Historic travesty | July 27, editorial
Historic schools are preserved if they are useful Your editorial regarding the collapse of a wall at the old Gary school did a tremendous disservice to the Hillsborough County Public Schools.
To say that the school district "unloaded the property with the usual disdain that it treats its inventory of historic structures" betrays a lack of knowledge of what the district has done to restore and renovate historic structures. A history lesson is in order.
Hillsborough County has the state's second oldest school inventory because we restore old buildings even as we build new ones. We have schools that are more than a century old, and many have been lovingly restored. Since 1990, the school district has spent more than $330-million on the campuses of our historic schools, both in restoration projects and building additions.
The most high-profile example is the historic Hillsborough High School. The Gothic architectural landmark built in 1927 is more beautiful and more structurally sound today than it was decades ago. We spent more than $30-million in an award-winning renovation effort.
We are proud to have spent tax dollars wisely because restoration projects provide valuable classroom space. Don't lose sight of the purpose of our facilities division: We build new schools or renovate old schools so we have space for children to learn. We are not in the business of spending taxpayer dollars to renovate old buildings that we will not use.
The old Gary school was no longer viable as a school or office, and would have required a significant financial commitment to make it viable. After much effort, we got the best return that we could for the taxpayers and sold the building to a local developer.
MaryEllen Elia, superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Smiles, tears and prayers, among friends July 27, story
We deserve a better health care system
The Bloomingdale rape victim's story is a sad reminder of the desperate need for a better health care system in our country. A girl is brutally raped and Medicaid coldly says it will stop paying for her rehabilitation?
This is very, very wrong. The Times would be doing the responsible thing to run this aspect of her story as front-page news, as a reminder that this could happen to any family, and that we all need to demand better from our government. That said, I appreciate the Times publishing the information for how to help this family.
Lisa Jones, Tampa
Seeking care | July 28, World in a snap
A long way to go
We brag about our excellent health care system and not having long waits for doctor-prescribed procedures. We see it advertised and displayed every day in the newspaper, on television and radio.
What we don't brag about but do publish in the inner pages of the newspaper in a photo caption is this: "The free weekend clinic is one of the largest nongovernmental clinics in the United States. About 1,400 volunteer dentists, doctors and support staff treated more than 2,500 people in 21/2 days."
This is a continuing project for this organization. So we might do well to remain silent about our greatness until we match what is going on in other countries and praise these volunteers for doing for us what we seem to be unable to do for ourselves.
Hartley Steeves, Tampa
Don't force pledge | July 26, editorial
Show some respect
I really get angry when I see things like people not wanting to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. To want to just sit quietly in your seat is not going to do it as far as I am concerned.
If you don't like America and don't want to say the pledge, then go live somewhere else. The very least you could do is stand in respect.
I also don't like the people who do not stand when The Star Spangled Banner is playing. This is our country and if you cannot respect it, as I said, go live some place else. You don't deserve our privileges.
Jane Thomas, Clearwater
Don't force pledge | July 26, editorial
God got in the way
The student who has refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance may be more attuned to civics and history than many realize. The original pledge stated we were one nation, indivisible. Everyone felt united as one nation working for the common good.
When we became one nation "under God," people felt estranged. Which god? Whose god? An American god? A foreign god? Other countries thought we had hijacked their god.
What happened to citizens who were agnostics, atheists, non-Christian or non-Jewish? Those two words, under God, violate the Constitution and the idea of separation of church and state. Everyone can believe or not believe in any god they want without any fear of penalty, except, perhaps, if you are in a public school.
Gloria R. Julius, St. Petersburg
Keep Road Rangers on patrol in Florida July 28, editorial
Angels of the highways
I worked for AAA for more than three years, and for several other towing companies after that, dispatching drivers to pick up stranded vehicles. I have heard all the things my drivers and the stranded people have had to say about the Road Rangers, and they all say the same thing: These gentlemen are angels.
They have sat with people waiting for a tow truck for an hour or more; provided water for their animals who had the misfortune to be in the car that day; changed tires for people who had no other way to do it at 1 a.m.; blocked out space so police officers could safely approach an accident; helped victims, police and tow truck drivers at accidents. One of them even died several years ago after being hit by a passing car while he was stopped on the side of the road to help someone.
I would be saddened if they had to park all their trucks because of a lack of money. But not as sad as all the people this would leave stranded on the side of the road, praying for help.
Cathi Lewis, St. Petersburg
Even if it will help, we won't slow down July 23, Sue Carlton column
Speed is costly
I accept Sue Carlton's challenge.
Let's encourage Sen. John Warner and our congressional representatives to enact federal legislation for a 55-mph speed limit. We should do this for all the reasons discussed in her column — most importantly, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, ameliorate the effects of carbon emissions (global warming), to save money and reduce accidents.
Dwight Lawton, St. Petersburg