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Here's the pork | March 3These Clubhouses save money and improve lives

Put that flag pin back on, Obama | March 5, commentary

Taking the measure

of real patriotism

I can certainly accept Gregory Rodriguez's premise that Barack Obama could demonstrate his patriotism and wear his flag pin. They are not mutually exclusive events. But I also understand Obama's view of "patriotism" as it has come to be defined.

Take flags mounted everywhere and car decals, for instance. Prior to Sept. 11, there were precious few of those around. Suddenly, plastering your car with red-white-and-blue paraphernalia, waving flags on the roadside and sporting lapel pins were equated with patriotism.

I would like to believe that Obama and I view patriotism similarly. I believe that true patriots are those who vote every time there is an election, local or otherwise, who serve on juries rather than duck the duty, who stop for emergency vehicles and school buses, who act like the Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religion followers they claim to be, and who take to heart JFK's urging that they "ask what they can do for their country."

Many self-proclaimed patriots today would fall woefully short by this measuring stick.

Scott R. Hopkins, Brandon

Put that flag pin back on, Obama | March 5

Consider pin producers

Perhaps Sen. Barack Obama eschews wearing on his lapel that symbol of American patriotism — the flag pin — because they are, in great part, made in China.

Rhonda Stavis Foster, Seminole

Pat Oliphant's cartoon | March 3

McCain's collateral

Pat Oliphant's clever cartoon about campaign financing had one glaring error. Barack Obama may be swimming in cash, and Hillary Clinton may desperately need Bill to fill her coffers. But John McCain has much more collateral than either one.

Instead of emptying his pockets of change, a watch and a half-eaten apple, John McCain only needs to remind the "loan officer" of the broken bones, curses, beatings, humiliation and torture he suffered while a POW in North Vietnam.

That "collateral" shows that he has already given more to the United States than all the other candidates combined.

Donna Davis, Palm Harbor

Bill Clinton seen as a liability and Ties to developer still cling to Obama | March 2

News or bias?

Why does this story about Bill Clinton's (allegedly) being a liability to his wife appear on Page 1A while the Barack Obama story about questionable real estate deals and Obama's benefiting from favors from an indicted developer appear hidden on Page 6A?

Is this bias or is this news?

Nancy Hoppe, Largo

Ties to developer still cling to Obama

March 2, story

Avoid flimsy tales

Shades of Whitewater! A three-column article on a political page of the Times describes in some detail the shenanigans of Tony Rezko and states that his ties to Obama continue to "dog Obama on the campaign trail."

The article is full of disclaimers, such as that the proceeding against the developer is "not a case about Sen. Obama" and that "Obama is not a part of the case against Rezko."

However, there are implications and suggestions that something was amiss, including that Rezko's dealings should have put Obama "on high alert."

Similar accusations regarding Whitewater dogged Bill Clinton during his campaign and throughout much of his presidency. The press should minimize stories based on such flimsy evidence, and focus on the many issues important to this nation.

Judy Moore, Lutz

An antipathy to guns? | Feb. 29, letter

The killing factor

A recent letter asks why it is that we don't put as much emphasis on "knife violence" and "baseball bat violence" as we do on gun violence.

I have a hunch that it has something to do with the fact that around 100,000 people were shot last year in America. Around 30,000 of them died as a result, many of them children.

When someone walks into a classroom and slays 20 innocent victims in a matter of moments with a baseball bat, then we'll start worrying about baseball bat violence. Deal?

Todd Hemphill, Trinity

I would like to clarify the description of "clubhouses" as legislative pork in the Monday Metro section.

Vincent House is a Clubhouse for people living with the effects of a serious mental illness. The term "Clubhouse" is quite misleading. It sounds like a place where people hang out, play golf or just goof off.

In reality, a Clubhouse, certified by the International Center for Clubhouse Development (ICCD), like Vincent House, is a place where people who have experienced a mental illness come to rebuild their lives. Participants, called members, work side by side with a limited number of staff to perform the work needed to keep the Clubhouse running smoothly. Members are needed for meal prep, data entry, banking and more. This work helps the members build the confidence and stamina needed to return to paid employment in the community. Our motto is "Celebrating Recovery through Work."

Currently we have about 50 members working in the community and earning nearly $300,000 annually. They are now taxpayers rather than merely users of services. This saves taxpayer money while greatly improving the lives of the people served.

This budget request is primarily to establish 11 new Clubhouses throughout Florida. The development of more Clubhouses will mean 1,500 more people will have the opportunity to return to the world of employment, friendship and community. This would sure beat the costly alternatives such as hospitalization, incarceration or homelessness, or early death due to suicide.

An ICCD Clubhouse should not be viewed as "pork," but rather as an opportunity to save money while improving lives. This is just the kind of year to make this request.

Please read some of the previous articles in the Floridian about Vincent House and our members. Or better yet, visit us at Vincent House or on the Web at and see for yourself how cost-effective the Clubhouse program can be. You won't find any "pork" around here.

Elliott Steele, executive director, Vincent House, Pinellas Park

Here's the pork | March 3These Clubhouses save money and improve lives 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:29am]
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