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  1. Letters to the Editor

Saturday's letters: Storm-proofing Florida's electric grid

Florida policymakers are wisely working on solutions to improve the resiliency of the state's electric grid by advancing bipartisan legislation to create a long-term, comprehensive approach to storm hardening.

SB 796/HB 797 recognizes that making an upfront investment in resiliency will protect Floridians' power supply and their pocketbooks.

The legislation lengthens the duration of utility storm-hardening plans submitted to the Public Service Commission from three years to 10 and allows utilities to assess a storm protection recovery clause to make these needed investments in grid resiliency.

Hardening and resiliency measures would be more effectively deployed under the 10-year plans created by the bill. What's more, the legislation directs hardening efforts to focus on the areas of greatest need, meaning the neighborhoods most vulnerable to outages — irrespective of income — take priority.

We know hardening is a worthy investment for consumers because the data proves it works. A July 2018 PSC report found marked improvement in power restoration times between the 2004-2005 and 2016-2017 hurricane seasons.

These improved restoration times are critical to Florida's economy. Hurricane Irma caused $51 billion in damages and knocked out power to nearly two-thirds of the state. The economic costs mount every day the power is out.

Opponents falsely claim the bill will give utilities a blank check to raise rates. In fact, this legislation increases transparency and accountability for consumers by requiring the PSC to annually review and approve, reject, or modify the utilities' hardening costs.

Florida consumers enjoy rates at or below the national average. Nothing in this bill will change that or weaken PSC oversight.

Florida cannot wait for the next storm to prepare. Investments in storm hardening and resiliency are necessary to protect consumers and businesses when disaster strikes.

Making these prudent investments in resiliency will pay off for Floridians.

Paul Griffin

The writer is the executive director of Energy Fairness, a national non-profit energy policy group.

How Jewish leaders feel about WMNF now | Column, April 23

Two very different phrases

I don't know Craig Kopp, the departed station manager of WMNF radio, nor the Jewish Community Relations Council authors of this column. But the logical shortcomings of their recent statements suggest the presence of bias.

In the first place, Kopp and company make the mistake of conflating "anti-Semitism" with "anti-Zionism." The former is a personal animus toward Jews (as per the infamous "alt-right" chant at Charlottesville: "Jews will not replace us!"). The latter is opposition to Zionism, an ideology that holds that Jews are divinely entitled to all of the lands they claim as "Greater Israel."

WMNF, being true to its mission statement to support social justice, has advocated for the human rights of Palestinians, and this has created a backlash from pro-Zionists who are quick to shout "anti-Semite" as a means of marginalizing and silencing those with whom they disagree. We see this, too, in the manner in which certain congresswomen are called out for promoting Palestinian rights.

Second, it is disingenuous for Kopp et al to suggest that their proposed program would reflect the voice of Jews, whose views on Israel/Palestine are just as varied as those of Americans at large.

Rather, we can surmise that their program would be just another pro-Zionist entry in the pantheon of rhetoric on the subject as promoted relentlessly by the Netanyahu and Trump administrations as well as their media organs at Fox News and elsewhere in the corporate media.

One can see value in a program that presents all sides of the argument within the Jewish community, but to submit to the demands of these biased sources would be foolhardy and fly in the face of WMNF's critical mission.

L.E. Brinkley, St. Petersburg

A question of balance

The unfortunate maligning of Rob Lorei, a founder of WMNF, and of the station's programming committee merit a rational response, not an emotional one. How many listeners and viewers in our country know the Palestinian side of the conflict with Israel? "Anti-Semitism" is a word that can be carelessly misused. Craig Kopp, who resigned as station manager, labels the station's refusal to have a second Jewish program a "closed system," which by its very nature is "anti-Semitic." It is irrational to assert that criticism of the Zionist state of Israel is anti-Semitic, but it is rational to say that such criticism is anti-Zionist. The former is of an ethnic nature, while the later — anti-Zionist — is of a political nature, ergo, the reason why anti-Zionism cannot be equated with anti-Semitism.

Steve Schwersky, the 13-year host of the WMNF show Sunday Simcha, complained that the refusal for a second Jewish show was "to limit his opportunities to defend Israel's right to defend itself."

That same right of defense is denied by Israel to the Palestinians. Where is the "balance"? Having a large and modern army enables Israel to defend itself most adequately against any international or domestic threat with total, unequivocal support from the United States. One cannot balance injustice with justice.

Arthur Hebert, Largo

The Mueller report

Make Russia great again?

The one question not addressed, nor answered by the Mueller report is: Why was Russia working so hard to get Donald Trump elected? To make America great again?

Chris White, Tampa

Mueller, that's the ticket!

Oh, let's just face it: Robert Mueller for president!

Don Hayes, Tampa

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