Time for offense on pier project | May 18, editorial
New pier will draw buzz, visitors
Opponents of the new St. Petersburg pier will lose regardless the outcome of any potential vote in August. If the new pier is voted down, the "victory" will be hollow. The old pier will still be demolished, and St. Petersburg will be without a pier for many years.
The city would have to start over and ask for new designs, but from whom? What architectural firm is going to spend the time and money drawing preliminary plans only to have them voted down by yet another referendum? What guarantees are there that another design will not create controversy? No design is going to please everyone, so expect more opposition. Years will go by, and still no pier.
If the new pier is approved and opens on schedule in 2015, people will see for themselves what it has to offer, and many will remember the opposition's false claims and misinformation.
Opponents say the new pier looks strange and doesn't fit our city, but people will come from all over to see for themselves, and they will discover the many amenities the new pier will have. Love it or hate it, the unique design will create buzz and draw people to it.
Stephen Urgo, St. Petersburg
Will Weatherford says expanding Medicaid would 'drastically' expand country's deficit May 16, PolitiFact
The Times' PolitiFact failed to go far enough with its reasoning as to why state House Speaker Will Weatherford refused federal health care money. The answer is quite simple. The money was rejected by Florida and many other Republican-run states because, by and large, the people who would most benefit would be the same people who elected the president into office, twice. Why would Republicans want to help "those people"?
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg
Insurer gets $52M deal | May 23
Consumers left hanging
Why do our legislators and governor look out for insurance companies at the expense of the citizens they are supposed to represent? Heritage, a nine-month-old insurance company with many violations, is receiving up to $52 million to take over Citizens policies. Heritage has been a big contributor to the governor and the Republican Party.
As the article says, it will be sending as many as 60,000 "takeover" letters to Citizens policyholders to take their policy, and homeowners need to respond if they don't want that change. I have been through this twice already and will be looking in my mail for the latest so I can be sure they receive my denial of their coverage.
But what about our elderly who don't understand the letter they get or don't even open it because they think it's junk mail since they have no dealings with Heritage? This opt-out tactic is misleading and should not be something our elected officials condone. "Takeover" letters are just that: a takeover of our rights to choose and be informed.
Jo Anne Flynn, Masaryktown
They are not forgotten
It seems like only yesterday, but I can vividly remember standing on the street corner in my hometown, Savannah, Ga., and watching the troops march down the main thoroughfare heading to ships that would eventually lead them to Korea. That was 1950 and I was eight years old. I also remember a few years later hearing my mother and father talk about all the boys who didn't come back.
Fast forward to the 1960s and '70s, and I remember so many of my good friends going off to fight in Vietnam and the many who didn't come back.
So it is on this Memorial Day and all such days to come that forever memorialized in my brain shall be the countless men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms.
John Osterweil, Tampa
States' teen birth rates fall sharply | May 23
Programs make difference
The Tampa Bay Times ran an article on May 23 about the falling teen birth rates, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article said, "What's driving the declines? No one can say for sure."
I can. Programs like the ones offered by Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, which advocate safe sex messages and sex education, are making the difference. Last year its education and training department reached more than 30,000 individuals, answering sensitive questions and providing comprehensive, scientifically accurate sexual health and prevention information.
Evidence-based programs that focus on the whole teen have proven to be most effective, like Planned Parenthood's Wyman Teen Outreach Program, which operates in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties. It addresses not only risky sexual behaviors but other behaviors such as violence and substance abuse. And Planned Parenthood's outreach education program, "Real Life-Real Talk," provides adolescents with human sexuality and life development education. Programs take place in public and private schools, youth-serving agencies, churches and Planned Parenthood offices.
Planned Parenthood believes that education and communication, along with the provision of high-quality, affordable sexual health care, equip people to make responsible decisions and lead fulfilling lives.
Nancy Natilson, board of directors, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Tampa
A missed prom's teachable moments May 24, Sue Carlton column
Lessons in excess
The articles and columns on the River Ridge prom situation have been informative but have not addressed the problems that are more significant than the immaturity and overly rigid attitudes of the adult parties. It's not just this prom but most that have these issues.
First, why did a school in New Port Richey feel the need to hold a prom 50 miles away in Tampa? Are we to believe that there are no venues in that area that could host a meaningful and memorable event such as this?
Secondly, why were tickets $75? This is a large chunk of money for teens and seems excessive in this locale and economy. Can it be that the answer to this question can be found in the first question?
These are high school proms, not country club debutante balls. They are supposed to be for all students, not just the affluent ones. School boards need to make certain that they are.
Theressa Placke, Tampa