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Conservation shouldn't be our long-term energy strategy

Letters to the Editor
Published February 20, 2006

Re: Conservation is key to independence, editorial, Feb. 13.

While I applaud the Times for its comments on energy conservation, the notion of conservation as a means to energy independence is simplistic and dangerous - both geopolitically and economically. Conservation must be viewed as a vital stop-gap measure until a true combustible alternative to petroleum is commercially viable. It should not be viewed as the long-term energy play for this country.

The president's timeline for energy independence is a joke. Over the next 20 years any conservation benefit introduced in the United States will be far outweighed by the increased demand of developing countries, led by China. If in the next 10 years something isn't done to dramatically alter the global energy supply-demand equation, consumers will be staring at gasoline prices of $10 to $12 a gallon - a sum that will drive significantly higher inflation, injure national competitiveness and further deplete the wealth of all Americans.

Unfortunately, oil companies (and the politicians who are influenced by them) cannot be trusted to drive the transition to a nonpetroleum energy solution. Simple economics tells us that as the supply dwindles the price increases. As such, oil companies and their stockholders have every financial incentive to sit on their oil reserves and maintain the status quo.

-- R. Perry, Treasure Island

A transportation alternative derailed

Re: Conserving is the key to independence.

While President Bush finally made an attempt at steering the United States away from dependence on foreign oil through conservation and research on new technologies, he should take a serious look at brother Jeb's policies in Florida.

Gov. Bush took away from Floridians a major alternative transportation choice by squashing the high-speed rail effort. Through scare tactics, he led the voters into repealing a high-speed rail alternative, thereby eliminating the citizen's choice for a clean way of traveling and forcing people to remain car-bound and stuck on oil!

-- Dianne Franz, Palm Harbor

Not what I said

Re: Tribune sues Times over tabloid name, Feb. 18.

Your reporter Kris Hundley apparently mis-heard me Friday when we talked. I read her a statement that clearly said, "The Tampa Times has been ours for a long time." She wrote I said Tampa Bay Times. That is incorrect. I am fully aware of the patent history of the Tampa Bay Times.

-- Gil Thelen, publisher, Tampa Tribune

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ms. Hundley's notes and memory of the interview support her original reporting.

New building is an asset

Re: Small job brings big building, Feb. 14.

The answer to whether the Expressway Authority's new building is worth it is a resounding yes! We have prudently partnered with local government and others to 1) bring back state dollars to the local community; 2) improve local coordination and communication; and 3) keep each driver as safe as possible with cutting-edge technology.

Safety will always be of paramount concern to all. We decided early on to invest in sophisticated technology to operate, coordinate and monitor daily operations. It would have been foolhardy not to use state grant dollars to create the appropriate facility to house our efforts.

In a very few months, the reversible express lanes will be open to the public. With the repair plan nearly complete and successful, the overall lane capacity in Hillsborough County will be increased by 150 percent, creating six new lanes and greatly improving the quality of life for all of our citizens.

-- J. Thomas Gibbs, chair, Tampa Hillsborough County Expressway Authority, Tampa

Martinez's shameful shift

Re: Senator changes mind on Schiavo, Feb. 12.

I am appalled at Republicans who have abandoned those of us who saw the Terri Schiavo case for what it was: a suspicious fight to end a woman's life. The malpractice money, the controlling, estranged husband, and the conflicts of interests involved were all red flags for those of us who otherwise would have stayed out of this private family decision. Sen. Mel Martinez makes me ashamed to be a Republican!

-- Patricia J. Pearlman, Largo

Flip-flopping vs. changing minds

Re: Senator changes mind on Schiavo.

After reading the article on Mel Martinez, I had to ask myself a question.

If he were a Democrat, would he be considered a "flip-flopper"? I guess only Republicans have the right to change their minds.

-- Bill Lemieux, St. Petersburg

Stereotyping public defenders

Re: The $40 lawyer.

It is regretable that these articles perpetuate the stereotype regarding public defenders that so many have fought so hard to overcome. I have been involved with public defenders for more than 30 years. During that time, I have seen innumerable dedicated, extremely competent and caring attorneys who simply do not fit the stereotype that you perpetuated.

I understand the goal of going from "ugly duckling" to "emerging swan." While an admirable goal, the undue emphasis on the ugly aspect undid the positives and was extremely unfair to the many dedicated professionals in the public defender offices throughout the state.

-- Bob Dillinger, public defender, 6th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Clearwater

Delivering telegrams around town

Re: Western Union telegrams STOP, Feb. 2.

Yikes! No more singing telegrams or any other, for that matter. I'm sad to note the passing of Western Union delivery - another piece of small-town history gone.

In the 1950s (a great time to grow up), Western Union telegram bike delivery was a popular job for teenage boys, for which we received the handsome sum of about 50 cents an hour. My brother Larry and I had the unforgettable experience of working for manager Tom Gray (a legend in his time), a physical giant of a man who was about 6 feet 5 and not slim. We were amazed at his knowledge of St. Petersburg streets and avenues.

Recently I drove up and down the alleys of Charles Court S, where new townhouses now stand. I recalled those delivery days up and down the little narrow brick alleys and tiny residences. Tom Gray handed his riders a stack of telegrams, routing us to the extreme north or south sides of the city and systematically returning us to the office, never having to go a block out of our way. Also (pleasant to note), whether day or night, safety was never an issue.

St. Petersburg was a great place to grow up in the '50s. I'm proud to be a native son!

-- Ross M. Lew, St. Petersburg

[Last modified February 20, 2006, 04:00:22]

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