Thank you for your excellent article concerning those who abuse disabled parking permits. Nothing infuriates me more than to see an able-bodied person pull into a disabled parking space and get out of a vehicle after smugly placing his or her "permit" on the mirror. What's even more annoying is that many of these "cheaters" are among our community's most respected citizens.
There needs to be some type of control put into place that designates a time frame for use of a permit and perhaps some type of annual renewal or a photo ID on the permit of the user. What's even more disheartening is when an actual disabled person wants to use the space and the abuser is using it. Shame, shame.
I applaud your fine newspaper for addressing the topic in hopes that others will follow. This is a national epidemic which calls for stiff fines for abusers.
John Osterweil, Tampa
I read the story about what was happening at the Rays game with parking for the disabled and loved it for many reasons.
First and foremost, you drew front-page attention to an issue near and dear to my heart.
May is Stroke Awareness Month and, while being the third leading cause of death, it is the No. 1 cause of disability.
The St. Petersburg police deserve some of the credit for actually doing something about it and seem to go far beyond the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office or other Tampa Bay police departments who seem to say, "They have a blue tag, so I will not charge them."
For drawing attention to a relatively unknown problem, you get a lot of the credit.
Bruce Smith, Sun City Center
Why is it that so many people in this country think they are "entitled"? When I read about the people who were caught illegally parking in disabled parking spaces at Tropicana Field and then bellyached about the fine they had to pay, I wanted to puke.
These people are not entitled to do what they want any more than the inconsiderate people who cut in the front of lines in a store, movie theater or ticket line — or the motorist who, instead of waiting his turn in a long right-turn-only line of traffic, travels all the way to the front and cuts in at the last moment.
If people have not been taught common courtesy by their parents and practice it, then I say let the tickets be handed out. And when they whine and complain about the cost, maybe they will think next time the choice is presented to them.
Denis M. deVlaming, Clearwater
Difficulties for disabled
Congratulations on bringing your readers' attention to the chronic abuse of disabled parking spaces by the healthy public. It is only in the past two years since being confined — most of the time to a wheelchair — that I have realized just how difficult it is if these spaces are unavailable. To maneuver a wheelchair in a regular-sized parking space is virtually impossible, which results in the disabled person often missing appointments or being unable to perform planned activities.
What has happened to commonsense courtesy? Maybe the (gentle)man who called the volunteer a "Hitler" will one day need, and be grateful for, their services.
Enid Lythgoe, Dunedin
Meek looks clueless or worse | May 24, editorial
Rep. Meek stands for transparency, integrity
The Miami Herald wrote a three-part series in 2007 regarding Poinciana Park. I sat down with their editorial board for two hours on this topic. I have been transparent, accessible and straightforward in answering every question asked. The Miami-Dade Police Department already has a three-year inquiry into this failed project, and I have not been a subject of it since my actions were in bounds.
Nobody needs to convince me of the need to develop Poinciana Park, certainly not my mother. Carrie Meek served in Congress for 10 years and is a member of Florida Women's Hall of Fame. I knew she was a local consultant on the project, but we never discussed the details or terms of her agreement. I know the rules, as does she. I am not my mother's accountant and my family does not discuss finances. She saved her money her entire life, and had leased two Cadillac automobiles over the years. Why would I ask her about a third lease?
My former staff member abused the power and privilege of his position within my office. He kept his activities from me, because he knew that had I known, he would have been fired on the spot. In nearly 16 years in elected office, never has a question been raised on my integrity. Ethics reform, transparency and accountability in public service are something I have not only voted for, but fought for. Voters demand a higher standard of integrity from their elected leaders, and my integrity is all that I have.
Blocks from where my mother still lives, the home where I grew up, sits Poinciana Park, which burned down during the 1980 Arthur McDuffie riots. At the time, I was a 14-year-old boy who watched his neighborhood catch on fire. Businesses closed, residents left, and urban blight set in. Development had ceased.
People are not waiting in line to build in depressed urban areas; just look at Midtown in St. Petersburg. But a developer who had successfully built in Opa Locka, another distressed area in Miami-Dade, proposed building a biopharmaceutical park. His vision, turned mirage, would lead to economic growth and produce jobs. The public and private sector would partner on the project. And the Miami Herald wrote about the initiative in glowing terms when the groundbreaking occurred. The community, local government and business were enthusiastic, and I requested federal funds for Miami-Dade County, at their request. But the developer was taking advantage of the community for personal gain and the project never materialized. I was as disappointed as anyone, but as your next U.S. senator I will continue to support investment at the local and community level to get Floridians back to work.
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Miami
Obama pleads for immigration reform May 20
President Barack Obama very recently related his beliefs on how to fix the illegal immigration "mess." His "fix" is identical to the pending legislation proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. This bill would be nothing more than a repeat of the 1986 invasion of illegals from across the border. What did that do for America?
The proposals in this pending legislation would be totally unenforceable without a huge number of new employees by the federal and state governments or other agencies. Why should the United States spend millions of dollars to process illegals who have, for too many years, broken our laws? Try tracking "community service" performed by 20 million-plus; try tracking the payment of back taxes owed by 20 million; who will monitor the learning of the English language — these factors are in the proposal, among others.
Studies done already show the gigantic negative impact on our Social Security system which would occur if these millions were dumped into the system. This huge factor is not mentioned by those proposing this bill.
