Florida Forever needs Scott's backing | Jan. 30, editorial
Let nonprofit groups preserve the land
How severe would the nation's financial crisis need to get before the editors and publishers of the leading newspapers reach the point of considering sensible alternatives to public land purchases?
Taking a look at practically every recent map of the United States will reveal huge splotches of green ink, denoting the untold thousands of square miles of land already set aside for habitat preservation and environmental concerns. This land thus becomes the responsibility of state and national units of government that are already unable to deal effectively with the nation's most pressing concerns.
Buying even more public land assures that taxpayers will be responsible for funding dubious programs dedicated, seemingly, to the proposition that practically any practical use of land apart from habitat protection is off-limits.
This means that every ne'er-do-well scion in the country can sell off great-grandpa's parcel of worn-out pasture or some swampy mud hole to publicly funded preservationists for ridiculously high prices and be set for life. Don't laugh; it happens a lot.
There's a sensible alternative that's almost never discussed in the pages of area newspapers, namely, having public officials coordinate with nonprofits such as the Nature Conservancy to acquire the land with private funds, to be managed privately, thus doing all of the above at a fraction of the cost, without putting the taxpayer on the hook in perpetuity. The time has come.
Jim Parker, Lakeland
Don't judge officers
As I retired law enforcement officer with 41 years' experience, I felt a need to write in response to the letters in the Times critical of the way the police handled the recent tragic event, which resulted in the loss of two heroic police officers. It is so easy to sit in one's safe home and decide how the police should have handled the situation. I wonder if the writers have ever been police officers, or if they have ever been in a life-or-death situation. Most likely not.
Before one becomes a critic of such a tragic event, he or she should realize that only those involved know exactly what transpired in those few deadly minutes. The discharging of a weapon takes split seconds, as does the decision to discharge the weapon. It is so convenient to sit back and critique what should or should not have been done. This is real life, not a John Wayne movie when the gun is shot out of the bad guy's hand.
I say to the naysayers and critics: Get out of your chair and go for a ride-along some evening with a police officer and see what he or she deals with every day. Then maybe, only maybe, you can sit in judgment of the decisions made.
God bless the fallen heroes, their families and the St. Petersburg Police Department. Those heroes made split-second decisions only they could make in an attempt to make our society safer.
Albert Ravenna, St. Pete Beach
Doing their best
I read the letters asking why the brave fallen officers did not call for SWAT or other backup instead of handling the situation themselves. Now is not the time to second-guess the situation but to accept it as it is and know that the officers were trying their best to quell the situation and handle it without calling in the troops. They were not trying to be brave heroes; they were just doing their job and taking down the bad guy.
They were both well trained, but sometimes training cannot cover every situation. I was a military police officer in the Air Force for 15 years, and for half of that time I was with the canine corps. We were always taught that you handle the situation as it dictates and of course apply training. Sometimes there is not time to sit back and consider the best option. You have to move fast to protect life and limb. Training can't cover every situation.
I have lived in St. Petersburg for 33 years and have always known that we have one of the finest police forces in the country, if not the finest. Our officers protect us night and day so that we may go about our business and know that our families are safe.
We should stop second-guessing what happened on Jan. 24 and just know in our hearts that our brave fallen officers did the right thing at the right time. There is no way we can thank them enough.
Every time we see a police officer, we need to know that he or she is out there for us and keeping us safe.
Now we need to pray and support the families.
Dick Shively, St. Petersburg
Time to talk gun control | Jan. 30, editorial
A chilling sight
Still shaken from the news of a mother accused of shooting her two teenagers to death in my community, I was grateful to see this editorial.
Calyx and Beau Schenecker went to school and played sports with other children one day. By that evening, these two young members of our community were lost to gun violence.
I am having a terrible time reconciling this with the fact that on the Saturday following the horrific event, I took my sons to a well-known sporting goods chain to purchase Little League supplies. At the checkout, we stood in line with a man purchasing bullets. It was chilling to me as I stood holding my son's hand.
I understand the constitutional argument for gun ownership. I understand people feeling the need to protect themselves and their family. However, it is definitely time to have a serious and honest discussion about gun control.
Cindy Kelly, Tampa
Fraud plagues $21B global health fund | Jan. 24
Good work done
Corruption does exist, but it should not be forgotten how much good the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has done and the critical need for this kind of work.
The fund is an important symbol of the international effort against these diseases in countries that desperately need medical interventions. Without these interventions, they would be further stuck in poverty, underdevelopment and instability because of disease.
It's true that there need to be better mechanisms in place to account for billions of international dollars, but this is true of all aid organizations, not just the global fund. Moreover, when money is given, it is the responsibility of both donors and the organization itself to make sure the money is spent in its intended way and accounted for. It is important to remember that the global fund has saved 6.5 million lives through AIDS treatment, 7.7 million in antituberculosis treatment, and distributed 160 million treated bed nets to prevent malaria.
The work that these kinds of organizations are able to do cannot be discounted and must continue, with a more effective way of measuring impact per dollar. But whatever the situation, international development organizations are necessary and important in our world full of suffering — they bring hope.
Sara Spowart, Tampa
Bishop rejects parents' request Jan. 27
Confession is private
Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg recently ruled against the parents who were raising some noise about a priest and the questions he was posing to the youth in the confessional. Well done, your excellency. As a lifetime devout and practicing Catholic, I recognize the sanctity of the confessional and believe it is above any kind of question or reprimand from anyone.
I began my confessions many years ago. One of the pluses of the confessional is its sanctity. Nothing you discuss with your confessor or he with you is public information.
Once in a while to get a clearer picture of what the penitent is trying to discuss, tough questions must be asked. Never would I have gone home and disclosed what the priest asked me at confession. That was between us.
Only once in all my years have I ever been confronted with a moment of perplexity, and that came when the priest slipped up and acknowledged me by name with a greeting.
If these parents feel the priest went beyond his realms, maybe they should keep a closer watch on their children. Parents and their children are too sensitive today and forever looking for something to make an issue out of.
Daniel J. Moran, Clearwater