Transit tax finds new foe | July 26
Telemarketing disguised as a poll
Last week I responded to the automated telephone survey conducted for Doug Guetzloe by St. Pete Polls. I hung up in disgust before completing the "survey" when it became glaringly obvious it was a push poll.
The American Association for Public Opinion Research defines a push poll as "a form of negative campaigning that is disguised as a political poll. Push polls are actually political telemarketing — telephone calls disguised as research that aim to persuade large numbers of voters and affect election outcomes, rather than measure opinions."
As voters, we are responsible for doing our homework before elections. It is the duty of our newspapers to provide us with factual information from which we can make informed decisions. Not all telephone surveys are push polls; when we have the facts, we know when they are. Thanks to the Times for giving us the facts so we can tell the difference.
Cindy Deadman Maxwell, Clearwater
Plan to recycle gets no bidders | July 20
Shared risk and reward
In the recycling business, it's important that everyone's interests are aligned. We believe the company that processes material and the city that arranges collection should share in the risk and reward of recycling. While there may be other factors in this case — contract length, for example — if interests had been aligned, the city may have received some bids.
An April poll done by the National Waste & Recycling Association, which represents private waste and recycling companies, found that 20 percent of Americans admit they will place items into a recycling bin even if they are not sure it is recyclable.
Given that reality and the fact that recycling contamination rates can change over time, the association believes that contracts like St. Petersburg's should include periodic material audits. If a city conducts a recycling education program and the contamination rate decreases, it should be able to reap the benefits. Conversely, if the contamination rate increases, the city should be financially motivated to take action to decrease it. The only way to know the rate is to measure it over time — not define it before the program even starts.
Recycling association members have developed a set of contract terms that could be used by municipalities as they navigate recycling partnerships.
Sharon Kneiss, National Waste & Recycling Association, Washington, D.C.
Hunting answers | July 27
Behavior insults voters
This article made me more angry by the paragraph — angry because these "top" Republicans think that the voters of Florida are sheep not capable of reading between the lines. They insult our intelligence and turn any question about their conduct into an Abbott and Costello routine of "Who's on first?" until they hope we as voters will throw up our hands.
My take is that if you don't want to or can't explain your conduct as an elected official, I am free to draw my own conclusions — and they are that you have been caught with your hand in the sugar jar. Our sitting governor recently made himself a laughingstock on national television for his ability to never answer a question addressed to him. It was embarrassing and, quite honestly, he looked stupid.
Adding to the mockery and farce, GOP spokeswoman Susan Hepworth refused to discuss the issue and told a reporter, "Do your own job." The press has done its job matching travel records, dates and expenses. Our political leaders — I use that term loosely — keep talking about transparency, but that always applies to the "other guy." Both of the major parties in the state are guilty of this.
John Robbins, Tampa
Busy, busy, busy
The article on King Ranch is a reminder to us ordinary Floridians of how busy our state leaders are. When they've finished doing the people's work in Tallahassee, they have to do fundraising. When asked why they went, all said the Republican Party of Florida made them do it.
They must be so heartless at the RPOF — demanding that our leaders spend time fundraising, hunting and studying agriculture techniques at places like King Ranch. So I have an idea how we can help them: Let's vote to send someone else to Tallahassee so our overworked leaders can stay home and get some much-deserved rest.
Richard Magda, New Port Richey
Call in the law
I can't believe these politicians are getting away with accepting gifts from corporations. In any universe, an all-expense-paid vacation to a privately owned hunting lodge (including out-of-state hunting license) is considered a gift. Florida law forbids these guys, all of whom could afford to pay, from taking a gift of any substantial amount. Where is the "law and order" attorney general, Pam Bondi?
Not only should they be required to disclose what was discussed, but criminal charges should be brought. It is evident U.S. Sugar is getting special treatment from these people and is willing to pay for it.
Edward Emens, Wesley Chapel
What Duke has to offer: high prices, bad service | July 27, Robert Trigaux column
Rates and reality
Robert Trigaux's article about Duke Energy's rates being 20 percent higher than Florida Power & Light is correct if you tabulate the stated kilowatt rates. That is not the number ratepayers write on their checks. For end users, the math is simple: Take the bill total and divide by the number of kilowatts hours. When you use this real-world formula, the difference between Duke and FPL is far greater.
My father lives in Parrish and has Florida Power & Light provide his electricity. He was charged $45.91 for using 455 kilowatts hours of electricity. That is about 10 cents per kilowatt hour. I live in St. Petersburg and have Duke as my energy provider, and for 453 kilowatts I was charged $70.54. That's 16 cents a kilowatt hour, or 60 percent more than my father. This total includes all taxes and fees, including the nuclear recovery fee.
A free-market economy is touted as better for customers because it keeps companies competitive and self-correcting. If a company has poor service and high rates, it will fail and be replaced by a better company. Energy companies fall outside this model, and I am stuck with Duke, a company I would never do business with if I had a choice.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg