1. Archive


Proposed ordinance in Hillsborough

Hillsborough County is about to consider an ordinance that would ban the sale and use of fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorous during the summer. We share the common goal of protecting Tampa Bay and water bodies throughout the county from excessive nutrient runoff and leaching.

But a blackout period, encompassing June, July, August and September, could prove counterproductive. It would impede the growth of healthy lawns, which are necessary to prevent erosion, filter pollution, recharge groundwater and ultimately reduce the level of nutrients entering Tampa Bay and secondary water bodies. Turf grass needs a supply of nutrients during the active growing period (May-October) to remain healthy, and healthy turf is the best protection of all against nutrient runoff and leaching.

The proposed county ordinance, which is expected to be considered July 15, is far more restrictive than the recommendations outlined in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's model ordinance for Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes.

DEP's model ordinance calls for no such summer blackout as there is no scientific evidence justifying it. It calls for a comprehensive approach, including the creation of fertilizer free zones, content and application rates, application best practices and training. The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences also opposes the proposed county ordinance, citing a lack of science and potential negative consequences on water quality.

In December 2007, my department adopted the nation's first statewide urban fertilizer rule that significantly limited the application rate and concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous formulated in lawn and turf fertilizer sold in Florida. I commend the Hillsborough County Commission for its efforts in devising an ordinance aimed at water quality improvements for the bay and would encourage officials to continue seeking out the best science-based approach. Unfortunately, the county ordinance currently being considered misses the mark and could wind up triggering more nutrient runoff - not less - into the Tampa Bay area's fragile water bodies.

Charles Bronson, Florida commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Public Service Commission

System needs fixing

On July 1, the headline in a local newspaper read "Argenziano shown the door," referring to the fact that Nancy Argenziano, chairwoman of the Public Service Commission, will not be reappointed to the commission. This is the commission that approves or denies rate increases to utilities.

There is only one reason for this action. Commissioner Argenziano didn't play ball the way the big utilities and the Republican-controlled state Legislature wanted her to. The legislators have been influenced and corrupted by utility money. Argenziano had the tenacity to stand up and vote for the interest of the consumers and not the utilities, and this is her payback. This shows how corrupt the current system is. It needs to be fixed.

Evidently, the lawmakers now in power care nothing about the consumers but are in the pockets of big corporations. The people should remember this at election time.

Otis Brown, Citrus Springs

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It's time to rise up

Four members of the Florida Public Service Commission who voted against the Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy's rate requests have been denied places on the panel. Why? According to Nancy Argenziano, chairwoman of the PSC, your disloyal Republican legislators are "corrupted." These deceiving, greedy, betraying Republican legislators are being pressured and rewarded by the Associated Industries of Florida, a business lobby.

These four people on the PSC were mainly the only ones making sure that the power companies don't raise your electric rates unscrupulously. In 2011, it is very doubtful that you'll have anyone on the PSC who will protect your interests.

Where is the "revolutionary reaction" from the Tampa Republicans and the tea party's fanatic behavior that they displayed against President Barack Obama? Dust off your disparaging, insulting signs and march on to Tallahassee!

Philip A. Perrone, Crystal River

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Position of trust may have been abused

July 7, story

Acting in good faith

The St. Petersburg Times holds a position of trust for me. As a faithful subscriber, I value a free press and trust in the Times to represent the facts as well as possible. Therefore, I offer this reflection on the July 7 article about a person now under arrest who "may have abused" a "position of trust" at First Unity Church of St. Petersburg.

Without comment or knowledge of the details concerning the charges, and with deep compassion for all who are suffering through this experience, I feel led to note that the remark by a former member that "the church didn't do anything" is simply not the case. In more than 35 years of ministry, I've learned to weigh carefully the accuracy of judgments by disgruntled former members. Sometimes, the most critical folks were released from their positions for very good reasons.

I believe that it will become clear upon fair consideration that the church responded reasonably. Hearsay is not the same as a report of a firsthand witness or victim of actual abuse. When witnesses, although urged to come forth by the minister, were not ready to do so (for various understandable reasons), it would have been inappropriate for the church to have "called police to file a complaint" over what was then a rumor from an untrustworthy source with no substantiating witnesses. However, the individual under suspicion was most certainly and swiftly relieved of all leadership roles when these concerns were voiced directly.

We trust that in our "positions of trust," we will let due process unfold rather than react to blatant accusations. Personally, I know and trust in the integrity of my colleague, the Rev. Temple Hayes, and the wise and caring congregation at First Unity Church.

The Rev. Leddy Hammock, senior minister, Unity Church of Clearwater

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Hope for peace

The recent meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives hope for Middle East peace. Israel agreed to allow more goods into Gaza. Netanyahu would accept a peaceful Palestinian state which would recognize that the Jewish people have a historic right to the Promised Land.

It is time for the media to stop portraying the Palestinians as an oppressed people. It is a fact that they are adept at crying. Their culture even has professional mourners.

Norman N. Gross, Ph.D., Tampa