Oil drilling in the gulf
House reveals its distorted priorities
I hope that Floridians from all corners of the state have taken down the names of those in power right now and recall those names at election time.
The news of the House passing a gulf oil drilling bill further shows that they owe their allegiance to big companies and their greedy interests rather than to the average Floridian.
Does the House really think that allowing Big Oil to control our shorelines will ever actually equate to savings in our pockets? All it will do is grant more power to the already powerful, thus allowing them to further dictate and manipulate oil and energy costs.
As it stands right now, oil jumps in price when a Saudi prince catches a cold or a tropical wave forms off the coast of Africa. We all see the repercussions of gas prices when oil derricks off the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana are even remotely threatened, let alone damaged as was the case with Katrina, among others.
I hope that Gov. Charlie Crist will remember his Suncoast roots and veto any legislation permitting oil drilling off of our coast.
J.J. Rodriguez Jr., Clearwater
Florida should contribute
It is time that Florida joins the other oil-producing states. We have an energy crisis that cannot be solved in the long amount of time it will take to make alternative energy — as necessary as that is — viable enough to replace oil. The need is now and the only solution now is to allow offshore drilling in Florida.
As Floridians now use and benefit from oil produced in other states on the Gulf Coast, it is time they allowed Florida to contribute to our urgent need now. If Floridians still refuse to contribute to solving our immediate need for domestic oil, then they should have to pay for enjoying the oil produced elsewhere with a $2 a gallon tax on gas.
David Zimlin, Dunedin
Leaders should give green solutions a chance
With the possibility of drilling within a few miles of our beaches, all the green-minded people in Florida need to unite and work harder than ever to protect this precious resource and the progress that has been made in the past few years. New biofuels are being perfected every day and the possibility of discovering a new alternative could happen at any time. Just look how fast auto manufacturers designed and released green cars!
At no time in history are people and organizations working harder on solutions. Recycling programs are growing, green cleaning products are getting more popular, reusable grocery bags are growing in numbers and solar arrays and wind turbines are popping up everywhere.
Our leaders need to show a little patience here. Our environment has been patient enough in this world of "give and take." The Earth has given and we have taken too much for too long!
Kurt Zuelsdorf, Gulfport
Drilling is folly
It is difficult to comprehend why the Florida House would seriously consider HB 1219, allowing oil drilling within 3 to 10 miles of our beautiful Florida coastline. Although oil industry lobbyists want us to believe it will be good for the Florida economy, in the long run it would most certainly hurt one of our biggest industries, Florida tourism. I have been to beaches such as Galveston, where oil drilling was allowed offshore, and I have seen its effects: oil clumps and oil slicks in the sand and water.
We live near some of the world's most pristine beaches and wildlife areas, Caladesi Island, Fort De Soto and Sanibel-Captiva, to name just a few. It would be a shame to do irreversible damage to these fragile ecosystems because our legislators are being pressured to "drill, baby, drill." What a selfish, shortsighted mantra.
I hope that our legislators and Gov. Charlie Crist vote with their conscience on this issue and look to other ways to generate revenue such as alternative energy, especially solar. This is the way to a clean energy future, new jobs and a brighter economy.
J. Spencer, Palm Harbor
Loser of the week: William Shakespeare April 26
Senate Bill 318 is in no way intended to diminish the great works of William Shakespeare. Rather, the bill's purpose is to remove from Florida's usury law out-of-context references to Shylock, which have the effect of fostering anti-Jewish stereotypes and anti-Semitism.
Due to the age-old canard of Jews as greedy money-lenders, references to "Shylock" or "Shylocking" in a usury statute are particularly offensive. These terms based on the character from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice have been used to fossilize and perpetuate the stereotypes of the evil Jew as powerful, cunning, money-hungry, and inhuman. The character has been historically used as a vehicle of anti-Semitism.
Consequently, the combination of these harmful terms within the context of a usury statute plays on the worst stereotypes of Jews and can only serve to foster anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation League applauds the long overdue removal of these harmful terms from Florida's criminal usury statute.
Andrew L. Rosenkranz, Florida regional director, Anti-Defamation League, Boca Raton
Closing the Ringling: truth or dare? | April 23
An asset for all Florida
Florida State University's proposal to close the Ringling Museum if enough funds are not allocated to the university effectively dramatizes one small tip of the iceberg of deep losses to the cultural life and economy of Florida if the House budget cuts to higher education are adopted.
I was particularly interested, however, in the argument the FSU board of trustees gave that the Ringling does not directly serve enough FSU students to deserve high funding priority by the university.
I want to emphasize that if the Ringling is not perceived as a major asset to education at FSU, it is a central and highly valued component of art and cultural education in west-central Florida — to the tens of thousands of graduate and undergraduate students at the University of South Florida in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota, and at New College in Sarasota. It is, furthermore, just as valuable to students at many fine local private colleges and universities, such as Eckerd College, the Ringling College of Art and Design, and the University of Tampa, and invaluable to education at the regional community colleges, not to mention elementary and high schools.
The students in my graduate and undergraduate classes in Renaissance art are assigned to study objects in the Ringling almost every semester. Our undergraduate and graduate students regularly intern there, advancing their professional, as well as academic, careers.
The Ringling is a cultural asset to the entire state, and the Legislature needs to ensure, in any way possible, that it remains adequately funded and open to the public, just as it needs to maintain the system of higher education which is the backbone of the economy, and future, of Florida.
Helena Szepe, associate professor, art history, School of Art and Art History, University of South Florida, Tampa
Mass transit to cost $36B | April 24, story
Closely on the heels of your anti-SunRail editorial, Janet Zink writes an article highlighting the millions of dollars that it will cost over the next 30 to 40 years to build and maintain a mass transit system in the Tampa Bay area.
Is it too much to ask that you provide your readership with something to which this option can be compared? Are we to assume that the current road system will support the population of 2035 Tampa Bay? Or will the cost of expanding and maintaining the local road system be zero?
Seriously, is that cost more or less? And are there any other pros and cons to consider?
Randall Reid, Tampa