Make us your home page
Letters to the Editor

Let Tampa tragedy prompt us to better deal with mental illness

Tragic day in Tampa | Aug. 21

Facing up to mental illness

The violent death of a police officer sends a chilling effect throughout the entire community because law enforcement officers represent all of us. They are our security. We all feel less safe when an officer is killed. The law enforcement family is allowed some time for emotional grieving. The investigation will be completed. The family will be devastated.

The next wave of chills occurs when the words "mental illness" enter the account. The stereotype will prevail. The funding will fall. The stigma will deepen. The family will be devastated.

The legacy of the officer and the offender should not focus on those few minutes they came into contact with each other. Let their legacy be that the community used this tragic event to begin a new era of how it deals with persons with severe mental illnesses.

The community, starting with our lawmakers, must look at best-practices programs for the treatment of persons with mental illness, and when identified, provide the funding needed for implementation.

The law enforcement community must be introspective to identify and acquire the most effective equipment and training to reassure its members and the community of their safety.

Those of us affiliated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, will continue our advocacy with politicians for access to better treatment and our 10-year partnership with law enforcement in providing education about mental illness.

We hope and pray that something beneficial comes from this tragedy. Only a united community effort can make it happen.

John Jones and Donald Turnbaugh, past presidents, NAMI Pinellas County

Rays should move from downtown, group says | Aug. 21, story

Expectations unrealistic for public funding

The group A Baseball Community stated in this article that "the public should shoulder much of the $450 million to $550 million cost for a (new Rays') stadium."

Given the budget cuts our city has suffered, the community services that have been slashed and the current economic condition, one has to wonder if the ABC group is expecting to be taken seriously.

The ABC report also stated that each year the "taxpayers should be prepared to pay $20 million to $30 million — well above the $12 million annual cost of the Trop."

With unemployment rampant, foreclosures in Florida ranked at No. 2 in the nation, and soup kitchens struggling to meet the demand, how can anyone expect "the taxpayers" to fork out money to a for-profit corporation so that the Rays' ownership can reap even greater profits for themselves?

It would appear that the ABC board is totally out of touch with reality. Perhaps this year's mayoral election will open their eyes to what the voters of St. Petersburg really want.

Since — according to Rays' statistics — only a small minority of voters actually attend baseball games, I'd wager the taxpayers will choose a mayor who will work for job security, better community services and quality education for their children — not a gazillion-dollar monument to greed and corporate welfare.

Faith Andrews Bedford, St. Petersburg

Migrant to mission: Sky is the limit Aug. 22, story

An American story

What a wonderful story about Jose Hernandez, whose migrant worker parents will be watching him as he joins his fellow astronauts on the Discovery space shuttle as it launches for its next mission. It is a timely reminder that the American dream still works — for those who are willing to work to make their dreams a reality.

Millions of Americans like the Hernandez family have helped their children realize those dreams. And millions more will continue to do so, as long as we remain committed to honoring and supporting the values that make the American dream a reality — the values that Salvador and Julia Hernandez, migrant workers, lived by and imparted to their children.

Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg

Aide wins case against White | Aug. 22, story

An excessive record

Lust, greed, wrath, envy, pride. Enough!

How many more deadly sins must be committed while in public office? Not on my dime!

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White must resign now.

Lynn Cannella, Tampa

Mom's guardian, family clash | Aug. 20

Mediation makes sense

There is another option for the daughters to consider in trying to resolve differences with their mother's court-appointed guardian: mediation.

Mediation introduces a neutral third party to facilitate a "conversation" among the parties. It is voluntary, confidential and empowers the parties to settle the disagreements among themselves rather than have the solution mandated by a judge or negotiated by attorneys.

Communication is the focus of the mediator who is a professional trained to listen carefully, clarify the issues and assist the parties to arrive at their own resolution. Mediation is less costly and less adversarial. Moreover, matters may be worked out in a more timely manner than having to go through court.

Disputes that arise after a guardian has been appointed can be emotionally damaging to the elder as well as to family members. As more adult children will be dealing with their aging parents' financial and medical care decisions as well as living arrangements, it would seem that a process should be put in place to assist families in making those important decisions without tearing families apart.

Susan R. Curcio, St. Petersburg

Michael Vick

He did his time

Why are we crying about Michael Vick being able to go back to his life and make a ton of money? If we don't believe that he paid enough for his crimes, we should have changed the law to answer that issue.

Have we taught him a lesson? Yes. Will he kill or allow anyone he controls to kill any animal again? I doubt it.

It seems to me that when a citizen has paid his or her debt to society, then that person should be able to resume or remake their life the best they can. If we are unhappy that he can make big money doing so, then we are not focused on the right issue.

As I tell my wife when we have differences, she is not allowed to bring up items from the past that have been paid for and forgiven.

It appears that Vick is attempting to rebuild his life, even including Tony Dungy as a mentor. If Dungy sees redemption and potential in Vick, can we do less? I wish him the best.

Rex Baldwin, Tampa

His words to God's ear | Aug. 22

While you're asking …

Perhaps Gov. Charlie Crist should have been a little more specific about those "other difficulties" when he placed his "Please protect our Florida" entreaty to God in the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Maybe then, along with hurricanes, we could have been spared the housing market collapse, the homeowners insurance debacle, unprecedented budget deficits, skyrocketing unemployment, school closings, etc. — not to mention Ray Sansom and Buddy Johnson.

Brian Feist, St. Petersburg

Let Tampa tragedy prompt us to better deal with mental illness 08/24/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 24, 2009 7:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours