The sun doesn’t shine on this dark money

Sunshine and dark money

Solar power war | Dec. 26

This article on a bill to curtail net metering for people with solar panels is a textbook example of the way dark money influences legislation in Tallahassee (and in Washington). Mega-corporations see a threat to their bottom line and then ask their lobbyists to draft a bill that eliminates the threat. Lobbyists get all-too-willing legislators to sponsor the bill. Mega-corporations’ dark money political PACs give a sizable campaign contribution to legislators’ political committees: legislation bought and paid for. Forget the reality that this proposed bill, if passed as is, will decimate the roof-top solar industry at a cost of thousand of good-paying jobs. What happened to the ruling party’s never-ending “it’s all about the jobs” diatribe?

Kenneth Marlow, Clearwater

Out of bounds

Exposure vs. indoctrination | Perspective, Dec. 26

Not only foreign schools succeed in presenting a wide array of ideas, as this column suggests. My public school taught five major religions, evolution and the American Black experience, among other topics. There were no challenges to that curriculum from the parents in my conservative community. Teachers did not share personal political or religious views but encouraged classroom discussion. Fast-forward to my daughter’s first day in a Pinellas middle school. Over a snack that afternoon she reported, “Mrs. X said she thinks everyone should be Christian.” I told her this was the teacher’s opinion, and she should not have shared it, but that lots of people think this way and she, a non-Christian, should be ready for that. I did not complain to the school though the comment was miles out of bounds. But 20 years later, I remember the name of that teacher who made my child feel like an outsider at a most vulnerable and impressionable time.

Liz Drayer, Clearwater

Pigeons racing home

Community spot home run champions | Dec. 26

Your article with Erio Alvarez brought back some 60-year-old memories about raising racing/homing pigeons. When I was a teenager, three of my friends on my street in Newport, Rhode Island, each had a pigeon coup in their backyard. We would raise common pigeons to race from a distance as far as we could carry them on our bicycles, not the hundreds of miles as Mr. Alvarez does. I am happy that his organization continues to encourages young people to take up this sport. I was always amazed watching the birds gathering materials such as pine needles or straw to build a nest, the mating rituals, the laying of two eggs in their nest, waiting 20 days for the eggs to hatch and the protective care the parents took in raising their young. Usually six weeks after this care, the youngsters were then able to feed themselves and were able to fly. It’s a condensed version of a human life cycle!

Henry Russell, Palm Harbor

Open and honest talk

Florida cases skyrocket | Dec. 25

As I read the Tampa Bay Times, I was — once again — informed that Florida’s COVID-positivity rate has skyrocketed thanks, in large part, to the omicron scourge, I realized — once again — that the person who hides out in the governor’s office in Tallahassee has, as usual, done nothing to provide encouragement to the good citizens of Florida. As a public relations professional now teaching the next generations of PR pros, I caution my students regularly about the importance of ensuring that your organization communicates regularly, honestly and openly with its public. This advice holds especially true when one is having to deal with not-so-good news. As I remind them constantly, “If you don’t tell the people who turn to you for advice and guidance what’s happening and what you’re doing to address the issue, they will form their own narrative … and it more than likely is not going to be favorable when it comes to their perception of your abilities.” Floridians deserve open, honest communication, especially during these trying times. And it has become increasingly apparent that this is not going to happen with the current person at the helm of our state’s government. May this new year bring better times … and better leadership.

Kirk Hazlett, Riverview

Colorblind justice

Set goals for criminal justice system diversity | Editorial, Dec. 26

I find the Tampa Bay Times’ interest in the color of our criminal justice system to be very fashionable, but very insensible. If I go to a doctor, I should be thinking only about his or her competence and compassion and he or she should be thinking only about an individualized response to whatever pathophysiology prompted my visit. Our justice system must be just as blind to extraneous considerations. If it is not, making it more conscious of these is an illogical remedy that violates the core principles of that system. Equal opportunity in career selection is an appropriate aim. Equality in law and order is an essential prerequisite for a healthy society. Deficiencies in either should be addressed, but they must be tackled with the separation and depth their complexity deserves. If the blindfold on Justitia has slipped, you put it back in place. You do not tug it down from the other eye. The extension of the Times’ train of thought is to have 911 connect you with a menu of preferred responders and to encourage a belief that defendants can shop courts. These are exactly what we must not want to happen. The problem is having any fingers on the scale of justice, not the color of those fingers.

Pat Byrne, Largo