I, too, feel compelled to call people out when I see them polluting. Just this week at the mall, I told a teenager to not litter when he tossed his cigarette on the ground. What amazed me is that no one else seemed to care.
We have become a nation that is afraid to tell lazy, apathetic slobs that we will not stand for them polluting our beautiful country.
There is no gray area here: Either you litter or you don't. Either you have respect for yourself and your country or you don't.
I have heard of police actually giving tickets to those who toss cigarettes, I just never see it happen. As for the man who was beaten by the teens he confronted after seeing them throw a plate and fork out their car window, know this: If I had been there, I would have had your back.
Jim Harvey, Tampa
To stop the littering, start by teaching the children
How easy it is to understand the anger of those people who watched a thoughtless and lawless teen throw his garbage out the car window.
When did this country forget the Native American crying for the loss of the beauty of our landscape? When did we begin raising children who think that car windows are for tossing trash out of?
We will never regain our national pride until we begin educating people, from a very early age, how to properly dispose of their waste.
Judy Ellis, St. Petersburg
Stable funding needed
for nursing home quality
I am writing on behalf of the 180 compassionate employees I work with who daily serve nursing home residents and the countless family members who appreciate the quality services provided at Florida's nursing homes. As a nursing home administrator of a five-star-rated facility, I am concerned with the proposed budget cuts facing Florida's nursing homes. The Senate is proposing a $200 million cut while the House is proposing a $133 million reduction to our reimbursement rate.
My facility is facing a potential reduction in rates of between $8.54 to $12.82 per patient day, depending on whether the House or Senate version of the budget is approved. While $8.54 to $12.82 per patient day may not sound like much, to an average-sized nursing home it means between $335,000 and $505,000 in fewer resources. Like many families, we have worked hard to tighten our belts during these tough economic times. However, there comes a point at which belt tightening changes to loss of services or loss of quality. I am very concerned that cuts of the size being proposed will lead to a decline in both services and quality.
In the past, other payer sources such as Medicare and private pay helped to fill the gap between our actual costs and what we receive from Medicaid for reimbursement. However, cuts to Medicare that were part of the recently passed health care reform bill, along with the widening Medicaid shortfall, have grown to the point where facilities are not able to make up this difference.
Please contact your Florida legislator and tell him or her to support quality in long-term care by keeping nursing home Medicaid rate cuts to a minimum. Stability in funding is critical to enabling nursing homes to sustain quality services.
Kevin Mort, administrator,
Palm Garden of Largo
Church's Judas moment | April 10
Authorities must intervene
Maureen Dowd's scorching column about pedophilia within the Catholic Church worldwide needed to be written. Dowd is often an unpopular columnist, but by extensively quoting her brother, a devout Catholic, she brings issues into the open for a badly needed public airing and cleansing.
The Catholic leadership in the Vatican, where America has an ambassador, must act like a church in squarely admitting and resolving the global misconduct and damages created by certain of its priests. The commission of massive individual wrongs is beyond doubt.
American Catholic bishops have already taken a national position, millions in damages have been paid and archdioceses have gone bankrupt. The question may be: Can the Catholic Church and the Vatican reform and purge itself as a religious organization without the intervention and pressure from civil and criminal authorities in various countries?
Civil and criminal laws have been violated in the United States and Western Europe, but it is always touchy and tricky for government agencies to become involved in church affairs. However, even if the Vatican takes a more responsible position there must be action taken by authorities in proper cases to enforce civil and criminal laws. State, individual and religious interests will clash but unpunished wrongdoing by the church and its agents is not acceptable.
James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg
Church's Judas moment | April 10
I really have to take issue with Maureen Dowd's column where she lets her brother write about his perceived failings of the Catholic Church. While there is much to criticize about the hierarchy within the Catholic Church protecting pedophile priests worldwide for decades, I have to disagree with the statement that "the liberalized rules set up a takeover of seminaries by homosexuals."
He goes on to say that the changes which Vatican II created put "the wrong kind of candidates" (into the priesthood), "drawing men confused about their sexuality who put our children in harm's way."
These statements imply that homosexuals are pedophiles who invaded the Catholic Church. There is absolutely no correlation between the two. Pedophiles prey on children, period. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with this perverse, evil criminal act. The gay community has enough prejudice to deal with without adding this misconception to the list.
Maureen Dowd's brother is, I suppose, entitled to his ignorant opinion but as a journalist Ms. Dowd is obligated to refute such falsehoods.
Jill Rose, Oldsmar
Church's Judas moment | April 10
As a lifelong Catholic, I feel compelled to respond to the quotes from Maureen Dowd's brother in one of her recent columns. I am afraid that Kevin Dowd is not understanding what is going on in the church today. He said that the lay people are "performing the sacraments and worse." The lay people do not perform the sacraments at all. This is still the exclusive function of ordained priests. He also said that "Older parishioners took it literally," meaning that Christ did change water into wine, and that our priests can do the same. The priest does not change water into wine, he changes the wine into the sacred blood of Christ. And the last time I looked, this is still the prime core of our faith.
Using English in the Mass has made it better and more understandable, and other changes in liturgy have been minor. Keep in mind that the Catholic Church is not exclusively the clergy. The church is the millions of people worldwide who attend Mass, support our schools, volunteer to help the sick and needy and do charity over the whole world. They are the true church. The priests and clergy are still weak human beings with all of our faults, and some go astray.
I have no argument at all about the views in this column on pedophile priests. They should be arrested and tried in a court of law immediately if there is evidence to support it as would any ordinary citizen. The hierarchy that hides and shelters them should be fired or arrested as well.
