Fireworks taken off burning ban | June 1
A foolish decision
Only three members of the Hillsborough Emergency Policy Group exempted the use of fireworks from the ban on open burning, and four other members were not at the meeting. How does the sale of fireworks benefit? Businesses make money, I get that. Emergency rooms make money also from fools that shoot them off who shouldn't.
Can we get real serious about the recent wildfires? And how does a fire start? Just one spark. How dry is it? It's too dry. I work very hard to have a nice residence, and I would hate to think of the consequences if one spark from fireworks landed on my roof and caused a fire.
As far as the Fourth of July "requiring" fireworks, here's a suggestion for Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, who voted as a member of the policy group to exempt fireworks from the ban. Abide by the laws, and cook out with friends and family.
Kenny Byrd, Tampa
Standoff on health care gets critical | May 31
Two sides to stalemate
The majority of opinions on the stalemate between Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg and UnitedHealthcare portray the hospital as the good guy and places the blame on the greed of the insurance company. The other side of the coin is that if insurance companies agreed to every provider demand, premiums would increase astronomically.
The accusation that insurance companies are motivated by greed in provider negotiations is a red herring, since reimbursement rates are largely a pass-through expense. Unrestricted increases in rates would have a grave effect on their premiums and out-of-pocket expenses of sponsors and individual participants alike.
It takes two sides to reach agreement. Because All Children's is medically indispensable in the community does not obligate United to agree to an exorbitant increase in reimbursement rates. The drama resulting from providers and insurance companies reaching impasse regularly plays out across the United States every month, and unless the government decides to intercede in the free market system, it will continue.
Charles Stewart, New Port Richey
To Jolly, opposing Trump is only right | June 2
Jolly changes tone
From the time former U.S. Rep. David Jolly succeeded the late C.W. Bill Young in Congress, he talked and walked like a classic conservative Republican. But that was before his Pinellas congressional district was redrawn and significantly changed the political make-up, paving the way for Jolly to be defeated by former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Republican turned Democrat.
Jolly took a calculated risk criticizing the Republican Party's fundraising methods and proposing reforms. He sponsored legislation to make it an aggravating factor in death penalty cases if the victim was a law enforcement officer. He also was a strong voice for military veterans.
But now Jolly appears to be riding the wave of anti-Donald Trump sentiment instead of maintaining his core values. He forgets that public opinion is often unpredictable and changes with the political wind. Jolly is making a serious mistake by attacking the president in his television interviews.
Paul J. Marino, Largo
State limits local control
St. Petersburg is a city making incredible progress, attracting entrepreneurs, millennials, businesses and new residents every day. I believe part of that is due to the City Council's common sense local ordinances that reflect our community's values.
We've introduced apprenticeship and hard-to-hire requirements for larger local construction projects. We've prohibited fracking and enforced our wage theft ordinance, returning thousands in unpaid wages to workers. We've passed a strong anti-discrimination ordinance that is a key part of our city's identity as a welcoming city. And our city, along with 43 others, passed summer fertilizer restrictions that reduced the spread of red tide — before the state prevented other cities from doing so.
As a city, there's more that we'd like to do to keep residents and visitors safe and healthy, but our Florida Legislature has pre-empted us. We'd like to ban smoking in public, recreational areas. We'd like to amend our vacation rental ordinance, and prohibit polystyrene and plastic bags that pollute our pristine waterways. But lawmakers in Tallahassee have decided they know best, and routinely prevent cities and counties from passing local laws that our citizens want.
This is frustrating to everyone who pays local taxes and expects local representation. Fortunately, organizations like the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions and the Florida League of Cities are working to hold state legislators accountable. But those legislators would be wise to remember that the government closest to the people governs best.
Karl Nurse, St. Petersburg
The writer is a St. Petersburg City Council member.
A foolish decision on climate | Editorial, June 2
The Times' editorial criticizing President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement is unfortunate and based on some misconceptions. President Barack Obama did not submit the agreement to the Senate for approval. This exceeded his authority. Second, the developing nations, especially China and India, are doing little or nothing to limit carbon emissions under the Paris agreement. You can expect China to cover up any failure to reach its goals. Third, the U.S. withdrawal will only increase world carbon emissions by a small amount by 2030, a shortfall that could easily be made up with a modest effort by China and India.
And fourth, the outcome of any reduction is uncertain because climate science has been corrupted by government and industry financial support, and by grants and tax credits given by government, foundations and industry as a political response to global warming fears. We need an unbiased climate science center insulated from the politics of global warming and climate change
James Klapper, Oldsmar