Outcry against Duke builds - Oct. 1
It is encouraging to see that some of the members of the Florida Legislature are finally getting serious about taking on Duke Energy. The actions they are proposing will be applauded by all of Duke's customers. Getting the bill passed will be a milestone.
Two things still bother me. First, repealing the original bill that allowed the utility to charge its customers in advance for new power plants would be good, but is there no way that we customers can be reimbursed for the money they have already stolen from us? Second, I notice the arrogance of utility spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau to state that once the legislation is filed Duke will be happy to review it. Who cares what Duke thinks of it? Why do they think they should have any input? The Florida Legislature is supposed to write and pass the bills, not them.
This entire fiasco with Duke's philosophy about charging customers for stupid errors like repairing the Crystal River plant by themselves and expecting customers to pay for building a new facility is preposterous. Duke is a public company and the aforementioned items should be the burden of the stockholders, not the customers. While we customers have been footing the bill for their absurd practices, their stockholders have been reaping all the benefits.
Thomas Varnum, North Redington Beach
* * *
Outcry against Duke builds - Oct. 1
Voters played for suckers
Amazing timing. Florida's Republican-led Legislature and its handpicked Public Service Commission have been instrumental in allowing Duke Energy (and its predecessor, Progress Energy) to pick its customers' pockets for decades.
Now the larceny has become so blatant that the voting public is finally getting fed up, and suddenly these same legislators who have been running interference for Duke Energy are making noise about "reining in" the company. Of course, an election is coming up.
No actual action can be taken until after the election, at which time it's a sure bet it'll be back to business as usual. Will the voters never recognize when they're being played for suckers?
Robert Sterling, St. Petersburg
* * *
Bill helps 'rest of us' anglers - Sept. 27, letter
Seafood for diners, too
The propaganda war is a tough war for commercial fishermen. They have a few trade publications and that's it. The recreational fishery has sports talk radio, many angler magazines and even a platform in the sports section of the local papers. The fight over allocations is pure politics, and the recreational sector can turn the truth upside down.
Florida has a long and proud tradition of eating seafood in restaurants overlooking the water from Pensacola to Key West and back up to Fernandina Beach. The commercial allocation is not for the commercial fisherman to eat; it is for the commercial fisherman to harvest. He brings the fish to market and the vast majority of citizens buy these fish in restaurants or markets.
These boats are heavily regulated. Every fish is counted at the dock. The vessels have monitoring equipment and the government knows where they are and when and where they will land.
The recreational sector's numbers are guesswork, and here's why they want to keep it that way. Take red grouper. The recreational allocation for red grouper equals about 200,000 fish. There is a four-fish bag limit. Do the math. Fifty-thousand anglers can catch the entire allocation in one trip. This puts the recreational sector between a rock and a hard place. They want to claim a million anglers, but what does that do to the bag limit? So how many can they claim - 25,000 catching eight fish a year; 10,000 catching 20 fish a year? There are 18 million people in Florida; do 10,000 or 25,000 anglers get all the fish?
The letter notes that the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management is headed by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and Maverick Boats president Scott Deal. These guys make their living selling big-boy toys. They simply want to sell more toys and no doubt they can afford to wine and dine those with the power to make it happen. So, unlike the letter writer, I believe the "rest of us" are the vast majority who eat seafood in restaurants, and I hope the regulators keep that in mind.
Mark Twinam, St. Petersburg
* * *
Group forming to plan for Rays - Oct. 2
The Tampa solution
The Times reported that the Cleveland Indians, with a much better home record than the Tampa Bay Rays, had the lowest total attendance in the major leagues this season. The Indians should be advised what everyone knows: The solution to their attendance problems is to build a stadium in Tampa.
John Donovan, St. Petersburg
* * *
Gay film fest succeeds, carries on - Sept. 30
I was flummoxed by Steve Persall's opening sentence today. A line in the sand is something one dares someone to cross with possible harm. Is he saying the organizers are bullies daring us to get beaten up? I thought they invited us all to watch films. I don't see the parallels and I dare say it is insulting to the organizers of the film festival and LGBT community.
Wendy Amato, St. Petersburg
* * *
Secret Service chief out - Oct. 2
I was a guide at the United States Pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair in New York, where I witnessed a very scary lapse in security by the Secret Service agents protecting President Lyndon Johnson.
A mere seven months after the assassination of President John Kennedy, a mistake by these agents made our pavilion unsecured as our president was about to enter. An elevator coming directly from the street to the inside of this cavernous building had not been secured and an agent, running to me, said, "We just learned about an outside elevator; can you show me where it is?" These agents had been in the building for many hours, had secured the perimeter and placed sharpshooters on adjacent roofs, but did not know where all the entries were.
This still mystifies me. And in all these years, it seems the agency has not become what should be the best security agency in the world.
Carolyn Hollins, Safety Harbor
* * *
Local hospitals ready for cases - Oct. 1
Troubling Ebola questions
One quote in this Times article describing how local hospitals are preparing for possible Ebola cases was very telling and disturbing. Dr Abdul Memon, chief medical officer for disaster preparedness at Jackson hospital in Miami, stated: "We knew according to the projection model that the U.S. would be getting our first case of Ebola the end of September or first of October." In other words, they were expecting Ebola to come here.
So what else does this projection model show? Apparently there is much more information available behind the scenes. Are our hospitals adequately prepared and trained to recognize this disease?
Deborah Green, Sun City Center
* * *
Transit and quality of life
Greenlight Pinellas addresses a basic problem - the affordability of transportation. AAA has reported that the average car costs $8,876 per year. A PSTA bus pass costs $780 a year. The difference is $8,096 in savings per year. That's one-quarter to one-third of many starting salaries or 10 months of payments on a $120,000 mortgage.
In recent years, Pinellas County has been losing its 30- to 40-year-olds. Why? How about being $8,096 more expensive than competing metro areas that have made significant transit investments? Affordable, effective transit is a key to our future. Want to keep taxes down? Don't push workers and taxpayers away.
Tom Kennedy, Clearwater
* * *
I got three pieces of mail today: one telling me how terrible Charlie Crist is and to vote for Rick Scott, another telling me how corrupt Scott is and to vote for Crist, and an ad from Wendy's.
Wendy's is starting to look really good.
Gareth Fales, Temple Terrace
* * *
Cost, in a word: outrageous - Oct. 2, editorial
President's wasteful visit
This editorial rails against the almost $100,000 wasted to build a special stage for President Barack Obama's address at MacDill Air Force Base a couple of weeks ago. And rightly so.
There was, however, a much greater waste of money associated with the visit. Obama flew into MacDill, his presentation was at MacDill, and he flew home from MacDill. There was no need to leave the security of the base. Yet he spent a night at a hotel in downtown Tampa.
This required a full-scale motorcade of armored SUVs, the usual entourage of Secret Service agents, traffic jams the night before and the morning after, inconvenience and probable loss of income for nearby businesses. For what? They couldn't find a comfy bed for Obama at MacDill?
Getting all those vehicles and personnel to MacDill from Washington surely required at least one, if not more, transport planes in addition to Air Force One. What did that cost? Probably millions, just so he could sleep downtown for one night. It seems the president's arrogance and sense of entitlement is exceeded only by his utter disdain for the American taxpayer.
Philip Thompson, Tierra Verde