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Published Aug. 11, 2014

Hydration hub - July 27

This is a snapshot of our society, and how sad it is. On one hand, it sends a message that it's okay to go out and overindulge because I can have a needle stuck in my arm and make it better for $140. This is a medical procedure, and while everyone here is certified and trained, accidents and unexpected reactions will happen. This will unleash lawsuits. Hopefully, no one will be seriously injured. For those who do it as a fad, you obviously have way too much money. Share it. Don't inject it.

A.J. Broome, St. Petersburg

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Win for fast-food workers

July 30

Wage war won't work without cuts

My first job back in high school was at McDonald's. From there I proceeded to work at Wendy's and even Burger King. Even as a student, one thing became very apparent: These jobs were not intended to support families. They were minimum wage then and still are today. They provide a great look into the workforce and offer valuable lessons on punctuality, policies and procedures, money management and many other life lessons.

Back then the only people who looked at the job as full-time employment and career potential had aspirations of moving up through the ranks, gaining transferable management skills and, for a few, ultimately owning their own franchise someday. They were few and far between.

What I remember the most was the mantra constantly promoted by our managers "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean." Many McDonald's I walk into these days could use this lesson. I see people standing around behind the counter goofing around, texting and a number of other less productive actions, trying to look busy while I wait for about three people to process my order. My company pays our employees around $15 an hour, and if they exhibited many of the behaviors I see at fast-food restaurants, they would be unemployed.

Do these workers really believe there is an unlimited amount of cash sitting somewhere that $15 an hour can magically be drawn from? If forced on the franchisees, prices will quickly go up. Hours will be sharply cut to about 15 hours per person so benefits of any kind will not be paid. Business will drop drastically. The new mantra will be 15 for 15 for 15: $15 for 15 hours to make 15 Big Macs.

To the franchise owners I offer this: if this $15 wage is forced down your throat, call me. I'll show you where to get the money from, how to operate more efficiently and increase your quality control. Starting with the fry guy and the person that would make $15/hour swiping my credit card.

Joe Dietrich, Riverview

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Duke's high prices, bad service - July 27

Focus outrage on our Legislature

Duke Energy Florida deserves criticism for opposing meaningful energy efficiency goals, and the Public Service Commission deserves criticism for not holding utilities to a much higher standard. But the outrage should be directed at state legislators who control the PSC and refuse to repeal the 2006 law allowing utilities to bill customers in advance for nuclear power plants.

To be fair, it should be noted that Duke has higher rates because of Progress Energy, which botched the Crystal River nuclear plant upgrade and used the 2006 law to bill customers for preconstruction expenses related to the unnecessary Levy County nuclear plant. By acquiring Progress, Duke automatically acquired the obligation to deal with those problems. Duke acted responsibly by decommissioning Crystal River and canceling Levy.

The law allows costs associated with Duke's actions to be recovered through rate increases. If we voters don't like those laws, we should elect state legislators who agree with us. Frankly, I hope we do.

Thomas Eppes, Thonotosassa

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Lower energy conservation goals - July 24

Weaken efficiency at economic peril

Given the likelihood of rising fossil fuel prices in years to come and the certainty that they add to the CO2 and pollution problems, it doesn't take great insight to realize the more dependent we remain on fossil fuels, the poorer we will get. And the weaker our economy will become. Which makes it foolish, irresponsible and inexcusable for utilities to push for lower conservation goals and more fossil fuel-powered plants.

The power companies provide a litany of flawed reasons for their position.

For example, a lawyer for Duke Energy said energy efficiency measures "are simply not cost-effective. The low-hanging fruit is not available." Interesting, because the cost-effectiveness is debatable. One area where the "low-hanging fruit" is clearly gone is fossil fuels themselves. Also, renewable energy and efficient products are coming down in price as coal, oil and gas prices increase. And if not for large subsidies and tax breaks, not to mention passing off the huge costs of pollution to society, fossil fuels would be far more expensive, making efficiency measures that much more cost-effective.

They predict electricity demand will rise dramatically over the next decade, even though per capita use declined 12 percent in the last decade. Energy efficiency and conservation are here to stay. Why would there be a sudden boost in energy use? The economy may be showing signs of recovery, but nothing close to indicating a boom in energy use.

They say solar energy is not reliable. Better inform Germany, Japan, Massachusetts and New Jersey, for starters, as they have all gotten on the solar bandwagon in recent years.

As for the Public Service Commission, the board responsible for ensuring Florida consumers receive electricity in a reasonable and reliable manner, it prevented public input at a hearing because "the proceedings will be too technical." How difficult is it to understand that a continued reliance on fossil fuels will be detrimental to our economy, environment and the chances of arresting climate disruption?

There are alternatives, but Duke, TECO, FPL and the PSC are standing in the way. Shame on them.

Chip Thomas, Tampa

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