Pinellas Park's palms not local | June 18, story Our government is too careless with tax dollars Regarding these palm trees, Pinellas Park spokesman Tim Caddell says, "I don't think anybody ever thought about them, where they came from."
And local governments wonder why taxpayers are in an uproar. Comments like this show they have no regard for the money they are spending.
As a person who runs a business, I can sure tell you that my decision would have been to buy the local palms and save the other approximately $80,000. Every government worker needs to act as though it's their own money they're spending before making decisions like this one. Then we would all be better off.
I sure hope anyone who works for the city remembers this if they get laid off due to budget cuts. That $80,000 probably could cover at least two people's wages for a year.
Government workers, the police and firefighters are all complaining about the cutbacks — and then this.
Eric Howe, Largo
It's the people's money
I was not surprised to see more government waste being exposed. What did surprise me is the attitude in Pinellas Park that since this money came from a state Department of Transportation grant it didn't cost the city's taxpayers anything.
Do I have to remind Pinellas Park city officials that this is the people's money? Representatives of the government — at any level — have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that the people's money is not wasted.
Given this type of thinking, it might be prudent for a taxpayer task force to start looking at every spending decision that Pinellas Park city officials make. I'll bet if this happened we would find more of the same from these officials.
Remember that the people only can give so much money. If officials choose to spend it unwisely, there will be a lot less of it for things more important than Arizona palms.
Hellen Davis, Treasure Island
Poor fiscal focus
On Sunday I read in your paper that the city of Pinellas Park is considering raising its tax rate and using city reserves to make up for budget shortfalls (Pinellas Park may raise tax rate, tap into reserves).
In Wednesday's paper I read that Pinellas Park paid nearly $90,000 to have 14 palm trees imported from Arizona. What's wrong with this picture?
Jerry Shores, Pinellas Park
Stadium proposal gets thorough examination
The proposal for a new waterfront stadium and the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site is, without a doubt, among the largest and most transformational projects the city of St. Petersburg has contemplated in the last 50 years. It is also one of the most complex, requiring a partnership by the Rays with the city and county governments, and approval by city voters.
The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, seeking to conduct in-depth, independent analysis of this proposal, assembled a task force of 35 community and business leaders drawn from all corners of our city. The list is impressive, including professionals from St. Petersburg's top corporations, the Urban League, Council of Neighborhood Associations, academia and an array of business professionals. The group is diverse, autonomous and outspoken, but one in which all members share an abiding commitment and love for our city.
Our approach is to identify critical areas of impact and form committees tasked with investigating, assessing and ultimately delivering reports that identify key concerns pertaining to the ballpark project. The committees have focused on finances, parking, economic development, the environment and community impact. Each committee has had the ability to consult with experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and test their assumptions. Additionally the committees have had the ability to draw on PwC for additional information on the ballpark projects in other cities.
In immersing ourselves in all aspects of this proposal, we are confident that the task force is exercising great care, diligence and considerable expertise to eventually deliver our report. As we complete our committee work, the task force will discuss the findings, debate the issue and develop the final report and recommendations to the chamber board on whether to support or oppose the Rays' proposal … assuming it is ultimately placed on the ballot. Countless hours of volunteer time have been donated by the task force members, who are committed to delivering a competent, thoughtful and well researched report, using an extraordinary blend of some of the community's most talented individuals.
Steven A. Raymund, co-chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce's baseball task force and chairman of Tech Data Corp.
If not here, where? | June 15, story
Finally! The St. Petersburg Times has reported on the options all intelligent readers have been asking about since this stupid proposal was disclosed to the public: other possible sites for a new baseball stadium as opposed to the bayfront!
Most of the people I speak with are against a new stadium in the first place, but given the influence of the Rays' greed and the city's corruption, there might be a new stadium built. If there is one, put it in the Toytown location. Forget the Rays' interest in having an "urban" location and make it more accessible to the "Tampa and beyond" fans and get more of the non-St. Petersburg municipalities to pay for the completion of the stadium and infrastructure required.
John Parchman, St. Petersburg
The Rays are hung up on a beautiful setting in downtown St. Petersburg on the waterfront. However, good looks may be their downfall when attendance goes even lower due to heat and parking.
The people from Tampa claim they do not attend because of the current location right off the interstate with lots of parking. Yet if the Rays play New York, Boston, or Chicago they somehow find Tropicana Field. Finding their way downtown and hunting for parking may be a different story.
Some say baseball should be played outside so balls do not bounce off overhead rings. The proposed stadium has overhead cables for balls to hit.
Let's say the Rays get the new stadium and have rain delays, rainouts, heat strokes, parking problems and low attendance. Then the Rays may look for another city.
Donald C. Golden, St. Petersburg
Electoral College | June 18, letters
Protection for the states
Sen. Bill Nelson and the letter writers supporting the abolition of the Electoral College have a very serious misconception of the basic nature of our nation and how it was founded.
