St. Petersburg's illiteracy problem | July 20, editorial
Reading must start in the home
It was certainly appropriate to decry the sorry state of literacy in the "St. Petersburg Five," the poorly performing elementary schools. Reaching out to businesses, politicians and the broader community is a positive step.
However, while stating it was disheartening for the families of children who attend those schools, the writer failed to include them in the clarion call. It is absolutely true that teachers can't cure the literacy problem alone. However, neither can politicians, businesses or the broader community.
Until parents become tenaciously determined to promote reading in the home and to persistently partner in the educational process, the St. Petersburg Five will continue to founder in that "rising tide of illiteracy." The home is the primary resource needed to remedy this situation. That resource needs to be the focus of the outreach initiatives.
Janet Burt, Brandon
Longevity or shakeup on board | July 20
Board should lead the way
Who runs the Pinellas County school system? I thought all decisions came from or went through the publicly elected School Board. This article says that Linda Lerner, a board member, would like to see more music and arts in the schools. The board represents the public and hires the superintendent; he answers to them, not the other way around.
If Lerner and the board would like to see more music and arts, then make it happen. Did they forget that they run the show?
John Skinner, Dunedin
This strong fence makes for bad neighbors July 20, Perspective
Fence erected as last resort
Ethan Bronner, who for many years served as New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, omitted one very important fact in his otherwise informative opinion piece.
That fence he writes about was only erected after a long, deadly series of terror bombings by West Bank residents in Israel on buses and in markets and restaurants.
Israel only built that fence as a last resort. The result has been a safer Israel, but the result initially had a major economic impact on the country as thousands of West Bank workers could no longer enter and Israel's labor force was not large enough to initially fill that gap.
Lawrence Silver, Oldsmar
Israel's deadly gambits | July 20, commentary
Talk won't stop rockets
Fred Kaplan's column sounds logical, except for the facts that:
• Hamas fired rockets to start the whole war, and also to break the last cease-fire;
• Hamas refused the last attempt at a cease-fire after Israel accepted;
• Hamas places launchers in "collateral damage" locations.
Kaplan has a four-line paragraph acknowledging that Hamas is hardly blameless, and then proceeds to quote top Israeli officials on the mistakes of Israel's actions. Israel has tried and found out that diplomacy does not stop the rockets.
Leonard Buckner, Tampa
Dream cruise | July 20
Protect our marine culture
Pinellas County is a destination. As a lifelong resident who is immersed in our marine culture — from the beaches to the now-pristine nurseries of our bay grass flats — I am outraged by this aspect being but a footnote in the cruise ship discussion.
I have personally witnessed the tragic effects of dredging sensitive grass flats as well as the local pollution a major seaport for cruise ships poses. I find it sad and ironic to be attracting people here to hop on a ship and sail away to a "destination" while we are potentially destroying our own paradise.
I encourage the Times to invest more time and research into the "why" of a new seaport, not just the "where" and "how." We have the world's best experts close at hand to address that issue. Many have worked hard for years to protect our precious marine culture.
If the new megaport happens, in my opinion those seeking a "dream cruise" will leave the citizens of Pinellas County with a nightmare.
Stephen A. Updegraff, St. Petersburg
Utilities want to gut goals | July 20
Consumers shut out
Once more, consumers are being held hostage by a regulated monopoly where decisions are limited to just a few major utility companies, rather than made by consumers as in many other states. And yet again we are told that the Public Service Commission can't be bothered to actually regulate this monopoly so that, heaven forbid, the utilities might have to join the 21st century.
With no competition, these utilities continue to make decisions for the benefit of themselves and their shareholders rather than for the environment or the consumer.
We need access to alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar. They will never be competitive if access is denied to us by the utilities. These entities have made it clear that they will not provide access because once energy becomes cheap, or even free, they will go out of business. Well, good riddance to a polluting industry that cares more for itself and lacks the ability to serve its customer base.
We as consumers need choices. The environment needs our protection.
Lynn Bosco, Clearwater
Jim Morin editorial cartoon | July 21
Who's the crackpot?
Jim Morin's cynical cartoon picturing Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as a "crackpot at the end of a rainbow" because of her views on gay marriage is interesting. Bondi's views have been consistent, based upon her personal faith and her official duties, and haven't change with opinion polls.
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama said, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix." When Obama's "deeply held convictions" were hurting him politically, they conveniently changed.
Which is the more crackpot or opportunistic position?
James Bowers, Seminole