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Today's Letters: Accept the facts on global climate change

Published March 31, 2007


State Sen. Carey Baker has expressed "discomfort" with accepting that human activity is to blame for global warming ("Global warming" makes senator uncomfortable, March 24, story). Well, senator, you may bullheadedly wish that it were not so, but humans are indeed to blame.

Following the senator's comments, it is we who should feel discomfort, a discomfort based upon the refusal of an elected official to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence. This refusal is discomfiting indeed.

The evidence of human causation of global warming is unanimously accepted in the scientific community. To believe otherwise is to believe in crackpot science.

The senator's apparent determination to ignore recognized scientific truth brings to mind the observation of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Monynihan: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts."

To elect such politicians or to return them to office poses a peril to the environment. We, and the Earth, deserve better than Sen. Baker seems able to offer.

William W. Douglas, St. Petersburg 

Property tax relief

Voters, stay alert

It appears Florida voters may be given the opportunity to vote on a property tax relief plan. Should that happen, serious caution should be exercised.

As we have seen in the past, many ballot initiatives have a great-sounding title, yet in the end create unwanted results. Cost-benefit factors are often involved. The class size amendment, which lacks needed flexibility, is an example. Then there is the high-speed rail amendment that was repealed after people became aware of the disproportionate cost relative to benefits. Also, there is the pigs in a pen amendment.

With the property tax issue, there are now so many unmanageable variations that a comprehensive reform is almost impossible to define. The proposal for a 2.5 percentage-point increase in the sales tax seems on the surface to be viable. Yet what guarantee will there be that if the tax does not meet expectations more taxes will not result?

How many of you believe that a reinstituted property tax will not surface while the higher sales tax remains in place? Do not believe it could not happen!

A major point in the property tax issue is that we pay our legislators to write laws. Why not let them do their job? Then if a law has unintended results, we can scold them and hopefully get the law revised or have it eliminated. Once an issue becomes part of our Constitution, revising or rescinding it becomes much more difficult.

Although we all want tax relief, new or rewritten laws and regulations generally result in another tug at taxpayers' pocketbooks. Any time a constitutional amendment is proposed, voters should make sure they understand the "so-called" fine print before marking the yes or no box on the ballot.

Robert E. Hagaman, Homosassa

For those up high, taxes hit hard March 29, story

There's no comparison

I cannot believe the St. Petersburg Times thinks the "plight" of someone like state Sen. Dennis Jones can compare to that of the "average Joe." If I had three large homes (and was in the process of building another), I suppose I would have enough money to pay my taxes and still buy food, gas and pay my bills. But like the vast majority of Floridians, I do not have such luxuries.

My home is a mere 1,100 square feet, in a nonevacuation, no-flood zone. My taxes were raised so high I had to refinance my home - my mortgage payment went from $735 to $1,202 per month. Now Nationwide Insurance is dropping my homeowners insurance and, of course, I will be stuck with Citizens at a much higher price. (I bring home $1,480 a month, by the way, as a nurse. Thank goodness my husband works!)

If something should happen to him, I hope that Sen. Jones and his colleagues save the cartons from the high-end appliances in those beautiful homes. They will be able to make good money renting them out to the rest of us to live in when we lose our homes.

By the way, I was born and raised right here in St. Petersburg and have owned homes for many years. I never thought I would even consider living in any other state. But what other options are we left with? Oh, yeah - the appliance cartons. That's because no one will buy our houses!

Deborah Virgil, St. Petersburg

For those up high, taxes hit hard March 29, story

Poor Sen. Jones

We would gladly make a donation to help poor Sen. Dennis Jones pay the taxes for his three homes, with another one being built! Unfortunately, we are struggling to pay the outrageous taxes and insurance for our one home.

Is this article supposed to make homeowners feel better? Well, in our case, it does not!

Bob and Barb Alexander, Largo

A crazy tax system March 24, letter

Tax cap is working

The letter writer seems to feel that the Save Our Homes tax cap is unfair in that it has caused the real estate taxes on his rental properties to be so much higher than those on his homestead property.

I must point out to him that the tax cap is doing exactly what it was intended to do - that is, protect his ability to keep his home. The tax cap is not designed to help underwrite his investments.

