TIA faces stress in control tower | May 4, story
Don't let airline safety be compromised again
As a frequent flier who routinely uses Tampa International Airport, I was horrified by your article on the stress levels TIA air controllers endure and the inevitable disaster that awaits unsuspecting travelers.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Transport Association of America have been playing footloose and fancy free with the safety of the flying public long enough, and the time for all your readers to take action is long overdue before we suffer a major tragedy.
Write to your legislators, the secretary of transportation, the airlines that support TIA, the mayor, even the president if that will help and tell them you refuse to have your safety compromised. Tell them you are fed up with their lack of supervision and the dangerous funding cuts that are putting our lives at risk. It's time to take action!
First we had the debacle of the insufficient or nonexistent inspections of Southwest Airlines and American Airlines airplanes that led to the eventual grounding of thousands of flights and a major inconvenience to thousands of travelers. Now we have to worry that a rookie flight controller will make a rookie mistake resulting in a catastrophic crash.
Just as we get comfortable in our blind trust that our planes won't catch fire because of faulty or dangerous wiring, we read of the departure of hundreds of experienced flight controllers from TIA. When will it be safe to fly? Maybe the question should be, will it ever be safe to fly again?
It is ironic that in this day and age when we all are subjected to the indignities of full body scans, walking barefoot in airports, carrying nothing but virtually the clothes on our backs, it's not so much a terrorist bomb we have to worry about but our own government agencies.
I urge the St. Petersburg Times to follow up on this story, as it's just too important for it to fall off the front page. I demand quick action of the heads of the ATA, FAA and any other agency responsible for our safety being compromised to rectify this matter before a major airplane crash becomes front-page news.
Diana Rao, Tampa
Take an urban attitude
to school transportation
The Pinellas School Board has made great strides during the term of superintendent Clayton Wilcox. The board is wrestling with declining revenues and looking at cuts that would directly affect students. The school system has at various times had difficulty attracting teachers at the current salaries and keeping them as well. How can they advance a salary cut?
As we look at next year and beyond, it is time for the School Board to develop an urban versus suburban perspective on education and school transportation. We do not have a responsibility to transport all students to all schools. Special-needs and mobility-impaired students certainly need transportation provided by the school system. Let the other yellow buses be used for elementary and middle schools only. Public transportation is available and should be used for schools in our larger urban areas. If high school students in urban areas were to use Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority buses, then the cost of busing those students would be saved. PSTA could offer discounted bus passes to students that students and families would purchase. PSTA would likely welcome changes to its bus lines in order to increase ridership and help another public agency. Students would adapt to public transportation and begin to use it as a regular means of travel — a good life lesson.
St. Petersburg and Clearwater would benefit most from the reduced bus traffic going to high schools, and start times could be adapted to be more reasonable for students and parents. The whole county could be eventually integrated into the urban transportation model for high schools that used PSTA to efficiently get students to and from school.
Gregory Cahanin, St. Petersburg
The disasters in Burma and New Orleans should serve as examples of the continued destruction of Hillsborough's and Pinellas' coastal areas for development. Replacing hurricane-abating mangroves with mansions seems excessively foolhardy here in the Sunshine State.
Hopefully, when the county commissioners and the other powers that be approve the variances and permits that allow the destruction of the coastal wetlands, they will think of these consequences.
But I guess it doesn't matter. Destroyed mansions will be rebuilt with National Flood Insurance money that's subsidized by Americans not likely able to afford houses like that. And if they're covered by Citizens Property Insurance, then the fine folks of Florida pick up the tab. Over and over again.
I suppose the damage to the environment won't matter either, because after all it's free and didn't cost anything in the first place.
Michael Hunt, Lutz
A history of conflicts | May 8, story
The miracle of Israel
As the people of Israel and Jews around the world observe the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence, there are many miracles to celebrate. I am saddened that your paper chose to focus on the negative.
The very fact of Israel's existence, for 60 years now and coming after the horror of the Holocaust, is miraculous. The new country developed a military force that has not only helped Israel survive, but has also brought peace between Israel and Egypt and Jordan. Even as the country has been under siege, Israel has integrated millions of Jewish refugees and immigrants from around the world. Israel is a vibrant democracy, amid the dictatorships of the Middle East. Israel's incredible high-tech industry is among the most advanced in the world and represents a remarkable achievement for a tiny country.
Israel's highest goal, on the momentous occasion of its 60th anniversary, is to achieve peace for itself and others in the region.
Terri G. Tankel, Dunedin
Pinning down cruelty
Just making sure I've got this right: Evidently it's okay to run a horse to near death and then do the "humane" thing and euthanize her in front of millions of viewers with no charges of animal cruelty. Very sporting, guys.
Meanwhile a local man was arrested and had a mug shot in the paper for going to work and turning on a tar machine with no intent of harming the raccoons that had nested in the machine. He didn't even know they were in there until it was too late. This man did what I consider the "humane" thing by putting one of the animals out of its misery as it was suffering. This man is facing up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for animal cruelty. Can someone define what is considered animal cruelty? I just do not understand.
