IRS ploy called 'chilling' | May 13
Par for the course for this crowd
When I read that the IRS was used during the 2012 election to target conservative political groups, I was about as "shocked" as Capt. Renault was when he discovered there was gambling at Rick's cafe.
Does it really surprise anyone who has been paying attention during the past 4 ½ years that the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover is alive and well in the White House? What's next, this past week's Benghazi whistle-blowers swimming with the fishes in the Potomac?
And now we're going to depend on the Treasury Department to do a fair and impartial investigation, as promised Friday by Jay Carney, the Baghdad Bob of Pennsylvania Avenue?
Is this the same Treasury Department once headed by Obama's handpicked tax cheat, Timothy Geithner, who also never met an AIG bonus he didn't appreciate and admire?
Or is it the Treasury Department now headed by Jack Lew, who basically lied at his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year when he acted like he'd never heard of Ugland House.
That's even though Lew, when he was a Citigroup investment banker during the financial meltdown of 2008, had invested heavily in funds linked to the infamous building in the Cayman Islands that's home to more than 18,000 entities linked to tax-avoidance strategies.
Even his boss, President Barack Obama, said during his first presidential campaign that Ugland House is "either the biggest building in the world or the biggest tax scam in the world."
Only this time, after he busts down the door at the IRS, ace "investigator" Jack "Maj. Renault" Lew might be heard saying: "I'm shocked … shocked that the IRS is bullying people for their political views."
Mike Kersmarki, Tampa
Math guts nuclear myth | May 12
Dangers of fossil fuels
Math is a strong argument in a capitalist society accustomed to adding up dollars and profits, but this article gives a poor response to the science of modern-day power generation.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel and we simply must stop our continuing use of fossil fuels. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time this past week and are continuing to climb with enormous consequences for our way of life for ourselves and our children. Nuclear energy provides a non-fossil fuel energy source, as does wind and solar. Florida is also uniquely positioned to take advantage of the Gulf Stream for power generation.
Florida's citizens should invest in a "clean future" and build nuclear (as well as solar and ocean current) power systems and leave "dirty" fossil fuels in the ground.
Jabe Breland, St. Petersburg
Nuclear waste problem
I am impressed by the detailed analysis of the costs of nuclear power published by Ivan Penn in the Times. Nevertheless, Penn, as virtually every other writer on this subject, has neglected to include a potentially major cost of nuclear power, namely the disposal of spent fuel and other radioactive wastes. These not insignificant costs, whether long-term storage (perhaps as long as 100 years or more) or some sort of as yet unperfected cleanup or extraction processing, are almost always entirely ignored in the cost analysis of the nuclear fuel cycle.
As an associate professor of materials science and nuclear engineering at MIT in the late 1960s, and a contributor to a book on nuclear reactor safety, I used to argue even in those early days that these costs were being ignored because no one knew really how to go about the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes. I see no indication today, 50 years later, that we are any closer to solving this problem. The cleanup of the Fukushima Dai-ichi site after the tsunami damage is an indication of the magnitude of the problem.
If Penn were to guess at the magnitude of the added cost to the nuclear fuel cycle of processing spent fuel, or the cost of cleanup of a retired nuclear power plant, I am sure that he would reach an even more vivid contrast of the comparison between natural gas and nuclear power options. But I'm not sure where he would find estimates of these costs. Waste disposal is the great coverup of the nuclear industry.
Thomas O. Ziebold, St Petersburg
Pinellas eatery cited for ageism | May 10
A sad sign of the times
I felt terrible for 62-year-old Jennifer Morehead when I read about her job plight. But the actions of the Dome Grill are unfortunately indicative of what the culture is these days. The owner just said it to her face.
Despite the recent reported drop in unemployment, many over the age of 50 who have been out of work have just stopped trying.
It's a shame this business refused to at least give her a chance. I suppose young and beautiful is more important these days than smart and dedicated?
Mike Merino, Tampa
Ferry service is floated | May 11
Target road congestion
Ed Turanchik thinks that a high-speed ferry service to MacDill from downtown Tampa is a priority. What will spending all that money on that line do to relieve the congestion on our bridges, which is a bane to both residents and visitors?
Why aren't MacDill and Turanchik focusing on funding from the military budget to create their personal transit? It is hardly a priority for the city of Tampa or the region.
It's about time for this region to unite and start a high-speed ferry service from St. Petersburg to Tampa. These cities hold the major concentrations of workers in their downtowns.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
Bill fixes red-light violation issues May 13, letter
Yellow light concerns
Unfortunately the new bill does not "fix" two major issues concerning the red-light cameras.
It has been proven that many areas have very short yellow light cycles. We are fortunate in Pinellas County as most yellow lights are long enough for drivers to be able to stop in time safely. But until there are enforced mandatory statewide minimum yellow light cycles, drivers will continue to be at a disadvantage in areas that treat the cameras as a computer-age replacement for speed traps.
The second, less obvious issue is the very poor communication from the for-profit companies that install the cameras. At a minimum, they should be required to make available a video that shows the full yellow light cycle prior to a so-called "violation." In the past, Americans have had the right to be confronted with evidence of any offense; why should the cameras be an exception?
Robert Anderson, Largo