U.S. is a leading global polluter | Nov. 1, letter
U.S. doing well curbing pollution
A recent letter labeled the United States a "leading global polluter." Online information shows that we add about 16 percent to the C02 emission totals, making us the second-largest C02 contributor. But it should be noted the United States also produces about 20 percent of the world's goods and services in the process, more than any other country.
Whether consumed or exported, China, with about 40 percent of the world's electric cars, still adds 28.2 percent to emission totals but produces only about 13 percent of global GDP. India adds 6 percent to emission levels and supplies 3 percent of global GDP.
Based on this, the United States appears to be making more progress than others in C02 management. Additional information shows that, currently, not one of the world's 500 most polluted cities is in the United States. I believe that before we tighten our environmental regulations further, all major contributors should match our progress in reducing emissions.
Climate emission understanding suggests the Earth produces and consumes even amounts of C02, balancing these levels over time. Man-made C02 adds significantly less than nature, but it's believed that only 60 percent of this is reabsorbed, leading to this gradual gas buildup. However, other science recognizes there are naturally occurring, periodic C02-level imbalances as the result of temperature changes or other natural causes that are contributors to consider.
Understanding any environmental impact will require belief in a common set of facts and figures created in an unbiased process by scientists, politicians and all affected parties.
Rick Nuyttens, Tarpon Springs
Hillsborough school district in financial, leadership crisis | Nov. 5, editorial
Keeping pay scale intact
While I agree with nearly all the points in this editorial concerning Hillsborough County public schools, there is one with which I take umbrage and hope to offer a brief rebuttal: "administrators spent too much money on teachers." As Marlene Sokol recently noted in one her articles, the district is the third-largest in Florida yet ranks eighth overall in average teacher salary. And, for added perspective, the Sunshine State ranks 39th in the United States for average teacher salary.
When the district administration bargained the current pay scale in 2013-14 to make restitution for the years of pay freezes during the Great Recession, it did so on the premise that it was sustainable and we were encouraged to give up tenure to increase our salaries. Therefore, it was incumbent upon our elected School Board members — especially those who sat on the dais when this contract was ratified — to ensure that money was properly allocated to keep the pay scale intact. Of their two statutory obligations, School Board members must oversee the budget, something they clearly have great difficulty doing in recent years. Rather than taking care of the people who work with children daily, some continue to splurge on travel, frivolously waste millions of taxpayer dollars, and get embroiled in scandal, all at the cost of employee morale, public trust and our students' education.
Although plenty of blame can be laid at the feet of our School Board members, the real culprits of the fiscal challenges faced by our district and others is the Legislature. Had it properly funded public education over the last decade — which is currently $1,100 less per pupil when adjusted for inflation — the Times wouldn't need to have written the editorial or print this reply.
Ryan Haczynski, Tampa
26 are slain in latest horror | Nov. 6
What needs to happen
Welcome to the United States of America, where on any given day, this time in a group of Texas worshippers in a small town, one can be gunned down by a madman with an assault-type weapon. Just a few short weeks ago it was concertgoers in Las Vegas. Of course this will happen again. When and where is anybody's guess.
Two things must happen for Americans to experience the freedoms that are allegedly granted to them.
1. Assault-type weapons or any attached gear that permits a weapon to be fired in rapid succession must be banned. That means the manufacture of such equipment is no longer permitted.
2. The 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which was written at a time when soldiers used muskets, and created for the purpose of ensuring a "well regulated militia," has been twisted to make sure nearly every American has the right to accumulate assault-type weapons and ammunition and thus undermine any commonsense gun legislation. It must be repealed. Then this "hook" that the NRA uses to continue to hang its hat, regardless of its effect on public safety, would be gone.
Joan Lund, Tampa
'Standing strong' is useless
It has happened yet again. This time, 26 people were killed in a Texas church. President Donald Trump, in yet another perfunctory statement, said that in a crisis "Americans will do what we do best: We pull together and join hands and lock arms and through the tears and sadness we stand strong."
Trump needs to learn that words are not enough and the suggested actions are ineffective. Standing strong is no strength at all, because it keeps happening again and again and again. How strong are we when our government does nothing but posture in mock sympathy and does nothing to stop it? When will we, as Americans, demand that enough is enough?
Betsy Clement, Dunedin
A public servant of firm beliefs | Nov. 4
High level of public service
I never laughed so hard as when I heard Joe Chillura reflecting on his race against Jan Platt: "It was like running against Mother Teresa." Those two stalwart Hillsborough County leaders at the turn of the century showed the area leadership's "deep bench" during the true glory days of Tampa's smartly planned growth.
The only thing I that I would add to Chillura's comment would be: If she was Mother Teresa, I would describe him as a candidate the caliber of Pope John Paul II.
Dale Kimball, Wesley Chapel