Parking and the Rays' stadium plans
Baseball proposals deserve fair play
Your headline on Thursday in the Local & State section proclaims Rays plan hits parking snag. This is just another piece of misleading information surrounding the Rays' plans. The article goes on to suggest major problems because the Rays do not yet have agreements in place with many of the parking facilities they expect to be available for game-day parking.
Do you really expect them to have agreements in place four years before the expected opening of a new stadium? Do you really expect that owners of parking lots would decline the $10-$15 per car they would get from parking game- day customers?
Your use of the terms "parking snag" and "parking crunch" is completely misleading. The Rays' plan deserves a fair and objective review. Unfortunately, some prefer to use false and misleading information to further their own agenda, rather than objectively assessing the facts.
Roy Casto, St. Petersburg
Parking is an illusion
We know the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes." The March 12 story, Rays' tally reports parking is plentiful, is a similar one.
The emperor really had no clothes and the Rays cannot make us believe that there is usable and "adequate" parking through "their" study.
I drive though these "parking areas" frequently, day and night. People actually park on the streets and in lots now because they live there, work there, shop there and recreate there. The simple act of driving around this proposed "parking area" will show anyone, including the emperor, that the parking would be grossly inadequate.
Glenn Anderson, St. Petersburg
Do a parking test
I'm a true Rays fan and would love a new stadium on the water in St. Petersburg. But reality tells me that parking would be a nightmare. Imagine 15,000 cars wandering the streets aimlessly searching for an open spot or small parking lot that hasn't filled up yet. This is not a prospect I would look forward to.
Although I am skeptical, maybe the city could try a "dry run" of sorts. Give out 35,000 tickets for each of three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Invite fans to order free tickets online. Then, on a predetermined date, they need to drive to the ballpark. They would redeem the tickets at the new park site to receive a free or reduced-price real game ticket.
This would allow the Rays and the city an opportunity to gauge the feasibility of this much traffic in a short time. In addition, the fans will be able to see if they can locate parking on their own without a huge imposition. I know I'd volunteer.
Jim Mullen, Tampa
What about handicapped?
I have not seen any articles concerning handicapped parking for the Rays games. My wife cannot take a shuttle bus due to her inability to get up bus steps. I don't believe I have seen or heard of this subject brought up at their meetings.
Bruce Weiss, Lutz
Cool and dry preferred
Each year I drive down to St. Petersburg, park in a paved lot at Tropicana Field, walk over to Ferg's Sports Bar for dinner and a few cold beers and wait for the gates to open for the baseball game. It is a thrill to see the stadium with the inlaid tile designs on the sidewalk, the catcher with his arm outstretched on the wall and sit in nice, dry air-conditioned comfort as I watch our team play. Each year the thunderstorms roll overhead but the game continues and I stay dry!
On March 6, I went to Bright House Field, an outside venue, to watch a game. Due to a very bad storm the game was called, I was soaked and had to slosh back through the mud to find my car. How I longed for my usual climate-controlled stadium with its paved parking and easy access. Upgrade the current stadium (again) if you must, but let me stay cool and dry. Think of the safety of the fans and the players!
Sandy Hofacker, Spring Hill
A lousy location
My wife and I have attended two preseason games at Al Lang. While listening to the PA announcements it became clear to us that the Rays think the new stadium is a done deal.
Already the public is being scammed. The faux study of available parking, commissioned by the Rays, has already been discredited for grossly padding the number of slots.
The proposed new stadium itself will be a monstrosity dwarfing the graceful architecture of the area. The mast for the "sail" itself will be taller than the towers of the Skyway Bridge. As my wife points out, "It just won't flow."
The Rays are called the "Tampa Bay Rays" instead of the St. Petersburg Rays because Rays owners hoped to draw a wider fan base than simply southern Pinellas County. So why not build the new stadium out on Gandy Boulevard, where open spaces will diminish rather than accent its size, where there is plenty of parking available, and where Hillsborough and Pasco County fans will have much more ready access?
