private?

Not only did our system fail to keep "spies" out, it also did not notice when the break-in took place. Finally, it was totally out to lunch while two "spies" stole everything but the computer.

W.A. Broderick, Tampa

High-speed rail

A rail and bus success story

Thirty years ago Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Britain decided to add a rapid transit system to the existing high-speed rail network that covered most of the country.

It spurred immediate employment in a depressed area and created a transport system for workers and travelers alike that gave cheap access to city centers from the surrounding areas.

This in turn attracted large businesses to relocate or start up, because of the easy access for workers. City center business boomed because there were no parking problems for workers or customers.

Small businesses opened to be near the big businesses and smaller shops opened next to the big boys. Once this was up and running, they extended the rail and bus network to the next city in a loop, which could be likened to Tampa-St. Petersburg-beaches-Clearwater-Tampa.

Combined with regular local bus services, this system even cut down on road traffic accidents and drunken driving.

If Gov.-elect Rick Scott takes the money now and makes a start, the rest will follow not only here, but in Lakeland and all stops along the way. Take the money and start now.

Keith Fraser, Madeira Beach

Wednesday's letters: Growers' water pumping hurts homeowners 12/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 6:38pm]
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