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Letters to the Editor

Michael Jackson: a flawed showman

Michael Jackson's memorial

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Watching Michael Jackson's memorial was, to me, both a beautiful and sad experience I do think Michael had many flaws I would not like to see young people emulate. However, he also had many qualities anyone would have to admire: He did was a hard worker with great creativity and musical genius. His dance moves were unique, his vocal renditions touching, and his ability to draw and entertain an audience was huge. As a showman, Michael Jackson was indeed a king.

However, watching some of the older interviews rebroadcast on TV after his death, I saw a very tortured and insecure young man trying to grasp a youth he was never permitted to have as a child. He disliked "the man in the mirror" so much that he actually changed himself into another physical being unrecognizable from the child star who first became famous.

Michael Jackson so needed love. Thus, it was so sad to see so much love pouring out to him in death when it was so needed in the years before.

Yes, like Elvis, Michael will live on and earn millions of dollars for friends and relatives who will all milk his memory to the last drop. We cannot really bring Michael back and soothe his aching heart. What we can do is love all our heroes more in life than in death and celebrate their lives more while they are here to enjoy the party!

Adele Ida Walter, Tampa

Hed

Webster's dictionary defines the word "news" as: "report of recent happenings; fresh information." Michael Jackson diedon June 25, and it's been 24/7 coverage on the so-called "news" outlets. I expect it on the entertainment shows and networks, but all the coverage on the Network news?

Michael Jackson was a talented, troubled pop star. He probably had a terrible, tormented childhood. He definitely had a bizarre adult life and there's no denying that he died way too young. He made millons, spent and lost millions. He brought people joy with his music and showmanship. He outraged people with his excesses and lifestyle.

He was a pop star. He's gone. To deify him is ridiculous. To demonize him is just as bad. I think everyone has said goodbye. Let's move on.

Jeff Cutting, Brandon

hed

What has happened to the morals of our country?

Every TV channel today was dedicated to the life of Michael Jackson,an entertainer,who died from an overdose of medications.

Honoring him as if he were some role model that our kids should look up to.

Yes,he was a great entertainer,but a role model,

I don't think so.

Less air time was given to the Death of Pope John Paul. Even less was given to the death of Mother Teresa. These were two who lived their lives to really help others without the monetary rewards that Jackson realized. Nor did they involve themselves in substance abuse to achieve their goals.

Wake up America. Get back to the basics and find role models in those who are worth to emulate

Elaine Wagner, Seminole

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I would like to thank the major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX and MSNBC for opening my eyes to the excellent shows on the many other networks available on cable.

Mostly out of habit I seem to have become habituated to watching the shows on the above mentioned networks too much of the time. Because of their excessive and obsessive coverage of Michael Jackson I began surfing the net to find something interesting to watch, and in the process I have learned there is much to be seen and learned on the other channels.

I suppose there will be a time in the future when the Jackson coverage will ease and the networks may actually start showing us real news again, but I may not be watching.

Ken in Zephyrhills

Ken DeKing, Zephyrhills

Inside Guantanamo | July 5, story

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After reading Sunday's article regarding the conditions at Gitmo, it appears the reporting staff at the Times has forgotten 9/11 and why those terrorists are at Gito to start with.It appears they are provided with "state of the art" medical care (more than most in America can claim today), excellent dining options, religious freedom, exercise equipment etc. Only the hardcore are detained for 22 hours per day. I am not sure what Times writer Meg Laughlin was expecting. Perhaps a "group hug" and send them all home.

Gordon Johnson, Palm Harbor

Inside Guantanamo | July 5, story

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Thank you for the outstanding article "Inside Guantanamo". Once again, Meg Laughlin did a wonderful job of looking beyond the official story and getting to the reality of a situation. A lot of things were done behind closed doors the last eight years, so I hope to see more articles like this one.

Melva Underbakke, Temple Terrace

Inside Guantanamo | July 5, story

hed

Excellent article from an obviously excellent reporter. It could occur only in an independent newspaper like the STPT.

W.H. Warrick III M.D., Gainesville

Energy legislation will be costly for taxpayers | July 4, letter

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In reference to the recently passed climate legislation, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite said in her letter that "seniors in Florida will pay a lot more than residents of California, who will pay almost nothing."

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office based its estimates on household income and energy usage by state. By their formula, Californians would actually pay an average of $132 more for energy per year in 2020, while the average Floridian would pay $48 more. On average, the American household would pay $165 in additional energy costs. Households in the lowest income quintile would likely see no increase.

The CBO's calculations did not include estimates for money saved through energy efficiency measures. In fact, Brown-Waite belittled the proposed energy efficiency standards, standards that would ultimately create jobs and save people money. The EPA's analysis says, "as a result of energy efficiency measures, consumer spending on utility bills would be roughly 7% lower in 2020 as a result of the legislation."

As it now stands, consumers are paying an average of $40 per month more today for electricity (or making do with less) than they did in 2005.

The United States is poised to be a world leader in energy innovation that will create jobs, improve lives, and reduce our negative impact on the planet. It would be easier to achieve that goal if elected leaders like Ginny Brown-Waite embraced facts. Using specious information in a public forum to scare seniors does nothing to further their interests. It only furthers Representative Brown-Waite's political agenda.

Cindy Maxwell, Clearwater

Camp Lejeune cancer

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A quick review of the homepage of Camp Lejeune shows that about 150 thousand people work or live there. As it is a major Marine base, I assume that maybe 75% are males, about 107 thousand. Your articles say that the normal incidence of male breast cancer is 1 in a thousand. Then I think that you would expect 107 cases in those who are there today. Adding in a large turnover rate of male personnal as well as the longevity of the base, then hundreds of men who are associated with the camp could be expected to have come down with this devastating cancer simply by being a male human.

Your story seems to find some nefarious association not supported by the numbers you present. Unfortunately, the people in the article seem to be looking for either a reason for the cancer, or payment of some kind. I am sorry that this has happened to them. But maybe there isn't any "reason", just the unfortunate luck of the draw. If any "good" has come of it, then maybe it would be men, or their wives, checking themselves for it.

Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa

Exploiting addicts | July 4, letter

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Hurray for the cigarette tax!! Believe it or not, but that tax just made more addicts quit! There are so many programs out there to assist smokers to quit, many want to quit but put it off until that spot shows up on the X-Ray or they cant afford it or they just simply can not breathe. Nothing else matters if you cant breathe right? As a Repiratory Therapist (Who used to smoke for 18 years) I see the damage it does to the whole body day in, day out. I see parents smoking in their cars with innocent children in the backseat getting all that secondhand. I HATE cigarettes and what they do to people. My worst excuse to hear is,'We didnt know it was bad for you back then', really??? Sucking smoke into your lungs and coughing isn't a sign? Whats up with the beggers out there holding signs asking for money for food, but they always have a cigarette hanging from their mouths. I'm over it and smokers need to get over it. Raise the tax I say, My last line is this, There is a fire on one end and a fool on the other!!

Jeffrey Huber, Brooksville

hed

Gov.Charlie Crist signed SB 2080 into law on June 30. While most of the media coverage pertains to the disappointment of environmentalists with the granting of the power to issue surface water and consumptive use permits to the executive directors in Florida's five water management districts, the provision that allows homeowners to convert their lawns into "Florida Friendly" yards is potentially more disruptive to Floridians.

There are tens of thousands of deed restricted communities around the state. Homeowners' associations demand extensive lawns, shrubs and ornamental trees to protect property values. Little, if any, thought is given to the environment and Florida eco-systems. They only want to increase subdivision curb appeal.

Now that homeowners have been given the "Florida Friendly" power, they need to get involved with their Homeowner Association or Community Development District to develop working guidelines that will lead to landscape changes for the better.

While "Florida Friendly" concepts are good for Florida and have evolved considerably since Hurricane Charley took down the Australian pine trees on Sanibel and Captiva Islands in 2004, the term is still not well defined. The lists of "Florida Friendly" plants and shrubs printed by the various extension services are much too long and landscaping concepts are lacking.

Our new challenge is to bring the "Florida Friendly" concept into focus for homeowners and homeowner associations alike. We need to train association Board, Architectural Control Committee and Landscape Committee members, and homeowners about good "Florida Friendly" planting, landscaping practices and options.

The natural look of a "Florida Friendly" landscape can be a good look if designed properly.

Bruce Hurwitz, Lutz

Subject: Battle for our future - budget versus rail

Battle for our future: Budget versus Rail

Light rail can mean much more than an uncongested commute to and from work, the airport, shopping, or tourist destinations. Denver, Phoenix and Charlotte discovered that their light rail and transit systems also stimulated development along the corridors.

Hillsborough certainly needs a Master Plan that provides relief from our congested roads but it must also require the type of development that provides a sustainable quality of life. Unfortunately, the planning staff and increased taxes for such a plan will not be available if the BOCC accepts the County Administrator's proposed 2010 - 2011 budget. That budget will seriously degrade the Planning Commission's ability to handle the flood of land use changes and Comprehensive Plan amendments for rail, urban development, and community based plans.

During the Master Plan's design and implementation the Planning Commission's budget should be increased in order to handle the increased workload and absorb the planners being laid off from the Planning and Growth Management Department. That will also preserve experienced staff and provide incentives to make our rail system, urban development, and community plans the jewels that we all want.

Public and Private leaders can then use Florida's new Growth Management law to direct future development into the urban areas where rail will go. That will concentrate our resources and infrastructure, attract stable and diverse employers, improve wages, offer housing and mobility options, promote government efficiencies, and attract more riders to support the rail and transit system. Our construction industry will also recover as it adapts to the new urban development and infill lifestyles.

Our budget must also preserve the Community Based Planning that began ten years ago. To date, the plans have preserved the unique character of fourteen communities and protected them from inappropriate development. Weakening our Community Based Plans will leave citizens intolerant of the Master Plan and the taxes needed to support it.

Even in these troubled times a well designed Master Plan and budget might convince taxpayers to increase their taxes. But, our future must look and feel much brighter.

Tom Aderhold, Keystone / Odessa

Past Vice-Chair, Citizens Advisory Committee, Metropolitan Planning Organization for Transportation and Regional Chairs Coordinating Council.

Member TBARTA, Land Use Working Group

Tom Aderhold, Tampa

The dirty truth | June 14, story

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As a member of a mud bogging family and mother of a mud bogging son and family, I need to tell the real truth!

When your reporter chose the people to talk to about the sport of Mud Bogging, did he just choose the bare ladies and the night life of one group? Everyone who goes to these meetings is not in the same club. There may be four or five clubs that have no affiliation with the other clubs, except the love of mud bogging. Yet your story chose to focus on the night life and was based on one nighttime activity. Mud bogging is a daytime and family activity.

There is good and bad in all clubs and organizations. Church groups, social events and above of all, politicians, come to mind. Maybe even newspaper writers.

Your story did not look into where the money to attend these events was going. Let me enlighten you.

Every month, the Sunshine Swampers share a family oriented dinner at a local restaurant. The president calls the meeting to order. They discuss the next event: when, where, what time and the facilities offered. No nudity is allowed. There is nothing you can't see at the beach or in the family grocery store.

The Sunshine Swampers donate 100 percent of the profits received from the event to charity. These donations go mostly to young children with diseases, such as cancer and leukemia, and to families in need.

In May more than $3,000 was given by the Sunshine Swampers to deserving families for medical expenses.

An emergency medical technician and law enforcement are required to be at the site and are paid for by the Sunshine Swampers.

When your paper selects an activity to blast, you should check every aspect, not only the negative. As I have stated, good and bad are in all things. I regret that you only choose to see the ugly.

Ruth French, member of the Sunshine Swampers, Zephyrhills

ELECTRIC RATE INCREASES

Dear Editor,

I realize I'm a small fish in a big pond; however, in today's economy, increases in utilities and credit card interest rates are the financial demise of millions of hard-working Americans. It's impossible to stay afloat and above water, even if you have a job, which a lot of people have lost due to constant cut-backs and economic re-design.

I live in a one-bedroom mobile home. The electric bill this month was half of what I make a week and half of the lot rent I have to pay. That leaves little or nothing left for everyday expenses, insurance, and other regular bills...???? What are people supposed to do?

Please tell me who to contact to help put this increase under control....even if this message is not published, I want to make a difference.

Roma L. Holt, Pinellas Park

Subject: The Seat Belt PROPAGANDA STINKS

Enough of the Seat Belt PROPAGANDA. If you real cared about highway deaths the Helmet law would not have been repealed. The ONLY reason the seat belt law was passed was FEDERAL CASH. To qualify for the Feds Transportation Funds the State of Florida had to ENFORCE the Seat Belt Law or they didn't get the funds. Please just tell the TRUTH, the PROPAGANDA makes me sick......

Earl Rick Jacobs III, St. Petersburg

Church plan for homeless merits support | July 6, editorial

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Your editorial shows your paper's complete lack of compassion for hard-working folks in this time of extreme financial difficulty. "..a field of 6-by-8-foot sheds might lower their property values."...would not help businesses there."...add to visual blight..." "depress potential to attract industry to the area."

The question is not what's wrong with this proposal. You answered that. It's what's right with it.

You hinted at the only real solution. The church owning the land seems to be the major reason this location was chosen. A land swap for a site in a blighted area would be perfect. There might even be a building on site that could be converted to 6-by-8-foot apartments so the residents wouldn't have to be evacuated every time the wind rose above 40 mph.

The homeless should be shown compaspassion, but not in that location.

Daniel Burris, Lutz





Michael Jackson's memorial

A flawed showman

Watching Michael Jackson's memorial was, to me, both a beautiful and sad experience. I do think Michael had many flaws I would not like to see young people emulate. However, he also had many qualities anyone would have to admire: He was a hard worker with great creativity and musical genius. His dance moves were unique, his vocal renditions touching, and his ability to draw and entertain an audience was huge. As a showman, Michael Jackson was indeed a king.

However, watching some of the older interviews rebroadcast on TV after his death, I saw a very tortured and insecure young man trying to grasp a youth he was never permitted to have as a child. He disliked "the man in the mirror" so much that he actually changed himself into another physical being unrecognizable from the child star who first became famous.

Michael Jackson so needed love. Thus, it was so sad to see so much love pouring out to him in death when it was so needed in the years before.

Yes, like Elvis, Michael will live on and earn millions of dollars for friends and relatives who will all milk his memory to the last drop. We cannot really bring Michael back and soothe his aching heart. What we can do is love all our heroes more in life than in death and celebrate their lives more while they are here to enjoy the party!

Adele Ida Walter, Tampa

It's time to move on

Michael Jackson died on June 25, and it's been 24/7 coverage on the so-called "news" outlets. I expect it on the entertainment shows and networks, but all the coverage on the network news?

Michael Jackson was a talented, troubled pop star. He brought people joy with his music and showmanship. He outraged people with his excesses and lifestyle.

He was a pop star. He's gone. To deify him is ridiculous. To demonize him is just as bad. I think everyone has said goodbye. Let's move on.

Jeff Cutting, Brandon

He was no role model

What has happened to the morals of our country? Every TV channel on Tuesday was dedicated to the life of Michael Jackson, an entertainer who died possibly from an overdose of medications.

We are honoring him as if he were some role model that our kids should look up to. Yes, he was a great entertainer, but a role model — I don't think so.

Less air time was given to the death of Pope John Paul II. Even less was given to the death of Mother Teresa. These were two who lived their lives to really help others without the monetary rewards that Jackson realized.

Wake, up America. Get back to the basics and find role models who are worthy to emulate.

Elaine Wagner, Seminole

Mourn the worthy

On the day Michael Jackson died, a valiant U.S. soldier was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.

I contend that this selfless human being should be deeply mourned by our whole nation. Instead, we direct our sadness and idolatry to an unstable pop star whom none of us would allow our children to be around. Let's revere those who have died to keep us free.

James Richter Sr., Dunedin

Watching elsewhere

I would like to thank ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX and MSNBC for opening my eyes to the excellent shows available elsewhere on cable.

I seem to have become habituated to watching the shows on the above-mentioned networks too much of the time. Because of their excessive and obsessive coverage of Michael Jackson I began channel surfing to find something interesting to watch, and in the process I have learned there is much to be seen and learned on the other channels.

I suppose there will be a time in the future when the Jackson coverage will ease and the networks may actually start showing us real news again, but I may not be watching.

Ken DeKing, Zephyrhills

Put the emphasis on Florida Friendly yards

Gov. Charlie Crist signed SB 2080 into law on June 30. Most of the media coverage pertains to the disappointment of environmentalists with the granting of the power to issue surface water and use permits to the executive directors in Florida's five water management districts. But the provision that allows homeowners to convert their lawns into "Florida Friendly" yards is potentially more disruptive to Floridians.

There are tens of thousands of deed restricted communities around the state. Homeowner associations demand extensive lawns, shrubs and ornamental trees to protect property values. Little, if any, thought is given to the environment and Florida ecosystems. They only want to increase subdivision curb appeal.

Now that homeowners have been given the Florida Friendly power, they need to get involved with their homeowner association or community development district to develop working guidelines that will lead to landscape changes for the better.

While Florida Friendly concepts are good for Florida and have evolved considerably since Hurricane Charley took down the Australian pine trees on Sanibel and Captiva Islands in 2004, the term is still not well defined. The lists of Florida Friendly plants and shrubs printed by the various extension services are much too long and landscaping concepts are lacking.

Our new challenge is to bring the Florida Friendly concept into focus for homeowners and homeowner associations alike. We need to train members of association boards, architectural control committees and landscape committees, as well as homeowners about good Florida Friendly planting, landscaping practices and options.

The natural look of a Florida Friendly landscape can be a good look if designed properly.

Bruce Hurwitz, Lutz

Rail and wise development

Light rail can mean much more than an uncongested commute to and from work, the airport, shopping or tourist destinations. Denver, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C., discovered that their light rail and transit systems also stimulated development along the corridors.

Hillsborough certainly needs a master plan that provides relief from our congested roads, but it must also require the type of development that provides a sustainable quality of life. Unfortunately, the planning staff and increased taxes for such a plan will not be available if the Hillsborough County Commission accepts the county administrator's proposed 2010-2011 budget. That budget will seriously degrade the Planning Commission's ability to handle the flood of land use changes and comprehensive plan amendments for rail, urban development and community-based plans.

During the master plan's design and implementation the Planning Commission's budget should be increased in order to handle the increased workload and absorb the planners being laid off from the Planning and Growth Management Department. That will also preserve experienced staff and provide incentives to make our rail system, urban development, and community plans the jewels that we all want.

Public and private leaders can then use Florida's new growth management law to direct future development into the urban areas where rail will go. That will concentrate our resources and infrastructure, attract stable and diverse employers, improve wages, offer housing and mobility options, promote government efficiencies, and attract more riders to support the rail and transit system. Our construction industry will also recover as it adapts to the new urban development and in-fill lifestyles.

Our budget must also preserve the community- based planning that began 10 years ago. To date, the plans have preserved the unique character of 14 communities and protected them from inappropriate development. Weakening our community-based plans will leave citizens intolerant of the master plan and the taxes needed to support it.

Even in these troubled times, a well-designed master plan and budget might convince taxpayers to increase their taxes. But our future must look and feel much brighter.

