1. Letters to the Editor

Thursday's letters: Red flags missed in sinkhole article

Published Feb. 15, 2017


Red flags missed in rush to print

A Feb. 10 article in the Tampa Bay Times headlined, "Mosaic, state should have seen sinkhole forming, experts say," misreports facts about water levels at the Mosaic Fertilizer facility in New Wales in 2015. It begins and concludes with the notion that Mosaic Fertilizer should have known about the 2016 sinkhole more than a year earlier because of fluctuations in the aquifer.

We believe the Times rushed the story to print. Then it was quickly revealed that those making the allegations did not understand the data they were reviewing, and those parties subsequently acknowledged their conclusions were wrong. Those allegations were discredited by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Mosaic Fertilizer.

People who bring wild claims of wrongdoing to the press should be made to prove their allegations before they're given the bully pulpit.

In this case, that did not happen and there were several red flags that should have given pause to the reporter.

Red flag: The monitoring wells the sources cited are not located in the vicinity of the gypsum stack in question.

Red flag: The rise in water levels was not a surprise and or alarming. They were planned and reported to DEP.

Red flag: The sources proffering the allegations are opposed to the phosphate industry in Florida.

We even cautioned the reporter against writing a story based on those data, but our concerns were disregarded.

Would the Times have rushed to print an article, without verifying the legitimacy of a claim, if Mosaic was their only source?

Likely not.

We hope this incident creates a constructive dialogue within the newsroom in St. Petersburg and that the result is a stronger adherence to the principles of responsible journalism.

Eileen Stuart, vice president, public affairs/phosphates, Mosaic Fertilizer

Hopes dashed, hearts broken | Feb. 12

Shift focus to adoption

I find it extremely sad that a Riverview couple had to remortgage their home and pay $12,000 to an adoption agency only to lose the money and have their hopes dashed and hearts broken when the agency went bankrupt. Finding that their tragic experience is shared by thousands of couples makes it even more heartbreaking.

At the same time, according to numbers reported by Planned Parenthood, that organization performed 327,653 abortions and provided 1,880 adoption referrals in 2014. Just think, if Planned Parenthood had put more emphasis on adoption counseling and invested more of the federal tax dollars they receive each year into adoption referrals, those tens of thousands of couples may not have had their hopes dashed and hearts broken.

Don Ottinger, Tampa

Planned Parenthood

Protesting for love, life

One might ask what inspires prolife advocates to gather at Planned Parenthood facilities across America like we did this past Saturday. In reality, it comes down to one word: love. We gather because we have a love for innocent unborn children, regardless of his or her stage of development. We gather because of a love for mothers who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy and feel they have no one and nowhere to turn to for help. We gather because of a love for women who carry the emotional pain from the decision to proceed with an abortion that they now regret. We gather with a love for Planned Parenthood employees who wrestle with the weight of a job they are now beginning to question.

Where does this love — a love that unites Catholics and Protestants as brothers and sisters to be a voice for the voiceless — come from? The answer is simple. As scripture says, "We love, because He (Jesus Christ) first loved us."

Terry Senhauser, Dover

Crowd vocal on health care | Feb. 12

Doing his public service

In successive weeks, at two separate packed town halls, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, has proactively met and listened to many people just like you and me, who presented him with a diverse array of strongly held opinions about how he and the 534 other representatives and senators should approach any changes to the Affordable Care Act.

After hosting one town hall where he met hundreds of passionate constituents, followed by headlines of several raucous town hall meetings around the country and reports of many more being canceled by his colleagues, it would have been easy for Bilirakis to say he had done his duty and not held any additional listening sessions. Instead, he showed up again. He even promised to hold more sessions. How many members from the rest of the Tampa Bay (or Florida) congressional delegation have so publicly sought input from their constituents knowing full well the passions that this debate stirs?

At a time when too many elected officials are afraid of facing their constituents, Bilirakis has set an example of a public servant to be appreciated in Tampa Bay.

Richard Hoar, Tarpon Springs

GOP official will not resign | Feb. 14

Offensive and intolerable

In watching video from Rep. Gus Bilirakis' town hall meeting on the Affordable Care Act, what truly alarmed me was not just the "alternative fact" that GOP official Bill Akins unfortunately chose to resurrect regarding "death panels." It was also that when he said this and then rudely scolded those who disagreed by calling them "children," Bilirakis said nothing to dispel this misconception nor did he reprimand Akins for his disrespectful choice of words.

What makes this situation even more disconcerting is that after the disgusting racist posts Akins has made on Facebook were revealed, the Pasco Republican Executive Committee did not immediately remove him as secretary. By not taking such action, it tacitly implies that the Republican Party of Pasco condones Akins' words.

John Honoski, Trinity