Rebecca C. Bohnhoff, Zephyrhills
Spanish intrusion | May 25, letter
Strength in diversity
By virtue of its location, Florida has a large Hispanic demographic. By virtue of the will to make money, stores like Target will "target" major demographic groups with their coupons and dual language signs on their aisles.
Travel some, and you will find that many foreign countries print street signs, train station names, directions, etc., in their language as well as English. Few of them are whining about it.
America's strength comes from its diversity. Just by reading the coupon the letter writer came one step closer to being "bilingual." Kudos!
Ramon Navarro, Riverview
Mexico has responsibilities and Spanish intrusion | May 25, letters
U.S. has responsibilities
What a world! Our citizens have an insatiable appetite for illegal drugs and we are the world's greatest supplier of rifles, pistols and machine guns, all of which has led to tens of thousands of people, good and bad, dead in Mexico. But we're peeved that the Mexican president dared to challenge the greatest country in the world on our soil to face up to our shortcomings. That's what friends do.
If we would cease loving drugs and guns so much, we could save lives in both the United States and Mexico. But who are we to curb our appetites and accept responsibility for damaging countries near and far with our arrogance, our stupidity and moral blindness?
One letter condemns Mexico's weak border security while ignoring that our border security — despite throwing up a wall, more boots on the ground and billions of dollars — remains a sieve.
And how about the person upset that Target advertises its products in both English and Spanish? How is that "having Spanish shoved down one's throat"? Despite giving credit for those among us who are bilingual, the writer ignores the millions of Hispanics here who may be illegal but still buy products, which contributes to the health of our economy, not to mention the growing population of legal Latinos who are becoming bilingual, but may benefit from a little help while they do, just as many other immigrants did.
So add fear to the other predominant American qualities these days like those mentioned earlier. It's clear we're no longer the home of the brave, but the belligerent, and anyone who seeks to make the nation they love live up to its past is likely to be told if you don't love the United States blindly, then get out! To me, it's not "My country, right or wrong," it's "My country, right and wrong — and I'll do my best to make the wrong right once more."
Daniel Callaghan, New Port Richey
Too much bigotry | May 24, letter
Just obey the law
I think the writer of that letter did not think about the rule of law. Too many Hispanics have been coming across our borders with complete disregard to the laws of our country. They are trying to "cheat" their way into this country.
I know of several young, well educated Europeans who have applied to the immigration lottery for their country to enter the United States. They are willing to wait their turn and follow the law. But too many people from Mexico and other Central American countries seem to think it is okay to cross in the middle of the night and lie and cheat to stay here in spite of not following the immigration lottery for their country to get into the United States.
That is not "bigotry" when government, federal or state, passes a law to demand enforcement of other laws. We do indeed need some sort of "guest worker law" that does not include permanent residency status. Our immigration quotas should be adhered to. It is the rule of law!
Jon Knudson, Spring Hill
Kids told him the darndest things | May 27
As a baby boomer, I have wonderful memories of sitting alongside of my mother while watching Art Linkletter's daytime TV show House Party. In fact, it was a favorite of mine.
Linkletter was a winsome, down-to-earth and very likable guy. Even at a young, tender age, I must have recognized Linkletter's fondness for children as well as his adept ability to interact well with the younger set. Linkletter was part of a fabulous generation, which is now unfortunately a dying breed. It was great fun while it lasted. I find it very sad now that the party is over.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
Backer of child abduction law has troubling background | May 21, story
Two things struck me odd about this story. It appears that anyone can be heard as an "expert," on any topic, before a Senate committee. Whether or not they are qualified, or have an ulterior motive doesn't seem to come into play.
Even more troubling is how cavalierly state Rep. Darryl Rouson turned over his lawmaking duties to someone who at the very least wasn't elected to the job, and at its worst has no qualifications (nor right) to do so. Is this a common practice in Tallahassee?
Walter Staggs, St. Petersburg
The perils of pork
Isn't it amazing how the federal and state governments have enough money for earmarks, but when it comes to money for the total population, both have budget deficits. One section of the St. Petersburg Times had an article about President Barack Obama targeting earmarks and about pork in legislative bills, and another had an article about the Florida TaxWatch's "Turkey List" of 41 lawmakers' money projects that skirted normal budgeting rules. When will we wake up?
Lawmakers are only interested in getting re-elected. They cater to lobbyists to get campaign funds and use these " pork projects" to show voters in their districts how they can get money for the "home folks." But let's face it, projects in local areas are being paid for with our tax dollars. And many are not necessary. That money could go to a more needed project. We think we are getting something for nothing, but every lawmaker is doing it.
In this debt-filled world, we should insist on projects that will benefit more citizens than those in our district, and push for projects that will create an investment for the future to benefit our children. Jobs for a project now are not a good investment if the product we are making is not going to save us money down the road.
J.R. Demmy, Kenneth City
We recently had the pleasure of visiting Tampa. We were pleasantly surprised at the friendly people and walkable downtown area. As a tourist, it was a joy to really enjoy Tampa walking and not having to rent a car.
It will be great when the Riverwalk and trolley are completed for people like us. I heard that many people in Tampa have complained about the cost of these improvements, but let me tell you it is a great tourist draw that will pay off in the long run.
Also, walking your downtown area I had the displeasure of almost being run over and scrend screamed at in the crosswalk for walking "too slow." This is exactly why the Riverwalk and trolley are badly needed: to protect pedestrians from the bad-mannered drivers Thanks, Tampa, for a wonderful introduction to your town.
A.P. Solnick, Richfield, Ohio