Renewable energy bill to raise electric rates | March 29
Business wins; consumers lose
The state Senate bill unveiled March 28 will allow Florida electrical companies to raise rates from $1.40 to $2.60 per month to build solar and biomass energy plants. On the surface, that sounds like a small price to pay for clean solar energy. What it really does is have the ratepayers subsidize the electrical companies so they can continue to control the industry and sell the electricity back to us at retail.
Our Senate should have looked at the system in Massachusetts. The electric companies there bill everyone a renewable energy charge that is about four-tenths of a cent per kilowatt. These funds are then available to subsidize homeowners to install solar panels on their homes. Needless to say, the electric companies hate this system. First, they lose control of electrical production. Second, they are required by federal law to have to buy any excess electricity produced by the homeowners' panels because they are grid-connected.
My home in Massachusetts has solar panels that produce 60 percent of the power requirement of the home even though New England is not known for sunshine. That has reduced my electric bill by 60 percent.
The Florida Legislature is thinking for big business again — at our expense.
Charlie Rutz, Clearwater Beach
Bill puts patients at risk
Despite clear warnings of the harm they were guaranteed to inflict on nursing home residents, members of the Florida House Civil Justice Committee handed the nursing home industry a giveaway by passing HB 661. This bill strips residents of legal rights while allowing the industry to better disguise inadequate staffing. One lobbyist, who claimed to have written part of the bill, stated during the hearing that she was proud of protecting the profits of nursing home investors.
In 1999, with nursing home lawsuits on the rise, the Florida Legislature created the Brogan Commission. The commission learned that the lawsuits resulted from genuine harm and were not frivolous. It also found that the root cause of bad care was inadequate staffing. As a result, the 2001 Legislature passed a sweeping reform that required nursing home residents to give up certain legal rights in exchange for higher staffing. Since then, lawsuits have gone down dramatically.
If the governor and the Legislature insist on promoting nursing home owners' profits at the expense of seniors, the least they can do is enact a law that allows nursing home residents (at their own expense) to install, without retaliation, electronic monitoring tools for their own protection.
Catherine Blackburn, Gulfport
City curfew proposed for teens | April 1
Once again City Council member Karl Nurse demonstrates that he has little or no regard for the protections of the Constitution. In spite of the fact that the courts have time and time again thrown out similar curfews, Nurse proposes to invite more litigation. Just what the city needs — another large legal bill.
As if the Police Department has nothing better to do than act as babysitters for some wayward youths. As city attorney John Wolfe states, "It's time consuming and a lot of work."
Council member Steve Kornell gets to the heart of the problem: "If there's a breakdown in the family, it won't get solved with a curfew."
Robert W. Schultz, St. Petersburg
National Donate Life Month
Save a life, or several
If offered an opportunity to save a life, would you? Ninety percent of Americans say "yes" to organ donation, yet only about 30 percent of Florida's population has signed up on our state organ and tissue donor registry.
April is Donate Life Month, and I encourage those who have not yet done so to sign up on Florida's donor registry online by visiting www.DonateLifeFlorida.org, or when getting or renewing a driver's license. One organ donor can save the lives of eight people and affect nearly 50 more through tissue donation.
Jennifer Krouse, LifeLink of Florida, Tampa
Democrat chastised for saying 'uterus' April 1
Oh, my goodness, young pages heard the word "uterus"! What is wrong with the word? It is an accurate name for a body part possessed by half the population. The inmates are running the asylum.
Sharon Wenner, St. Petersburg
Violence over Koran burning
Time to leave war behind
Terry Jones, the minister in Gainesville, burned a copy of the Koran — a stupid though not illegal thing to do. The asymmetrical reaction by Islamic radicals in Afghanistan left many innocent people dead and injured.
Afghanistan is a region of many ethnic groups and tribes speaking many different languages and dialects. Why do we think we can create a peaceful, friendly nation out of this patchwork?
We are spending about $2 billion a week to keep our troops there, and have lost over 1,500 personnel and well over 10,000 seriously injured. There's no shame in pulling out of this no-win situation. If we want to fight the terrorists, use a small Special Forces group.
Derek Roberts, Clearwater
Be mindful of others
The pastor in Gainesville who felt compelled to burn a book that many hold dear is filled with hatred and bigotry. He has every right to feel that way, but his actions affect not only him but others.
Would this pastor tolerate a group burning the Bible? There are many forms of faith out there. I am not saying we must agree; but we have an obligation to be mindful.
Mark L. Grantham, Gulfport
Free speech rights
As an American citizen I do not condone the burning of the Koran, but at the same time I respect this person's right to free speech. I do not feel the U.S. government should apologize to a religious organization in another country.
Adolph F. Panella Jr., Valrico
Repeal of Prohibition
Anniversary worth toasting
April 7 is the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing for the production and distribution of beer and wine, on March 23, 1933. The act went into effect at 12:01 a.m., April 7, 1933.
When he signed the act, Roosevelt stated, "What America needs now is a drink." Repeal Day is a wonderful occasion to get together with friends and pay tribute to our constitutional rights.
Bill Gieseking, Tampa