As part of our series on Florida, we asked our Sunshine State readers which issues they're concerned about in their communities. We got a wide range of responses, from water use to health care to gay rights.
We've published some of the responses below, and as with the other Florida posts, we'll continue to update as often as we can. Be sure to check back to see more reader concerns.
Poverty and the Economy
Christine Rawsthorne in Bradenton writes, “I have lived here for 6 months now. I am from NY. Beaches are beautiful. But many poor people, no jobs, very hard to get good healthcare for the poor. I am lucky to be an author with a pension or I would be starving here. The healthcare and laws here are crazy. They charge over 500 dollars to change your tags and title. I see people suffer who are poor. At least they can fish for their dinner. People only see the rich and the beaches and party element.”
Anita writes, “This is for the most part a conservative county with large defense industry corporations like Harris. My county has suffered given the ‘end’ of the space industry, although glimmers of hope through private enterprise remain. There is poverty in the county and a high percentage of children go to bed hungry.”
Sam Eaves in Miami-Dade County writes, “One of the most troubling things that I've seen here is the abundance of anti-Obama billboards, especially in the predominantly Latino areas. Along the highway S.R. 826 south through Hialeah, there are several. They are also present along Florida's turnpike. They are offensive to me in that they seem intentionally inflammatory on the issues of the Middle East and oil prices, as well as that whole ‘take our country back’ theme from the Tea Party folks, which has racial overtones (i.e. where did/could America go?).”
Julie and Joseph Mraz in Wimauma write, “We are two disabled Americans who slept in a tent in our yard for 7 months due to toxic American-made drywall. We have since taken the toxic drywall down and are living in the gutted out home. We cannot go through another winter. We have no insulation in the ceiling, or a ceiling for that matter. The AC coils work, but the air goes right out the ceiling, so we have a mini LG air conditioner right in front of our beds. We have a tarp as one wall just to try and close some of the bathroom off. We have been poisoned and listed as such through the Consumer Product Safety Commission on a Epidemiologic Report.” You can see a picture of Julie and Joseph in the collection below, and read more about their story here.
Public Safety and Tourism
Cynthia Ranyak writes, “Illegal street racing is on the rise in Florida and the state continues to relax its regulations on sanctioned racing. Our kids are being slaughtered on the streets from speed and reckless driving, and although the numbers may be down because of the rising price of gas and insurance, spontaneous street racing is happening every weekend before and after the auto races. Please consider suggesting a 2% tax on racing revenue (like cigarettes and alcohol) for public service announcements. While in Florida, please count the many roadside memorials and know that each one has a life story. Speed kills, no excuses.”
Lisa writes, “I would not want to promote any more tourism in Florida as it already has so many negative issues with greedy politicians, developers, so-called leaders, traffic and crime.”
Micki LeCronier in South Fort Myers writes, “I lost everything due to Lyme Disease; and I had a lot. I don't have health insurance, but I feel better in a warm weather. I picketed for affordable health care in Fort Myers. This election is a matter of life or death to me. The Affordable Care Act is my only hope of being able to afford insurance again.” You can see a picture of Micki in the collection below.
Anita writes, “I am retired, so my issue of choice is aging in place and health. I would like to see more ‘communities’ that are integrated with all ages and have a strong component of volunteerism and educational activities but do not mean needing a car to go everywhere. I would like to see a cadre of physicians that deal with all issues of aging gathered in one place.”
Environment and Natural Resources
Micki LeCronier in South Fort Myers writes, “I participate in Hands Across the Beaches (against drilling) every year.”
Jerry Callaio in Sarasota writes, “Drought conditions plague the state and will only get worse as the population grows unchecked without new drinking sources being explored.” See below for a photo of an orchid from Jerry's backyard.
Mona Gardner in Tampa writes, “Threatened and endangered birds, such as this Roseate Spoonbill near my home in Tampa, depend on habitats in Florida for their very existence. We owe it to them--and ourselves--to be good environmental stewards.” You can see Mona's picture of the spoonbill below.
Robin Jacobson in the greater Bradenton/Sarasota area writes, “Environmental issues are not even being addressed by the presidential candidates this election. Floridians worry about oil drilling off our beautiful coastline.” See below for Robin's picture of the beach.
Scott Irvine in Jacksonville writes, “Thanks to the global climate change which most Republicans deny is even happening, much less admit that it is driven by CO2 emissions caused by human activity, North Florida becomes a tinderbox now every spring.” Scott took some pictures of "this year's wildfire season," and you can see them below.
Lisa writes, “One of the main things that needs protection is our Florida's natural water resources (the Florida aquifers, fresh water springs, wells) and preserving our beaches, parks & lakes. So many businesses have dumped bad chemicals into the ground and it's contaminating your drinking water. Not to mention they are sucking it dry....like Silver Springs in Ocala, Fl.”
Walter Feuchs in Palm Beach writes, “The state has sufficient sunshine to power 20 million homes. The nation's two top solar installers have no operations in the Sunshine State. The media has largely not brought attention to the fact that the Romney/Ryan team are not strong supporters of renewable energy projects that could create millions of jobs.”
Sandra Ponce in Miami writes, “The beautiful Florida Keys need help to save, restore and maintain the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon. Below is great sunset shot I took a few years ago. Without the public's help, in a few years we may no longer have this view!” See below for Sandra's picture of the Seven Mile Bridge view.
Dianne Flint in Jacksonville writes, “I am a hetrosexual 62 year old woman that just doesn't understand why so many older white men seem to take such an avid interest in making sure they are involved in decisions concerning what gay people can and cannot do legally. I was very surprised at how many gray haired white men stood in long lines during in the dead of summer in Florida for hours at Chick- Fil-A in support of Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage. And then about a month later, I was again surprised when the Jacksonville City Council rejected altering the human rights ordinance to include sexual orientation.”
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.