Why Obama is wrong | Feb. 8, commentary
Early bishop born in Maryland
With all due respect to St. Petersburg Bishop Robert N. Lynch, his claim that John Carroll, America's first bishop, came to our shores to escape religious persecution is incorrect.
In fact Carroll was born to relatively well-to-do parents in Maryland. At the age of 13 he was sent to Flanders to study; after 14 years he was ordained a Jesuit priest.
More to the point on obedience to church dictates, Father Carroll refused to acknowledge the suppression of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV and returned to America, where he worked within a political system that was marginally anti-Catholic. He nevertheless succeeded in his argument that the Constitution declare that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
He also authored a demand to Rome to allow American priests to recommend their own bishop, going so far as to say that "a bishop is at present unnecessary and that if one is sent it is decided by the majority of the chapter that he shall not be entitled to any support." Pope Pius VI, wisely, appointed him bishop.
One has to wonder how Bishop Carroll would react to the current maelstrom.
Thomas Ignatius Hayes, St. Petersburg
GOP vows to reverse new birth control policy Feb. 9
Not just contraception
It is disturbing to hear that some lawmakers expressed disapproval of President Barack Obama's decision to protect women's access to birth control. Birth control is fundamental to improving women's health and the health of their families.
Not only is birth control used for family planning, it is also indicated in many medical conditions such as endometriosis (which causes pelvic pain and infertility). All women should have access to birth control.
Employers should not discriminate against women by cherry-picking what's covered by their health insurance. Women and their doctors should make contraceptive decisions based on medical reasons, not based on who the boss is.
Charurut Somboonwit, M.D., Tampa
Private prison savings elusive | Feb. 8
Private prisons a bad idea
The state has an incentive to decrease recidivism, both to reduce prison costs and to increase public safety. So the state is more likely to provide rehabilitation and treatment. The state also has an incentive to engage family and friends in supporting the rehabilitation of prisoners so they can eventually rejoin society as productive members.
By contrast, private companies are motivated by profits and increasing business. Their interest is to increase recidivism, to increase criminalization of activities and to lengthen prison stays. When the state hires private companies, we are also paying for a layer of state managers and private company managers and marketers that would be unnecessary when the state runs the prisons.
On humanitarian, public safety and financial grounds, privatizing prisons is a bad idea.
Mardie J. Chapman, St. Petersburg
Modern police station a vital need | Feb. 9, John Romano column
Focus on needs, not wants
Columnist John Romano says it took less than two hours for him to be convinced that St. Petersburg needs a new police headquarters. If his description of what he saw on his tour is even close to being accurate, I think he is right.
Rather than the city going ahead with the Lens, which is a "want" and not a "need," perhaps it should sink that $50 million burning a hole in Mayor Bill Foster's pocket to provide what the city needs. If the Pier renovation is truly necessary, let a private firm develop it.
When I worked for the city of Baltimore in the 1970s and '80s, I was involved in the planning and construction of the Inner Harbor project. The city, through the use of federal funds, made sure the old piers and the ground surrounding those piers was solid. The Rouse Co., Hyatt, McCormick's and other companies spent their money to develop the shops and hotels in, on and around the project. Our only mandate was the generation of enough rent each year to pay for the cleaning, policing and upkeep of the right of ways the city would provide.
I think the city should do the same with the pier. It should be made safe for walking only. Offer it as a planned development site and use the $50 million for what St. Petersburg needs.
Martin Daugherty, St. Petersburg
County plans to repave Bayshore | Feb. 9
Third World approach
Preparations for the GOP convention call to mind a Third World country where tourists are whisked from the airport, past the "unfortunate" areas, to enter the elitist gates of the all-inclusive resort. There they can frolic comfortably without having to see the impoverished areas outside its walls.
Fixing up the immediate convention environs will only impress visitors if they fail to venture outside the perceived safety perimeters to experience what else Tampa Bay has to offer, for example, Ybor City, USF and Busch Gardens, to name a few.
What was the idea behind hosting the convention? If it was to resurface Bayshore Boulevard, that could have been done without the conference.
Anastasia Sultan, Tampa
Scott asks for one word; gets an earful Feb. 8
In a word …
I may not be a friend of Gov. Rick Scott on Facebook, but I do have one word to describe Florida's 2012 legislative session: Horrid-opolos.
Charles Stewart, New Port Richey
Slipped-in bill creates independent Poly U Feb. 9
Here we go again
I am outraged by the news that last-minute language ended up in a bill creating a new university in our already stretched-thin state. I see this as another waste of taxpayers' money. This just reeks of another Ray Sansom airplane hangar or Taj Mahal courthouse.
Charlotte Morales, Tampa
Does this equal weight loss? | Feb. 9
Friends and enemies
Egypt has people injured and dead from soccer riots. Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Syria is in the midst of a nightmare. From Israel we are told that eating chocolate for breakfast can help us lose weight. So tell me, who is our real friend in the Middle East?
Rochelle N. Lewis, Tampa