Funding the arts in St. Petersburg
Investing in culture is crucial
The arts are vital to the wonderfully diverse fabric of St. Petersburg, and the mayor and City Council should maintain the $175,000 commitment in the budget for our annual arts and culture grant program. They also need to find a way to endow a fund for the arts so that we can increase the annual grant amounts and not be dependent upon diminishing annual allocations. This is not a handout; it is a proven investment that a recent Arts & Culture Economic Impact Report has demonstrated.
The other evening, I took part in a phone survey regarding increasing the property tax millage rate to support essential services. I said yes to the millage increase. I firmly believe residents should shoulder some of the responsibility for keeping St. Petersburg in tip-top shape and safe for all. However, we also need to continue to support arts and cultural funding.
Thousands of people visit and move here because of St. Petersburg's vibrant arts community. I would not be here if it weren't for American Stage Company, one of the nearly 30 recipients of city funding through the annual arts grants program. In 1999, my husband was hired by American Stage to join its technical staff. I had spent 16 years pursuing my acting career in New York, and I had no interest in moving to a sleepy Florida town.
But we moved, and I found the galleries, theater, music and museums high quality and accessible to all. The St. Pete arts scene has only gotten better, although artists and arts organizations have taken quite a hit along with everyone else since 2008. But if the city shuts off funding (as the county did), it will send a chilling message to artists, arts patrons and visitors alike.
Angela Bond Markus, St. Petersburg
Be smart from the get-go | May 17, letter
Cost shouldn't be deal killer
I am a student at Haverford College, one of the private, out-of-state institutions the letter writer refers to, and I disagree strongly with the assertion that people who can't afford to pay high tuition shouldn't attend more expensive colleges.
Choosing a college is not the same as buying a house or car. Even when a state's public universities are as good as any private colleges, a particular student may not be able to find the right institution for her own needs and skills within the state system. For example, Florida has only one public liberal arts college, New College, and not every prospective small-liberal-arts-college student in the state could possibly attend it; a large university like University of South Florida or University of Florida would not provide the same kind of education, regardless of quality. Also, some out-of-state and/or private institutions offer specific programs that one's state system may not have.
Besides, if students should only attend college when they're sure they'll be able to pay the entire tuition themselves, some students wouldn't be able to attend any institution, private or public. We should not deprive anyone of an education for lack of money; there's no linear relationship between wealth and the desire or aptitude to learn.
Kathryn Dorn, Tampa
Coverage of Children's Board
I have been surprised and disappointed in your recent coverage of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County. It has been one-sided as well as personal in tone. While any public organization should be open to scrutiny by the media, the information presented must be balanced and objective. Your sensationalized coverage is far below the standards I have always expected of the Times.
Diane Powell, Lutz
Banks engineered scheme | May 18, letter
Letter writer Kurt Steinmann is invested in the narrative put forth by the left that banks engineered the real estate bubble and financial system collapse for fun and profit. One used to almost have the money in the bank to get a loan as bankers are historically risk averse. Change came when politicians decided that "fairness" demanded everyone have the ability to buy a house regardless of assets, down payment, credit history or income. Programs were enacted and Fannie and Freddie were empowered to alleviate the risks for those stingy bankers. It was only when the federal government told the financiers "go ahead, we've got your back" that the stage was set for catastrophe.
Sorry, but the leftist version of events is aimed at historical revisionism.
Dwayne Keith, Valrico
Water solution simple: Charge gluttons more May 17, column
A really good idea
University of Tampa economics professors Robert L. Beekman and Brian T. Kench presented a great idea. Charge people higher rates for water used above necessary indoor use. If you can afford it, you can do as you please. If you need to cut back on extra use, you can. If you already conserve, you won't be penalized due to others' excesses. Just be sure the higher rates cover the problems and costs of supplying more water. Bright ideas like this could help solve a lot of our deficits.
Sallie Kosefeski, St. Petersburg
Voter fraud approach flawed May 18, editorial
Shades of 2004
Your editorial accurately describes the Florida Republican Party's second punch to prevent many voters from casting ballots who would probably vote Democrat.
The first punch was the new law that makes it a crime, with a $1,000 fine, to help someone register to vote without registering with the state. Even if a person takes the time to register, he would still have to pay the fine if the registration form isn't submitted in 48 hours.
The current suppression is a rerun of the 2004 election in Florida where Gov. Jeb Bush (the presidential candidate's brother) sought to purge the Florida voting rolls of tens of thousands of valid voters.
While the weather is great and the people are friendly in Florida, I don't think I want to live in a state anymore that repeatedly attacks the foundation of our democracy — our constitutional right to vote.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
New Citizens policies may jump 30% May 16
Old roof, new policyholder?
I recently received a cancellation letter from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. because they apparently felt my roof was too old. I was told by my agent that I would be able to renew if I provided a roof inspection. Now I read how Citizens is trying to do an end run around the cap on increasing rates. It appears that Citizens couldn't care less about my roof's age. They are just attempting to get around the cap by claiming that I am now a new customer.
Donald Simon, Largo