I am a parent of a high school theatre student who will be attending the Florida State Thespian Festival in downtown Tampa on March 26-29. The city of Tampa has approved a bike race — the Gasparilla Criterium — to take place on March 29, the Saturday of the thespian festival. I was told that the bike race was only recently approved, and that the race will include beer tents and will be attended by thousands of spectators and participants. This race will run directly in front of the Tampa Theater, which is one of the main venues of the thespian festival. I am writing to express my concern for the safety of my child and the 7,000 other students who will attend.
The thespian festival has been a staple in Tampa for 20 years. Students come from all over the state, occupying thousands of hotel beds, and I am sure bringing revenue to the city. The festival utilizes the Straz Center, Tampa Theatre, and the Convention Center, and I understand that the thespians have had these locations reserved for years.
There seems to be a lapse in judgment in approving a large cycling and beer event on the same weekend. Thespian officials, bike race organizers and city representatives met in January to discuss the issue, and came to a compromise to move the cycling event to a different location or a different date. Now, one might assume that there was another closed-door meeting, not including the Tampa Theatre and the Florida Thespians, which has decided otherwise.
Where is the accountability to ensure that collisions of this type, that hamper the safety and mobility of a large group of high school students, do not happen? Why, when valid concerns were raised, did the city not bend over backwards to make every possible concession to protect its greatest resource? What assurances can the City of Tampa give me that my child is not going to be hit by a bike, harassed by a rowdy criterium attendee, or even be improperly exposed to public drinking?
Paul G. Schaut, Lutz
License to profit
Re: License suspensions punish those who cannot pay fines (Steve Bousquet column, tbt* Feb. 18)
Thank you so much! I hope this issue gets the same attention that the red-light cameras get. Drivers and licenses are just a means for the state to make a profit off the people. Florida is not doing right by its citizens.
Johanna Baynard, St. Petersburg
I can't believe no one is commenting on the other incident of deplorable teen behavior at the State Fair. Apparently a group of 4H members started a cattle stampede all in the name of fun. People were knocked over and garbage cans were kicked at the police by the cattle. One steer even stole a candy apple from a little old lady in a wheelchair. All in all the police ended up taking seven blue ribbons away as punishment.
Law enforcement has met with the farming community for help in dealing with these senseless acts. Some suggested it was the fault of the farmers themselves. One lady shouted out "They're just calves!"
Officials are considering allowing only teens who raise sheep entrance to the fair next year.
Peter Malinchock, Temple Terrace
Obey or die
Re: The terrorist next door (email to the editor, Feb. 18)
Stephenie Sasse made some very valid points in her email about the loud music trial. In Florida's recent stand-your-ground trials (Zimmerman and Dunn, with Reeves to come), the shooter observed an individual engaging in activity that he did not like, and when the desired response to a command was not given, confrontations occurred and someone lost their life.
What allows normal citizens to commit such acts? It does appear that protection is not afforded for all.
LaFaye Bodden, Temple Terrace
Rights and wrongs
Re: Castor urges Scott to let felons regain voting rights (tbt* Feb. 18)
We hear Kathy Castor, Eric Holder and Charlie (Flip Flop) Crist arguing to have felons' voting rights restored. Castor called it a fundamental civil rights issue. It's funny, though, that none of these Democrats is pushing to have these same felons' rights to bear arms restored. If a citizen doesn't want to lose their civil rights, he or she shouldn't commit crimes that cause it to happen.
Gregg Duffell, Brandon