The dirty truth | June 14, Floridian story
A myopic view of muddy festivities
Your writer mentioned nothing of the "family- friendly fun" the subtitle of the story claimed. All he spoke of was the girls! That kind of Girls Gone Wild behavior happens all over. (I can watch it on cable TV if I choose.) I'm not saying it's right, but it happens.
Some events like this one can be family-friendly by day but much different at night. If you've ever been to the Sebring 12-hour sports car race after dark, you know what I mean. There is always a bad parent in any group that will stick around longer than he or she should.
I doubt this whole festival was just based on trashy girls. I'd bet there were some decent families there for the fun of muddin' and watching big trucks. Only the reporter didn't bother to look anywhere but the stripper pole!
Not all rednecks are tattooed with rebel flags. Some (of us) can be regular, working, family-oriented people. Big trucks are cool, as evident by the monster truck show being sold out every year!
If you are going to write an article in the Floridian section about an "old Florida" pastime, (which isn't around much anymore because of developers), please send a reporter who isn't there just for the party. I've been to enough college parties. I already know what goes on.
And you want us to distribute this paper in our schools for our kids to read articles like this? Ha!
Do us a favor: Give Jeff Klinkenberg more work, please!
Joanna Pheil, Gulfport
No place for kids
Let me see if I have this straight: Men ply underage girls with alcohol and weed. These young women, who have no self-respect, dance around a stripper pole wearing bikinis with suggestive writing on the bottoms, and young children are allowed to witness all of this behavior.
There is something really wrong here.
I don't care if "adults" want to drive their trucks in the mud, drink and act like fools — but to subject very young children to this is disturbing on many levels.
Karin Sobelman, Hernando
A view of a different world
Michael Kruse's article, The dirty truth, was a beautiful poetic description of our society. He disturbed me with the crudeness of some of the scenes he painted, yet made me wonder about our society and our culture.
I felt sympathy and empathy for the participants, who appeared to be trying to shock us, yet, at the same time, they also were saying something very deep.
They were searching for their humaneness, satisfying some basic needs that get lost in our impersonal, rigid, politically correct culture.
The mud was basic; the nudity and poles, while disturbing, were also a cry to allow them into our worlds and an invitation to theirs.
They have been left out, so the drinking and booze can drown the sorrows and hide the macho in them. But I get it. I figured it out.
We hear you, brothers and sisters. Go ahead and have fun, you are entitled to it, and deserve it. And, yes, we do need to be shocked and outraged in order to understand.
Give this reporter a prize. He captured the truly remarkable moments through the beauty of his words.
Brian Moore, Spring Hill
I am a regular reader of the St. Petersburg Times and even have it delivered to my house. I am appalled at the garbage writing on the Floridian section of your paper. You should be ashamed.
This is supposed to be a newspaper not a soft porn paper. I have three boys, none of whom need to read this garbage in your newspaper. I am far from being an old prude, but this has gone far enough. You are putting stripper-type material in a publication that should offer suitable reading for all ages. The worst part is the first page where you put the words "family-friendly" and "stripper poles" in the same sentence. What parent thinks stripper poles and drunk naked chicks is a family function?
I'm not sure if you think that only men read, but you are wrong. Women have a brain attached to their bodies, and maybe if we encouraged their brains a little more, then our society would not be in a downward spiral.
Brenda Young, Tampa
I was really disappointed to see the photos that accompanied this article in the June 14 Floridian section.
While "muddin' " is not my bag, I see that it is a human interest story that may have value to others. However, I object to the photos chosen to illustrate the story. I could do without the three-way simulated sex scene on the front page next to the "cooter hunter" vehicle, the "dirty girl" butt shot, and the photo of the bikini-clad girls on the stripper pole who really look underage.
Photos like these pander to pedophiles and porno readers. They're not something I wanted to see in my Sunday paper (of all days).
Who edited this story, a horny frat boy?
I actually canceled our subscription weeks ago and picked up this past Sunday's paper to give the St. Petersburg Times another try. I'll stick to my New York Times from now on.
Kathleen Jaye, Clearwater
Rays: Saving Trop means $471m rehab June 16, story
Stay put, Rays, and give us an urban experience
Regarding the adaptation of Tropicana Field: Why not do the renovations in two stages? Renovate the interior without installing a retractable roof. The designer indicated that more natural light would be a benefit of this project. The Rays and the fans could live without a retractable roof, and when times improve, go for it.
A second option is to build a new park at the east end of the Trop site. This way, the Rays can play in the existing stadium while construction ensues.
Remember, too, that other urban parks such as Fenway in Boston and Wrigley in Chicago have so-called "inferior" facilities. That doesn't stop their fans from having an incredible urban experience before, during, and after the game. This "trifecta of fun" just isn't the same in the suburbs.
Last but not least, take seriously the proposal about installing the southern line of a regional mass transit system. Extend the Ybor/Channelside streetcar in Tampa to a water taxi across the bay, connecting to a similar streetcar in St. Petersburg along Central Avenue.
A "Stop at the Trop" is the factor that proves that the urban experience of a stadium cannot be replicated in the suburbs. Stay put, Rays, and keep seeking an answer to the present site. It's there. It's time to believe in downtown again.
