GOP should walk away from destructive fringe | Oct. 25, commentary
Tea party factions due to collide
This was an excellent commentary by John G. Taft. However, I find it puzzling that the tea party can accommodate two such disparate and intransigent factions as religious conservatives and libertarians. The Ayn Rand-influenced libertarian faction scorns compassion, charity, altruism, a belief in God and other so-called irrational concepts they think hold back society. They go to tortuous lengths defending their core principles of individual liberty and freedom.
Libertarians and religious conservatives seem to share similar survival-of-the-fittest principles, agree that Obamacare is destroying America, oppose gun control, and not only endeavor to shrink the federal government but, according to Sen. Ted Cruz, will try to "blow it up if we can't get what we want."
However, it seems inevitable that there will be a day of reckoning when the tea party religious wing figures out that the libertarian wing is full of followers of a Russian atheist, who supports gay rights and is prochoice. It could become a war on civility with circular firing squads.
George Howlett, Tampa
Public Service Commission
I don't know a lot about the power generation business, but I spent most of my working life around telephone companies. In the 1970s, just mentioning the Public Service Commission put fear into the eyes of any telephone company manager. Mentioning the name of Commissioner Paula Hawkins changed that fear to near terror.
Regulatory agencies should be in an adversarial relationship with the regulated; that is their job.
Leonard C. Silva, St. Petersburg
Fair to explore uses for property | Oct. 27
Work on the traffic
So the Florida State Fair Authority board wants to invite developers to create new and exciting opportunities on their land? I suggest they start by improving the traffic flow.
We passed Orient Road on Interstate 4 just after 6 p.m. Friday en route to the Luke Bryan concert, leaving nearly an hour to travel the final 1.5 miles into the parking lot. Plenty of time, or so we thought. It took nearly 90 minutes from that spot, causing us to arrive after the lights went down and the music began.
That's inexcusable. A venue should be equipped to handle traffic flow, and no further development should occur on that land until changes are made to improve traffic efficiency.
Perhaps this is also a good time to improve mass transit in a community whose leaders have long rejected it.
Joe Humphrey, Tampa
Florida's scores: not bad | Oct. 27
Aim for the top
I would like to challenge the assertion that a little above average in math and science is good enough for Florida's students.
When I was in high school in the 1970s, a college degree provided a near guarantee of a middle class lifestyle. Even those without college degrees could do well in manufacturing and clerical jobs.
Those jobs are almost all gone now. Even the recent manufacturing renaissance is bringing back only one-tenth the jobs that previous manufacturing operations provided, and those jobs are going to those who have the math and science skills to understand and operate the high tech equipment involved.
Furthermore, the highest salaried jobs available to new college graduates are almost all in engineering and science. Leadership roles in the new economy will be, to a large extent, reserved for individuals with this kind of training.
In math and science, Florida must aim for the level that Massachusetts presently occupies if it is to have a healthy middle class in the future. Anything less will represent economic surrender and a bleak future for the state's children.
Paul Cottle, Tallahassee
Red-light cameras opposed | Oct. 28
Red-light cameras are about safety. If 54 percent of St. Petersburg citizens and six of eight candidates for City Council are against red-light cameras, I can only conclude that they are willing to run red lights themselves and are willing to risk having their cars totaled and their lives endangered by those who do.
It is neither a pleasant nor an inexpensive experience to have. Generally the costs far exceed $158. If the only way to retrain this criminal behavior is to hit the old pocketbook, then so be it.
And to the sheriff who is 100 percent against the cameras, I say post a deputy at every one of the intersections where the cameras are located during morning and evening rush hours.
I do agree that caution (amber) lights should be longer and uniform throughout the state.
Sally Martin, Tampa
Try warning lights
While driving in Minnesota several months ago, I was reminded what is wrong with red-light cameras in the bay area. In Minnesota, they have a flashing sign indicating the light is about to change, therefore you are watching for the yellow light and can stop safely.
With our area's very short yellow light timing, it is often difficult to stop quickly. If there was a prewarning white flashing light on the signal, or in the yellow light, five to 10 seconds before the light was about to change, the motorist would have a better chance of obeying the signal.
I suggest shutting down all red-light cameras until some version of this "about to change prewarning" is implemented. I believe red-light cameras are a benefit to traffic safety, but as implemented the focus is on revenue, not safety.
Richard O. Mayer, Palm Harbor
Officials: Monkeys off-limits to trapper Oct. 26
Stop the cruelty
I applaud the Department of Environmental Protection for its decision to no longer allow the trapping of monkeys — some of which were being sold to research labs — in Silver River State Park. No matter the species, animals confined in research facilities suffer unimaginable cruelties and often lose their minds and lives in conditions no human would consider acceptable or "humane" were he or she in the animal's place.
My hope is that Florida officials will research and implement humane, nonlethal methods of managing the monkey population, leaving the monkeys' families intact and allowing them to enjoy lives free from captivity, cruelty and exploitation.
Keith Berger, Boca Raton