One long, writhing uproar | June 30, story
Religious revival aims to reel in cash
This piece, which you found necessary to put on the front page, reconfirms what I always have believed: that people are desperate to be led and to be told what to do as long as the person telling them mentions God.
This new form of "religious faith," wrapped in what seems to be a WWF-themed atmosphere, ("Bam! Ba ba bam!") takes an in-your-face approach to bringing God into peoples' lives, or in getting rid of the wickedness that's in them — "revival oil Fed-Exed from Africa" and all.
But no matter what the style of salvation, one thing hasn't changed — good old collecting the cash (or "reaping what you sow").
Although I must say, hearing this "preacher" tell his groupies to "get out your credit cards" gives this scene a truly non-Elmer Gantry, 21st century look.
So many sheep, so little time. Eh, "preacher"?
Ron Thuemler, Tampa
An uplifting experience
I have been to the revival several times and my perspective of it differs from your article. I thank God that you wrote about it, but, of course, you had to begin it with a disparaging focus on the man leading it and highlight the negatives, which appeals to the naysayers.
For example, the first four times I attended, I never saw anyone ask for money until very late in the evening, when many had left. I saw many people get healed genuinely, and I am a nurse.
The numbers are more like 8,000 to 10,000 a night, and over 84 nights that adds up to more than you reported. Well, I guess it's a shame that more than 400,000 people have shown up over 84 nights and none has gotten drunk, high on drugs or erupted into gang fights. Your paper, I am sure, thinks it is being fair but in general it tries to throw a negative light on what has been an extremely favorable and uplifting move of God to those who have attended and watched around the world. It is not about Todd Bentley. It is about Jesus.
Kathy Robinson, Safety Harbor
Beware false teachers
"One long, writhing uproar" is an accurate depiction of the Lakeland revival meetings. When the word "writhing" is printed in the Bible, it is in relation to someone possessed by a demon. According to the Scriptures, Jesus always cast the writhing, hissing foul spirits "out" of that person.
At these meetings, it appears that Todd Bentley is imparting, inflicting these evil, dark spirits into each one as he touches them and apparently pushes people over "in the spirit." Jesus freely cast these out, but Bentley is dispensing them and then asks for a donation for doing so.
There's lots of money coming into Bentley's pocket while the faithful leave with more than what they came for.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, we are implored to flee, avoid, turn away from false teachers and deceivers — not embrace, fund and worship them.
Toni Gross, Oldsmar
Oil drilling in the gulf
Let's use our God-given natural resources
I got a chuckle out of the comments made by letter writers this week comparing our beaches to those of Texas. They made comments like "permeated by stench," "smell is the worst" in Texas.
Help me understand. Is that stench worse than all the dead fish that wash up on our shores during our Red Tide?
I suggest Americans vote for legislators, of either party, who want to tap into our God-given resources wherever they are found and get their heads out of the sand. (Excuse the pun.)
Had we done that 10 years ago we would not be in the position we are in now. Personally, I do not want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to face this in the future.
Don Janssen, St. Pete Beach
Oil wells are not to blame | July 2, letter
Don't be like Texas
The letter writer has apparently not visited the beaches of Texas much in claiming oil wells are not responsible for the poor quality of Galveston's beaches and that the beaches of Corpus Christi and South Padre are "pristine."
My husband and I are recent transplants from Texas, where I lived for more than 20 years. During those two decades, I've visited Corpus Christi and South Padre many times. Unfortunately, their beaches are far from "pristine." Even on the otherwise beautiful Padre Island National Seashore, I have been saddened on many occasions by the balls of tar from the gulf rigs that wash onto the shore.
We currently have friends in town visiting from Texas, both of whom grew up in Houston and who as adults, have taken their children to Galveston's beach. Upon digging her toes in the sugar sand of Clearwater Beach, one exclaimed, "I have never seen or felt sand this beautiful" and expressed her joy in providing her children with the experience of enjoying our clear gulf water.
Please, let's not turn our beautiful coastline into another Texas. Not only would this cause the local economy to pay dearly in lost tourism revenue, it would also destroy the quality of life that makes this area so special.
Laurie Meggesin, Clearwater
Get away from foreign oil
After listening to President Bush the other day, I wonder why we can't get Congress and the president to work together for the good of all the citizens of our country. Why do we elect such uncaring people who refuse to cooperate with each other just to prove they have the authority to agree or disagree? Why are we content to be at the mercy of foreign products when we know we have the oil? We are so concerned with the environment, we refuse to drill, even when we know where the oil is.
As to alternatives, we have been talking about them for years and they are no closer today than 10 years ago. So it takes six to eight years to get the oil. When will we get started? Do we want our children to be at the mercy of foreign oil 10 or 12 years from now, when gas could be $10 a gallon? Why are we content to play stupid, while they laugh at us?
When will we wake up and use the brains God gave us and stop letting other nations determine the outcome of our living?
Fran Glaros-Sharp, Clearwater
We need the energy
I'm siding with those many voices that say, "Yes … do it in my back yard" regarding these energy solutions. Give me domestic oil drilling off the coast! Give me more nuclear power facilities!
Until the new technologies are in place — which could be a while — they are our best options. They are in our best self-interest, lowering the cost of energy, providing jobs and strengthening the dollar by keeping our energy monies here. Let's keep our money here and not give it away to foreign interests of countries that don't really care for us too much.
Jim Bullard, St. Petersburg
Home wreckers | June 30, story
Boric acid battles termites
As a property owner who has had to deal with drywood termites, I wish more people would learn about the use of boric acid to both pretreat lumber to prevent termite infestation and to kill them after you've got them, as well as to prevent re-infestation. If every builder would just treat building lumber with it, they'd save homeowners millions of dollars down the road.
When we bought our building, it was infested with drywood termites. We had it fumigated by a professional and got rid of them. For five years, we paid the $100 per year insurance premium and had no problems. The insurance is only good for five years. On the sixth year, sure enough, we had another infestation.
Rather than pay another $1,000 and $500 over the course of another five years, I treated our building with a boric acid solution. We got rid of the termites ourselves at a cost of about $200. When we put an addition on our building last year, we pre-treated every piece of lumber going in it. We don't expect to have any problems.
There is plenty of information available on the Internet about boric acid and treating for termites. One site is: www.termite-1.com/Cost-Of-Tenting-For-Termites/Does-Boric-Acid-Kill-Termites.php
Stuart Opp, Largo
Money for kids on their minds | June 30, story
Share the budget pain
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch says that programs for kids offered through the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board deserve a budget increase from property tax collections. He says he believes the community looks at children's services differently than they do government services. The Juvenile Welfare Board's budget was $62.6-million. With Amendment 1 and a decrease in property values, their property tax revenue will fall approximately $4.9-million this year. The commissioner would still like to see an increase.
While we congratulate Welch on helping the children's programs, we believe most people would surely insist on equality throughout the property tax system. The pain is the same no matter whose budget is in jeopardy. The court system, the city, county, police, are all important, but no department should be exempt. It's bad medicine for sure but it requires sacrifice evenly across the board, even if you are a member of the board.
David R. Simpson, www.FloridaTaxForum.org, St. Petersburg
Pinellas to open clinics for poor | June 29, story
Protect sheriff's budget
It seems rather contradictory that our county officials choose to "invest" millions of dollars in health clinics to provide free annual physicals and routine visits for low-income individuals while at the same time seeking to slash the Sheriff's Office budget of preventive services aimed to reduce crime.
Routine health services for the indigent may lessen the financial impact of serious medical conditions by earlier detection, however, the sheriff's crime prevention programs lessen the financial impact of repeat offenders and increased crime rates, leading to an overcrowded jail.
It is the current costs of the new jail, approved by our county officials, that has led to unpreventable increases in the sheriff's budget. Because of this, he should not be expected to reduce his budget at the same rate as other county entities because he has no choice but to staff the jail. Reductions in the sheriff's budget will negatively affect the safety and welfare of county residents.
If county officials want to fund a new medical care program, they should eliminate their public art funding and other nonessential services.
J. Johnson, Tarpon Springs
Clewiston merits support
During the past 20 years, my job as a sales representative has provided me the opportunity to visit the town of Clewiston many times over the years. As I traveled across the state, I really enjoyed seeing all the orange groves, and then the fields of sugar cane as I was approaching Clewiston. The welcome sign simply read: America's Sweetest Town.
I was born in New England, so the only thing I knew about sugar was that it was sold in a 5-pound bag and everyone used it. It wasn't until I had an opportunity to stay overnight at the Clewiston Inn, which is owned by U.S. Sugar, that I was educated on what it takes to make sugar. Seeing a display in the hotel that actual had pieces of sugar cane and illustrations on how it is grown certainly opened my eyes. I especially enjoyed staying at this hotel during the Christmas holiday season. The lobby was always decorated beautifully, including a large Christmas tree. You certainly felt welcomed there.
When I heard in the news that the state of Florida was offering to buy U.S. Sugar in Clewiston to help restore the Everglades, I knew the good people of Clewiston would be in for some changes that would impact their livelihood. I happened to be in Clewiston the day after the news broke. I witnessed firsthand the concern many people had about what was about to happen with U.S. Sugar. As mentioned in the newspaper, U.S. Sugar employs approximately 1,700 people. Many families in Clewiston have had several family members work for U.S. Sugar. It's not unusual to hear about several generations of a family that have been employed by one of the divisions of U.S. Sugar.
I think it's important that all of us in Florida recognize what this town and its people will be going through in the next six years or more, so that future generations of Floridians and visitors to Florida will be able to enjoy a more natural and thriving Everglades eco-system. As a resident of Florida, I hope the state does whatever it can to make this transition go well for the good people of Clewiston. They deserve our support and thanks.
Von G. Taylor Jr., Safety Harbor
Car dealer Dayton Andrews, 81, dies | July 1, story
The passing of a friend
I remember Dayton Andrews well, mourn his passing and offer my heartfelt condolences to his family.
On more than one occasion, I visited with him at his auto dealership under the old oak tree, swapping stories, telling jokes, some funny and others off-color. And I think that he, too, enjoyed this friendly bantering with me .
A couple of times, I even collected $2 bills from Dayton for saying the magic word.
In a cage near the main entrance was a very chatty parrot, an African Gray, I used to call "Pretty Bird." While not claiming to be the first person to do this, I taught him to whistle at pretty women.
By the way, we both were born in and transplanted from Connecticut. We left our carpet bags up North and moved down to settle in "The Deep South" — Dayton Andrews from Waterbury and me from Hartford.
Joseph P. Corell, Clearwater
(Please write snappy headline here) | June 22, Gene Weingarten column
A world without editors
Deer Editor, Thank ewe four publishing Jean Wine Garden's grate column about the absence of copy editors. It is awl two true. Sum times "progress" is not all ways a step inn the write direction.
Joyce B. Compton, Beverly Hills