ALF advocates hamstrung by politics, report says | Sept. 3
Take steps to protect defenseless
Gov. Rick Scott can't have it both ways. On the one hand he forms an assisted living facility working group to investigate serious infractions. On the other hand he fires a top ombudsman. Watchdogs are the very people who would be a key component in addressing any problem. One, referring to poor treatment at an ALF, even threatened to shut it down.
The firing of ombudsman Brian Lee sends a chilling effect to other officials in the program inclined to take an aggressive approach in resolving issues. The working group is already overloaded with ALF operators and/or their associations. Where are the advocates and ALF residents on the group?
The ombudsman program and the former local advocacy councils are heavily weighted with volunteer staffers. They donate their time to ensure others have a decent place to live with sufficient food and respectful treatment. We are talking about elderly and disabled people, many of whom are defenseless against unscrupulous operators.
Hopefully, the feds will keep the pressure on. Now the Legislature needs to step up to fix the program.
Which is it, Gov. Scott? Are you a governor who is interested in protecting the defenseless, or one who defends the status quo?
Donald Turnbaugh, past president, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Palm Harbor
Children's future at risk
The Florida Legislature cut pre-K-12 funding for public education by 8 percent for the 2011-2012 school year. This continues a trend of deep spending cuts to public education in Florida. Per-pupil spending has fallen to levels not seen since the 2001-2002 school year when a gallon of gas cost $1.46, a gallon of milk cost $1.19, and Florida home values were increasing.
This is 2011, not 2001, and a return to decade-old spending levels has resulted in schools closing, arts and sports programs being cut, and teachers and support staffers losing their jobs.
An e-mail I received from Gov. Rick Scott reads, "The mission of educating Florida's children is essential, not only to the lives of our children and grandchildren, but also to the very economic security of our communities and state as whole." Our children's future and the future of public education are at risk.
Jean Hovey, president, Florida PTA, Winter Springs
The minor league mayor | Sept. 4, editorial
Start talks on new stadium
Stuart Sternberg, the principal owner of the Rays, did not become a multimillionaire by making bad business decisions.
Sternberg and his fellow investors determined that St. Petersburg was an economically viable location for a Major League Baseball team, and clearly confirmed that decision when they proposed to build a stadium in downtown St. Petersburg.
Therefore, I believe discussions and debates about possible sites outside St. Petersburg are not based on economic issues — this is the true cause for a lack of progress on a new stadium.
Your editorial is correct that Tropicana Field is outdated. I propose that the Rays, the mayor and the City Council look to what the Mets and Yankees did. They built new stadiums on the parking lots of the old stadiums and turned the old stadiums into the new parking lots. This eliminated the need to purchase land or to build approach roads and highways to their new stadiums.
The Tampa Bay Rays can have an open-air stadium with a retractable roof so fans can enjoy the games in air-conditioned comfort if the protracted debate on location is ended and plans to build a stadium begin.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
Give taxpayers a vote
Taxpayers should not pay for private sports corporations' facilities. And private sports corporations should not use intimidation to get taxpayers to build them facilities. They signed the current contract and should honor it.
Before tax dollars are used to build private sports facilities, citizens should be allowed to vote on the project.
The best plan for St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is to see that the Rays assist in paying off the current stadium early. Then the Rays could be free to find another site in Florida for their new stadium and facilities at the team's expense.
Walter Gay, Dunedin
Scott derailed a Florida jobs express | Sept. 4, editorial notebook
Invest in transportation
I can think of no better job creation plan than investing in public transportation. As I near the age when I will no longer be able to drive, it is disheartening to imagine life without a car in Pinellas County.
Spending some time in France and Germany this summer made me realize how far behind we are in terms of providing public transportation. We could go anywhere in Paris by subway, tram, train or bus. Our trip to Germany was by high-speed train in just three hours. It was fast, efficient, affordable and comfortable.
The governor has a narrow view in refusing the stimulus money for high-speed rail. We need to invest in an efficient network of public transportation within cities as well as high-speed rail between cities. This will greatly benefit the working poor, the middle class, the elderly, and will create job opportunities.
Barbara Bedingfield, Largo
Obama's unwise vow to veterans | Sept. 1, editorial
We've sacrificed enough
I almost choked when I read this editorial stating that cuts to veterans benefits should be on the table during deficit talks. What more can our military members sacrifice?
My husband retired in 2008 after nearly 25 years of honorable service. He was forced to retire after suffering a life-altering, service-connected injury that left him 100 percent disabled at age 45.
My husband has not received a cost-of-living pay raise in the past three years, and his "free" health care is limited to the condition relative to his disability. We must carry supplemental health insurance for all other health concerns. Due to his disability, I have had to stop working in order to be his full-time caregiver — I receive zero financial compensation.
It is inconceivable to even think that our meager pension/health benefits would be considered fair game under any spending cut plan. I think my family has sacrificed enough already.
Julie Canton, Tampa