Get moving on Florida mass transit | May 9, editorial
For transit, go with a monorail
As a Republican, I don't agree with a lot of the editorials in the Times, but I think mass transit is something we all should be able to agree on. No matter what your political views are, nobody likes to sit in traffic, breathe in smog or pay high gas prices. What I don't understand is, why is it so hard to get something done?
My suggestion to TBARTA (the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority) would be to forget existing rail lines or building new light rails that chew up money with road crossings that require safety guards and expensive rights of way. Forget bus systems that take three times as long to travel the county as cars.
The simple solution is a monorail system, like the one they have in Disney World. It's clean, quiet and efficient. You start with a center line (or loop) that connects the places that the most people are trying to get to. The line would run from downtown St. Petersburg and the new stadium, up by the dog track, over to St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport, across the bay to Tampa airport, then by Raymond James Stadium on its way to downtown Tampa. After this initial line is done, you could connect commuter routes out to certain areas, like Brandon, New Tampa, Northern Pinellas County.
A monorail could be run right down the middle of any four-lane street that has a median, if necessary. The cities already have the right of way in the median and on each side of the road. Places like the dog track should be more than willing to have a stop in their parking lot, considering the amount of additional business it would bring. Same for business areas such as Carillon Park.
The state and federal governments should be willing to look ahead and help fund the project. Interstate 4 is already overcrowded again, and it hasn't been that long since we finished adding a third lane to it. Unless we do something different, it will be time to start adding a fourth lane in many areas.
The overcrowded conditions of our airports and roads, along with the price of oil, dictate that we must have better and more efficient means of transportation. The benefits to our health and environment, along with the jobs that would be created, are an added bonus that should not be overlooked.
James Leonard, Largo
Rail transit requires first having enough people
Residential and employment densities are sorely lacking from local conversations about rail. Rail is too expensive for, "If you build it, they will come." Residential densities have to be at least nine dwelling units per acre, or 29 warm bodies per acre. The number of employment positions has to be much higher in the central business districts in order to financially justify rail.
Without the population densities rail requires, it is premature to start drawing lines on maps and talking about raising taxes. It is a common problem with communities that want rail. Neighborhoods, like Hyde Park, that want it are reluctant to accept the residential densities required to get it. Until land-use, zoning, residential and employment densities catch up, Tampa Bay rail will remain an unfulfilled and unfunded pipe dream.
Gene Wells, Tampa
Religious leaders add to the problems of our planet | May 13, letter
Look at underpopulation
This letter is still another piece lamenting the earth's overpopulation. It echoes a piece written recently by Robyn Blumner which also blamed religious extremists and their encouragement of "reckless reproduction levels."
But the issue is not overpopulation. It is the opposite, underpopulation. For a nation to sustain its population there must be a statistical average of 2.1 children per woman.
The United States is barely holding its own at this level, and that's only thanks to immigration. Canada and all the European countries have had declining birth rates for years and the consequences are devastating indeed. There is not one European country with a birth rate that will sustain its population. The only way they can maintain their socialist welfare lifestyle with its astronomical tax burden is through immigration. There must be an ever-increasing number of immigrant workers to support it. Where are these immigrants coming from? Muslim countries, of course.
And as Muslims become a greater part of the population, they are beginning to impose their demands, and are willing to back them up with violence. Witness the incident of the Danish cartoonist who in 2005 depicted Mohammed with a bomb on his head in the form of a turban. The Muslim reaction was violent and worldwide.
Why are so many people blind to these demographics? Western countries are being rapidly outnumbered in population. There is an awakening of sorts occurring in certain countries, but it is probably too little and too late.
Ronald Weaver, Brooksville
Violent game is garbage | May 10
Think of starving children
If one were to take a consensus, I'd guess that most of the people who buy the new Grand Theft Auto game would say that in real, everyday life they abhor actual violent crime but see no ambiguity in their values by owning and playing the game. I see such a response to be a non-sequitur.
To better see this incongruity, let's use another metaphor where innocent people die unjustly. Specifically, according to U.N. statistics, more than 30,000 children die each day of starvation.
Using hunger as a virtual weapon in a similar game, would such people declare:
"We abhor the idea of children dying of starvation, but we don't see anything wrong in owning and or playing Grand Theft Food, in which we can enjoy the fantasy of seeing and causing children to starve and die?"
Daniel P. Quinn, St. Petersburg
Crack down on illegals | May 12, letter
Be a loving country
The letter writer suggests that folks (Americans) should take back their country, and I wonder what country he will take since all our ancestors came here from different countries.
Since when is it against the law or indicating a lack of respect to have a sign written in Spanish, or to wave a flag of a foreign country — in this case, Mexico? What about the American citizens who display flags of another country on their cars?
I am not in favor of people coming in illegally, but don't forget that they are people, not animals. I don't understand why so many ignorant people are offended because there is another language spoken in our country (Spanish). Let us learn from the Europeans; in Europe, people commonly speak three or four languages.
I am not an illegal. I am a proud American and I love my country. Remember that America is known for being a loving country. Hate only leads to wars.
Candice Criscuoli, Spring Hill
The unmentioned issue
Perhaps I missed it in the thousands of column inches devoted to the new Rays stadium over the past few months, but I do not recall seeing two words that would seem to have some bearing on deciding whether the waterfront stadium should be built. Given that baseball is, for the most part a summer game, those two words are: hurricane season.
Jim Lyman, Lutz
Gotta give 'em credit — or else | May 16, Floridian story
Dumping on a clerk
Kyle Kreiger suggests protesting companies' cash surcharges by throwing nickels and pennies on the counter to pay his bill. The poor clerk is the one who has to count all those coins, not management. Not the people who made the rules.
The "powers that be" will never be inconvenienced by such an act, just the unfortunate underpaid guy behind the counter.
B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg