Museum is a worthy investment
Recently, the Pinellas Tourist Development Council tabled a vote on an issue that will set the course for Pinellas tourism for the next 20 years: funding of the Dali Museum.
As the former public relations representative for the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, I have had the opportunity to meet and host travel journalists from all over the globe. All of them told me that after visiting the wonderful beaches of Pinellas County, the place they most wanted to visit was the Dali Museum. No matter where they stay — Clearwater, St. Pete Beach, Safety Harbor, Treasure Island — visitors want to experience the Dali Museum.
TDC members, many of whom I know, should not think about the short term or the small community where they live. They must think about the big picture of how the Dali Museum helps draw tourists from the Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs to the sunsets of Pass-a-Grille.
A new Dali Museum is an investment in the future. Just like any investment, the gains will be in the long term. The new Dali will mean more visitors, more heads in beds, more spending in local shops and more exposure for Pinellas County.
In the past the TDC has invested in the future of sports in Pinellas County with funding for baseball stadiums, which cost much more than what the Dali needs.
To those on the TDC, listen to my advice, it comes from real experience. Vote in favor of funding for the Dali Museum.
James Raulerson, Dunedin
A draw for tourists
There should be no hesitation in giving the Dali Museum the necessary $5 million it needs to complete construction of its new building. Downtown St. Petersburg is indeed a local treasure worth developing and promoting for the common good of everyone in Pinellas County. St. Petersburg has become a noteworthy tourist destination, known for its charming street life, green spaces, cultural diversity, performance venues, restaurants, art galleries and museums.
The Dali is a world-class institution that many visitors to our county come specifically to see, and I am personally proud that our county can boast of having such a prestigious art collection in its midst. To return tourist bed tax dollars to that source of pride shouldn't be something to ponder. The reciprocal impact of this rather modest investment (by current standards) will be an enormous increase in tourism dollars which the entire county gets to benefit from. Isn't it obvious that the new Dali Museum is something to get excited about?
Sandra S. Seltzer, Treasure Island
The arts add value
The Dali Museum, an incredibly important part of the cultural and artistic life of Tampa Bay, hosts 200,000 visitors yearly. When the fantastic new Dali Museum opens, the number of visitors is expected to double, bringing an infusion of new tourist dollars into the local economy.
We only need to look at Miami or New York to see how a strong arts scene contributes to a region's economic vitality and is a key component to attracting individuals and businesses seeking to relocate.
I encourage the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council to fully support the Dali Museum's recent request for tourism tax dollars. I feel that the return will be well worth the investment.
G. Randy James, Tampa
A cultural connection
When traveling abroad, there are many opportunities to engage in conversation with the local people. When asked where I live and reply, "St. Petersburg, Florida," I almost always receive the response, "The Dali Museum!"
The Dali Museum is our cultural connection to the world. Give the museum the help it needs: The money would come from revenues from commercial lodging that is supposed to go back to promoting tourism. The new museum will bring even more international visitors (and more tourist dollars) to our beautiful city.
Jody Morelli, president, Tampa Bay International, St. Petersburg
McCollum threatens lawsuit | Jan. 20, story
People can't afford mandatory insurance
For once I strongly agree with a Republican: Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum has threatened a lawsuit against Congress in its proposal to compel all Americans to purchase health insurance.
Yes! Florida, as well as in the rest of our country, has a health insurance crisis, and that is simply because people cannot afford it. What makes Congress, with this asinine mandate and this pathetic economy of ours, think that compelling all Americans to buy health insurance is the answer to affordable health care?
The majority of Americans today are just struggling to make ends meet, facing their priorities of paying the mortgage/rent or buying groceries or paying credit card debts, car loans or utility payments and so on. They do not need an added expense of paying mandatory health insurance premiums.
The requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance will only add to the mega-profits insurance companies are already enjoying and, most important, will not control the rising cost of health care itself.
Bring American companies back to America, put Americans back to work and then mandate them to purchase health insurance, but not at this time!
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
McCollum threatens lawsuit | Jan. 20, story
Stuck with the bill
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is threatening to file a lawsuit against Congress if it passes legislation mandating people to purchase health care. He responds to a question about what he would do about the estimated 4 million Floridians without health care by saying it is a "political question." He goes on to say that he "may or may not" lay out something regarding health care during the course of his campaign for governor.
So let me understand this: Bill McCollum, a career politician, holding a political office and running for another political office, doesn't want to respond to a "political question."
What does McCollum say to the other 80 percent of Floridians who do have medical insurance whose premiums are higher because we are paying for the 20 percent who don't have insurance? How is not mandating coverage for all not mandating higher premiums for the rest of us?
Bernie Gill, Tarpon Springs
McCollum threatens lawsuit | Jan. 20, story
We should be responsible
It is good to see Attorney General Bill McCollum coming to the defense of the irresponsible. My understanding is the pending health care bills require people to buy health insurance, at subsidized rates for low-income people. The rationale is that we taxpayers pay for uninsured people to go to the emergency room for care, a very expensive option.
This requirement makes sense to me. People should be responsible. I wonder if McCollum is going to sue the state of Florida for requiring us to purchase auto insurance. It's the same principle.
Jeffrey Harper, St. Petersburg
For Obama voters, thrill gone | Jan. 20, story
More divisive times
When did the Republican right become so careless with its use of superlatives? In the past year words such as "worst" and "never" seem to have become their standard. Or is it just me?
One of your respondents states that never in his lifetime has he seen the country more polarized. This man is 72 years old. Was he not around when nearly the entire South became Republican as a result of civil rights legislation passing? Were those civil rights marchers facing off against water cannons and attack dogs just a blip on the radar? That was divisive. That was anger.
I seem to recall the many hundreds of thousands marching on Washington to voice their passions over a war in Vietnam. I can still recall the stench of tear gas wafting over so many cities. I recall Kent State, and My Lai.
A similar division occurred more recently when the millions worldwide marched in disagreement that "shock and awe" was such a grand idea.
Do these divisions pale in the face of a relative handful of middle-aged white people illogically wanting some vague form of liberty and for government to keep its hands off of their Medicare?
Our president has been in office one year. In that year, the approval rating of America around the world has skyrocketed. That matters. Administrative agencies have again begun to actually do their jobs now that industry lobbyists are no longer in charge of the agencies that were to oversee the very industries those Bush appointees came from.
The president is smart, articulate and insightful. He remains our best (superlative here — sorry) hope. He deserves the support of all of us. That will not happen.
Thomas Maciocha, Tampa
A year of progress, a tough road ahead Jan. 20, editorial
Only the Times could review the past 12 months of the Obama administration and call it "progress"!
Ten to 15 percent unemployment, financial and housing markets in a mess, presidential appointments forced to withdraw because of tax problems, others praising Chairman Mao, the president filmed bowing to foreign heads of state. I could go on and on.
John Hungerford, Palm Harbor
Foreign policy failures
As President Barack Obama completes his first year in office, we are evaluating his presidency thus far. As a human rights activist, I was hopeful that the president would bring change to U.S. foreign policy regarding the "war on terror," Guantanamo Bay and torture. But his actions have fallen short.
While President Obama took some bold early steps — issuing the executive orders closing Guantanamo, and banning enhanced interrogation techniques — his subsequent actions have been disappointing. The administration has not taken substantive steps to ensure that there is accountability for the widespread human rights violations and abuses that were authorized and implemented during the previous administration's "war on terror."
In addition, President Obama and his administration have embraced indefinite detention and unfair military commissions. Guantanamo did not close by the deadline, torture and abuse continue, and U.S. detentions at Bagram Air Base and other facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to fail to meet human rights standards.
Now that 2010 has begun, the president needs to remember his campaign goals to return the United States fully back to the rule of law.
Andrea Hennessey, St. Petersburg
Roe vs. Wade
Defend our rights
On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe vs. Wade that the constitutional right to privacy protects the right of women to make private decisions about the most intimate of matters — including the decision to terminate pregnancies that threaten their health and well-being.
Abortion has existed as long as childbirth. Today, one in every three women will have an abortion at some time in her life. Although so many of us are working hard to reduce the number of terminations, abortion is not going away.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said not long ago that abortion rights "center on a woman's autonomy to determine her life's course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature."
Over the years, a minority of Americans has consistently opposed the right to abortion and has worked tirelessly to overturn Roe since it was decided 37 years ago.
Now, antichoice activists have set their sights on the health care reform bill before Congress with the goal of using reform to eliminate private health insurance coverage for abortion. The most extreme proposal before Congress is the Stupak amendment, which would prevent millions of women from using their own money to buy private health insurance that covers abortion. Restricting access to private health insurance coverage for abortion in effect denies women the choices that Roe secured.
Politicians and the antichoice crusaders are playing a dangerous game — using health care reform to deny women access to coverage and care.
Women will not stand by silently as antichoice forces work to undermine their rights and health care coverage. It is imperative that Congress remove the Stupak abortion ban from health care reform.
Barbara A. Zdravecky, president/CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Sarasota
We must speak out
Friday was the 37th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and I would like to speak out for the innocent, voiceless, defenseless human population that will fall victim to "legalized" abortion.
To quote from Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, "The greatest gift of God is the gift of life, the greatest sin of humanity is to return that gift ungratefully and unopened."
The U.S. Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." In Roe vs. Wade the Supreme Court has ruled that the fetus, which cannot speak for itself, is not legally a person and therefore has no right to life under the Fourteenth Amendment. To me, this is nonsense, since we all start out life as a fetus.
Dr. Bernarde Nathanson in a 1974 editorial for the New England Journal of Medicine titled "Deeper Into Abortion" wrote: "I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty thatthat I had, in fact, presided over sixty thousand deaths. There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb, from the very onset of pregnancy."
Jesus said: "Whatever you do to the least of my children you do unto me." Mother Teresa pointed out that "abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace today."
Please speak out: "It all seemed so wrong. I said to myself, somebody ought to do something about this. Then I realized I am somebody" — Anonymous
John (Jay) Greifenkamp, Homosassa