Clearwater police Chief Tony Holloway says that the purpose of last week's prostitution sting was to address the "supply and demand" of the local sex trade. Given the fact that they arrested 16 men in one evening on one block, I wonder how much of an effect he supposes police can have on an apparently robust market.
Are the customers being educated about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections? Or about how to cultivate sexually fulfilling relationships? Are the women our police arrest in mirror operations educated about infections? Or offered drug rehabilitation services? Or job training and placement?
This is all starting to sound very expensive, isn't it? And yet these are the ways that supply and demand of illicit sex might realistically be addressed. But, then, all of this presupposes the idea that our law enforcement ought to intervene in this peaceful association of consenting adults. It also presupposes the idea that enticement and entrapment of individuals through illegal offers of sex for money are morally defensible.
Let's consider the idea that to the extent prostitution leads to public health problems, it is best dealt with by our public and private social services, and let's consider the idea that it is not the role of our law enforcement to intervene in the peaceful activities of consenting adults.
Ryan Conley, Tampa
The bees should have been saved May 8, letters
Feral bee colonies should be destroyed
As a certified pest control operator who has dealt with feral bees, I feel the angry response to the recent eradication of a hive in Pinellas Park is unfounded. One overlooked fact is the Africanized honeybees (killer bees) and the European honeybees are almost identical in appearance. Lab analysis is required to tell them apart.
Beekeepers at one time accepted, and even paid for, feral honeybees — no more. Beekeepers do not want to risk using these bees in established colonies, as they will be forced to destroy colonies that display Africanized genes.
While there are pest control companies that advertise that they "relocate" feral colonies, I'd have to question relocating a hive of this size in a forest or lightly populated area. Imagine a hiker or curious group of scouts coming upon this giant hive.
As someone who's encountered Africanized honeybees I can assure you they are not the warm and fuzzy cartoon bees that we all get a kick out of in the movies. They also are not the harmless bees we see buzzing around our flowers. They are relentless and very focused on defending their hive. If a person is in close proximity to the hive, he is viewed as a threat. Then they attack — in huge numbers.
The University of Florida's entomology department is front and center in honeybee studies and a website dedicated to Africanized honeybees is easily navigated (entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/afbee). It has an area for homeowners as well as pest management pros. There you will find information and have your questions answered. They recommend destroying feral colonies.
The bottom line is if you have a feral colony on your property, treat them as soon as they are discovered. Use the information from the University of Florida, county extension service, or a licensed, insured pest control company that deals with bees. Do not take advice from someone who is just trying to sell a can of spray. Spraying a feral colony will not do much except let you see how fast you can get to cover.
Jay Yardley, St. Petersburg
One accident shouldn't make us quit gulf drilling | May 6, letter
A matter of private plunder
The letter writer's comparing the gulf oil spill to disasters with the space shuttle and the Apollo mission caused me to question those who draw a connection from the oil in the gulf to our own petroleum-based best interests.
Does the oil in the gulf belong to us? Doesn't the oil belong to the company that pumps it, and not to the United States? In this case BP is a multinational corporation with no connection to the United States, other than customer loyalty. The mistakes made were corporate, not national. Our tragic shuttle explosions were national tragedies and the failings of a space ship. The ruination of our gulf's ecosystem was a corporate failing in pursuit of profits.
The oil well in question was in no way intended to aid or advance a single American soul. We need to understand that the desire for corporate profits on this gigantic level preclude the American citizens' best interest entirely.
With stakes this high, we can expect that nothing short of a national change in attitude will deter BP and all the others from plundering our coastline.
Keith Richardson, St. Petersburg
Nuclear is better
Several letter writers have promoted wind power, completely ignoring how limited such power will be. They also neglect to understand how many thousands of acres of land or sea will be required for the thousands of gigantic fans that would be needed to supply a very small amount of power. They also ignore that there are many things — cars, airplanes, ships, machinery, petroleum by-products, etc. — that depend on oil, and no amount of wind power will take oil's place.
Last but certainly not least these same proponents of wind power will be yelling the loudest to turn the fans off once they learn about the thousands of birds that will be killed by them.
We need clean energy, but wind power is the least efficient of all.
What we need are nuclear plants, many nuclear plants. However, since the Three Mile Island incident "nuclear" has been a bad word. And I'll bet the St. Petersburg Times was among those that were against the plants in the good old days.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
"Cash for caulkers"
Educate the public
Once again our government is willing to give away rebates to individuals who purchase energy-efficient products or remodel parts of their house to save energy. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act (a.k.a, "cash for caulkers") on May 6. While the effort to move our nation toward a more sustainable future should be applauded, is the global issue of sustainability being addressed? The public is caught in the emotional and exciting whirlwind of "going green," and much of what is driving the effort is exactly that, emotion. Does the general public understand why we are "going green," or what that even means?
It's easy for "coat riders" to speak out in light of the oil spill in the gulf and say, "Don't drill!" However, the oil spill is not the underlying issue, it's a symptom. The truth is we need oil. It's integrated into almost every facet of our lives. We will continue to need oil until we find a more suitable alternative. Renewable energy, however, is only a small portion of the sustainability pie. Until the public understands these elements, any step we take will be a limited and short-term one.
While the "cash for caulkers" bill is a proactive step in the right direction, wouldn't it be more effective if an additional stipulation was added? Have communities, on a local level, host sustainability education seminars. Make it a requirement that if you wish to get that $8,000 refund, or however much you are eligible for, you must attend a seminar hosted by a local community chairperson. An hourlong presentation can be developed by each state or city addressing the issues of overconsumption and educating the public on the elements of sustainability on a local level.
If each city turns its eyes inward and focuses on the local and regional concerns and educates its members on their global impact, then changes will begin to be made. Education is the key to moving toward a sustainable nation, and education begins at home.
Michael Daharsh, St. Petersburg
Three high schools face state oversight May 1
So little has changed
On Feb. 26, 2003, the St. Petersburg Times published my letter to the editor in response to the article School picks hint at snags ahead (Feb. 16, 2003). As a Dixie Hollins High School teacher then and now, I covered the following points:
• Since the '70s, our school has always had a reputation of being the south Pinellas dumping ground, and that perception was still being perpetrated.
• The vast majority of our incoming ninth-graders read at or around the fourth-grade level and were not prepared for the rigors of high school. I questioned how so many students with such low reading levels could reach the ninth grade, since everyone knows we don't socially promote.
• Our teachers have been trained in every new strategy, but all the training and materials didn't amount to a hill of beans if the students can't read or comprehend the materials at or near grade level.
• Rather than blaming us for our students' failures, it would be more productive to prepare them and get their reading levels up before ninth grade, make their absences count and expect success, instead of continuing to move them through the system expecting miracles from us or from heaven.
Now it's seven years later, and 79 percent of our incoming ninth-grade class began high school reading at or around fourth-grade level.
So why would the state add more required math and science classes if the students already can't handle their current loads? Isn't that setting them up once again for major failure?
I believe the solution is quite simple. Exchange the faculties: South county goes to north county schools, and the north county's faculties get to do their thing in our south county schools … or send central administration to teach our classes and we will perform their jobs and give them lots of moral support … or the education experts in Tallahassee could walk in our shoes for one week … and then we'll talk.
Tina Koufas-Eisbacher, visual arts department chair and teacher, Largo
Spend less on troops, Pentagon urges May 8
Let's see our own concerned and loyal citizens put their lives on the line every day to protect our freedoms here at home. And then someone dares to suggest that we should spend less on our military men and women to save dollars for operations and equipment.
Can the equipment or the operations be run without the manpower? Where would we be without our volunteers?
Would any member of Congress or the Senate put their life on the line 24 hours a day for what we pay our servicemen and women? I can guarantee they would not.
Shame on the officials who suggested this. Someone needs to get their priorities straight.
Fran Glaros-Sharp, Clearwater
Gates takes aim at spending cuts May 9, story
I read about Defense Secretary Robert Gates' proposal to cut back on pay and benefits for our servicemen and women instead of other items in the defense budget.
As the wife of a man who spent 221/2 years in the Army defending this country, I think that is the one place the budget shouldn't be cut. Instead, to save money why don't we pull out of all those bases in Europe and Japan. World War II has been over for 65 years and there's no need to defend ourselves there.
Furthermore, when my husband retired we were promised free health care for life, but when we became eligible for Social Security (and even before then) we were more or less told to fend for ourselves as they would no longer be able to serve us.
What's more, after paying into a Survivor Benefit Plan for me for over 30 years, someone decided to cut my benefits back from 50 percent of his pay to 35 percent. Fortunately, we fought that and got the pay percentage back to 50 percent.
So let's not punish our servicemen and women for voluntarily defending this country by enlisting! Let's pay them for what they are worth and cut the defense budget elsewhere, not on their backs and the backs of their families!
Doris Houdesheldt, St. Petersburg
You can still be counted
The next few months will focus on the hard-to-count citizens as census takers visit nonresponsive homes in the door-to-door enumeration. In my experience as a 2010 Sunshine Census partner and as an Asian-American, I know many members of Florida minority populations fear participating in the census, as well as answering their door for census takers.
This letter is a call to action for those who understand how important census data is to our communities. Spread the word to family and friends who did not mail back a census form: Tell them they still have a chance to be counted by talking with a census taker, and that they do not need to be afraid as long as they know the guidelines to protect themselves.
The state's Sunshine Census effort — www. SunshineCensus2010.com — reminds us that census takers will carry an official government badge with their name and a "U.S. Census Bureau" shoulder bag. They will never ask to enter your home and will only ask the 10, quick questions on the census form. Visit www.2010census.gov to contact your Regional Census Centers if you are still unsure of a census taker's identity.
If members of your family or friends do not speak English, census takers are prepared to identify the person's language and assign a new census taker accordingly. Census takers take an oath to protect all data collected.
Surveys like the 2010 Census are our opportunity to speak out for the needs of our communities. Participate. It's not too late.
Dr. Kimi Springsteen, president, Asian American Coalition of Florida, Tampa