Find a place to serve as a volunteer
This week, all four major television networks have committed to highlighting volunteer service in their programming as a part of the "I Participate" initiative. The initiative, launched by ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, will shine a spotlight on the power of service in more than 90 top-rated shows such as 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives, CSI: New York and Grey's Anatomy. During the week, you can watch volunteers serving on TV and hear their stories of what service means to them.
Why is volunteer service so important? The answer is simple: Volunteering is recognized as a critical component to fulfilling unmet needs in Florida's communities, especially during these challenging times.
Amazing stories of service are happening in Florida every day. Local volunteers may not see their stories on national TV, but every Florida resident witnesses the effects of their work across the state. Volunteers offer their time and resources daily to tackle the tough challenges facing our communities, from education to homelessness.
But more "boots" are needed on the ground throughout Florida. I challenge every bay area resident to get involved with volunteer service. Get active in local service projects and initiatives and earn the privilege of being called a "service hero."
To find opportunities for meaningful volunteer work, please contact the nonprofit, faith or community-based organization of your choice and offer your services. You may also contact the United Way of Tampa Bay Volunteer Center at (813) 274-0900 (www.uwtb.org) or Volunteer Hernando at (352) 688-2026. Volunteer connector organizations like these are experts at matching potential volunteers with suitable volunteer opportunities.
Today, you are needed more than ever before, and I hope you will take advantage of your next opportunity to feel the satisfaction and pride that comes along with service to others. There's no better time than now to put your passion into action and make our state and our country a better place to live.
Wendy Spencer, CEO, Governor's Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, Tallahassee
Put up or shut up | Oct. 15, editorial
Chamber mission is distorted by politics
Your editorial and other recent articles pertaining to the statewide system of chambers of commerce have begun to shine light on an organization that I believe has been operating under false colors for some time.
In late May I resigned as the chairman of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's Governmental Affairs Committee after serving in that position for five months, designing its functional task force structure and putting key leadership in place to ensure its success. I did not want to resign. However, I found myself ethically bound to that decision.
I became unequivocally convinced that the statewide chamber system is corrupt relative to its stated objectives of broad and diverse business advocacy. Political orthodoxy has long taken the place of the best interests of local communities and average business people.
Somewhere along the way the chamber system took a hard turn to the right while simultaneously becoming a de facto political party. Today, it only effectively represents the interests of a small segment of the dues-paying members throughout Florida. These are the power brokers, state and local, private sector and in local government. Every business member who does not ascribe to that far right orthodoxy has effectively been disenfranchised, regardless of what they may have thought was the raison d'etre of their respective chamber organization as they wrote their dues renewal check.
Chamber leaders at the local board level are usually well-meaning individuals. However, it is up to every local business member to ensure that his or her own chamber board sees the uniquely best interests of the community as its absolute first priority. They must have in place paid executives who understand and will implement that duty as opposed to a particular personal political bent or adherence to direction from a remote central entity.
Following closely are the interests of the entire local business community, broad, pluralistic and lacking as much orthodoxy as may be required to be truly representative.
Failing the above tests, each renewing member has a truly democratic vote with their checkbook every year.
Robert W. Murphy, Clearwater
Protesters picket outside Times office Oct. 18, story
A skewed view
In this story, the St. Petersburg Times executive editor says, "We recognize that often the most unpopular place to be is somewhere in the middle and we're comfortable with that."
In the middle? Maybe the middle of the left but not now nor at any time has the Times been in the middle of the right vs. left.
The Times may on occasion stray to the right side of issues but only because it will be in its own local economic best interest.
The comment by the executive editor of the Times illustrates his Alice in Wonderland ideals, and that is precisely the point.
Perry Cross, Largo
Protesters picket outside Times office Oct. 18, story
Reporting without a slant
I subscribe to the St. Petersburg Times because I find the reporting to be fair and balanced. It is only because of their commitment to voice the variety of concerns of all citizens that the views of this small group of protesters were reported at all.
One of the protesters lamented, "It's time for the country to go back to what the Founding Fathers wanted it to be — a republic and free."
The truth is that the good old days were only good for certain citizens. Others were considered to be second-class and far from free.
I hope the Times will continue their reporting just as they do now, without extremist slants in either direction.
J.E. Jones, Tampa
Obama's senior moment | Oct. 16, editorial
A flawed calculation
The official calculated cost of living is flawed when it comes to seniors. Two of the major costs facing seniors today are medical and food costs.
Those who calculate of the cost of living should go to a supermarket and research the rise in basic food in this market.
In addition they should check the retail cost of drugs that seniors face in the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole."
Perhaps there should be a more realistic cost of living to determine the seniors' COLA.
Bennett Hoffman, Clearwater