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VICTIM OF WELL-PAID FEARMONGERS

Obama adviser steps down in controversy - Sept. 7, story

He promotes self-help solutions to poverty. He sees apprenticeships for persons coming out of prisons as breaking the revolving door. In a New York Times bestseller, The Green Collar Economy, he laid out a vision for a renewed and more equitable United States of America.

Where some see doom and gloom, Van Jones sees opportunity. Reduce greenhouse gases through wide-scale energy efficiency retrofits of most buildings. Do it so the cost is paid back out of energy savings. Create 5 million new green-collar jobs to lift us out of the recession caused by rampant unregulated greed. Use the coming green-collar economy to open pathways out of poverty for those who want to work and learn new skills.

Yet, once again shrill, well-paid fearmongers have gone to work. Van Jones, an environmental adviser with amazing credentials, was forced to resign from the post in the administration.

There is a pattern here.

The fear peddlers just tried it again with the president's speech to schoolchildren. They cry, "Socialism and death panels" to derail health care reform. Different lines, same old tactic. Why? Who benefits? Could it be people with bloated incomes way beyond their actual contribution to the common good? After a while people begin to connect the dots. It is time to visualize a better society for all of us, and demand it vigorously.

The Rev. Warren Clark, Tampa

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Support clean energy; don't sell out our state

It just sickens me that anyone living in Florida would "sell out" this beautiful state to the big oil companies and support a bill that allows drilling in our waters. We have the ability to produce millions of jobs and dollars through clean energy, thereby protecting all of us from pollution and our dependence on foreign oil.

If they can send a land rover to Mars and power the Hubble orbiting telescope for nearly 20 years, we have the ability to harness the same energy. We finally have an administration that will support clean energy where the previous administrations have not. Oil is dirty energy and is killing the Earth. The oil companies and their stockholders voting for drilling are greedy, fear-ridden individuals with no respect for Florida's identity, economy and delicate wildlife balance.

It would be horrible to go to the beach and see an oil rig in the background with the surf washing up globs of black goo. Trust me, this is how it is in the states where offshore oil drilling is permitted. I have experienced it several times firsthand. It's not pretty!

Mary Zaumeyer, St. Petersburg

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No future in oil drilling

I grew up in Florida and lived here for over 20 years before moving to Louisiana to be near my wife's family. I lived in Louisiana for 10 years and I am very familiar with the oil industry and its impact on an area. Some of the things I fondly recall from growing up in Florida are the beautiful beaches, pelicans, horseshoe crabs, and even the seagulls. The white sand and clean water are unrivaled anywhere else on the gulf.

By comparison, southern Louisiana is heavily dominated by the oil industry. There are countless drilling platforms, rigs, processing facilities and storage tanks. There is also the necessary infrastructure to support the oil industry, including increased air traffic and boat traffic. I have visited numerous Louisiana beaches and they are nothing to admire. The beaches there are dirty and the water quality is very poor. There is limited local wildlife compared to Florida beaches and one can never escape the presence of the oil industry.

Let's face it, not only is oil a dirty industry by its very nature, but it's also a dead-end industry with a future of dwindling returns. There is not enough oil anywhere on the planet (much less in the gulf) to make any meaningful long-term impact on our energy problem. The future of energy and industry is in alternative fuels, not oil. And I hope that Floridians have enough sense to keep the oil industry away from its precious ecosystem and beautiful beaches.

If you want to see what the beaches will look like after a few decades of impact from the oil industry, take a drive to southern Louisiana and visit the beaches there - it will make you think twice about doing the same thing to Florida's beaches.

Michael Gilmer, Lutz

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Tax would hit insured hard - Sept. 8, commentary

No more increases

After reading Bill Newton's column, I felt compelled to write and thank both Newton and the Times for printing such educational information. At the ripe old age of 54 and having paid for property insurance for more than 35 years, I had no idea of how it actually worked. I simply paid and groaned, complained and moaned.

I certainly hope that our representatives in Congress pay close attention and ensure that this costly tax bill does not get passed.

We here in Florida are in the worst recession since the Great Depression and can hardly afford any further increase in our home insurance rates. Mine have already doubled since moving to Florida in 2005.

Perhaps Bill Newton's column will help to wake up our lawmakers and stop this foolishness.

M.E. Kauffman, Sun City Center

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Just like Bush - Sept. 7, letter

The best of us

I am tired of people like the letter writer referring to our enlisted personnel as the "underclass." These men and women are the better students, better athletes, and the most responsible of their generation. Do not sully their reputations!

Their counterparts take the easy life, engaging in drugs and sex and generally sloughing off responsibility.

Don't ever say our enlisted men are the underclass. These young Americans are the cream of the crop of our society. They put duty, honor and responsibility first.

A.M. Long, St. Petersburg

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Coastal coordinator fired - Sept. 5, story

A valued expert

I was astounded to read in Saturday's Times of the firing of Pinellas County's coastal coordinator, Dr. Nicole Elko. I had the pleasure of observing this exceptionally talented beach expert while covering barrier island communities for the weekly Tampa Bay News.

During that period and the 15 years I managed environmental planning and policy development for the state of Delaware, I have never encountered a public servant so competent and capable as Dr. Elko.

It would seem to me that county leaders could show a little common sense and figure out a way to retain her for the sake of bay area citizens and the countless tourists she has so capably served in managing our beaches.

Robert H. MacPherson, St. Petersburg

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