Police kill teen at party | June 9, story
Shooting protests are misguided
Let me see if I've got this straight: A 17-year-old is in illegal possession of a handgun, is witnessed by police officers firing the gun into the air from among a crowd on a public street, and when ordered to drop the weapon, he instead levels it at an officer. He is then mortally shot.
Now, the Uhuru movement is demonstrating against the St. Petersburg Police Department for protecting the public from this menace? Were the police supposed to do nothing and hope an innocent bystander didn't get killed? It would seem that either way, the police were wrong to interfere with this sort of cultural celebration.
I'd advise the Uhurus that their energies would be better spent demonstrating in front of this teen's house. It would be interesting to know in what kind of household he was raised. Did he have a father figure involved in his life, and where did he get this handgun?
If the families and the community and the Uhurus won't act to be positive role models in their children's lives, then this kind of thing will be the result.
If they want to get to the truth, they need to go out into the community and ask those who witnessed the event but are refusing to "snitch" to the authorities. I wish them luck!
Lance K. Piscitelli, Clearwater
An attack against blacks
I am horrified. The police have again killed a young black man.
The St. Petersburg City Council and Mayor Rick Baker insisted on more police in this neighborhood even though the police chief informed them that the crime rate was down. This city has a policy of police containment in the black community. Nothing like this happens in the white community! We do not fear for our sons' lives.
Our city must stop this offensive against blacks. We need a policy of economic development. Not Mayor Baker's co-opted version that develops the south side in preparation for whites to move in and puts in policies that move out poor and working-class blacks.
We need a policy that puts massive amounts of money into a historic community to allow people to improve their homes and develop businesses owned by the people in the community. With the money that would be used for this new stadium we could provide the resources the people require to turn their community around. I don't mean charity. I mean reparations for all the work they have been underpaid for since the beginning of St. Petersburg's history.
Anne Hirsch, St. Petersburg
Teach youth to obey laws
Once again the black community is perceived as being in an uproar about a shooting involving someone who did not obey the command of a police officer. If this is so important to them, why are people reluctant to help the police sort this out?
Where were the Uhurus when two hard-working older black gentlemen were killed? Where was the outrage then? It seems to me there is a double standard in the black community. If you make it past 30, you are fair game for violence and nobody cares. But if you are a teenager refusing to obey the command of a police officer, people are outraged.
If people in the black community are so concerned about policing in their areas, then learn to obey the laws. This outrage is not appreciated here where the police are trying to keep our city safe. Teach your kids to obey the laws and you won't have these problems.
Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg
The deadly allure of guns
Since when do teenagers carry guns to a graduation party? Where did the gun come from?
I would like the parents of the students at this party to answer that question, or can they? I have attended several graduation parties in my life and not once did I deem it necessary to carry a gun.
What is the fascination with guns that seems to exist in our society today? The young "adults" involved in this tragedy need to come forward. Once again, the community has failed.
James L. Owen, St. Petersburg
Slick thieves haul off grease | June 7, story
Be creative fighting crime
Be on the lookout for an increase in robberies and burglaries coming to a neighborhood near you — or in your own neighborhood. Police will be using the acronym "BOLO" with greater frequency as our economy worsens and people's need to supplement their income becomes greater and more creative. Grease thieves — who would have thought?
Residents in many communities are calling for greater law enforcement at a time when budgets are being slashed, eliminating or seriously reducing programs and services to deter and investigate crime.
One good solution is to begin consolidating services offered by both community police departments and the Sheriff's Office — DUI units, sexual predator programs, investigative services, etc. It's time to begin being a little more creative and practical in crime prevention than the grease thieves.
Harvey A. Smith, Tarpon Springs
Crist's court | May 30
Court picks are key
In this opinion piece, Martin Dyckman is correct in stating that Gov. Charlie Crist will be making one of the most important decisions of his entire governorship in the coming months.
Due to two resignations and two retirements on Florida's highest court, Crist will have the power to fill four vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court. These next four justices will shape Florida's judicial path, and it is all in Crist's hands.
Florida recently has earned dubious recognition as the worst legal system (50th) in the nation by the Pacific Research Institute, and South Florida was named the No. 1 "Judicial Hellhole" in the nation by the American Tort Reform Association.
Crist has an opportunity to put our court back on the right track by choosing well-qualified justices who will interpret the law and not make the law.
Appointing good, balanced justices can potentially be the start of a positive trend for Florida courts. Let's hope Gov. Charlie Crist seizes the opportunity. Good justices do matter.
Carlos Muhletaler, executive director, Florida Stop Lawsuit Abuse, Boca Raton
Budget includes bay area "turkeys" | May 31
Not a turkey
Maybe the St. Petersburg Times should look before it leaps. In leaping to publish the turkey listings of Florida TaxWatch, it included Connections, a New Port Richey job development project.
Connections provides job training and support for the unemployed and the underemployed. The New Port Richey office has training facilities and support staff that work with single mothers, outsourced middle management, and others who find them selves unemployed and underemployed.
If the Times had taken the time to look at the statistics or possibly contacted Connections, it would have found the $100,000 is returned several times over by the people who returned to the work force and no longer need state assistance.
The grant to Connections is not a turkey but a seed, which planted, grows and allows many to become useful, productive, taxpaying citizens.
Joan Shapiro, vice president, Connections, Hudson