A preservation problem | Nov. 25, editorial
Application process needs fixing
There is a reason why smaller rather than larger groups of property owners are getting together to seek historic district designation: It is St. Petersburg’s application process. And there is a reason why historic designation is being sought: The boom in construction is changing the feel of neighborhoods, and not always for the better. Sense of place and neighborhood character are important factors in choosing a neighborhood and also in maintaining neighborhood property values.
The city’s historic district application process requires a majority of property owners to vote favorably before an application can be submitted, but counts non-responding/voting owners as opposed to submittal. We know from experience that many, sometimes a majority, don’t vote. This fact, in conjunction with the city ban on submitting an application for five years if a majority of owners (responding and non-responding) don’t vote yes, means neighborhood groups are effectively encouraged to seek small historic districts as it is the path most likely to succeed.
There is a simple way to encourage larger rather than smaller neighborhood areas to apply for historic district designation. Conduct the owner vote like any other election — the majority of those voting prevail. If you don’t vote, you aren’t counted.
And by the way, the St. Petersburg process is out of the norm; most cities, Tampa being one, don’t require an owner vote for designation. Rather, designation is treated like any other zoning action: There are public workshops and hearings, but ultimately it is elected officials, not property owners, who do the voting.
Historic district designation is good for neighborhoods and good for the city, regardless of district size. Make the designation process neighborhood-friendly if you want neighborhood-sized areas to commonly share in the benefits of district designation.
Peter Belmont, St. Petersburg
Don’t forget pain sufferers | Nov. 27, letter
I am truly sorry for the letter writer’s suffering or the suffering of a loved one. As a health care provider of 36 years, I can assure you that relieving someone’s pain is an important goal. However, it is not the only goal. We have a responsibility to make sure our patients are safe and live long, healthy lives. Chronic opioid use may lead to many other health problems, including addiction, and greatly impair the quality of a person’s life. The goal of pain relief may never result in being 100 percent pain-free, or zero out of 10 on our current, and in my mind questionable, pain scale.
Opioids should be the last resort in treating chronic pain. Many modalities should be part of the long-term treatment plan. These may include: physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health treatment, exercise, weight control, smoking cessation, healthy eating, massage and other alternative therapies. These should be routine treatments, occurring regularly and consistently.
Most patients would benefit from ongoing therapies, not just opioids. The biggest roadblock for this is insurance. Payment for alternative modalities, if covered, is usually very limited.
I hope we follow the lead of other countries that provide long-term therapies to help those with chronic and debilitating pain.
Anne Conklin, Bradenton
Put benchmarks in the bill
If the stated intent of Congress’ tax reform legislation is to grow jobs in America, make that a requirement of the bill. For example, add a provision to the bill that corporations must spend at least 85 percent of any reduction in their taxes, due to a rate change, on "new" jobs or higher wages for workers earning less than $125,000. Corporations that fail to document such expenditures would pay a 60 percent nondeductible penalty to the U.S. Treasury.
Simple and specific.
Gregory Matthews, St. Petersburg
Extra money for investment
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the wealthiest Americans will benefit most from the proposed tax bill and the poor will be worse off. This is no surprise. I am blessed to be among those who will reap huge benefits from this bill if it passes.
What is not well appreciated is what I will do with all of this "extra" money. I will invest it, of course. I will invest it in whichever securities my adviser suggests, and much of this will be invested in companies outside the United States, because they give a higher return on investment. In the end, this will do nothing to improve conditions here.
Even if I do invest in U.S. securities, this will not result in increased productivity unless there is higher demand. It will be far better for our economy, our children’s future and the lives of those who are struggling to give tax breaks to those who will spend it here and not those who will invest it.
Bob Gillies, Tampa
Hand on the nuclear trigger
Some Republican senators are so worried about President Donald Trump having the nuclear codes that they are talking about passing a law that the president (any president) can’t, by him or herself, make the decision to launch nuclear weapons.
The fact that they are worried about this is frightening. Even with President Barack Obama, whom they hated, Republicans were not worried about him having the nuclear codes. And their response to this worry is wrong. The answer is not to restrict all future presidents’ ability to respond to a surprise nuclear attack by Russia or China (or someone else). One reason this is the wrong answer is that it is probably unconstitutional. Another is we can’t have a committee deciding how to fight.
There is one commander in chief. The constitutional answer to their worry is to get someone in the presidential office they can again trust with the nuclear codes.
Russ A. Johnson, Hudson