Joan Zawlocki, Seffner

Political attacks on Rep. C.W. Bill Young

Attack on Young is baseless

As chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on air and land forces, I was dismayed and outraged to learn of a totally baseless attack on the character and record of Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida regarding the care of wounded soldiers.

As a Democrat, I am embarrassed that the assault originated with the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party. I reject her comments completely. She certainly does not speak for me or anyone who has been privileged to know Bill Young and his wife, Beverly. I can attest that no member of Congress has done more personally or been more dedicated to the welfare of our wounded soldiers, both as a leader of the House Appropriations Committee and as a human being.

Bill and Beverly Young rarely mention their attentiveness to wounded servicemen and women. For years, they have been regular visitors to military hospitals. They have taken soldiers otherwise bereft of financial or emotional resources into their home. They have become a family to those without one. They have expected nothing in return and have asked for no credit. They do this out of love and respect for the sacrifices made by these young people.

As for politics, Bill Young, like all of us, is fair game. What is not fair or acceptable is to use the plight of injured American soldiers as the basis for scurrilous attacks. Those who hold Bill Young in the highest regard, who have deep personal affection for him and Beverly - and it is a very large list - feel so strongly because of their great humanity and compassion for all those who serve in the armed forces and who have given so much.

Neil Abercrombie, U.S. representative, 1st Congressional District, Hawaii

VA care fails

I served in the U.S. military from 1968 to 1970. I spent a year in Vietnam risking my life to serve this great country.

I am now totally disabled due to the injuries I suffered in the military and I cannot get proper treatment from the Bay Pines VA Medical Center.

They cancel required lab work with no explanation, they fail to send my prescribed medication in a timely manner and then when I requested a new primary care doctor, I had to beg before they would consider it. This was two months ago and I am still waiting for an appointment.

My health and well being are very important to me and I have decided to go somewhere other than the VA medical system to receive proper care. I would like to encourage everyone who reads this to contact your elected U.S. representatives and express your outrage over the way veterans are being treated. I do not know how else to get the word out.

Jeffrey W. Kenney, Seminole

Florida may go green through fertilizer limits March 29, story

An unlikely leader

I was pleased to read that Florida is considering limiting the phosphate content of landscape and agriculture fertilizer to lessen the polluting impact on our waterways. I was astonished to read that Florida will lead the nation in this effort.

Phosphate runoff creates algae blooms in ponds and lakes, necessitating the use of more chemicals, or algaecides, to help curb the blooms. Of course the fertilizer companies object to these findings. They have a product to sell, and we are year-round consumers of their product.

Florida is the state known for running to catch up with the times, not for innovation. Our public education system, transportation infrastructure and environmental policies lag behind those of most other states. A recent article in your newspaper about net-metering (the use of solar or alternative power to offset utility costs) indicates how efficient and cost-effective the program can be - in New York! We live in the "Sunshine State," but there is no statewide net-metering program offered, where the sun shines upward of 300 days per year.

I'm crossing my fingers that our officials will recognize this opportunity to lead the nation in this cause. Who knows? We may even get used to leading the way.

Diane Gallin, Tarpon Springs

Help Healthy Families work

Healthy Families Florida is the only state program proven to prevent child abuse before it begins, serving 13,000 high-risk families and sparing 21,000 children from injury, emotional trauma, developmental delay or worse. This nationally credentialed home-visiting program begins services during pregnancy and helps parents cope with challenges to providing positive, nurturing care.

Locally, Healthy Families is operated by the Pinellas County Health Department in collaboration with Family Service Centers, YWCA of Tampa Bay, Bayfront Medical Center, Morton Plant Mease Health Care, St. Petersburg General Hospital and Operation PAR, and serves 2,100 Pinellas families and their children annually.

An independent evaluation showed participants suffer 20 percent less child abuse/neglect than other families. Outcomes reveal improved health, parent-child interaction and self-sufficiency, thus avoiding costs from out-of-home care, special education, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency and substance abuse. Healthy Families has gone four years without any additional funding. Another year without an increase would severely compromise service quality.

Parents deserve our support. Healthy Families has made a real difference. Pinellas families need the Legislature to invest more to continue this great work.

