This article was heartbreaking. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission needs to ban the "harvesting" — in reality the killing — of Florida's turtles. Alabama and Texas have already restricted or banned the harvest. Florida wisely already protects the box turtle and the gopher tortoise.
We need to put a stop to the harvest before our freshwater turtles also become endangered. Why should we allow a few hundred people to deprive the rest of us the pleasure of seeing freshwater turtles in the wild?
I urge everyone to contact their state legislators to have them put a stop to the "harvest." The Turtle Survival Alliance was formed in 2001 in response to the Asian turtle crisis. We need to act before our turtles also become endangered.
Dick Snell, St. Petersburg
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seems to have forgotten what its mission is: the conservation of Florida wildlife.
Their unethical and ready willingness to allow Florida's softshell turtles to continue to be decimated to primarily serve the appetites of Asians reflects poorly upon the commission's usefulness to Florida citizens.
As stewards of our state's wildlife, their obligation is to protect Florida's natural resources for present and future generations.
Tom Bird, Ph.D., Tampa
I'm perturbed that after a headline promulgating the burgeoning Chinese importation of Florida turtles, there was not one hard statistic about Chinese import levels, only vague figures unconnected to Asia. The one pertinent quote does not even name China, but rather "Asian countries." Asia disappears from the story after the third paragraph.
The Chinese are not poaching turtles from Florida lakes and streams; Floridians are. Should the Chinese be monitoring the turtle population levels in rural Florida?
Shame on you for publishing an article whose negatively connotative headline had little/nothing to do with the body text.
Dylan Johnson, Odessa
An appalling practice
What I learned from Monday's article appalled me. Not only do we send our money and jobs to China, but we are sending our turtles too. I find it absolutely unacceptable that it is legal to capture and export our wildlife. This pillaging unnaturally upsets the balance of the ecosystem and food chain. And the turtles suffer during shipping, packed in crates without room to move or breathe and without food.
William Shockley is mistaken in thinking that "it's a good, honest living." The state needs to set laws to protect our wildlife immediately.
Kristen Howard, Tampa
Tampa Bay Rays
Winning team might have won a new stadium
Everywhere you go these days, you hear the same thing: "Go Rays." I would wager it was — and is — the most uttered phrase in the Tampa Bay area in the past two weeks. I've never felt anything like the enthusiasm for the Rays.
If the team announced plans for a new waterfront stadium today, there would be many more "Let's build it" signs than the red "No new waterfront stadium" signs. They might even have had a chance if the stadium was on the ballot this November, even though people here regard messing with the waterfront on a par with giving nuclear secrets to Iran. I would love to see the results of a St. Petersburg Times poll taken now as compared to the stadium option polls taken in the past.
Unfortunately, the Rays made the stadium plan public six weeks after finishing with the worst record in baseball. Bad timing, but who knew? What else can I say but, "Go Rays."
Bob Guckenberger, St. Petersburg
Rays win at the Trop
It's awesome! Our Rays are winning their way to the top and it's quite an adrenaline rush! Go, Rays!
They did it in the current stadium, Tropicana Field. They did it with minimal if any parking problems. They did it and filled the stadium finally. The fans came. The businesses are flourishing.
Now ask yourself, if they were able to do it in the Trop now, why in the world do they need a new stadium? They proved it does not take a stadium to make a team. It does take a bad economy to rethink wanting to build an expensive, flashy new stadium.
Why go backward and owe, owe, super-owe? Maybe with this stroke of great luck we can go forward with the newly refurbished (remember they recently fixed 'er up!) Trop. I find it interesting that all of a sudden the committee formed and splayed all over the newspaper has disappeared from view. Are they hoping they won't have to do a thing and the winning team will do it for them? I hope not.
Let's not take what our guys are doing for us and use it as leverage. Let's rethink the stadium issue and realize it is not necessary for winning games.
Lynn Friedman, Pinellas Park
Try a different celebration
The Tampa Bay Rays are one of the best sports stories of the year; their achievements have earned our respect. This team, even if it wins not another game (perish the thought), is richly entitled to honors and celebrations.
But how about some innovations in the latter? Taking nothing away from their glory, could attention be given to a more dignified, classier ritual of exultation?
Should our guys whup the Evil Ones from Boston, might that great victory be marked by an alternative to the traditional alcohol-soaked frenzy? The fizz fests modeled to every Rays fan in recent weeks, including the impressionable young, have a "Joe Camel" frat house quality — wasteful, grotesque and unfortunate.
Sure, every winning team does it, but so what? It still looks stupid and gross. The unspoken image is unmistakable: Booze (even expensive champagne) is essential to experience joy and happiness.
In fact, exuberant good times are available with other forms of refreshment. Maybe the Rays management should invite suggestions — while we prepare to cheer the team to the next celebration.
Donald B. Ardell, St. Petersburg
Young Rays fan, 12, pays big price for Mohawk haircut | Oct. 9
Lighten up, guys! Young Master Sharples is not the Unabomber. He is getting into the spirit of things. The other day, the produce manager at my local Sweetbay supermarket was doing the same thing and it offended no one and inspired nothing subversive as he was displaying lettuce.
