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Destruction of Florida must be stopped

I would like to express my total support for Jeff Klinkenberg as the next governor of Florida, or, at least, his appointment as head of the water management district. His appreciation of the natural wonders of our state, and his understanding the environmental crises we face today, are continually reflected in his Dateline Florida articles. Mr. Klinkenberg's recent article, Gouging the Glades should be required reading for every resident and visitor to Florida. It should be included in every Florida Unit taught in the state's public schools.

We can no longer continue to allow the unabashed greed and avarice of developers and special interest groups to destroy our natural legacy.

Melinda Galaher, Treasure Island

I appreciate seeing informative articles about the environment such as Jeff Klinkenberg's Gouging the Everglades, Feb. 11, but I feel that, for some readers, many articles like this partly miss the point.

I, for one, already am aware that even supposedly protected areas, like the Everglades, are damaged, and I do not want to spend time (and get depressed) reading about it again. Furthermore, these articles give me no direction for taking action on the problem.

How such articles miss the point, and appear a little confused, is when they make statements like, "We are killing the Everglades," "We have stripped the woods," "We have ditched and drained the land." Well, we have done no such things. I, like most people, had nothing to do with the draining and ditching of the Everglades. The people responsible for this are politicians, developers and certain agricultural industries (cattle, sugar cane, etc.) over whom we have little or no control.

If environmental writers, especially prominent ones like Klinkenberg, want to be more useful, they should report frequently which elected state and local officials are responsible for not acting to help the environment or worse, acting to continue the damage. Then we can make a difference in the one place we can - the voting booth.

Dan Chesnut, St. Petersburg

Re: Jeff Klinkenberg's story of Feb. 11 on Silver Springs.

He's right, it's not what it used to be - which can be said of practically every place in our entire, exploited state. He's also right in saying that the present owners are persisting with a totally backward approach in playing up Silver Springs as something other than what it is - one of the most beautiful, purely natural attractions anywhere.

Having grown up in Ocala during the 1940s, I remember the springs in its glory days when it was the state's No. 1 tourist attraction.

How did it do that? By skillful marketing, and by focusing on the very features that made people want to go there in the first place: the gorgeous setting, the crystalline water, and the "underwater fairyland" prominently featured in the springs' promotional material which was sent all over the country.

The courting of the film and television industries to shoot underwater scenes was a natural that drew celebrities - Johnny Weissmuller, Lloyd Bridges, et al. - regularly to the springs and that paid off in other ways as well. I remember many movie newsreels featuring Silver Springs sequences. It didn't hurt to have world-famous herpetologist Ross Allen - the "snake man" - on board, either. Besides being a great guy and an authentic local hero, he was to his field what Jacques Cousteau is to oceanic environmentalism today.

The point is, the springs played to its strong suit - its own natural habitat - and didn't try to be something else, i.e. "Africa, U.S.A." That natural habitat is still there, for the most part, and Jeff is right when he suggests the springs should veer away from today's imitativeness and phoniness. Let Busch Gardens have all the Dark Continent marbles. Concede the Fantasylands to Disney World, the salt water creatures to Sea World, and the water skis to Cypress Gardens. What's left? Florida! Celebrate Florida, Silver Springs! Put its creatures on display, not alien elephants and giraffes. Build a shrine to the wondrous natural history of this unique peninsula. It could be spectacular. Build a hall documenting the fabulous history of Silver Springs itself - the movie stars, the presidential visits, the real-life adventures, the evolution of the attraction, etc., etc.

Silver Spring's best attraction bets are right under its nose.

There isn't time or space for me to get into what Silver Springs meant to my generation and to our families; to everyone who lived in Ocala and nearby. It was part of our culture, part of our rites of passage - in all ways a very special place. It was our swimming hole, our weekend and summer escape, a social hub, a source of employment, a generator of commerce, home to the best hot dogs and popcorn in the universe, and a risky place to try to park with a date or go for a midnight jaybird swim (but we never gave up trying).

It can never be all those things again, but Jeff's right: It can be worlds better than what it has been contorted into today.

Jim Moorhead, St. Petersburg

Re: Joining the crowd? Here's the "scoop" on moving to Florida.

Terrific letter to "Auntie" by Jeff Klinkenberg on Feb. 7 on moving to Florida and what she will find here. I hope that this is syndicated from coast to coast. As well as knowing the state, the environment, he has a sense of humor - wonderful. Few could have done as good a job of telling it like it is, with guns galore, ethnic problems, crime and housing only for millionaires. Power outages during the hottest and coldest weather, exotic beasts' use and abuse, as well as rattlesnake chicken and wild boaters, give readers a great

PR job. Good old Jeff - may he save us yet from overdevelopment.

Mary S. Gill, St. Petersburg

Re: Joining the crowd?