Daniel C. Gionet, St. Pete Beach
Guarding the flock
The past 10 years have uncovered many crimes against innocent children and families whose trust was betrayed by priests. Bishops and chancery officials who did not take immediate action to deal with this sin in the church deserve to suffer the consequences of betraying their role as shepherds and guardians of the laity who looked for blessed assurance and protection from priests who committed crimes against humanity.
Unfortunately, the media give little mention to bishops who were very proactive in dealing with pedophile priests and made every attempt to make sure that they would not continue to minister to God's people.
Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg was deeply committed to suspending priests who were accused of violating their call to holiness and wholeness. Thank you, Bishop Lynch, for your leadership and compassion for God's people.
Anthony D'Angelo, Spring Hill
Florida's crime figures deceiving
April 12, letter
Gun control does little
The letter writer is correct in that Florida has a history of ranking high in overall crime rate, within the top 25 percent of states. But his "independent analysis" apparently neglects the FBI's statements about the lack of historical uniformity in many crime definitions and large variations in reporting rates among the various jurisdictions.
The one type of crime in which there is a high and accurate reporting level, murder, should be of primary interest to the letter writer, who is the executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. In this area, Florida's track record is average to slightly fewer murders per 100,000 population than the median. This is despite our high population of those ethnic groups which have violent crime rates several times those of the general population, despite Florida being a nexus of the very violent drug trade, and despite Florida having very liberal gun control laws.
The FBI Uniform Crime Report data is available online at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm
In using 30 years' worth of the FBI data in analyzing the effect of gun control laws and restrictions on gun ownership among the states, I was struck by the apparent ineffectiveness of those laws. Neither controls, near complete bans nor the percentage of gun ownership seemed to have any impact plus or minus beyond normal statistical deviations.
So gun control has proven to be a dry hole. If the letter writer wishes to lobby for reducing crime and violence, he should turn his efforts to areas which have proven effective, including:
Quicker and more effective and accurate justice.
Intervention programs such as the mental health treatment program for low-level criminals as you recommended in your editorial of April 12.
James J. Klapper, Oldsmar
Official spares himself pay cut | April 10
Surely I am not the only person wondering how a 47-year-old man making almost $91,000 annually has net assets of $164,000 but had to drive an upscale vehicle?
Something is wrong with this picture, and it's scary that someone with such little financial common sense is making decisions for citizens who manage to get by on way less than $91,000 annually. With apologies to other residents since I voted for him . . .
Robyn Dalton, Largo
Another Toyota tale
To add to the stories concerning incidents with a Toyota, I add my own.
A few years back, my friend and I were leaving Leesburg en route back to Dade City when another driver decided he would ignore a stop sign and cross in front me. I was driving a new Toyota pickup. Using extraordinary reflexes and driving skills, I managed to nail him flush in his right rear quarter panel. He spun around and stopped in the road, and I expertly guided my truck into the ditch.
Our seat belts prevented any injury to either of us in the truck, but I realized the air bags had not deployed.
After the police stuff and after being towed home, I thought I would notify Toyota. I e-mailed through the Toyota home page and the local dealer where I bought the truck. Toyota's response?
"Thank you for your inquiry. You will find information on air bags in your owners manual."
I now drive a Ford truck.
Bob Dodd, Dade City
Rays' focus shifts to Trop's empty seats
April 9, story
Kill the cowbells
We've been at the Rays games many times since moving to Florida. However, after our "hundred-dollar" games were ruined by cowbells clanging behind us for three hours, we refused to step inside Tropicana Field again and will watch the games on TV. I can name about a dozen other people who feel the same way and won't be at any Rays games again.
Perhaps Rays president Matt Silverman, owner Stuart Sternberg and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster should come out of their quiet suites and sit in the average fan's seat with a cowbell on either side and behind them for three hours, to understand why they have empty seats.
If they still insist on the cowbells, why don't they herd all the cows into one section? Perhaps behind the visiting team dugout.
Cowbells might work in an outdoor stadium, but not in Tropicana's indoor dome.
Let the person who came up with the cowbells idea sit in front of a couple of loud bells for three hours. Cowbells mean empty seats!
Ron Fandrick, New Port Richey
Traffic stop draws interest | April 10, story
A vital job?
Reading the article on the traffic stop of the former police chief of St. Petersburg, I was not surprised that he appeared to get preferential treatment. However, I was both amused and angered by the report that he is currently employed as St. Petersburg's "senior administrator of community enrichment."
In the current recession, we are repeatedly told that governments are facing layoffs of the usual suspects — police, firefighters and teachers. Apparently a senior administrator of community enrichment is vital to good governance in St. Petersburg. Who knew?
When are taxpayers going to say enough is enough?
Mike Lyons, Apollo Beach
Help save lives
If offered an opportunity to save a life, would you? Ninety percent of Americans say "yes" to organ donation, yet only a few more than 30 percent of Florida's population have signed up on our state organ and tissue donor registry.
April is National Donate Life Month, and I encourage those who have not yet done so to sign up on Florida's donor registry online by visiting www.DonateLifeFlorida.org, or when getting or renewing a driver's license.
One organ donor can save the lives of eight people, and impact nearly 50 more through tissue donation. There are more than 106,000 people waiting nationally for a life-saving transplant — more than 3,900 of whom are our friends and neighbors in Florida. Each of us has an opportunity to become a hero every time we say "yes" to organ and tissue donation. Contact LifeLink of Florida for more information at 800-262-5775.
Jennifer Krouse, manager of public affairs, LifeLink Foundation, Inc., Tampa
The joys of shoveling manure and other work | April 10, Garrison Keillor column
A fertile mind?
On the tractor, or on the radio, or in the newspaper — he's still spreading it.
Mortimer Brown, Lutz