Women deserve protection, too
I cannot express enough how angry I am when I read an article like the one in the paper Wednesday regarding child sex offenders. The headline asks Have sex-offender laws made children safer? Instead I ask, Have they ever made women in Florida safer? The answer is no.
The term "sex offender" has been used by Florida politicians following the tragic death of Jessica Lunsford, and in turn by Florida newspapers. Such an emotionally charged term leads to the general public's immediate yet mistaken assumption that anyone legally registered as a sex offender is a child sex abuser, when in fact most registered sex offenders were convicted of sexually assaulting women.
I find it shameful that Jessica Lunsford's death resulted in an onslaught of politicians clamoring to be the first ones to show their support for a bill protecting Florida's youth. Does no one care enough about the incidence of rape against women in the state of Florida to think to protect them?
This article only barely addressed the issue of the misuse of the term "sex offender" as a catch-all term when it stated the concerns of Jennifer Dritt of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
The council's Web site reports that 11,214 forcible sex offenses were reported in Florida in 2007 (statistics provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and only 3,064 arrests were made for said forcible sex offenses in 2007. The incidence of children as victims is significantly lower than that of women as victims.
All Floridians should look inside themselves and ask: What about the women of Florida? Don't they deserve protection against sex offenders too? This is an issue that our Legislature should address.
Stacey Kroto, Pinellas Park
Toyota acceleration problem
We need better training for drivers
Part of the problem we're having with this issue is that we don't train drivers to deal with emergencies. Our driver training, to the extent that we have any, is aimed at making sure drivers know how to read and interpret road signs, and know the laws dealing with driving. It does not really teach anyone how to deal with emergency situations. We do not teach people how to deal with blown tires. We do not teach them skid recognition, avoidance and recovery. Most notably for the current situation, we do not teach them what to do when their throttle gets stuck open.
Fortunately, I took the time to get training on these things, and I think it should be mandatory.
I have had to deal with stuck throttles in vehicles three times. One of those incidents ended with me fixing a throttle cable with a pair of pliers and a can of oil on the side of the road, and the other two ended with me replacing turbochargers in diesel trucks. None of them involved a 6-mile thrill ride at 100 mph, and none of them involved a crash.
For an automatic transmission, put the transmission in neutral, turn the ignition off, and bring the vehicle to a stop on the side of the road. In a diesel with a runaway, put the transmission in its highest gear and brake hard until the vehicle comes to a stop, stalling the engine in the process. Know these procedures, and hope you never have to use them.
Sure, Toyota should face the music for selling unsafe equipment, but the drivers themselves involved in the incidents bear at least an equal amount of the blame for not handling the emergency correctly. Further, the government should also face the music for failing to require emergency procedures training for drivers.
Alan S. Petrillo, St. Petersburg
A Ford fan
I recently became a Ford man. I like my Ford. It rides better than the Toyota I was driving. I feel something new, too — solidarity with my fellow Americans. When I need a repair, if there's a part that has to be replaced, the replacement will have been made by an American. On the road, I feel superior to drivers of foreign cars.
We can get through the present, lingering economic crisis. We have to make better decisions, such as which country to support in buying a car.
Alan Jude Murley, Tampa
Top car company
I worked for a Toyota dealer for many years before I retired 12 rears ago. Toyota was and still is one of the best automobile companies there is, and I know that they work harder than any other car company to make a safe, dependable car.
I have worked for other car companies most of my life and I found Toyota to be the best and the most safety-conscious of all. Why are our politicians stepping into this now? Is it because they are supporting unions? We know that all manufacturers have problems, but for some reason the news media are all over Toyota. Is it because they are the best company? Every Toyota that I have owned was always very dependable and safe.
John Tolson, Seminole
Rather than in-depth coverage of Tiger Woods' recent media statement by body language experts and word analysts, I would much rather hear the opinions in reference to Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, in his testimony before Congress.
The determination as to whether he is contrite, honest, forthright and truly humble as opposed to hiding something is far more relevant and important to a vast number of people than Tiger Woods' statements ever would be.
Lynn Cannella, Tampa
Missing the big wow | Feb. 24, story
Beauty, bravery overlooked
Dorothy Hamill's haircut? Mark Spitz's mustache? Olga Korbut's pigtails? Give me a break!
Instead of staring straight out from the front page of Wednesday's St. Petersburg Times, sports columnist Tom Jones should have looked down to the catch line below his own strange, less-than-wow piece:
"Canada's Joannie Rochette skates just days after her mother's death." A beautiful, poignant, brave moment at an Olympics not soon to be forgotten.
Robert Blackwell, Indian Shores
Missing the big wow | Feb. 24, story
I would like to suggest that your sports columnist, Tom Jones, take a few moments to interview just one of the participants in the Olympics. For him to say that the Olympics have not given us "that signature moment" shows that he has no understanding of the commitment and passion the Olympians have for their sport.
I believe these Olympians, their coaches, families and friends have had that signature moment. It began when they were chosen to compete at the Olympics. It is said that comparison is the thief of joy. In his quest, he is missing the joy. The best moments are not always the winning moments.
Jean Schutt, Tampa