After reading Jeff Klinkenberg's column I have but a few words for you. Fire that snob and get him to move permanently to a remote island with no growth at all. Preferably an island of stone and no typewriters. And immediately!

Don Donofrio, Brooksville Baseball fans suffer

In reading and hearing about the baseball lockout, it irritates me that the baseball officials are so greedy in their demands. It seems that baseball fans have to suffer due to the officials wanting more in their pockets. It seems that baseball is no longer a sport but something to make money for certain officials.

It's time all of us baseball fans to boycott the games when the baseball season opens in April. With no fans attending games then maybe these greedy officials will see who runs the baseball empire in America.

Donald E. Mohr, Port Richey

It is difficult to understand that baseball is a business. Greed has

overcome players and owners to the extent that it is no longer within the financial capabilities of fathers to take their young sons to a game, to see their heroes play. It is also out of the reach of many seniors.

One good year does not a superstar make. Too many times a mediocre player will have an outstanding year, he then demands a ridiculous salary with a long-term contract. Many fall back to the mediocrity from where they came, others fail to give their 100 percent for there are no longer any incentives. Consequently owners must raise prices to fulfill commitments. Other owners will spend ridiculous sums to have a winning team; these are playboys not earnest sportsmen or good businessmen. The results are that many lower and medium income people can no longer afford to spend an evening at the ball park, though they have been loyal fans for years.

I firmly believe in just salaries for our sportsmen, but not to the extent that they own the franchise. Let the owners do their lockout until an end is put to the preposterous salaries demanded by players.

I suggest an annual evaluation of salaries, based on the year's performance. Keep the attendance cost down, charge a reasonable amount. Expand the leagues, not keep it as "a closed shop."

A few years ago, I attended 20-25 games a year. The last baseball strike soured me. Now I attend 1-2 a year. Perhaps now, I shall give it up altogether.

Harvey L. Jones, Seminole 'Enough already'

Re: "What's best for the children" may not be more togetherness, Feb. 11.

Hey! Enough already; I'm sick of it.

Joyce Maynard's feeble attempts at justifying her separation and ultimate divorce are becoming more pathetic every week. Her rationalizations are not convincing - "she's doing it for the kids," and "everyone's better off now." She can't hide the selfish motives behind her breakup; they are too obvious.

She got tired, bored. The marriage "wasn't working" anymore.

Joyce, I've got a hot news flash for you - marriages don't "work";

people work.

My stomach turns at the thought of following her escapades through divorce court, the dating game and then the new and improved Love Boat. Joyce, I'm sorry, but your column is off my weekly reading list.

Nothing personal. I wish you and your family good luck.

I would like to read one more article, though. Steve's side.

Kimball R. Adams, St. Petersburg

Re: A new state of "affairs," Feb. 4.

What are you thinking of? A full spread on simpering whimpering Joyce Maynard? On my peaceful Sunday?

This woman gives self pity a whole new dimension. Hope she seeks the professional help she obviously needs.

J. Magee, Belleair Bluffs A common struggle

Okay, here it is, the '90s decade and as Marvin Gaye once asked, "What's going on?" This question came to me while watching Black Entertainment Television on Jan. 15 as it was commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. The overall gist of the program seemed to lean toward the question of whether we should give up the civil rights quest in exchange for full societal acceptance and/or full assimilation.

Other questions that come to mind: Are the doors of equality open wide enough for African-Americans to come in and make full and uninhibited economic strides? And if they are, should we abandon the push to end racial injustice in order not to seem ungrateful for the gains we have made and try to fit in more? I don't think so; however, we should focus our attentions on programs which would promote self-worth in today's youth as well as to strengthen our value system, family structure and religious convictions.

It is no question that the black community has seen a strong decline in moral values since the 1960s. It is my belief that this change occurred with the emergence of the new generation that followed the civil rights movement. It is this generation which is saying, "Okay, we are in the door - let's end the movement." Without the re-instilling of self worth, moral values and a strengthened family structure, even with the door wide open, very few of us would be in a position to take part in the opportunities that would be presented.

It is my wish that the decade of the '90s bring forth an awakening of the God-given love that is in all of us. I hope that people of all colors will love one another and realize that we are all in the same struggle: Poverty and ignorance are the tragedies we fight.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. Carlton R. Blair, Tampa Always good, sometimes great

A tip of the hat to Mike Royko! He is almost always good, but sometimes he is great. His Feb. 7 column titled, Where is Cuomo's soul headed?, is great. Anyone who can weave into one article an astrologist, a bedpan, Gov. Cuomo and a hangover is a very clever and entertaining writer. Any writer who can make me laugh out loud, three or four times in one article, is surely doing well what he is paid to do.

D.E. Wight, St. Petersburg Only a fad?

I watched the Gasparilla Parade and I had a wonderful time until I saw the radio station PIG 93 float. This distinguished group seems to pride itself as "the Hustler magazine" of the radio industry. I do hope their operational philosophy is faddish and very short-lived.

