Pave first, think later mentality | Feb. 21, editorial
Protection from sprawl essential
Take a good look at Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties' record of controlling urban sprawl without Development of Regional Impact reviews of large-scale developments. How's that working for them?
Sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, SB 372 is no more than smoke and mirrors. It's campaign time, and money gets votes. With Gov. Rick Scott gutting the Department of Environmental Protection, and the possibility of SB 372 passing, citizens will again have to be the enforcers on land use.
And while it may be legal for Carlos Beruff, chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, to donate $3,000 to Galvano's re-election, it doesn't pass the smell test.
Karen Esty, Inverness
Recycling plan finally takes off Feb. 22, editorial
Incentives for recycling
I applaud efforts to enhance recycling in St. Petersburg, but the program may want to take another look at the incentives. In the city where I lived in Indiana, the program worked by having residents pay an additional fee each time their garbage container was emptied, but recyclables in a separate container were free. Grass clippings, leaves, etc., in proper bags would also be picked up for free or a much smaller fee.
It was thus to the residents' advantage to minimize their trash, and the city kept recyclables and compost items out of the landfill. Every city is different, and what worked for a smaller city elsewhere might not work here, but the basic idea of managing incentives is a key.
Donald Cunningham, St. Petersburg
Calls to veto Ariz. antigay bill | Feb. 25
A new level of intolerance
If Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs legislation to allow exclusion of gays from being served for religious beliefs, what comes next? Will Arizona allow companies to refuse to serve atheists? It is hard to believe that they dislike gays more than atheists. If these companies are so sincere in their religious beliefs, why are they open on Sundays? Arizona has taken homophobia to a new level.
Neil T. Feldman, Seminole
Deadly results of 'stand ground' Feb. 23, editorial
Dangers of turning away
Every soldier and law enforcement officer knows you never take your eyes away from your attacker. Critics of "stand your ground" fail to take this into consideration.
They expect everyone, even the weak, disabled and elderly, to turn their backs from armed or stronger attackers and risk being seriously injured or killed. Citizens in Florida need to be able to defend their lives and the lives of their families without risking them first.
Richard Golden, San Antonio
Big trouble bubbles as state income gap widens | Feb. 23
'The excluded still waiting'
I read with sadness and anger the report on income disparity. It indicated that Florida has had "lopsided income growth" in the years 2009-11. The top 1 percent of our population has had 9.2 percent growth, while the 99 percent have had a drop in income of 2.9 percent.
We should be concerned for the well-being of all our citizens. Yet there is no leadership in Tallahassee responding to the needs of our struggling citizens.
As a Catholic priest, I am privileged to have access to the lives of many families. Over and over, I see people struggling with inadequate income and a lack of meaningful benefits in their jobs. For so many people, after trimming their budget to the barest minimum, every bill that comes in the mail is a new crisis.
And Tallahassee continues to ignore the federal-led opportunity to help a million more of our citizens have access to Medicaid. That issue is a prolife issue, whether it is three people or six people who die every day because of this inaction.
This income disparity report gives credibility to the wisdom expressed by Pope Francis in his exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel" this past November. In it he says: "Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."
Father Thomas E. Tobin, St. Petersburg
Bilirakis' mistake: caring about you | Feb. 23, John Romano column
Models of public service
Thanks to John Romano for this column about how our government is run. It was absolutely spot on. And kudos to Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano — men who have taken their responsibilities in government to heart. They are among the very few elected officials who seem to remember and heed Lincoln's words in the Gettysburg Address: "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
It is a sad commentary that elected officials are considered pariahs by their fellow lawmakers when they put the people and their needs ahead of self-serving and party-serving agendas. Every voter needs to carefully examine their representatives' voting records and hold them responsible for their actions (or lack of actions).
I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of the attitude and actions of too many of our elected officials. Let's all work together to keep this country great.
Lucinda Ciurro, Seffner
Bilirakis takes stand for his constituents Feb. 22, editorial
Too little and too late
While it's nice to finally see Rep. Gus Bilirakis take a "stand" on flood insurance, it's more than a year and a half too late and only comes after the howling of his constituents and his yes vote on the original law in July 2012.
This is the same Bilirakis who voted no on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation, no on enforcing antigay laws, no on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and no on regulating the subprime mortgage industry.
Frank Jelnicky, Palm Harbor