Don't cut services for rape victims
In its recommended budget cuts for 2009, the state Department of Health has included the complete elimination of the Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund, the state's main source of funding for rape crisis centers. This $2-million cut would destroy vital services for thousands of rape victims but do nothing to improve the state's budget outlook because all funds in the trust fund are derived from fines on offenders, not from general revenue.
As a result of this proposed reduction, services to this vulnerable population would be severely hindered at Family Service Centers Inc., Pinellas County's only certified rape crisis center. Survivors of sexual assault would lose not only the free therapy services we provide, but also their advocates from our program who accompany them to medical exams and through other difficult steps along the healing process.
Victims who do not receive recovery services are at increased risk for substance abuse, suicide, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder as well as serious physical health effects. We simply cannot abandon those traumatized by crime. Our legislators must oppose this cut.
Mary Jo Monahan, president and CEO, Family Service Centers Inc., Clearwater
Tampa franchise agreement
Deal with TECO needs more work
The League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County is concerned that the TECO franchise agreement scheduled for second reading/final approval on Thursday will adversely affect the health and quality of life of the citizens of the city of Tampa and the energy independence and sustainability of the city and surrounding regions.
The league is especially concerned that Tampa and its future administrations will be bound by the terms of this agreement for 25 years with no provision for a city buyout, full or partial. The agreement does not adequately address energy independence, energy conservation, renewable energy, new energy/transmission opportunities and evolving technologies, performance and compliance, or accountability.
The league strongly urges the City Council to postpone approval of the TECO franchise agreement for six months to provide the opportunity for a task force composed of TECO, city of Tampa administration, City Council and community representatives to work together to improve the proposed agreement and procedures manual, and to develop a supporting addendum addressing energy conservation; alternative, renewable energy sources; and community concerns.
A delay to provide for a collaborative review and agreed upon modifications will result in a much improved agreement, one that will assure a better future for our citizens and businesses, the city of Tampa and TECO.
Linda G. D'Aquila, president, League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County
Governor backs off a bit | Nov. 26, story
Gov. Charlie Crist is just plain stupid to brand all real estate investors as "people who are speculating and have several Lexuses in the driveway." So if we have only one Lexus, Governor, that's okay by you?
Hey, we're not all Donald Trumps! I'm a small-time investor. I own a second home that I rent. I bought it as a long-term investment to help with retirement, not something to flip after a few months.
I used to get $995 a month in rent. Now, because of the economic downturn, I only take in $850, which I'm happy to get. Taxes of course are higher, as is my interest rate, because I don't live in the house. All told I'm $750 a month short on the mortgage payment. I have a $136,000 mortgage on a house that's worth maybe $110,000, if I could even find a buyer. Sound familiar?
The politicians condemn a whole group of hardworking people because of the bad actions of a few. That's wrong. If there's no bailout money for small investors, too bad. But let's stop bashing them. Investor/landlords provide needed housing to the community and pump money into the economy through renovations and maintenance. Responsible, long-term investors will play a part in the economic recovery.
Brian Kelly, St. Petersburg
Don't leave out homeowners | Nov. 25, editorial
I totally empathize with homeowners facing foreclosure. However, renters also face the same financial difficulties. I could not find statistics, but common sense would indicate renters are included in the fallout from the depressed economy.
Property owners and landlords of rental property might be asked to consider their tenants in these times of hardship even though federal or local government intervention is not currently on the agenda.
Jane E. Mitchell, St. Pete Beach
Hulk's wife broke on $40,000 a month | Nov. 21
Poor pitiful Linda
So Linda Bollea can't live on $40,000 a month. Boo hoo and shame on her — not just her but women like her: those who marry successful men and then, when they leave, try to milk them dry.
She should thank Terry Bollea for being as generous as he is. Why doesn't she step back and take a look at the real world?
We are in a recession. I and many others are trying just to make it from month to month. Try living on just over $400 a month. At least Linda has a home and her bills are paid. I would be grateful just for an extra thousand a month to pay my utilities, insurance, gas for the car and food on the table.
Terry, you and many like you worked hard to get where you are. Stand your ground. Greed is an ugly thing.
Linda, here's an idea: Get a job! Oh, there aren't many jobs. I've been trying for a year to find one. Here's another thought: Tell your boy toy to go to work. Shame on you and shame on people like you.
Dorothy R. Rockwell, Spring Hill
A chance for change
I find the criticism of President-elect Barack Obama's choice of so many Clinton era appointees sort of perplexing.
The record of the Clinton administration is quite clear: It includes 20-million new jobs, a record period of economic growth, budget surpluses, a general period of peace, and an America respected around the globe.
With President-elect Obama's vision and leadership, combined with the proven track record of appointees from the Clinton administration, I am now more than ever confident that Obama can deliver on his promise of "Change."
Richard Feigel, Clearwater
Money pit in space
When President-elect Barack Obama takes office he has vowed to go through the budget line by line and eliminate wasteful spending. I for one hope that he takes a good look at NASA.
NASA is a bottomless money pit that serves no real purpose. Aside from the pretty pictures from space, space travel makes no sense. We cannot live in space or on other planets, and there is no practical purpose for the continued travel and experimentation. All of the "miracle" things that were invented for space were developed right here on terra firma.
Continuing the space program is akin to throwing trillions of dollars down the space shuttle's million-dollar toilets. Note the $100,000 tool bag that floated away from an astronaut recently.
Perhaps the money that is burned up in space could be used to better the Earth, fix education, secure our borders, and help the United States fix its economy. Whatever way it would be used is better than having it sucked into the vacuum of space.
Jim Cocca, Homosassa
If teachers were to take a survey in their classes asking students how many have a MySpace page, more often than not, the response would be 90 percent.
A couple things we as students don't think about when we're in the process of creating our MySpace page is who is looking at our page and how the content can affect us and our future.
I've recently read about universities searching on MySpace for those who apply for admission. They are keeping their eyes peeled, looking for information that pertains to drugs, sex, and even signs showing teenagers are putting information on their page just to "look cool" or "to fit in" even if that means displaying provocative pictures or filling out surveys that ask questions about alcohol use and sexual experiences. Universities take these few details about people and then wonder: Will they be a good asset to our college and to the other students on campus?
So parents, next time the opportunity arrives, talk to your teen about what is on their MySpace page and maybe they will realize their friends may not be the only ones checking it out.
Caitlin Ostberg, Tampa