The waterfront property where the Rays believe they are going to build is much too valuable to the community to use it for their purpose. Keep it the way it is or turn it into a park — anything, but do not build this abomination on it.
Dave Highlands, St. Petersburg
Bad time for stadium talk
We have a new property tax amendment, and the county and state are losing millions of dollars in tax revenues. There are budget cuts and possible layoffs. But there is ongoing talk about the new stadium for our Tampa Bay Rays.
The stadium we have is good enough, and it provides more seats than actually needed. And it is an air-conditioned dome. Why are we talking about wasting our money on a stadium for a team that hasn't won a World Series, a pennant, or barely even a playoff series?
How about putting the dreams for a waterfront stadium on hold while the area works on figuring out how we are going to keep the economy going?
James Vasile, Dunedin
OPEC laughs as we fume | March 12, Robert Samuelson commentary
Americans need to give up their energy-wasting ways
I agree wholeheartedly with this article. We Americans have continued to waste a finite resource while continually polluting the environment. You don't have to be a tree hugger or believe in global warming to realize that commuting by yourself in a gas-guzzling SUV is wasteful and at the same time pollutes the environment.
Americans have abolished smoking in most buildings while at the same time we spew tons of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere every day. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that this cannot be good for any living things.
The blame rests squarely on the American public for their habits and for electing and re-electing representatives who support those habits. These same representatives who have forgotten that their job is to do the best for the country as a whole and not just the special interests that fund their campaigns.
The American government could have been more proactive in raising mileage requirements and providing incentives for the purchase of high-mileage vehicles. However, that would have been counterproductive to the energy special interest groups. These are the same groups that have been realizing recordbreaking profits in the last few years. Instead the federal government has relied on a "market-driven solution." Well, the market is speaking and hopefully the American public will finally listen.
Wake up, America, and do the right thing in the upcoming elections.
Michael Logan, St. Petersburg
Get over green thinking
What will the Democrats do to solve the nation's energy problem when they win the presidency and increase their majority in both houses of Congress this November? Will they continue pushing their "green energy" programs or will they face reality and finally get serious about using energy sources that actually work? Drilling for more oil, constructing new refineries, using more coal and constructing additional nuclear power plants are absolutely essential. The only thing that "green energy" will do is drastically increase the cost of all energy and lead to massive shortages.
When motorists are paying $5 dollars for gasoline and we can't afford to heat and cool our homes it will get really ugly. As a result Democrats will easily be defeated in 2010 and 2012 and responsible adults will be put back in charge. Good luck, everyone. It's going to be a wild ride!
William Dube, South Pasadena
Nuke plant price triples | March 11, story
An enormous mistake
So now the price that its customers will pay Florida Progress to build its nuclear plant in Levy County has tripled to $17-billion, The new nuclear plant won't open until 2016, at the earliest, but we'll start paying next year, and you can bet our bills will keep going up, way up.
Our legislators made an enormous mistake, at our expense, when they gave blank checks to Florida Progress and FP&L last year to build these nuclear monsters and pass the cost on to their customers, in advance.
Nuclear power is not a good solution to global warming or to high energy costs. New plants require massive amounts of money and energy to build, they are unreliable and unsafe to operate, and they leave future generations with a major health hazard. The most effective responses to our energy problems are first, conservation, and second, solar energy, which ought to be a no-brainer for the Sunshine State.
We must demand that our legislators repeal this bad law immediately, and instead start to give meaningful support for conservation and solar energy.
Andrew Rock, Tampa
Nuke plant price triples | March 11, story
Public is being taken
How can this happen? A large corporation, (Progress Energy) gives us an estimate for construction, and a year or so later the estimate triples. Can it possibly be because they are being allowed to get their construction money up-front from the public? If they make the estimate higher, they can collect more money quicker. Surprise.
I still cannot understand how a company can be allowed to do that. No other company is allowed that privilege. If I wanted to start a company to sell a product to the public, do you think I would be allowed to charge the public for my product or services in advance? Maybe I could if I had the support of the Legislature. How can I get that? Any ideas would be appreciated.
