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Effort to help children mixes hope with frustration

Project etiquette | May 25, story

A tale mixing hope and frustration
This story is compelling and hopeful, but mostly frustrating. One cannot help but recognize the dedication and humanity of the teachers, the guidance counselor, and the law enforcement officer who are giving their time to a program because they want to "do something." They are a reflection of the vast majority of the people on our school staffs and in the law enforcement community.

The plight of Ajabu Brown and her brothers and sisters begs for compassion. These little children had no choice in where or to whom they were born. Their neighborhood, their home and school are no more under their control than the sunrise. Yet, each day they are "beaten," sometimes literally, by negative forces surrounding them. How are they to adjust and grow into responsible adulthood? Why shouldn't they be bitter?

One frustration is knowing that if the teachers and the guidance counselor don't succeed, some "leaders" in our society will brand them as uncaring, incompetent and lazy and some will attribute the lack of success to racial prejudice.

Another is that statistically, half of Ajabu's brothers will end up in prison. When that happens, the law enforcement officers will face criticism. Some will label them as uncaring, lazy and incompetent and some will see them as racially prejudiced.

But perhaps the most frustrating part of the story is in the first line, "Ajabu Brown is the fifth of 10 children of a single mother…" The mother had her first child when she was "barely a teenager" and she is now 33 years old. The story reflects a sense of caring on her part. She works two jobs, tries to teach her children to do the right thing, and resists neighborhood forces that she sees as dangerous to them. But why is she having so many babies so often? How do we as a community, a society, stop this?

Thank you, teachers, guidance counselor, and law enforcement officer. At least you are trying.

Terry Hensley, St. Pete Beach
Project etiquette | May 25, story

Language is also
important to success

It was nice of you to write about the Just Elementary Ladies and Gentlemen's Club and the efforts to teach children proper etiquette when eating out, as well as manners. I liked the article and am all for Just Elementary.

I would also like to add something more for the club to consider. Manners and etiquette are important but so is proper use of the English language. It is true that you can be anything you choose if you apply yourself. Getting a job, however, can be difficult, no matter how far your education has taken you, if you can't speak properly.

It should also be taught that being a mother at an early age is not going to help you get out of public housing and achieve your goals.

Ajabu Brown is to be commended as are all the children in the program. They are getting to see a glimpse of a brighter future that sadly most may never see. Keep up the good work, Just Elementary, for the children's sake.

Curt Keeton, Tampa

Rays lead in standings, trail in attendance
May 29

The Trop's troubles

Gary Shelton's column did recognize that it does take some time for the fans to realize that the team is for real — particularly when they have been exposed to 10 years of what is at best mediocre baseball. But he did not mention one factor which, given the current controversy regarding the new stadium project, I thought would be raised: Tropicana Field itself is a deterrent to attendance.

It is clearly not a baseball stadium; the air is stale; there is no natural light, no natural grass. When the attendance does climb above 18,000 or 20,000, getting in and out of the parking area is a nightmare. And many people complain it is too cold inside.

Not only would the new stadium fix those problems, it would also attract the "social" fans who are looking for an experience beyond the game itself.

Paul Carder, St. Petersburg

Rays lead in standings, trail in attendance
May 29

The city falls short

A buddy and I went to the Rays' Wednesday afternoon game, my seventh of the season — six were wins. The Cleveland Indians, with a losing record, drew three times as many fans for their game that day.

The proposed waterfront stadium makes no sense, either. Who wants to sit outside for three hours on a hot, humid St. Petersburg evening? The Trop's not bad, it just needs a new carpet.

Much as I prefer outdoor baseball, as a 50-year fan of the game, I think this isn't the city for it. And, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, "If they don't come, Charlotte will build it."

Peter Ford, Tierra Verde

Trop site hazard

A serious snag

First, the city staff did not reveal for several months the Rays' proposal to build a new stadium. Now we learn that for several years the state has mandated deed restrictions on the Tropicana site due to possible contamination, which the city has ignored.

This is reason enough to squash the stadium proposal which hinges on the redevelopment of the Tropicana site.

This raises the question: Was city government incompetent or corrupt? The mayor owes residents an answer.

Jack Vanderbleek, St. Petersburg

Cast a wider net

Thanks for your extensive coverage of the waterfront stadium issue.

How about an article about the latest trend in Major League Baseball? Stadiums are being designed to include complimentary attractions in order to attract the nonbaseball fan as part of a larger group of patrons. Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, is at the forefront of this trend. The Rays don't even mention this trend, perhaps because there is no room at the waterfront site. Yet there is room at the Trop!

Also, check out the Web site for Chene Park in Detroit: This is a design that is similar to the avant-garde beauty of design for the proposed waterfront stadium. A concert venue is much more aligned with the ambiance of the emerging waterfront arts district than a stadium. The Wikipedia Web site has the best picture of Chene Park.

Rand Moorhead, director, Urban Design Consortium, LLC, St. Petersburg and Detroit, Mich.

Presidential salute | May 29, World in a snap

Unprofessional antics

While I can understand the exuberance of a new U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, it irks me, to no end, to see the president of my country acting in such a sophomoric and completely unprofessional manner. It is embarrassing to me to see the leader of this nation executing a "chest bump" during the academy's formal graduation ceremony. For a man who supposedly prides himself on being referred to as the commander in chief, this action depicted in the Associated Press photo demonstrates a lack of decorum and is disrespectful of the office of the president.

As a career Air Force officer with 31 years of service, I find this juvenile/adolescent action to be highly distasteful and undignified. Most certainly other world leaders will also deem it a ridiculous display. If he is to be taken seriously, he should leave the bumping of chests and the high fives where they are more appropriate, in the sports arena.

Orfeo Trombetta, Seminole

Effort to help children mixes hope with frustration 05/31/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2008 7:53pm]
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