Transportation is key to progress
With signs of an improving economy, now is the opportunity to plan for our future. Tampa and St. Petersburg have many challenges in the coming years that affect the entire region. As we move forward, we must do it together.
Building a more competitive and educated workforce, addressing our environmental conditions, bolstering our tourism industry and attracting new residents back into our neighborhoods are goals everyone in the area shares. We cannot begin to have discussions about professional sports teams and stadiums or plan the future of our airports, seaports and core industries without first acting like the metropolitan region we are.
Transportation — and, more specifically, mass transit — is at the core of each of these discussions. As the two largest transit authorities in the seven-county region, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit were given the opportunity to look at the possibility of merging. While a study on a merger revealed minimal initial opportunities for cost savings and many hurdles associated with the governance and tax structures of the two entities, it should not be shelved and disregarded.
In the six years in which I have served on the PSTA board, the two agencies have expressed a desire to meet regularly and look for ways to collaborate. The action taken by PSTA last week, reaffirming cooperation with HART, is a step in the right direction. Formally partnering with HART, the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority and our state legislators will provide a consistent format to address the regional transportation challenges we face. PSTA and HART have the opportunity to lead this discussion and set precedents for the other agencies in the Tampa Bay area.
Our residents, visitors and commuters are looking for convenient connections across county lines and more transportation options. Now is the time to step up and provide that to them.
Jeff Danner, chair, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority; council member, city of St. Petersburg
A boar, two boors, and a revealing war Jan. 22, Daniel Ruth column
Nature of the beast
Daniel Ruth seems naive in his expectations of talk radio. Listen to the really big guns in the industry sometime, the ones with much larger audiences. They make their living espousing falsehoods and knowingly repeating lies. It's the nature of their business. The real culprit in this scenario is the legal system that allows frivolous lawsuits such as this one to go forward. The legal costs during this five-year run are undoubtedly obscene. Therein lies the crime.
Bruce Caplan, Redington Beach
Problems of predecessor
Now that the "new" president has been sworn in, I suppose he will be spending the next couple of years cleaning up the mess the last president left him.
James Woodrow, Bradenton
Best way to watch
I watched the inaugural parade on C-SPAN and it was the best coverage I have ever seen: great camera work, great sound, no commercials and no annoying banter telling me something I can see right in front of me. C-SPAN simply put up a tag line telling me who it was and where they were from and let the parade go. Bravo.
Bob Grant, Largo
Felons still pay a price when free Jan. 21, editorial
Don't let them get guns
In talking about the automatic restoration of civil rights to felons who have served time, I urge you to use the phrase "voting rights" instead of "civil rights." The more generalized term civil rights also includes the right to by guns, and I don't think you want to advocate the automatic restoration of the right to buy guns for felons who have served time and been released.
Sheryl Stolzenberg, Lake Mary
Fix campaign finance laws with finesse Jan. 20, editorial
It's a great idea that the politicians pass laws that prevent their owners from buying them. Lots of luck. I believe there is a better way, namely a party of independents. In 1776 we fought a war to free us from the tyranny of royalty. It is now time for us to fight a war to free us from the tyranny of money.
The proposed party isn't a party as such because its adherents won't have an agenda or formal organization. Rather, party members will be candidates who pledge to not accept money from or talk to individuals or organizations that offer money in exchange for privileges. And they will not vote a party line, but rather vote for what they believe is right and in the interests of their constituents.
Since big money is not accepted, the election will need lots of volunteers. They shouldn't be hard to find as 85 percent of the public disapproves of Congress. A typical election for the Florida Senate gets about 250,000 votes, so something over 125,000 votes will win. A thousand volunteers each getting 125 votes or more should do the job. This is quite a task, but doable with a disgusted electorate.
It matters not that the candidate be to the right or left, only that he/she will not sell the vote. This concept will not work for president, U.S. Senate, or governor because these contests use millions that can't be free of corruptive influence. It will work for U.S. Congress and state legislators.
John B. Mooney, Hudson
'Our world changed,' Elia says | Jan. 19
Put money to better use
The money that superintendent MaryEllen Elia proposed to spend on armed guards in all the Hillsborough County elementary schools would be better spent on installing seat belts on all the school buses. That would prevent deaths and injuries to our children.
It is a disgrace that while it is a law that people riding in cars must wear seat belts, and are fined if they do not, our vulnerable children do not have that protection.
Anne Zolt, Sun City Center
Obama digs in on debt | Jan. 15
In hole, still digging
This headline sounds like maybe we are going to spend less money, perhaps reduce Pentagon waste, maybe streamline or revamp entitlement programs, or revise the income tax code and eliminate some large corporate loopholes. But no — the president's way was to simply raise the debt ceiling.
Jim Mohr, Palm Harbor