Sunday's letters: Stop burning of sugar cane near the Everglades

Published July 13, 2018

Florida's land of black snow | Bill Maxwell column, July 1

Don't burn sugar cane, period

In this column, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King got a lot of things right about how sugarcane burning negatively impacts the Glades communities with one enormous caveat: The outdated, toxic and unjust practice of pre-harvest sugar field burning in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area should be stopped rather than studied. No one in the Glades should continue to experience the six to eight months of smoke and ash, the already well-documented threats to public health, the cost of clean-up or the limitations burning puts on the local economy, while the practice is studied.

It is time to apply the rules for eastern Palm Beach County residents (no burning when the wind blows toward eastern Palm Beach County) to everyone (no burning when the wind blows in any direction). That means stop burning, period.

We know there is an alternative to burning because Florida's sugar producers already use "green harvesting" when it is convenient for them. We also know green harvesting is used by the world's largest sugarcane producers. Studying the practice in Florida would just kick the resolution can down the road and prolong the ill effects of sugar field burning on some of the state's most vulnerable citizens.

If you want to study something, then study how much valuable vegetative material has gone up in smoke every year that could have otherwise been used to create jobs in the Glades and even more profit for sugar producers. Be a good neighbor, Big Sugar, and stop blowing smoke.

Patrick Ferguson, Belle Glade

The writer is the Sierra Club organizing representative for the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign.

Facts and fears | Floridian, July 8

The immigration debate

This factual and data-backed article on the immigration debate exposes that much of the noise on this issue coming from the White House (and now one of our candidates for governor) is distorted, not factual — and some downright lies. Unfortunately, many of those who support the current president will ignore the facts and truths of this article while continuing to embrace the false statements and untruths that confirm their biases. Now, incredibly, the current agriculture commissioner is on the campaign against illegal immigrants. Conservative estimates indicate that approximately 70 percent of Florida's field workers are illegal. So after we go get them and deport them, let's sit back and watch the strawberries, blueberries, oranges, tomatoes, etc., rot in the fields. There is a great deal of obvious hypocrisy here.

Donald Ruths, Brooksville

Council grounds aerial artwork | July 13

Safeguard the waterfront

St. Petersburg behaves very oddly for a city that prides itself on preserving its waterfront views. First came the Mahaffey and a grotesque parking garage, entirely blocking the South Marina from view. Then, the Tampa Bay Rowdies were allowed to shroud the chain-link fences around Al Lang Field in Army-green plastic, blocking what used to be a lovely view of the waterfront across the grass field. And until Thursday, Spa Beach was in danger of being marred by an installation. Nice idea, but wrong place. A frequent visitor to Hawaii over 60 years, I watched as Honolulu ate up bits and pieces of Waikiki Beach, until it has virtually vanished. St. Petersburg is in danger of heading in the same direction.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

The hunter becomes the
hunted | Let's Talk, July 8

Trophy hunter's just deserts

Is Tess Talley, the woman who killed the giraffe, a hunter, or a conceited sort? Kentucky to South Africa is approximately 8,346 miles. This woman must be financially stable. Plus to go on a guided hunt as well? Nature has a way of controlling all animals in Africa. There is a reason why animals act the way they do.

She states she received many thousands of angry messages and death threats. What did she expect, balloons? I wonder how the people in Kentucky received her. She has been dubbed the "White American Savage." I couldn't say it any better.

Steve Cataldi, New Port Richey

Let's not confuse civility with
surrender | Column, July 1

Be nice but not silent

Bravo to Connie Schultz for her thoughtful, clear and unambiguous column about civility in today's political climate and what really happened when the Red Hen restaurant asked White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders to leave (a quiet, non-public request).

The issue, Schultz says, is that "civility requires mutual respect." Why, she asks, should someone who has been demeaned, threatened and disrespected in countless ways feel like being friendly and respectful to the person or people who have done so?

Indeed, that smacks of the subservient "yes sir, no sir" of the conquered or enslaved. We must stand up to bullies, and we must do it without becoming bullies ourselves.

But that does not mean letting "good manners" silence us in the face of the horrific harm being done by bigoted, power-hungry leaders.

Stand up and speak out. It's the right thing to do.

Bonnie Navin, Tampa

On the border, two Laredos
prefer bridges | July 8

Bridges, not walls

So residents of Laredo, Texas, prefer bridges on the Mexican border. Imagine that!

This is consistent with a reported general trend that American citizens who are most worried about immigrants live in locations where they never actually encounter immigrants. You know, those places Donald Trump holds rallies.

The outcry that hordes from south of the border are storming the gates of America, causing an existential threat to our society is a fear-mongering falsehood that is repeated to score cheap political points.

Jonathan Jaberg, Largo