County, city offer millions to Jabil | July 3, story
Deal looks like corporate welfare The city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County hit a triple last week with the deal to give Jabil Circuit nearly $35-million so the company won't move someplace else.
Ironically, Jabil has been moving someplace for the past 10 years or so, sending its manufacturing jobs to Mexico and Vietnam or anyplace else they can get workers to build their electronic parts without paying them a decent wage or having to pay for things like health care and retirement. The extortion was the threat to leave and take with them the remaining 1,900 jobs, and it worked by getting them a sweet $34.4-million in corporate welfare.
Perhaps this is the way things work these days with stadium deals that make millionaires richer and corporate handouts that do the same. These schemes are all just a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle-class taxpayers to wealthy individuals and corporations. If this is how cities and counties must play the game, then we the people should be involved in these decisions and not have them made for us by someone like St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who finds it convenient to be in Japan when the deal comes to light.
While those 1,900 jobs are important, I'm not sure that paying off extortionists is something any local government should do — and certainly not in secret.
Bill Adams, St. Petersburg
Secrecy goes too far
I have just read of the benefits package put together for Jabil to keep the company in the state. I would like to give our leaders the benefit of the doubt and just assume that spending this money is in the citizens' best interest. However, after reading that St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse voted for this without even knowing who the company was, I'm uncomfortable. Nurse was quoted as saying: "The thing that made me comfortable about the idea was the wages that the company was paying were way, way above average." Since he didn't know who the company was, he didn't even truly know that this information about the wages was fact.
I fully understand the need for shielding a company's financial information from the public and their competitors. I do not, however, understand why the council would not have all of the information necessary to make a decision in the citizens' best interest. Is it that the council members are not trustworthy to keep it secret? Or is there the fear that their conscience would get the better of them and force them to "say something"? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then this business about the council not knowing the whole story won't ever happen again.
Ryan Jensen, St. Petersburg Jews, Muslims and bad politics | July 3, commentary
Don't blame the Jews
Jews have been blamed for so many things, I suppose we should not be outraged that Salam Al-Marayati and Steven Jacobs want to blame us for the fact that Barack Obama won't be photographed with women wearing a hijab, or that he refuses to visit a mosque. But I am.
Nowhere in their article do the authors point to any Jewish organization or group that condones discrimination against American Muslims or urges the candidates to shun the Muslim community — nor could they: No Jewish organization promotes or condones discrimination against American Muslims, either overtly or covertly.
The unfortunate reality is: If Obama does not want to do anything that might connect him with the Muslim community, it is not for fear of the reaction of 2.5-million Jewish voters; it is out of concern for the reaction of 60-million American voters. That attitude is reprehensible — and the authors do well to challenge it. But to blame the Jews for it is nothing but a calumny, and is equally reprehensible.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
Self-defense comes first
As a media watch group that seeks to promote responsibility in Middle East reporting, we must comment on the July 3 column by Salam Al-Marayati and Steven B. Jacobs (Jews, Muslims and bad politics) which charges that "… excluding Muslims to get Jewish votes is not about ensuring domestic security, it is about cowardly politics."
In fact, the opposite is true. We must not collaborate in our own demise by dealing with the treacherous Islamic terrorists.
Norman N. Gross, Ph.D., president, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting, Palm Harbor
Cities must have option to ban pit bulls | July 3, Bill Maxwell column
Dog owners are at fault
There have been animals in my home since the day my parents bought me home from the hospital. I am now 61. We had all shapes, sizes, breeds, mutts and purebreds. Right now, I also volunteer at Animal Services in Hillsborough County. There are many pit bulls there. We walk these animals, play with them, try to socialize them and find good homes for them.
I have many friends who own pit bulls, and they are the most loving animals. It's not the dog, it's the owner! It's how the dog is raised, how it's treated. One of Michael Vick's pits is now a therapy dog that has received many awards for the work he has done. Remember the Our Gang comedies that were on TV years ago? Those kids had a pit bull with them at all times. Any dog can be taught to be vicious, even the cutest little fuzz ball.
Train the people before you give them an animal; don't ban breeds.
Judy Moore, Riverview
Cities must have option to ban pit bulls | July 3, Bill Maxwell column
Reputation is not deserved
After reading Bill Maxwell's article on how cities should have the option to ban pit bulls, I became very frustrated. Many of those who are uneducated about these dogs often tend to point fingers, calling them a "dangerous breed." However, if you do your homework, you will find that pit bulls have done fairly well on behavioral and temperament tests.
Pit bulls make great companions, if they are trained properly. I have two very well-behaved pit bulls at home who are nothing like those that you hear about on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times. These dogs don't deserve the bad reputation that they have, and it would be unfair to all of the responsible pit bull owners if the breed was banned. Instead of bad-mouthing these dogs, the irresponsible owners who don't properly train their pit bulls should take the bad rep.
Nicole Fusco, Palm Harbor
Legalizing drugs is no solution | July 1, letter
A futile effort
The letter writer makes three assertions as to why drugs should remain illegal, none of which are supported by closer examination.
His first was that alcohol is legal and people abuse it, and illegal alcohol has not been eliminated. However, alcohol is abused less than when it was illegal, and the violence associated with Prohibition has virtually vanished. Violence associated with the illegal drug trade is far more rampant and more of a drain on our society than alcohol was during Prohibition.
His contention that more people would be likely to use drugs if they were legalized is simply wrong. In states where marijuana has been legalized for medical use, usage rates among young people has fallen. In the Netherlands, where marijuana is essentially legal, usage in the population is only about half what it is in the United States. He questioned that if the drugs were legalized and taxed, would it be enough to pay for the extra legislation and manpower, but apparently hasn't considered the high cost we pay to keep them illegal. Education and rehabilitation are far less costly alternatives to imprisonment.
He said we should ask ourselves whether we would want a close family member or friend to use these drugs even in small doses? Guess what? Many already do use drugs.
On whatever level, legalizing drugs is far less expensive and more humane than continuing a war we cannot win and can only lose. Prohibition of alcohol did not work and decades of experience has proven the so-called war on drugs has failed.
Robert Boyle, St. Petersburg
A driver's loss
I finally quit driving and gave up my car.
And the thing I miss the most, is: looking for my car keys.
Hartley Steeves, Tampa