Florida balks over kosher meals for inmates | Jan. 21
Stop catering to state's prisoners
After reading about prisoners wanting kosher meals, plus the death row prisoner challenging his lethal injection based on "cruel and unusual punishment," I have to say: Enough already. It is clear that our judicial system is broken and we are catering to these misfits of society. Prison isn't Burger King, so you can't "have it your way."
You want to cut down on the prison population and costs? Make it so miserable that they don't ever want to come back. Breakfast: powered eggs, ham and lima beans. It is good enough for our troops. Don't like the pork? Pick it out and trade it for more lima beans.
For a bed, one bale of hay. For a potty, one bale of hay. And the prisoner has to clean out his or her cell once a week.
Art Rombkowski, Brooksville
Olustee's sideshow skirmish | Jan. 22
Lost in the past
If it's okay to deny a monument to Union soldiers at Olustee, it's only fair that Confederate monuments at such Northern sites as Gettysburg and Antietam be removed. William Faulkner had it right. In the South, not only is the past not forgotten, it's not even past.
Michael Hare, Seminole
Feds bring relief for the jobless | Jan. 21
A deafening silence
When the website to sign up for the Affordable Care Act failed miserably at first, Republicans where all over the president, berating and belittling him. Now in Florida we have a website to obtain unemployment benefits for those seeking jobs. It too failed miserably. Apart from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, other elected officials have been mostly quiet. We would love to hear from Sen. Marco Rubio on this subject. Is he perhaps too busy making self-serving headlines regarding the "war on poverty"?
Baerbel R. Dagon, Tampa
Mayor steers clear of Cuba | Jan. 18
Kudos to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for his principled stand against traveling to Cuba. The mayor correctly points out that the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has not unshackled Cuba from the grip of a Communist dictatorship. Yet one might ask, has the Tampa Bay Cuban travel brigade led by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, USF president Judy Genshaft, Tampa Airport chief Joe Lopano, the UT baseball team, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and other dignitaries brought democracy to Cuba? Bravo to Buckhorn for not joining the herd and having the courage to speak out for democracy and freedom.
Don Menzel, Tampa
Too late to save Biltmore | Jan. 20, editorial
Renovate and reuse
I was disappointed in this editorial. Renovation and reuse of this incredible structure is the most sensible thing to do, including for our area's long-term economic vitality. The Belleview Biltmore "story" seems to be playing out to a script used far too many times in the past: allow a historic gem sitting on valuable property to begin to decay, claim it is too expensive too restore, contend that replacing the landmark with new development will be good for the economy, whisper about possible litigation and, finally, use the Chamber of Commerce and newspaper to push the city commission into allowing demolition and new zoning.
Thirty-plus years ago that script was also used in St. Petersburg with the Vinoy but, as we know, the story's final chapter changed. I still have a February 1981 St. Petersburg Times editorial calling for Vinoy demolition. Much as the editors say about the Biltmore, they said about the Vinoy: the building was deteriorating, the old hotel rooms weren't conducive to modern standards, a new development would better serve the city, etc. Today downtown St. Petersburg is a vibrant and attractive city center with a world-class waterfront anchored by a spectacular historic building, the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Today, most would laugh at the thought of anybody having called for the Vinoy's demolition. I look forward to a future with a restored Biltmore and people laughing at the idea that some in the past had called for its demise.
Peter Belmont, St. Petersburg
Wanted: a crop of better teachers | Jan. 22
Lack of basic knowledge
Those administrators who are searching for quality teachers will have a very hard time. The last 10 years that I taught school in Pinellas County, I refused to take an intern. Why? My last one asked me, "Where is the Sahara desert?" He lacked basic knowledge to the extent that I did not want to inflict him on my students for even a day.
I began teaching when women could enter nursing, teaching or typing letters in an office. Now young women can go into any field they desire. What person in their right mind would go into teaching? It is a job that is stressful, powerless, and pays very little. The two groups that enter the teaching profession now are the few dedicated people who want to teach and those unable to be engaged in a more lucrative profession.
Money is certainly an issue. Many teachers have not had a raise in years. A bigger issue is the lack of value placed on people who teach for a living in our society. When I first started teaching in the '60s, I'd drive into the parking lot and think, "Wow! I love my job." The last years before I retired, I thought, "Gee, I wonder who is going to abuse me today." Sad.
Melanie Woods, Palm Harbor
Guns needed | Jan. 21, letter
In advocating for the reasonableness of bringing a loaded gun into a movie theater, a reader references the 2012 incident in Aurora, Colo., when a gunman entered a theater and shot more than 80 people, killing 12: "Had someone such as Curtis Reeves been attending that show, do you believe that the casualty rate would have been quite so high before the shooter was taken down by a retired police officer who was packing heat?"
Actually, I believe it would have been just as high, if not higher. The reader seems to have forgotten that, in the dark theater, the Aurora gunman was dressed head-to-toe in black tactical gear, including a ballistics helmet and several other bulletproof elements. In addition, his attack included the use of a smoke/gas canister that made it even more difficult to see. The likelihood that anyone could have "taken down" someone so armed and armored under those conditions is pure fantasy — the sort of thing that only happens on the screen.
Susan Hofstader, St. Petersburg