Rand Moorhead, St. Petersburg
Rays: Saving Trop means $471m rehab June 16, story
Leave the roof in place
Try asking the fans if they want a retractable roof. Personally, I'm happy with the dome, especially in August, when the games are not buggy, muggy or hot.
I love the Rays, and enjoy going to the games, but I don't know how they can justify a demand for a new stadium, or even a retractable roof. Neither the economy nor the humidity supports this.
Laura Vickers, Tampa
A perfect dump | June 19, Daniel Ruth column
Trop experience is tops
Thank you, Dan Ruth, for playing "Master of the Obvious." I agree that we do not need to spend another dime on a new ballfield. The players seem to be doing fine with what we have. The money can be spent in many better ways.
I'll fight you on the beauty part. As an artist, I remind you that art is subjective. I am not alone in seeing the beauty of our stadium. I love my Trop, my Rays, my new colors, new name, new coach, new manager and new players.
I am giddy as a schoolgirl waiting for recess as I round the exit from Tampa. I love the energetic greeters at each entrance, the steep walk up the ramp, the $8 beer, Raymond's bump and grind, the freakish look of confusion when the opposing team's ball hits our catwalk ("Uhhh, do we run?").
I am so happy that we've never had a rain delay and never will! I love that we're never sunburned, therefore preventing thousands of cancer cells from emerging. We are not suffering at the Trop, but many people are hungry and homeless nearby. Please find a way to get the $471 million to them! Go, Rays.
Kim Burns Cummings, Tampa
A perfect dump | June 19, Daniel Ruth column
Fine game weather inside
I agree almost 100 percent with Daniel Ruth's assessment of Tropicana Field, but I do take issue with his comment that the interior "suggests playing the national pastime at Abu Ghraib." Abu Ghraib should look so good!
I couldn't possibly think about sitting in the heat, humidity, rain and thunderstorms that we are so well known for just to watch the Rays win.
The Rays will win whether they are in a new stadium nor not! And when I see that all games are sold out and the stadium is full, then I'll consider building a new stadium.
Linda Reimer, St. Petersburg
Charter schools get poor marks | June 16, story
Charter schools improving
Charter schools are independent public schools created pursuant to an agreement between a group of school organizers and a sponsoring body. Charter schools provide parents with additional choices for selecting the most effective educational programs for their children and offer creative solutions for improving student achievement in Florida. Charter schools served 105,318 students in the 2007-08 school year, more than 4 percent of Florida's total public school population. Approximately 60 percent of charter school students were minorities compared to 54 percent of traditional public school students.
The report discussed in the article points out, and numerous studies show, a student's first year of enrollment at a new school almost always results in lower achievement than subsequent years. With a much greater percentage of new charter schools, there has always been a higher percentage of students in their first and second year of enrollment compared to traditional public schools.
However, over time, more of a critical mass of established charters has emerged, thereby slowly reducing the percentage of new charter schools. As this occurs we see that the gap in student achievement between charter schools and traditional public school is being eliminated and, in terms of proficiency, has actually been reversed for the first time in 2007-2008 (Student Achievement in Florida's Charter Schools, March 2009, Florida Department of Education). Analysis of 2007-08 student achievement data show that a greater percentage of charter elementary, middle and high school students in tested grades are proficient in reading compared to their traditional public school counterparts.
Charter schools continue to improve greatly and continue to provide alternative learning environments that may better fit the needs of many students. Many of these students come from low- income families that do not otherwise have educational choices. By maintaining healthy competition and accountability, improved academic performance for all public school students will continue.
John Legg, state representative, District 46, Port Richey
Preserve victim assistance
While I realize that budget cuts are an unfortunate part of reality, the elimination of entire programs is a drastic and mistaken solution. There has to be a way of saving a vital program like the victim assistance program instead of telling unfortunate victims of violent crime that they do not matter. The victim assistance program plays an integral role in the lives not only of victims of violent crime but also those of state attorneys whose jobs would be hindered without them.
If you have never been a crime victim, you cannot understand what it feels like to try to navigate the system alone. To have to face your attacker in court, to have to relive the incident over and over again, to be diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder and not be able to properly function. Without victim assistance, these people would be hung out to dry, completely alone and in the dark, left to become further victimized by the legal system.
There must be a way to afford saving this program and in so doing, possibly even saving the lives of countless innocent victims. If everyone does their part to cut costs, like reducing salaries from the top down and across the board, programs like this could have a fighting chance.
These are tough economic times and the people of this great county cannot afford to pay more taxes to support necessary programs. So why not make those who violate the laws pay? I do not know all of the legal ramifications of this proposal, but why not research the possibility of having offenders who have been arrested for violent crimes pay a surcharge or fee as part of their bond?
As a concerned citizen, taxpayer and voter, I implore you to explore all the possibilities of finding workable solutions to continue funding irreplaceable programs such as the victim assistance program.
Lauren E. Homan, Tampa
Let love heal
As Father's Day approaches, I think of two older men I know who are both quite ill and have sons living nearby who have not bothered to call or visit for years. Both are good people who deserve better, and there is nothing anyone can do to change their neglectful sons. I have definitely tried.
What we can do is reach out to our own fathers (if young enough and lucky enough to still have one) and also be supportive of those poor neglected guys who spawned selfish, uncaring sons or daughters. Look about and you will find one.
It is love that heals and makes the world go around better, so dish out all you can of it this holiday.
Adele Ida Walter, Tampa