Good theater, bad policy on planes | Jan. 10, editorial
Significant savings with driving
This editorial appears to favor keeping Florida's official planes. I disagree. I am a pilot and previous owner of two single-engine airplanes. I am also an accountant, so I am familiar with the cost of operating an aircraft.
I no longer own an airplane due to the cost of operating and maintaining vs. traveling by car. Many people traverse Florida for business on a daily basis by car even if a plane is available. There are significant savings by driving.
As to lost productivity, with wireless connections of all types it is easy to keep in contact and control while on the road. In time of crisis the editorial argues that a plane would help, but I know of no pilot willing to risk his or your life by flying into an approaching hurricane.
I am sorry that some people will lose their jobs and I wish them a short job hunt. Aircraft travel is a luxury that this state can no longer afford.
As to the governor flying in his own plane, good for him. He can afford it. As to arrogance, if being arrogant means saving money for taxpayers, I want more arrogance in our elected officials.
Brian MacKay, Riverview
A date of pride and sorrow
To Lithuanians living at home or as expatriates in foreign lands, including hundreds of thousands of descendants in the United States, the 20th anniversary of the events that occurred in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, on Jan. 13, 1991, are remembered with both sorrow and pride. After declaring independence from the Soviet Union on March 11 of the previous year, pressure continued to be applied to the Lithuanian people by Soviet troops and policies of nonrecognition of that independence.
Tensions mounted to a fever pitch in January 1991 when tens of thousands of Lithuanian citizens, peacefully demonstrating and clamoring for freedom, tried to defend the most important news media outlet in the country — their television broadcast tower — from being silenced.
The occupying Soviet troops responded swiftly. On Jan. 13, 1991, 14 innocent Lithuanians were killed by Soviet bullets and tank treads at the base of the television tower. Six hundred others were injured. Thankfully, in the following days, the violence subsided with orders from Moscow to ease the pressure.
In December 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. Gradually, the occupying troops retreated from Lithuania and the ugly chapter of Soviet occupation was finally over. Today, Lithuania is a free, democratic republic and a member of the European Union and NATO.
Millions of Lithuanians remember with pride and sorrow the ultimate sacrifice that 14 brave souls made in the name of freedom 20 years ago this week.
Al Karnavicius, St. Petersburg
Winner of the week | Jan. 10
We're the losers
After you called Kurt Browning the "winner of the week" for his lucrative double-dipping, you should have given the "loser of the week" to the taxpayers of Florida.
Double-dipping, at any level, should be prohibited. In Browning's case, drawing a salary from the state while also drawing a pension is just wrong. Either you're retired or you're not. Even if he qualifies for a pension, he shouldn't get it until he retires. It may be legal, but it's wrong.
Ernest Lane, Trinity
A poor example
Something smells about Kurt Browning and his double-dipping scheme. The governor is entitled to fill positions with the best available people, but this sets a bad precedent.
I'm a former employee of the U.S. House of Representatives who retired in 1994. I'd love to keep my pension and regain my former position, currently paying $172,000 annually, but that can't happen. If I went back on the federal payroll the amount of my pension would be deducted from my salary. That should certainly be the case with Browning.
This is unfair to taxpayers and certainly not setting a good example in these lean fiscal times.
Robert H. Cooksey, St. Petersburg
Keep orchestra healthy
Do the various Tampa Bay area governments and community leaders really want to attract new industry and businesses to the region?
As anyone who has been involved in these kind of efforts will tell you, CEOs being wooed to an area are interested in the state of the arts community in the cities they are considering.
I am afraid that a CEO would not look favorably upon the plight of the Florida Orchestra. The orchestra is cutting back to 65 musicians. Most major orchestras typically have a full complement of about 85 players. This cutback is a blow to the classical music scene and will limit the music the orchestra can play and lower the sound quality. In addition, the season is being reduced to 25 weeks, making it more difficult to raise funds. This will result in losing the most talented players because of cuts in their income.
If we can build three new museums, why can't we support an orchestra? There are many cities that are smaller than Tampa that have larger orchestras. The orchestra not only benefits classical music lovers but the Tampa Bay area as a whole. When new industries relocate to our area there is a trickle-down effect for the economy.
If we are to have an orchestra to be proud of, both local government and industry need to step up to keep this great asset financially healthy.
Rich Reed, Tampa
Special reinforcements for Dalí | Jan. 9
Welcome skill, dedication
I enjoyed the section on the new Dalí Museum in Sunday's paper. It was well done. What I kept going back to was the last page of Floridian, which illustrated the workers who put the structure up. We so often hear how the influence of people from other countries is bad for this country and must be halted. How can anyone fault the skill and dedication these people put into this work of art?
I thank them for their hard work and the love they put into this prime example of excellence and work ethic that will be admired for many years to come.
Jack Frain, Spring Hill
Say, is anything opening today? | Jan. 11, Howard Troxler column
Howard Troxler just Braque(s) me up. Watteau kidder! He's Benton amusing and informing us. His column is always a page Turner. Humor, wit, knowledge, he Hassam all. You Giotto admire him: He's so Klee-ver.
Muriel Desloovere, St. Pete Beach