Tom Aderhold, member, TBARTA, land use working group, Tampa

Church plan for homeless merits support July 6, editorial

Site is all wrong

Your editorial shows your paper's complete lack of compassion for hard-working folks in this time of extreme financial difficulty.

The editorial notes that "a field of 6-by-8-foot sheds might lower their property values," "would not help the businesses there," and "would add to the visual blight and depress potential to attract industry to the area."

The question is not what's wrong with this proposal. You answered that. It's what is right with it.

You hinted at the only real solution. The church's owning the land seems to be the major reason this location was chosen. A land swap for a site in a blighted area would be perfect. There might even be a building on site that could be converted to 6-by-8-foot apartments so the residents wouldn't have to be evacuated every time the wind rose above 40 mph.

The homeless should be shown compassion, but not in that location.

Daniel Burris, Lutz

The dirty truth | June 14, story

Good works amid the mud

As a member of a mud bogging family and mother of a mud bogging son, I need to tell the real truth!

When your reporter chose the people to talk to about the sport of mud bogging, did he just choose the bare ladies and the nightlife of one group? Everyone who goes to these meetings is not in the same club. There may be four or five clubs that have no affiliation with the other clubs, except the love of mud bogging. Yet your story chose to focus on the nightlife and was based on one nighttime activity. Mud bogging is a daytime and family activity.

There is good and bad in all clubs and organizations. Church groups, social events and above all, politicians, come to mind. Maybe even newspaper writers.

Your story did not look into where the money to attend these events was going. Let me enlighten you. Every month, the Sunshine Swampers share a family-oriented dinner at a local restaurant. The president calls the meeting to order. They discuss the next event: when, where, what time and the facilities offered. No nudity is allowed. There is nothing you can't see at the beach or in the family grocery store.

The Sunshine Swampers donate 100 percent of the profits received from the event to charity. These donations go mostly to young children with diseases, such as cancer and leukemia, and to families in need.

In May more than $3,000 was given by the Sunshine Swampers to deserving families for medical expenses.

An emergency medical technician and law enforcement are required to be at the site and are paid for by the Sunshine Swampers.

When your paper selects an activity to blast, you should check every aspect, not only the negative. As I have stated, good and bad are in all things. I regret that you only choose to see the ugly.

Ruth French, member of the Sunshine Swampers, Zephyrhills

Exploiting addicts | July 4, letter

A blow against tobacco

Hurray for the cigarette tax! Believe it or not, but that tax just made more addicts quit. There are so many programs out there to assist smokers to quit. Many want to quit but put it off until that spot shows up on the X-ray or they can't afford it or they simply cannot breathe. Nothing else matters if you can't breathe right?

As a respiratory therapist (who used to smoke, for 18 years) I see the damage it does to the whole body day in, day out. I see parents smoking in their cars with innocent children in the backseat getting all that secondhand. I hate cigarettes and what they do to people.

The worst excuse I hear is, "We didn't know it was bad for you back then." Really? Sucking smoke into your lungs and coughing isn't a sign?

And what's up with the beggars out there holding signs asking for money for food, but they always have a cigarette hanging from their mouths?

I'm over it, and smokers need to get over it. Raise the tax, I say. My last line is this: There is a fire on one end and a fool on the other.

Jeffrey Huber, Brooksville

Motivating Sarah

Top 10 reasons why Sarah Palin resigned:

1. To free herself to promote her values on a national scale.

2. To campaign for conservatives in all 50 states.

3. To protect her children from the likes of David Letterman.

4. To put an end to the otherwise endless frivolous lawsuits.

5. To limit her personal legal bills to their present $500,000.

6. To avoid becoming a lame duck governor while on the state payroll.

7. To position her lieutenant governor to run for re-election with a record.

8. Now she can actually wear jackets with logos on them.

9. To go fishing.

10. So that this will be the last top 10 list she ever has to put up with.

Robert Arvay, Tampa

Michael Jackson: a flawed showman 07/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 10, 2009 9:12pm]

    

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