On Thursday, students from USF will join hundreds of youths from across Florida to converge on the Capitol in Tallahassee for the #SolarUprising to demand that Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature act now to unlock the solar market in Florida. Florida has 9 million electricity customers but fewer than 6,000 customer-owned solar energy systems. New Jersey, with less than half the population and a much weaker solar resource, has 25,000 solar systems - four times that of Florida.
As a young voter and student at the University of South Florida, I am appalled by a recent report that power companies have contributed more than $12 million lobbying the Legislature in the past five years. Florida Power & Light has as many as 33 lobbyists walking the halls of the Capitol. I cannot hire a lobbyist to stand up for my interests as a constituent - though it seems that is the only way the politicians in Tallahassee will listen. What will it take for Scott and our Legislature to stand up for the people and not big polluters?
I am mobilizing more than 50 of my peers to join me in Tallahassee on Thursday to stand up to our elected officials in this #SolarUprising. I believe that people, especially the youth constituency, have the power to shape our state energy economy and ensure it is social, just and sustainable.
Shaza Hussein, Tampa
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Offer deals for seniors
The poor attendance at home games after Opening Day came as no surprise to me. It's not the stadium, which I find comfortable and fun. It's not the players, who always play hard and are quite talented. It's the total price of going to a game.
I'm a retired guy who loves baseball. I'm lucky; I can afford to go to maybe six games a season. Typically, when I go to a Rays game, I pay $50 each for two seats, $20 for parking and about $30 for lunch or dinner, plus snacks. So, $150 in all; $900 for the season.
I am but one of tens of thousands of retirees who make up a large part of the Rays' potential market. Most would love to go to multiple games a year but cannot afford it. I understand that the Rays charge less than in other markets, but those markets are different. Retirees rule here.
The Rays need to make it easier and cheaper for seniors to attend by offering senior discounts for tickets, come-early free parking at the stadium for cars with two or more seniors (the team makes up the loss in food), and 55-plus seating sections in good locations. Free or cheap buses for seniors from distant areas such as North Pinellas and Hillsborough counties would be a big draw during the workweek, which is when Rays attendance is low.
I would guess that the Rays would get at least a 5,000-person bump if they made everything senior-friendly.
William F. Smith, Tampa
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No license, Lyft hits roads - April 5
Lyft's ride-sharing service should be welcomed and embraced by Tampa and its Public Transportation Commission. This is a much-needed transportation service that generates jobs, income and taxes, and provides an alternative to those who are impaired, keeping the roads safer for all of us.
Instead of condemning and discouraging this service, Tampa should set the example for other bay area cities and showcase Lyft as another affordable Tampa transportation service for its residents and visitors alike. This service works well in San Francisco and is a welcome alternative when other public services are unavailable. I'm glad to see Lyft chose Tampa.
Ken Gagliano, Clearwater
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Stop the demeaning treatment - April 6, letter
Teach children respect
The letter writer blames the many problems facing her community on the police force. The blame lies in their own homes. The lack of respect for law enforcement is directly due to parents who do not teach their children respect. Just listen to the gangsta rap pervasive in the community - the lyrics, if you can call them that, are horrible.
If I was a parent in that community, that would be where I would start to teach my child. I would forbid them from listening to music that teaches them only a lack of respect for women, law enforcement and decent behavior.
Frederick Greene, Clearwater
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Democracy put up for sale - April 4, editorial
Variations on a theme
It was striking to note the interconnection of the three adjoining articles in the opinion section on April 4: "Democracy put up for sale," "Gap in wealth is even wider than we thought" and "Legislators roll over, fetch for utilities." The last sentence in the middle article captures the essence of these articles: "At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this is how an aristocracy gets built."
Robert Majewski, Sun City Center
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Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, Congress should pass a bill that all contributions over $200 to candidates for federal offices must be reported within 48 hours to a website set up for this purpose. The website would be open to everyone to read. At least we would know where the money was coming from.
It would be a good idea for the states to have a similar law.
Ken Leiser, Seminole
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Century mark - April 5
An inspiring story
My hat is off to Newton Murray for demonstrating tremendous dedication and work ethic. I'm equally impressed with John Stephens, owner of Bama Sea Products, who sees the value in retaining such a dedicated worker.
Thanks to the Times for this article. Reading it was a great start to my day.
Mary Wilder, Clearwater
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I enjoyed the article about Newton Murray. However, the article states: "He has seen so much in his lifetime: the first car, first airplane, first black president." While Mr. Murray has no doubt seen a lot in his lifetime, both cars and airplanes were in existence before 1914.
Michael Tevault, Pinellas Park