The new segregation | July 14, commentary
Retirement communities fill a need
Who, exactly, is Andrew D. Blechman, other than the author of two books, one about pigeons and the other about life in retirement "utopia"? Where was he born? Where and how did he grow up? How old is he?
Apparently Blechman is not "retired." Otherwise, he would not refer to our communities as "utopia." We choose to live in them for the support and senior-related activities they provide. Our children support our choice to live in one such community knowing that we are safer and able to live better lives than if we remained isolated in the suburbs from which we moved.
If Blechman hasn't "been there, and done that," he should let us do what we have earned the right to do — and that would be to spend our retirement doing the things we did not have the time to do when we were raising our children.
The activities in which we participate and facilities required for them are geared to people our age. We also provide security patrols, emergency response, volunteer driver programs for those who no longer drive, and other volunteer services, all within the community.
Our grandchildren can visit us for a total of 30 days a year, and we are lucky if they make it for 10. We enjoy, more, the opportunity to visit our children and grandchildren in their environment so that we can see what they are doing in their lives.
It might be different if it were 1920 when senior citizens lived in multigenerational families in the same home or next door. But life has changed or evolved.
Retirement communities fill a need for the population. Young people/adults enjoy their lives the way they wish, and we should be given the same consideration.
Judi Larson, Sun City Center
Going too far
If Andrew Blechman doesn't want to live in an age-restricted community, that is his right. If he wants to discourage others from living in such communities, that too is his right.
But choosing his own course and encouraging others to follow suit isn't enough for Blechman. He wants Congress to pass laws making such communities illegal. He goes too far. We should all be very afraid of such thinking.
Jo Gaston, Tampa
Tony Snow's courage
The recent passing of former White House press secretary Tony Snow is tragic on several levels. Tony leaves behind a loving family and legions of fans that will miss his smile, his humor and his wonderful personal demeanor.
In watching the news coverage of his life this past weekend, I was struck by the outpouring of emotion from so many people who knew Tony and those who only knew him through radio and television. The tragedy is that Tony did everything right. He never smoked or drank, got his check-ups regularly, and yet cancer still struck him down at age 53.
The true measure of Tony Snow is both how he lived and how he died. He dedicated his life to his family to the very end. When Tony knew he didn't have long to live, he left the White House to earn as much as he could on the speaking circuit. He knew he couldn't be there for his children but he wanted them to have as much as he could provide in the time he had left. He was a man of principle, courage and devotion. We'll miss you, Tony. Godspeed.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
He left Fox News to speak for president and spar with media | July 13, story
Snow deserved better
Tony Snow deserved more recognition than a brief and indifferent story on Page 4A with a less than complimentary photo instead of his most frequent smile. He exemplified courage, dedication to a high work ethic, journalistic fairness and tremendous faith in God. The St. Petersburg Times should have held him up as an example of a meaningful life for people of all ages.
David C. Ghen, Redington Beach
Drop in demand not pulling gas price down | June 30, story
Another money grab
You're right that gas station owners aren't benefiting from rising gas prices. But you point the finger at the wrong culprit. Big oil companies, not credit card issuers, are the ones enjoying windfall profits from the 40 percent increase in crude oil prices this year. And if big retailers have their way, they'll be next in line for a huge payday at the expense of the little guy.
Megaretailers like Walmart are lobbying Congress to grant them a rare antitrust exemption that would effectively allow the retailers to control the terms of the consumer credit market. Experts say that will boost the retailers' bottom lines, but customers won't benefit at all. When Australia tried something similar a few years ago, consumers wound up paying higher interest rates on credit-card balances; they also suffered reduced benefits on credit-card discount programs.
The consequences on our neighborhood retailers could be even worse. If banks and credit unions no longer have an incentive to service credit card payments for low-volume merchants, they may abandon that business altogether. That means your favorite corner bakery, family restaurant and mom-and-pop hardware store might not take credit cards anymore. Meanwhile, community-based banks already reeling from the mortgage loan crisis will suffer from the loss of credit card sales.
As dizzying as higher gas prices are, let's not get so confused that we give away the store. Allowing Walmart and its counterparts to control the credit card industry would threaten our local retailers and banks — and take more money out of consumers' pockets.
Joe Gibbons, state representative, Pembroke Park
Make us real investors | July 14, letter
Thank the GOP
A reader wrote in your letters section on Monday, "Why should the public assume the high costs and construction risks (for a nuclear power plant) owed by Progress Energy, a for-profit business?"
Because Jeb Bush and the Republicans in the state Legislature gave them the authority to do it two years ago.
Vincent Hardy, Largo
Pick a wise energy path
Two energy issues discussed in recent letters to the editor intrigued me.
First, there were suggestions for a Manhattan Project to work on our current energy problems. I think this is an excellent idea. One writer suggested focusing on increasing oil production. This would a giant step backward. Like the original Manhattan Project, such a project must break new ground in developing alternative, clean, renewable energy sources.
Second, a writer stated that the majority of world environmental scientists do not believe humans are a primary cause of current signs of global warming. No source was cited to support this statement. However, whether humans are or are not materially contributing to global warming, ponder these facts.
Per Department of Energy global statistics, we humans put approximately 1.6-billion metric tons of fossil carbon emissions into our environment in 1950, and that amount has grown in 2004 to almost 8-billion metric tons. The majority of the emissions are from petroleum, coal and natural gas.
Do we still want to continue in this direction?
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
A short friendship ends with mysterious death | July 10, story
Taking a closer look
A few days ago, a homeless man died on the Tampa streets. A local newspaper reported it as just another incident, not worthy of much notice.
Your reporter, Rebecca Catalanello dug a little deeper and wrote a poignant piece about the man. We saw him as one of us: an electrician, a person who struggled with addiction but a person who had caring friends. She ended the article with the police investigation wrapping up as it began to rain.
This man may have had a family, or he may have died with few to mourn him. After reading the article, I was left there standing in the rain, saddened by his passing.
Nora Morris, Tampa