The funeral of Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz
Fallen soldier deserved a better turnout
Last week, I attended the funeral Mass for Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz at St. Cecelia Catholic Church in Clearwater. Though I did not know Spc. Huerta-Cruz, I attended because I went to high school at Countryside for a year (as he did), and attended St. Cecelia Church as a child (also as he did). Mostly however, I attended because Spc. Huerta-Cruz, though not an American citizen, died for his family, for his community, for his country, and for me.
It has taken me a week to write this letter in order for the anger and embarrassment I felt in that church to settle in my stomach. The church was only about two-thirds full, and most of those there appeared to be Hispanic. As I looked around the church, there seemed to be only a handful of members of the general public who cared enough to attend.
St. Cecelia Church is a large space located in central Pinellas County. The Mass was held at 6 p.m., after most working hours. Where were all the people who drive around with "Support our troops" stickers? Where were all the people who profess to support our troops? Where the people who lecture about the contribution Mexican immigrants were making to our country? I can tell you where they were not — at the funeral of a Mexican-American hero, Spc. Huerta-Cruz, supporting his family.
Joena Bartolini, Tampa
Crist pushes gas tax holiday | April 29, story
The governor is now proposing a 10-cent gas tax holiday for two weeks in July. Exactly what kind of relief is that supposed to generate? Even if I fill my tank twice during that time, the 22 gallons I consume will save me a whopping $2.20.
And if this measure was designed to increase summer travel, imagine everyone in the state taking their driving vacations in the same two-week period!
Have they gone loco in Tallahassee? With state budget cuts looming, this is not the time for handouts to gas-guzzlers.
Ray Dabkowski, Dunedin
Crist pushes gas tax holiday | April 29, story
Not a green idea
Gov. Charlie Crist is pushing hard for a gas tax holiday, which contradicts all his recent "green" declarations. A gas tax holiday, while a relief for motorists, does nothing but encourage consumption.
The economy stinks and gas prices have something to do with it, but why should we be encouraging consumption of one of the primary reasons there is a climate crisis?
This tax holiday is a populist attempt to satisfy Florida citizens who have not seen any real solutions to Florida's mounting economic problems proposed by Crist or others in power.
John Fontana, Palm Harbor
Help bus riders instead
Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal for a tax holiday on gasoline is a typical Republican reward to the wealthy and wasteful that is being sold as a break for the poor and struggling. This tax break would provide the greatest savings to the rich who drive gas-guzzling Bentleys as well as the wasteful people who drive Hummers and other giant SUVs.
If the governor truly wants to help those who are struggling, he should subsidize local governments throughout the state so they can waive bus fares for two weeks. This is how you could help those who truly need it.
Additionally, this could encourage new ridership of mass transit which would actually benefit the environment rather than lowering the price of gas, encouraging drivers to use more of it and create more pollution.
H. Clay Walkup, Tampa
Parking at Tropicana Field
A traffic mess
Congratulations to the Rays for their great weekend of baseball. It is fun to see the fans get excited about good baseball.
However, the St. Petersburg police and Tropicana Field authorities receive an F for their part. On Saturday it took 1 1/2 hours to get from the highway into a parking space! We left Clearwater at 5 p.m. and just made it to our $235 seats at 7:10.
Drivers were irate and tempers were flaring. It was not a good experience. A new stadium would be the last thing I would vote for when they can't handle this one. As we cheer the Rays for being in first place, the powers that be need to get their act together before I venture there again.
Paula Shea, Palm Harbor
A winning venue
Hurray for the Rays. Watching them beat the Red Sox was great. Watching them beat them in air-conditioned splendor was even better. It just goes to show that the Rays don't need a new stadium to win. A good team can win anywhere.
Let's keep Tropicana Field in place and develop around it. Then you have a true win-win situation. The Rays can keep winning, the fans can be comfortable and the city can keep the tax money generated by development for much-needed city services.
Faith Andrews Bedford, St. Petersburg
Stop persecuting Al-Arian
I write to urge the Times to use its influence — in print and otherwise — to request federal government officials to end the persecution and inhumane treatment of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, the former USF professor found by a jury of peers to be not guilty on eight terrorism charges.
Furthermore, I urge you to suggest to your readers that they, too, have a responsibility in this matter of seeking justice in this case.
I have known Dr. Al-Arian and his wife since 1990. I consider them to be honorable persons who are true to their Islamic faith by opting to be compassionate to their fellow men by caring for, and serving, those who are suffering from being oppressed.
Their "being true to their faith" is parallel to what I, a practicing Christian (United Methodist) attempt in being compassionate and caring for people in unfortunate circumstances.
Dr. Al-Arian is not the only victim here, of course. His wife and family are, too.
Why does our government insist upon continuing its inhumane harassment of Dr. Al-Arian, thus risking alienating the sentiments of the thousands of "right-thinking" Muslims in the United States, as well as giving further cause for "right-thinking" Muslims worldwide to think ill of us?
Please, lend your efforts toward effecting the release of Dr. Al-Arian.
Paul E. Dinnis, Brandon
Don't mix science and religion | April 25, editorial
Einstein and God
Albert Einstein would definitely not be comfortable with your separation of science and God. Who are we to prevent children from discovering what intelligence there might be in the universe?
The following comes from "What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck," the Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 26, 1929:
"I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."
Steve Curtiss, Seminole
Excellence in reviewing
Over the 15 years I have lived here, I have learned to appreciate deeply the commitment of John Fleming to the local arts. His review of the Friday evening performance of Opera Tampa's Tosca brought tears to my eyes.
It is a difficult job to nurture local performers and still present a musically responsible perspective on standards of performance. Yet that balance is demanded of his position.
Fleming's sensitive comments on the treasure our community enjoys in conductor Anton Coppola reminds me of the work of Winthrop Sargeant when he wrote for the New Yorker. His reviews were not only instructive and insightful but also made me wish that I had been able to attend the performances he discussed.
John Fleming's comments often urge me to attend performances I might otherwise have neglected. Thank you for ongoing excellence, Mr. Fleming.
Soden A. (Denny) Smith, Dunedin