He can swing it | Aug. 7
His castle is bigger than yours
We live in a world where many of our fellow human beings don't have any sort of roof over their heads to protect them from the weather. So when I see photos such as the one published in the Times of Phillies baseball player Ryan Howard's 17,000-square-foot "castle," I immediately feel sorry for these castle-building people.
This story brought back memories of when Sen. John McCain was asked during his presidential campaign how many homes he owned, and he didn't know.
The answer was seven!
I am a strong advocate of capitalism, but I'm left wondering why some of the truly affluent in our nation have to build or buy so many castles when others don't even have a grass shack? I guess the castle builders must feel very insecure and building and owning castles alleviates that insecure feeling.
Carolyn Ward, Clearwater
Turtles can't 'swing it'
I'm a bit confused as to why Times editors thought it was necessary to fill so much real estate in the Local section with a cover story about some overpaid sports player's new home. That's not living the American Dream; that's gorging oneself in excess.
Over 17,000 square feet directly on the beach. Over 17,000 square feet needing to be lit once the sun hits the horizon. Right about the time baby sea turtles are hatching and navigating their way to the gulf.
How many turtles need to be admitted to the hospital due to being "disorientated by artificial lighting along the beach" before the Times puts their story on the front page of the Local section?
Christina Aikman, St. Petersburg
PSTA needs to earn back voters' trust | Aug. 8
I can think of few initiatives as important to our community's future as Greenlight Pinellas. I also understand the politics of distraction and misdirection.
Greenlight Pinellas opponents accused the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority of inappropriately using a Department of Homeland Security grant for advertisements that included the Greenlight logo. DHS did not provide feedback on the commercials, despite requests from PSTA. More than 90 percent of the ads ran last year, before the County Commission approved the Nov. 4 referendum.
Nonetheless, the PSTA should have had better communication with DHS and required its approval before running the ads. Although I was not PSTA chair last year, I take full responsibility as the current chair and have asked our CEO to review all grant procedures. The DHS grant is a small part of PSTA's $86 million budget and the millions in federal grants we receive yearly, and our grant compliance record is excellent. This particular grant should have been handled better. We will learn from this experience.
PSTA has a strong track record of fiscal and operational excellence. It is serving a record number of riders, is constantly taking steps to improve service, and is prepared to do an excellent job implementing the Greenlight Pinellas plan if approved by the voters. The plan is supported by 13 cities, the County Commission, businesses and many community stakeholders.
As we move toward the Nov. 4 referendum, our community must remain focused on the critical issue before us: Are we prepared to move our transportation system into the 21st century with a well vetted, fairly funded, and fiscally sustainable plan for improving public transit? I am confident that the Greenlight Pinellas plan is the path to that goal, and that the PSTA is prepared to implement that plan if voters approve it.
Ken Welch, Pinellas County commissioner, PSTA chair, St. Petersburg
Seminole withholds support for Greenlight | July 10
I've enjoyed many robust conversations with residents about Greenlight Pinellas. The opportunity to share how it will vastly improve the quality of life and foster economic growth has been satisfying. While not everyone has agreed with me, at least they've had the opportunity to hear the benefits and now have a greater understanding of the plan. Recently, Seminole's leaders voted to become the only city not to support Greenlight Pinellas. It was disappointing. Clearly, there was a lack of understanding of some very fundamental facts.
Greenlight Pinellas is a solid plan for Seminole and all of Pinellas. Seminole residents will enjoy new rapid bus service every 15-20 minutes. New early morning, late night and weekend service will be available as well as increased door-to-door connector service for seniors and the disabled. New community circulator buses connecting riders with shopping, schools and libraries will be available for our citizens.
Our veterans will have easier access to Bay Pines Hospital. Students will be able to arrive for classes at St. Petersburg College knowing there will be a bus later in the evening to bring them home and on weekends. Tourists will be able to come from the beach to enjoy the new Seminole City Center.
Beginning this fall, students at St. Petersburg College's Seminole campus will receive a U-pass giving them free bus service as the result of a new partnership between St. Petersburg College and PSTA.
Seminole residents have a lot riding on our transit future as traffic congestion gets worse. Seminole city commissioners still have an opportunity to embrace a vision for the future that can help us move forward. There is time for Seminole's leaders to reconsider their vote, and hear from their residents who want more choices when it comes to getting around our city and county.
Janet Long, Pinellas County commissioner, Seminole
No big-big names at Sundial | Aug. 7
Fix the Sundial
It is nice to see the broad listing of tenants poised to fill Sundial. The facility is gorgeous. The Sundial entryway is stunning.
However, it would be really nice if the Sundial shopping plaza had been configured properly. Even with compensation for the daylight savings time, this very expensive Sundial is about one-half of an hour off. Is that the best St. Petersburg can do?
Martin L. Daugherty, St. Petersburg