Letters to the Editors
Clean Power Act has consequences
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002
Martin Dyckman's column lavishes the proposed Clean Power Act with praise, but fails to mention the severe economic consequences this legislation would have on Florida and the country.
Rather than listen to the hot air Dyckman is spouting about global warming and his dire predictions about rising sea levels, Sen. Bob Graham and other members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee would be better advised to take a closer look at the draconian emissions reduction requirements of the Clean Power Act.
This bill would impose unrealistic and economically devastating new limits on fossil fuel power plants and many manufacturers, and it threatens to drive up manufacturing and electricity prices in Florida.
If this bill becomes law, every power plant that uses coal to generate electricity would be forced to install extremely expensive new pollution control equipment, switch from using coal to natural gas, or shut down altogether. Any one of these options would mean significantly higher electricity bills or unreliable supplies of power.
This will have a direct impact on the economy in Florida, which gets more than a third of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. Overall, coal provides 52 percent of the nation's electricity, and it is the domestic source of power best suited to meet America's growing demand for electricity, which is projected to increase by 45 percent during the next 20 years.
The fact is that our nation's air quality has improved while using coal, our most abundant fossil fuel, to deliver affordable and reliable electricity to families and businesses. Emissions of key air pollutants have been cut by 30 percent since 1970, according to recent congressional testimony by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
This is not a debate about whether or not we improve the nation's air quality. Clearly, we should. Nor is this a debate about choosing between clean air and economic growth and vitality. We must have both. The Clean Power Act (S.556), though, is bad for our economy, jobs and families.
FCAT is not a solution
Re: Education debate needs more ideas and less politics, by Philip Gailey, June 23.
I couldn't agree more with Philip Gailey. The future of our state and our nation is dependent upon quality education for all our citizens, a fact that is indisputable and theoretically beyond ideological blinders or political expediency.
The fundamental problem with the FCAT, in my view, rests not with the concept that quantifiable, measurable standards are needed. This is certainly an important component of education. But it is indeed a "component," and an unfortunate byproduct of the FCAT is that it presents a strong temptation for school districts to teach to a test. Individual needs of students take a back seat in favor of the collective "performance" of a school district. Since the FCAT is important to a school district's funding and rating, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see FCAT scores being manipulated in some form, or used as a means of influence.
Beyond this, however, any emphasis on a test score conveniently ignores the socioeconomic factors and others that influence effective education. It is certainly true that we need better paid teachers (many of whom hold down two or three jobs to make ends meet), as well as innovative administrators. The FCAT does nothing about the former and actually mitigates against the latter: How innovative can administrators be when they are promoting test performance over a more accurate assessment of knowledge?
There are children here in Florida, and nationwide, who do not have their own bed to sleep in at night; who lack adequate nutrition and sleep; who live their lives outside of school with a complete absence of positive role models. These factors certainly influence learning.
In the final analysis, education does not exist in a social vacuum. What legislators and government officials, whether Republican or Democratic, have consistently failed to learn is that top-down initiatives like the FCAT do not get at the root causes of problems.
FCAT does not solve existing problems relating to the education of our children any more than welfare was successful in eliminating poverty. Unless and until our officials cease micromanagement and promoting good-sounding initiatives that serve only as political fodder, we will continue to have endless political debates that, in the words of Shakespeare, are simply "sound and fury signifying nothing."
Not a reflection of skill
Re: Suits mount against surgeon, by William R. Levesque, June 23.
I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Michael Butler professionally for well over two years. In my job, it is my responsibility to ensure that all patients, regardless of the surgeon, are well-informed and aware of their respective surgical intervention. I also maintain the responsibility of ensuring that certain chart criteria have been met before the patient has surgery.
I have never witnessed Dr. Butler allowing a patient to undergo bariatric surgery without meeting with him or her immediately prior to surgery to answer questions or address concerns. Each patient is well aware of the increased risk due to his or her underlying medical conditions -- e.g., hypertension, diabetes, impaired circulation and decreased lung capacity -- before undergoing this risky procedure.
Historically, these patients are not healthy before bariatric surgery. However, due to their voiced concerns regarding their quality of life and health, they make an informed decision to have this high-risk surgery.
Dr. Butler's patients' charts are always in order. Necessary tests are always available for review by the surgical team before surgery. I have personally never witnessed Dr. Butler not being the consummate professional. I would not hesitate in allowing Dr. Butler to perform surgery on me or my family.
Litigation should not be a measure of skill nor should it be allowed to malign a dedicated surgeon's reputation. Unfortunately, not all surgical intervention has the desired positive outcome. This does not always reflect a surgeon's skill. There are times when insurmountable odds are just that -- insurmountable.
Print the positive side
Re: Suits mount against surgeon, June 23.
I found this article to be extremely unfair and negatively biased toward Dr. Butler. If you are going to print the facts, then print all of the facts. No statistics were printed about how many patients lives were saved due to Dr. Butler's work. Obesity surgery has an average 1 percent mortality rate. Dr. Butler has performed obesity surgery on more than 6,000 patients, so one can do the math.
I, for one, consider Dr. Butler to be a pioneer in his field, taking on patients that other doctors choose not to due to risk. If you were to take a survey of Dr. Butler's patients, I guarantee you will find less than 1 percent are unhappy with the results that he has provided. He has given me, and many others, a new lease on life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Palms of Pasadena hospital has also improved lives by supporting Dr. Butler and providing outstanding care to Dr. Butler's patients.
I would like to see an article printed that includes the positive side of weight loss surgery. Include some testimonials from those of us who consider Dr. Butler a lifesaver.
This is just the beginning
Re: Case of Dr. Mudd could put to rest question of military trials for civilians, by Robyn E. Blumner, June 23.
Dr. Samuel Mudd's story is fairly well-known, although I didn't realize family members were still trying to exonerate him.
In his case, though, if he was ignorant of Abraham Lincoln's murder, as seems likely, the error was doubly tragic as the war was over. Our present war against secretive, ruthless, Islamic terrorism is just beginning.
While the casualties of the bloody Civil War were enormous, requiring extreme measures to bring it to a conclusion, our present war could be almost as bloody, as already shown on Sept. 11. It may require even more extreme measures to win, as Islamic fanaticism is far greater than anything in the Civil War.
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From the Times
Robyn E. Blumner