The United States of America is a Federal Republic, not a unitary Democratic Republic. It consists of 50 sovereign states. Those states give up some of their sovereignty, notably over foreign affairs, interstate commerce and the military, in return for the advantages of the Union. This concept of state sovereignty and substantial local control of a government close to home has served the United States well. We have maintained a free and independent nation, with extraordinary individual freedom, for 219 years with far fewer changes and much less turmoil than any attempts at centralized national governments.
At the Constitutional Convention the primary point of contention was state representation. The smaller states rightly feared that representation strictly along lines of population would result in their interests and rights being ignored by the larger states. They refused to enter the Union unless they received a substantial share in the legislative branch, an equal number of senators and at least one representative, and a substantial share in the selection of the head of the executive branch, the president.
As a compromise, the Electoral College was deliberately structured with votes equal to the total of senators and representatives from each state, to give the smaller states a larger voice in the election of the president than they would otherwise have. As sovereign entities, the states have the right to choose the manner of selecting the electors within the limits of constitutional voting rights. The states have the right to distribute the vote according to the election results if they wish. Almost all states vote the electors as a block, winner take all, to maximize their influence, the purpose of the Electoral College.
Changing to a direct democratic election of the president would shatter the basic compact and nature of the Union, destroy the basis of state sovereignty and disenfranchise the smaller states.
James Klapper, Oldsmar
Let our voices be heard | June 18, letter
A difficult process
This letter shows the unfortunate lack of any depth of political knowledge in so many voters.
I applaud the writer's zeal in supporting a movement to bring our presidential election procedures from the 18th into the 21st century. And I agree with her position. But her anticipation of getting a change in place by this year's election shows a lack of knowledge regarding the fact that this proposal will require a constitutional amendment and ratification by three-fourths of the states' legislatures.
Even accomplishing this by the 2012 election will be very ambitious.
Jack Wilhite, Clearwater
Pandering to blacks | June 7, letter
A part of St. Petersburg
I would like to thank the St. Petersburg Times for reporting and making others aware of the tragedies that occur in black communities. Two of the victims were relatives of mine. Fifteen-year-old Deandre "Squirrel" Brown was my nephew, and 5-year-old Kevon Wilson was my cousin. The coverage of these tragedies and others is greatly appreciated by myself and other people who are concerned about the African-American community.
We are also a part of St. Petersburg and for those who have a problem with the front page, all they need to do is turn the page. Problem solved. I am proud to be a subscriber to the Times. Thank you.
Lattia Morehead, St. Petersburg
A selfless professional
To write for my Long Island high school newspaper, one had to take the journalism course. The instruction was subpar, but the basics got through to us. And we had the nearby top-class Columbia University School of Journalism nearby to visit and learn from.
Rule No. 1 of journalism: Except in opinion pieces, one's personal bias had no place in reporting or formulating a story. As straightforward as this was, it took quite an effort to self-edit out our own voices. I expected to be bowled over by how well the professionals did their job, but I was to be disappointed that they couldn't follow such a simple guideline any better. I've seen great and talented reporters in my life, and Bill Moyers is a hero to me. And I've seen other reporters try to be "fair and balanced."
I've seen just one, though, who strived for fairness, and achieved it to that level of near-perfection, and that was Tim Russert. Perhaps because he learned from his early job with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan what it could mean to be selflessly devoted to ideas that could work, instead of to partisanship. Russert brought statesmanship to the journalism of mere politics. What he offered was to teach us what he'd learned through his hard work.
Much of America chose to listen, in a way not seen often since our consensus society of the 1950s. He was an irreplaceable part of our collective American family.
Adam I. Orenstein, Clearwater
A man of the people
I am from England, and my husband and I own a home in Hudson. I am here for a short visit and on June 13, I heard the sad news that Tim Russert had died suddenly at age 58. I confess to never having heard of Tim, but my American friends were inconsolable, saying that Tim was part of their family and that Sunday mornings would never be the same for them.
On Sunday morning, I turned on the TV and I was so moved by the sincere and open tributes being paid to Tim that I was moved to tears and had to switch channels.
The same evening, the Larry King Live program aired past interviews with Tim Russert. What I saw and heard was truly amazing. Tim Russert was a man of the people. His upbringing by his mum and Big Russ, in my humble opinion, is the way all children should be raised — with kindness and authority, with love and morality. If only our children could be brought up with these kinds of standards, what a different world we would live in.
I would like to add that I have not seen such an outpouring of respect and emotion since the death of Princess Diana. People loved and admired her, and it is obvious that the American public feels very much the same about Tim Russert. If only there were more human beings like them to encourage the people of the world to have a better sense of respect and care for one another, all our lives would be happier and harmonious.
I would like to offer my sincere condolences to all Tim's family and friends for their great loss.
June Faragher, Hudson
Slow down and save fuel
If we are so concerned with saving gasoline, shouldn't we be driving more slowly? The speed limit on I-75 is still 70 mph, which means many drivers are speeding at 80 mph or more.
Marie K. Wood, Sun City Center