J.D. Richmond, Crystal Springs
Some won't get care in pandemic | May 5, story
Old and in the way
I have known since I arrived in Florida about 13 years ago that it was going to be difficult to live here as a disabled adult. But now I finally see it in print that a professional committee has decided that in the event of a medical disaster or flu epidemic the first ones to be ignored and not treated will be the older people. This, of course, means the nonproductive members of our society who have worked hard all of our lives.
I don't know why I was shocked to see it in print because one can feel the general prejudices against old people in almost every walk of life. Before coming here I was manager of a small clinic for 10 years and an administrative director for a hospital for 28 years.
The medical office staffs here do not consider us worthy of recognition, and if you are old, disabled, and/or fat then you are invisible most of the time. I arrived here as one of those patients. I am thankful for the health plans, and for the few doctors who do not consider you a number, and my primary caregiver at this time actually cares about my health. The rudeness usually comes when the doctor is not present.
Sometimes the way patients are treated in Florida is like herding cattle. They only want you out of their sight, and old people are considered a necessary nuisance.
Edward E. Miller, Holiday
Hold them accountable
Lucy Morgan is to be highly commended for her research and reporting on the abused Florida Retirement System. It appears the Florida Retirement System has become a "slush fund" for legislators to take care of their good ol' buddies and for political paybacks.
This past legislative session all the legislators were made aware of this problem and chose to ignore it. They should be held accountable at election time. Also, the governor should appoint a "responsible" committee to evaluate and overhaul the retirement system, or he will be part of the problem the last administration (Jeb Bush) created.
Keep up the good work, Lucy.
R.E. King, Ocala
A test for crime fighters | May 5, letter
Seeking justice for all
Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) is a group of 32 congregations that is targeting crime. FAST is not a black, green, yellow or any other color; we are a Pinellas County organization. Folks from Holiday may surely comment on what we are trying to accomplish, but perhaps their situation may be a bit different.
The attention we request from the agencies involved is that which any citizen should have a right to expect from any public official: timely follow-up. We have found tracking responses to be helpful; some things slip through the cracks.
Regarding the rant about "black activists" crying for justice, perhaps some bias is peeking through? Our activists are pursuing justice for all. Will the 80-year-old grandmother who has received death threats from the thugs if she dares tell on them be standing "shoulder to shoulder" with the police? Probably not, for good reason. Will the rest of our faith communities be there with them? More than likely.
If the letter writer attended some of our meetings (we have 32 member congregations from a broad spectrum of disciplines) he would probably find some folks to sit down with and learn.
Tom Clarke, Clearwater
An annexation fiasco
Recent articles pertaining to St. Petersburg officials' decision to intrude into Tierra Verde and one pertaining to the terrible crime conditions in the Childs Park area should be a wake-up call to every St. Petersburg resident and county and state official.
In this case, St. Petersburg is engaged in expansion into an area that clearly does not want to have any part of what the city is offering. Predictably the city takes the position that they are only annexing because they were acceding to the property owner's wishes to be annexed. What is not said is that St. Petersburg will allow the property owner to greatly increase the unit density on the property and the county will not. This is not new; many cities use this form of implied extortion to lure commercial property in. Too bad if increased density ruins the aesthetic and quality of life of your neighborhood. Anyone living in St. Petersburg should be very concerned about the direction their city is taking them.
What makes this annexation particularly pathetic is that folks in Childs Park have been subjected to criminal activity for years; children are being shot and drug activity is rampant and yet St. Petersburg's leaders feel justified in enlarging their area of responsibility when they can't properly serve the area they already have. St. Petersburg's answer to their problems is to expand and spread their resources even thinner.
So much for responsible, responsive government.
Ray Neri, Lealman
Honoring a hero
When Master Patrol Officer Victor Guerrero was killed in an accident, your paper honored him with your story and with your picture of him. The following day you again honored him with your article about the man who hit him and the spotty driving record he had. Then when I went online and pulled up the Times, the picture of the Tampa police carrying his casket brought me to tears.
I was at his service; I went to represent our community because he patrolled our neighborhood and made us feel safer. Our children knew him and his car, and he would speak to them by name.
Your paper gave him a better tribute than the local paper that should have covered it all just as thoroughly.
Thank you for honoring a local hero.
Tammy A. Kerr, Tampa
Grateful for life-saving help
Our daughter, Shelly Copeland, a third-grade teacher at Folsom Elementary School in Thonotosassa, was able to celebrate her 33rd birthday on April 17, thanks to the quick emergency responses from several groups of people in Hillsborough County. She suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in her classroom on March 4.
We would like to thank the crisis team and staff members at Folsom Elementary, Mrs. Copeland's third-grade class, and the paramedics who arrived at the scene. We would also like to thank University Community Hospital for the outstanding care that she received during her stay in the intensive care unit. In addition, we would like to thank all the nurses and doctors at the Pepin Heart Hospital where she received her defibrillator/pacemaker.
We would like to thank William Darnall, public relations coordinator at University Community Hospital, for his daily support and encouragement. He was always there for us, which made our daily trips and lengthy stays at the hospital a very positive experience.
We know a mere "thank you" can never compensate for the heroic actions that took place that day in March. We will always remember the various teams that together saved our daughter's life.
Ron and Shirley Schoeler, Forest Grove, Ore.