Brian Taylor, Largo The following are from fund-raising letters sent by Adm. John Poindexter, left, and Lt. Col. Oliver North. Poindexter was President Reagan's national security adviser from 1985 to 1986. North, a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair, was convicted in 1989 of obstructing Congress, altering and destroying National Security Council documents and accepting an illegal gratuity.

Dear Fellow American: Because I care more about the long-term security of America than I do about myself, I must now face the liberals' accusations surrounding the "Iran-Contra affair." And as I stand, one man, alone against the massive onslaught of liberal special interests who want to imprison me for serving my country, I must turn to you for help.

As my family and friends face the pain of seeing me savaged on the nightly news, I need to know you will help me. And as I face personal financial debts far beyond any ability to pay in my attempt to defend myself, I need to know you still appreciate what I did.

The Independent Counsel appointed to prosecute me in the Iran-Contra matter has run up bills of more than $20 MILLION in taxpayer money - your money - in this effort to vilify me. And after raising my family and educating my five sons on a Navy salary, I can't begin to match that kind of spending to defend myself.

I am not a wealthy man.

While I can't actually tell you about any information directly relating to my trial, I can tell you that there is only one reason why I am being put through this ordeal - political revenge.

When I testified before the Iran-Contra panels, you saw how the liberals in Congress took great pleasure in making speeches to me about patriotism and honor.

The liberals in Congress wanted to destroy the Reagan presidency any way they could. When they found that they were going to be unsuccessful, they turned on me. During the televised "investigative hearings," the liberals repeatedly berated me for the benefit of the cameras. They mocked my 30-year naval career and service to America.

Because I believe in the same things that you and Ronald Reagan do, I must now defend myself. Because the liberals do not understand the depth of the national security crisis America now faces, I must continue to fight for what is right.

Let me tell you one more thing, my friend. Like any career military officer, I saw my duty, and I did my job. Nothing more or nothing less.

And I know in my heart that I do not deserve the 35 years and $1.5-million in fines I now face.

I'm one man alone against the wave of anti-conservative feeling that now controls our U.S. Congress. I'm only one man, who cares more about protecting freedom around the world than about winning a seat in the next election.

I'm only one man, standing up to fight for what the American flag really means to people struggling to be free.

I'm only one man, and the liberals want me silenced. The liberals want me bankrupt or imprisoned.

That's why I had to write to you today. As a former U.S. Navy admiral, I'm used to giving orders, not asking for help. But today, I ask you to make your most generous contribution to the Poindexter Defense Fund.

Whatever you can send today, be it $35, $50, $100, $500 will be greatly appreciated. With your help, I know I will be proven innocent of all the politically motivated charges that have been leveled against me.

Thank you in advance for your support and God bless you.

Sincerely, John M. Poindexter, Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.) This letter, created with the help of fellow Navy officers and a direct-mail specialist, was sent last fall.

Harper's Magazine. Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate Dear Friend, Please hold this letter in confidence. It contains a private request asking your opinion on a very important matter.

For reasons which will become clear, I don't want the contents of this letter revealed to the general public just yet. Be assured that I will hold your opinion in strictest confidence.

I'm sure you are aware of my long court ordeal. I still find it incredible that a special prosecutor has spent tens of millions of our tax dollars on an enormous staff, renting unbelievably expensive Washington, D.C. office space, and engaging the rest of our government in a witch hunt.

To get me - One Marine infantryman who loved and still loves his country ... who believed - and still believes - in freedom and democracy for the people of Central America - and any other enslaved people elsewhere in this world.

For the past three years we have endured the longest, largest and most expensive inquisition in American history. There has been no limit to the probing - or to the damage done to our nation. I have anguished over the lives lost, the careers ruined and the secrets divulged over the course of this ordeal.

But now - that chapter in my life may, finally, be over.

And believing that, in the providence of God, nothing happens by accident to those who have committed their lives to Him, I have been seeking His purpose for allowing me to experience what I have been through - and His purpose for my future ...

In short, I have come to a crossroads in my life - and I must make a choice.

That is why I have written you this letter.

The leadership of a non-profit, tax-exempt organization has been offered to me. The former board of directors have agreed to step down, and a new name, the Freedom Alliance, has been chosen.

I now must make a very difficult decision - Should I take on the

responsibility of leading this non-profit, tax exempt organization, - The Freedom Alliance? ...

If you think I should serve as the President of the Freedom Alliance, will you also be willing to make a tax-deductible contribution to help me fund it?

The only way I have of activating this freedom fighting organization - is to count on grassroots Americans like yourself. In fact, even this mailing was produced and mailed on credit.

If we are going to press on with The Freedom Alliance, if you want me to go ahead, it is going to take money. Can you give at least $25 today to help us get started?

Oliver L. North P.S. By the way, your donations to the Freedom Alliance are tax-deductible.