For lack of a champion, victim is left in limbo | April 7
State must do better for victims
I am appalled at the responses that some of our state legislators have made to Jennifer Wohlgemuth's negligence damage claim.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, claims to be "viscerally uncomfortable with being forced to play judge and jury and award damages in cases of horrific negligence." Well, senator, guess what? Two courts have found the Pasco County Sheriff's Office guilty of negligence and awarded an appropriate amount of damages. Are you saying that you now need to be convinced that a negligent act has been committed to Wohlgemuth? Court judgments carry no weight with you?
Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, makes the stunning observation that paying the claim would take "resources away from the very department that protects my two little daughters, and all the other people in my community." I wonder if Weatherford would be so charitable to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office if one of his daughters had suffered a similar fate as Wohlgemuth.
Is it any wonder that there has been an unsympathetic attitude toward public agencies when acts of extreme negligence on their employees' part cause untold pain and suffering to civilians, and all our elected officials can do is attempt to diminish the individual who has suffered the consequence of the negligence and spin the damage claim as unreasonable and expensive to the agencies involved?
We deserve better than this, and we need to demand better of these officials.
Patrick Kroeger, Palm Harbor
Paying Big Oil to wreck the planet April 8, commentary
Damage is avoidable
I applaud this column by Bill McKibben, which finally states the truth about Big Oil. We subsidize them and they are hell-bent on producing more and more fossil fuels that spew billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which will in just a few decades wreak havoc on our planet.
By the end of this century we can expect to see sea levels rise between 3 and 6 feet and mountain glaciers completely melt. The sad thing is that this is avoidable. We have the technology to put the brakes on this disastrous trend.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report last year that stated that "if all the major industrial countries of the world committed to switch to clean energy, this would result in meeting 80 percent of the world's energy needs using clean energy." And "we could hold the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees centigrade."
Instead of building oil pipelines, maybe the oil companies should lend their considerable resources to speeding up the transition to biofuels.
Robert K. Powell, Spring Hill
Fossil fuels fill the gap
This article presents a shortsighted picture of America's energy problem. I am a strong proponent of developing alternative sources of energy because of the costs fossil fuels have on our environment, economy and national security. However, these alternatives are years away from filling the void we need to fill. It is going to take time to become energy independent, and in the meantime we need to fulfill our needs with use of some fossil fuels.
When we had a chance to create more jobs, augment our petroleum supplies with oil from our Canadian allies and curtail petroleum imports from the Mideast, President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone pipeline to satisfy his political supporters. The oil will still be produced in Canada, but it will got to China instead. What the public gets from Obama's action is higher prices and increased vulnerability to Mideast oil sheiks. Jobs are lost and an ally has been alienated.
Big Oil is not wrecking the planet; it is supplying our country with the jobs we need, the energy needed to support our economy and the research to help make alternative fuels more of a factor.
Mike Convey, Longboat Key
Fund feud: pier vs. police | April 8
Look for existing building
I have read with interest the articles about St. Petersburg's need for a new police headquarters. Perhaps officials could look across the bay for a solution. When the city of Tampa needed a new police headquarters, officials bought an already built building and retrofitted it. People are always talking about buildings downtown standing empty. Maybe the police could (dare I say it) even move into BayWalk. It's just an idea.
Mary C. Neumeier, Tampa
'Stand your ground' law
Feeling of confidence
I feel good to be able to carry a concealed weapon, just in case. The feeling of confidence and how the holster hugs around the body perfectly gives me satisfaction. Only in free nation like America can one have this kind of experience.
I'm a senior, never been in trouble with the laws and cool under pressure. Some say a gun gives a false sense of security and that different people have different temperaments. Being a good citizen my entire life, chances of getting into the gray area of this "stand your ground" law is slim.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush said "stand your ground" does not apply to someone who pursues someone and uses deadly force. If the law is being misapplied, then overturn the judge who makes the decision. Revise the law; don't repeal it.
Alejandro Soo, Zephyrhills
Public shouldn't be forced to buy April 9, letter
It's true that a lot of people would rather spend their money on booze, drugs, gambling, fancy cars and extravagant vacations than on health insurance. And under true laissez-faire capitalism, these people would be allowed to die at the hospital door if they didn't have the insurance or cash to pay for the medical treatment they need.
But these people know that, under our current system, they can go to a hospital and receive free medical care, and the cost of that care will be passed on to people who do have insurance or to the taxpayers. All President Barack Obama is trying to do is get these freeloaders to pay their fair share.
James Nelson, Largo
A smile and a shoeshine | April 8
I almost always read John Fleming's columns. Whether I agree or not, he is a wonderful writer, and it's almost as good as being there. His review of the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman is one of those quintessential pieces. His writing is akin to good literature and always a pleasure to sink into.
Lilyan V. Dayton, New Port Richey