As to the promised "lower rates" later, I will never live long enough to see them. Meanwhile I pay an "assessment" in advance.
James Bardsley, Madeira Beach
Bush vetoes ban on waterboarding | March 9, story
Surrendering our values
Recently, the U.S. House and Senate rejected the use of torture — a tactic rubber-stamped by high-ranking Bush administration officials — by passing the Intelligence Authorization Bill (HR 2082). The bill includes an important stipulation in the conference report that limits interrogators to the techniques permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manual. This would prevent the CIA and other U.S. agents from using waterboarding, sexual humiliation, dogs and other techniques that amount to torture and ill-treatment.
But President Bush vetoed the bill. Here's one more mark on his administration's shameful human rights record in the war on terror.
Is the president confused? To affirm the ban on torture and prosecute U.S. agents responsible for its use is not surrendering to terrorists. But we can be sure that anything less than denouncing torture and cruel treatment is surrendering American values.
The world needs to know that his veto does not represent my views on torture. Americans must send a clear, resounding message to this president and the next: Do not torture in our name.
Mary Jane Sackela, St. Petersburg
A contemptible action
Why does everyone hate Americans? Both young and old citizens of our great nation are asking this more frequently as we see in the media images of global protests focused on the United States.
As our nation accumulated power and influence in the 20th century, it adopted a policy of doing whatever, whenever, regardless of the effects on other countries or people. The Bush administration is particularly gifted in this area and continues its stubborn and reckless disregard for basic decency and values the United States should model.
President Bush vetoed HR 2082, the Intelligence Authorization Bill, which prevents the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. agents from using waterboarding and other techniques that amount to torture.
The president's action further compounds the incalculable damage to the United States' standing at home and abroad. How can our president assert that the United States "does not torture," as he vetoes antitorture legislation and expect the world to view him and us with anything but contempt?
Rajesh Nair, Tampa
Traffic cams: Go slow | March 10, editorial
Curb the scofflaws
I can't agree with your editorial regarding the use of traffic cameras to catch red-light runners. We Americans are a most undisciplined people, which is why we kill each other so often with cars, guns and in other ways. Running a red light is about the most flagrant and dangerous traffic violation I can think of, and one of the easiest to avoid. When you see the light turn yellow, brake!
If the police make money from these cameras, so be it. Scofflaws need to be educated, and making them pay for their education sits well with me.
Jack Peel, Tampa
Greed gets in the way
Many studies of camera intersections have been done. I went back to be certain I had the facts straight.
Federal and most state recommendations for yellow-light time is 3.6 seconds. Richland Hills, Texas, raised its yellow-light time from 3.6 to 4 seconds, then claimed that the lowering of infractions was from the cameras. They then quietly lowered it to 3 seconds. In a few months, violations increased 700 percent, with an extra $300,000 from the $75 fines. A Texas Department of Transportation study showed an increase of 66.6 percent in accidents from the decreased yellow-light time.
Springfield, Mo., shortened its yellow-light time to increase profit; a 1-second reduction produced a 100 percent increase. Dallas, Texas, reduced yellow-light time to 3.15, increasing income by 110 percent. The state insisted they increase yellow-light time to 4.5 seconds; that decreased accidents by 40 percent and decreased income from 60 intersections by $13.5-million from the previous year.
A Virginia DOT study found lowered yellow-light time for cameras increased accidents by an average of 18 percent and as high as 89 percent at certain intersections.
These are only a few examples, showing that money and greed lower the yellow-light time to increase profits — and it also increases accidents.
Study recommendations are to raise the yellow-light time to 5 seconds, giving increased reflex and response time to drivers and drastically reducing the number of violations and accidents. That would also reduce municipal profits, which supersede safety and lives. Thus it is not likely to happen. It is not a coincidence that Hillsborough County's interest in cameras coincides with the reduction in property-tax revenues.
Fred Miller, Hernando