I know school officials will argue that if they allow this for one, what will come next? Well, they may have to deal with that one, but I trust they will exhibit the wisdom of Solomon and be more sensible. I would ask the lad to address the school and discuss why he was so inspired. Now there's a lesson!
Don Jones Jr., Safety Harbor
It amazes me that while we are in the midst of what may be the most critical financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Tampa Bay Rays still rated banner headlines on the front page earlier this week. I know that I am far from the first St. Petersburg Times reader to complain about this, but I want to add my voice to that of the others.
Even on a slow news day this sort of thing belongs on the Sports page, not the front page. But it is especially annoying to see on the day after the market dropped precipitously to record lows for the second time in a week, when the financial community in Europe is now mirroring our own situation, and it seems clear that there may be no end in sight to this spiraling economic disaster.
When are the news media going to stop treating entertainment as news?
John Feeney, Tampa
More accuracy, less fraud on Nov. 4 and Law risks voiding legitimate ballots | op-ed articles by Kurt Browning and Adam Skaggs on the no match-no vote law
Impediments to voting
I am angry about this law and Florida's evident inability to count votes. My husband and I have lived in three other states with no voting problems.
We moved to Hernando County in August. My husband went to the County Center in Brooksville to register, showing his identification. About one or two weeks later, he received a letter stating that he was ineligible to register because his Social Security number didn't match with government databases.
He called back and stated the number was correct as shown on the paperwork they sent him. Eventually they said "oops" and registered him.
Tell me how many "Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpacks" are going to go to this trouble? Now tell me it wasn't because he registered as a Democrat.
Mary Holzhauer, Brooksville
Pinellas needs more sites
It really concerns me that Hillsborough County has 13 early voting sites while Pinellas County has only three, making it difficult for seniors, working families and people without cars to get to these distant locations. The mail-in ballot leaves too much margin for error, and there's no way of knowing how many people actually voted.
This year more than ever we need to make sure every vote counts. I strongly urge Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark to open more early voting sites.
Eileen O'Connor, Indian Rocks Beach
Vote verification wanted
As a mail-in ballot voter, I feel a great need for verification of my vote. Having worked in the election office for several years, I know how busy election clerks are. Perhaps a simple return slip verifying receipt of one's ballot could be mailed after an election is completed. Early voting sites in each election precinct would ease the burden on Election Day.
Sue Goldman, Indian Rocks Beach
Obama showed a lack of business sense and The wealthy pay the way | Oct. 9, letters
Business needs credit
I'm surprised at letter writers who are obviously business people but can't see the other side of the coin, so to speak.
I've owned a small business for 15 years, so let me just say that when Barack Obama as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress talk about businesses needing credit to make payroll, it's just a fact. The first letter writer says he can operate his business from cash flow — and here's to his good fortune — but that isn't the norm, especially for start-up businesses. Small as well as medium to large businesses often have to operate on credit before they can build necessary cash reserves. It's why we have to keep the credit markets flowing with the bailout, rescue, or whatever you choose to call it.
To the letter writer who says the rich must remain so to create jobs, that's one way of looking at it, though the demand for such jobs is now outstripping supply. Will the rich have to pay more taxes? Probably, due to our nation's big deficits.
C. Fay, Safety Harbor
Don't reward failure
I just don't get it, being rewarded for doing a lousy job. We hear it time and time again how these CEOs walk away with millions of dollars. But if you're a regular working person and screw up, you get booted out the door.
I have no problem with firing someone who deserves it, but these guys who also deserve to be let go get tons of money for doing a less than stellar job. Doesn't sound right to me. Can I be in charge of packing these parachutes?
Linda Brusco, New Port Richey
Getting help to our young | Oct. 4
Will it really be helpful?
Lara Jakobsons' essay about the alarming number of children who do not receive the mental health services they need lacks just a little bit of other relevant information. As Jakobsons points out that we need to get many more children into mental health services, she doesn't offer any information as to the effectiveness of the services provided by mental health practitioners.
In other words, once we get all of these children into her office and those of her colleagues, what happens next? Who will benefit?
Frans van Haaren, St. Petersburg
Courageous and beloved | Oct. 2, Martin Dyckman column on Louis de la Parte Jr.
The value of public service
Martin Dyckman wrote a very touching column about the history of a former state senator, Louis de la Parte Jr., and about his close involvement with Florida state government before his health was affected by Alzheimer's disease.
When you write about the life of such a man you realize the value of lifelong association with government and the importance to the citizens. I think that Sen. de la Parte would have been upset with term limits and the small value some of the public place on public service.
Many years ago as a government employee of the state of Michigan, my office had many contacts with Florida state government. We held the staff and the work of the Florida Legislature in high esteem due to their being in the lead in solving regulatory problems of the day.
I wish the attitudes of the '70s and '80s were present when it came to addressing the business problems of today. Sen. de la Parte was aware of the social problems in society and was able to set about trying to correct them.
Paul C. Blatt, Dunedin