Mary Jo Monahan, president/CEO, Family Service Centers Inc., Clearwater

One bad dog halts mail March 28, story

To control dangerous dogs

It has occurred to me that this unfortunate situation could have been avoided with a simple call to Animal Services.

If people are going to allow dangerous dogs to roam their neighborhoods without regard for children and other pets, they must expect to pay the consequences.

Why didn't one of these neighbors do the right thing and call for help when the animal first began terrorizing the block?

Willard L. Goode Jr., Gulfport

Support Gore's plan

Having recently watched An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's movie regarding global warming, I want to encourage everyone to support Al Gore's plan.

Global warming is accelerating faster than anyone expected. Before long it will be too late to reverse its effects, and our children and grandchildren will have to live with the disastrous consequences.

I am appalled that many of our politicians still don't believe this is happening. It is up to the United States to make major changes regarding energy consumption. Many smaller countries have already made significant improvements, but still the United States won't even sign the Kyoto treaty.

I implore all citizens to act on a personal level to help reduce global warming and also to encourage our politicians to support Al Gore's plan.

Enid J. Lythgoe, Dunedin

Global warming may get a price tag March 24, story

A disputed theory

This story on global warming repeats some of the misconceptions of the global warming extremists. Many scientists disagree with the recent U.N. study and with Al Gore's propaganda. The recent documentary by Britain's Channel 4, The Great Global Warming Swindle, shows quite clearly that there remains significant scientific dissent to the conclusions of the global warming alarmists and especially to the theory that carbon dioxide is the driving force behind the worldwide warming that has been recorded in the past century (except for a 35-40-year period from the 1940s to the 1970s, when there was a global cooling trend, giving rise to fears of a new ice age).

While global warming alarmists claim that any dissent to their theories is driven by financial gain by those dissidents from oil or coal companies, those who claim mankind is the cause of global warming gain their financial benefits from insurance companies and government grants. One needs to disregard the alleged financial gain and simply investigate the science behind the claims of each side.

Global warming has become a politically driven advocate issue that is fantastically exaggerated by nonscientists. Florida's insurance companies should not be allowed to gain extraordinary profits because of their embrace of this disputed theory.

Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg

Think of it as a way to save on gasoline March 29, Howard Troxler column

Guns, cars and rights

Howard Troxler's slant on guns in cars runs amok by trying to mix apples and oranges.

There simply is no valid comparison between what citizens may store in a privately owned vehicle parked on private property and what citizens may actively conjure up to advance political, commercial or social issues on that same private property.

The key to the issue of guns securely locked in private vehicles is that such action is passive and occurs within the physical boundary of that privately owned vehicle. Would it be acceptable, for example, for an employer to ban prounion literature from being kept in an employee's vehicle, and then demanding the right to search that vehicle for such literature, subjecting that employee to dismissal?

Substitute political literature, certain newspapers, books or Bibles, instead of prounion literature, and one gets the point. They are all legally owned private property kept within the confines of a locked private vehicle. No one has the right to deny such storage, much less the right to violate the constitutional prohibition of illegal search. Written materials are as specifically protected by the Constitution as is the right to keep and bear arms.

Our society does not tolerate illegal searches by law enforcement, much less by private businesses or individuals.

Those bent on criminal acts do not obey laws or company rules. Company rules or mall signs prohibiting firearms in vehicles serve no legitimate purpose. They do not prevent criminal activity. They do infringe on every law-abiding citizen's freedoms and constitutional rights.

Lee Hanson, Hudson

Think of it as a way to save on gasoline March 29, Howard Troxler column

Skeet considerations

I usually agree with Howard Troxler, but not this time. There are legitimate reasons for employees to have firearms in their vehicles. When I worked in New England, I was on my company-sponsored skeet shooting team. For years, I kept my shotgun in my car's trunk because the skeet match was after work and the skeet field was near where I worked.

Then because of workplace shootings, my company banned firearms from its property, including the parking lots and garages. What was a legitimate shooter to do? I parked in an adjoining company's parking lot and walked a bit to comply with my company's new firearms policy.

This compromise worked for me, but some work and parking locations may make this solution unworkable. Not everyone who takes a firearm to work does so to have it handy to use at work!

Michael Shu, Holiday

[Last modified March 30, 2007, 20:20:43]

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