Family braces for more pain to come | July 13, story
Don't make police work impossible Without question, the most tragic aspect of the recent incident in Pinellas Park, where suspects fled the scene of a drug sting, is that an innocent driver and passengers were victims. I see another tragic aspect, which I believe is becoming a dangerous pattern:
We bear down on law enforcement officers and insist they do their jobs to protect us and our ability to move about without fear. It seems to me that, in recent years, when the police do this, they get harsh criticism. When they are not proactive and assertive enough in protecting our community, they also get harsh criticism.
How long can we ask that police officers deal with this demoralization without becoming so unnerved that they leave and find other professions? Will we end up with a situation where few are willing to serve in this way, and where the maintenance of peace in our community further erodes?
As a teacher of many years, I have seen how the undermining of the authority of public servants results in consequences that none of us welcomes.
I appeal to the people to not tear down those who we insist protect society. It's not only contrary to our integrity, it's beyond all reason.
John N.C. Meros, St. Petersburg
Cocaine sting turned deadly | July 12, story
A victim of the drug war
Another innocent victim is dead as a result of the "war on drugs." Nachenga E. Robinson, 32, died because of the incompetence of a Pinellas Park Police Department's botched drug sting.
If you support the United States' and Florida's draconian drug laws, then please do the correct thing and accept your responsibility for the death of this young mother. The drug dealers followed their natural instincts to try and avoid years of incarceration and abuse at the hands of the people of the United States and our great state for the crime of dealing in illicit drugs. They chose to engage in capitalism. How horrible.
Please don't get me wrong. I do not wish to encourage people to use illegal drugs. But I recognize that the best solution to this problem is education, not criminalization.
I grieve for the family of Nachenga E. Robinson. But I refuse to make scapegoats out of the two men who followed their natural instincts of survival. Instead I put the responsibility of her loss upon the mercenary criminal justice industry and on those who have bought into their lies.
Patrick E. Timmel, St. Petersburg A secret vote, public aid, for whom? Or for what? | July 9, story
Setting the record straight
When reporter Cristina Silva called me on July 7, I had just gotten back from vacation and really didn't know much about what had transpired the previous week. I told her I saved all of the newspapers and would have a better understanding of what she wanted from me after reading them. She continued, however, and asked me if I had been briefed by city staff on the possible relocation of Jabil Circuit, and the use of incentives to keep them here.
When I was initially briefed and subsequently voted on this issue, I only knew that it was a company currently in our city that employs a substantial number of citizens and is looking into expansion (Jabil Circuit was never mentioned specifically, although I have since learned this was the company). I replied that I was given a broad overview of the situation and felt that "we need to do everything reasonable to keep a company such as that here."
The city staff at no time ever said that I had to vote a certain way. They know better than to do that. I vote for what I believe is in the best interest of the city and the citizens. I voted in favor of the incentives without knowing what specific company was involved, not because of intimidation, but because I believe these economic times require us to keep employment opportunities in our city. It is more prudent to keep companies here than to try to lure them later.
Ms. Silva continued her query, citing the confidentiality letter that the city had enacted. I responded that, although I feel it is important for the public to be kept abreast of city negotiations, there are sometimes sensitive issues that make it imprudent to do so until an agreement is reached. These are meant to be business discussions, not clandestine "wheeling and dealings." Because other cities were involved, I agreed this was probably the best way to handle this particular issue.
I never mentioned that they were going to move to California because I don't know that. What I told her is that there are a couple of other states (Michigan and California) that have expressed interest in having Jabil Circuit move there, but my feeling is that if things could be worked out, they would stay.
Bill Dudley, St. Petersburg City Council member, St. Petersburg
Why bother? | July 11, letter
A place in our democracy
The letter writer replied to your editorial, Work still to be done on rights restoration, by suggesting our state government should not put much emphasis or money into notifying ex-felons of their newly restored rights.
"Why bother?" the headline asked. Maybe it is because we Americans call ourselves a democracy. Even our governor admits, "Everybody deserves a second chance."
Therefore, all of our citizens — especially those who have served their time and paid their debt to society — deserve the right to participate, including voting, and to become part of society's mainstream.
Furthermore, one should not presume how people with newly restored rights might vote. What kind of society do we want anyway — one in which citizen participation is limited?
Glenn A. Paul, Indian Rocks Beach
Polk jail inmates will eat bland food — and like it | July 10
Meat of the matter
Bravo to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd for having the guts to state: "If you don't like the bill of fare at the county jail, behave. Quit violating the law and stay out of the county jail. You can eat anything you want when you're at home."
If you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime. It's simple and makes wonderful sense.
Elvina L. Bergmann, St. Pete Beach
California slashes Allstate rates 25% | July 11, story
How can they do it?
Please tell me I wasn't dreaming. At my advanced age, I sometimes can't tell fact from fiction. I believe I read in the Times a couple of days ago that Allstate Insurance was forced by the state of California to lower the premiums on homeowner policies by about $250 each and that the average policy would then be about $600 a year.
California real estate prices have historically been higher than those in Florida. With all the fires, earthquakes, landslides, etc., how is this possible?
Ray Rasmussen, Tampa
Charlie Crist's engagement
Real news, please
News of Gov. Charlie Crist's engagement may satisfy the social curiosity of many, but I hardly think it warrants front-page news for two days, or even one day for that matter. This type of editorial decisionmaking smacks of political ambition for both the governor and possibly the powers that be at the St. Petersburg Times.
I moved to Tampa from another state a few months ago and the St. Petersburg Times was the first to call me with a home delivery offer, which I took. I am considering switching to "you know who" in order to get "real" news delivered daily.
Susan Wood, Tampa
The gov's fiancee | July 13, story
Just so happy
Thank you for devoting so much of the Sunday paper to the governor's lovely fiancee. I like nothing better than reading about the lavish lifestyle of the "super rich." It makes me forget about my budgeting to pay for housing, insurance, taxes, medical bills, food and gas — because I am so happy for them.
I am overjoyed to be able to contribute to their extensive "pre-honeymoon" (with $1,800 per night suites). It doesn't matter that I can't take a vacation, because I am so happy for them.
It made my day to know that we will have Carole in the governor's mansion, and possibly as our next vice presidential wife. Charlie has been too conservative — she will teach him how to really live. I can't wait to read about the fabulous wedding and the next "honeymoon." Please print all the details so we can get a vicarious thrill — and be happy for them.
P.S.: I think I've totally lost my mind. What do you think?
Virgina Berry, St. Petersburg