John Fleming's superb article put in compelling perspective the sobering challenges facing the Florida Orchestra — financially and musically. It should attract the urgent concern of the entire Tampa-St. Petersburg art, business and government communities.
For the 19th largest U.S. metropolitan area, a full and functioning symphony orchestra is a community treasure and an economic magnet. It enhances the quality of life. For a community this size, no one should doubt the importance of a full symphony orchestra. Nor should they doubt, even in a recession, the need to pay its talented musicians better than a $25,000 basic salary, so recently cut. No matter the length of the season, the quality of the performances remains vital to the appreciative support of patrons.
As snowbirds from western New York, where the Buffalo Philharmonic appears vibrant (both financially and musically), we bring our love of classical music to Tampa-St. Petersburg. We would surely not travel the 50 or 60 miles to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts nearly as often as we do — spending money along the way — were it not for the Florida Orchestra and the Master Chorale.
Larry Paul, Nobleton
Don't lose the music
The Florida Orchestra is a treasure and a real gift to the people of the Tampa Bay area. If we can handsomely reward public "servants" and give lots of money to political campaigns that don't make much sense, why can't we (both the people with enough money and the government that pays the civil servants) realize that we are awfully close to losing a resource that is irreplaceable.
My partner and I generously support the orchestra, but it obviously needs and deserves more.
Other regional orchestras and opera companies have gone bankrupt. Please don't let us give away our music to some other area that is more willing to support it.
Dennis M. Kovach, Palmetto
This school day brought to you by Aunt Jemima | Oct. 30
Sugar isn't proper fuel for children's brains
I am appalled that the Hillsborough County School Board, Mayor Pam Iorio and the University of South Florida consider "frozen pancakes, chocolate syrup, M&Ms and whipped cream" a healthy breakfast. According to Aunt Jemima's spokeswoman, this kind of breakfast was "fuel for the brain, helping kids to concentrate better, stay healthier, and stay trimmer."
As a former teacher, I can say that having a child in the classroom who is hyped up on sugar does not fuel the brain. In fact, it makes it difficult for a child to concentrate. With the breakfast offered above, how can our kids stay trimmer? What about childhood obesity? What about those kids who have Type 1 diabetes? What kind of message are we sending our kids? If we're going to offer pancakes, why not put fruit on top at least?
As usual, it's all about the money and not what's best for our children.
Lynda R. Hodge, Palmetto
More like dessert
With utter disgust I read the article about "Aunt Jemima Frozen Breakfast Education Day" at Pizzo Elementary. Its stated purpose was to provide a good breakfast for students. As noble as that purpose is, a breakfast that consists of Aunt Jemima's pancakes topped with M&Ms and chocolate syrup does not a good breakfast make. It's closer to a dessert.
If the Aunt Jemima spokeswoman wanted these children to eat a good breakfast, she would advocate fresh fruit and maybe some oatmeal. Instead, her company is pushing this fattening and sugar-laden "food" on trusting children to create brand loyalty.
Children are at a high enough risk of diabetes and obesity as it is. If $2,500 to Pizzo Elementary is worth the health of these children, the principal needs to re-evaluate her priorities.
Brian Johnson, Tampa
Protect us from harassment
I believe it's fine for candidates to advertise, send out mail, debate on TV, and so on, but the laws need to be changed about door-to-door visits and phone calls.
Our homes are no longer a refuge from the outside world during election times. Our phones ring off the hook. It is time for the rudeness to stop. We can turn off the TV, radio, etc., but why should we have to turn off our phones and pay for minutes on our cell phones to hear garbage we are not interested in?
Most of us can do our homework, figure out whom to vote for and be done with it. We need new laws to protect us from this harassment.
Susan Kweller, Land O'Lakes
Passing leaves a void
When our friends, neighborhood leaders and mentors pass, there is a hole, a new emptiness in our lives. Bob Hart's passing last weekend did leave the emptiness but the hole is more than half full.
Bob Hart was a Gandy neighborhood leader for decades. Each time you drive along Gandy Boulevard, remember Bob Hart. When you are enjoying the tranquility of Gandy neighborhoods, remember Bob Hart.
He stood up against expressways slashing through his Gandy neighborhood and fought for keeping Gandy Boulevard, Gandy Boulevard. Before flying bridges, they proposed widening Gandy a la Highway 19 in Pinellas. It would've all but wiped out our Gandy business district and placed neighborhoods smack dab up to a superhighway. Not if Bob Hart had anything to say about it.
It's fitting that the day Bob Hart passed, his dream of Gandy staying Gandy came true with the new Walmart on the recently improved road. He lived and died in the tranquil neighborhood he helped create.
Gene Wells, Tampa
People often complain that youths today seem to be self-centered and expect to be given things. I'm calling this culture the Give Me Society. This Halloween I realized that the way children act on Halloween is almost a microcosm of how they will act their entire lives. I was fascinated.
People come to our neighborhood from other surrounding areas because we're a safe community and we give out good candy. My wife is the lead candy-giver on our front porch. She's better with kids than I am. We had very polite kids, kids with actual costumes, and kids who said trick-or-treat and thank you. We also gave candy to a 6-year-old who then reached for an extra piece out of the bucket and said, "This all you got?"
The culture of the Give Me Society isn't exactly learned. Being self-centered and inconsiderate is a normal stage of child development. The problem, however, is that parents don't stop their kids from doing those things because the parents are inconsiderate and disrespectful too. It's no wonder that the children stay that way.
We had kids, and a few parents, trample our plants and we had others who told their kids not to do that. A few parents even lifted the smallest ones over to make sure they didn't mess up the plants.
Parents make the difference. The children who are taught to respect other people and their property will continue to do so, and those who aren't never will. If you have kids, please make sure to teach them to respect others and their property. It's more important than you think.
Joe Clay, Tampa
A desperate search for detox | Oct. 31
Help those in need
There has been much ado recently about pain management physicians and their indiscriminate issuance of narcotics prescriptions. I work in an oncology clinic where patients often have a legitimate need for pain management. Sad to say that we have been unable to locate a pain management physician in all of Hillsborough County who accepts Medicaid.
Then comes this story reporting that there is little, if any, availability of beds for Medicaid patients who voluntarily request help for detox and continuing support for prescription drug addiction. This is unconscionable. There seems to be more than enough state and federal funds and services for food, schooling and health care for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants. Yet our government is unable, or unwilling, to assist our own who are in dire need.
It is not enough to prosecute the unethical physicians. We must find a way to help those who seek a sober existence, giving them every opportunity to live happy and fulfilled lives.
Lori Stroud, Tampa
Go to source of problem
I applaud Ann Weeks for her diligent effort in attempting to get her stepdaughter help for a prescription drug addiction. I've experienced a similar situation in my family, and I know firsthand how difficult it is to deal with someone who has this type of addiction. This article brought forth the complications involved in getting someone help, and it is correct — it is very difficult.
However, the article failed to mention the larger issue, which is the doctors who are writing these prescriptions. While it is clear that those in pain, such as Karen, do need the pain control, the doctors should never be writing such large, lethal quantities of narcotics. In addition, if the doctors do perceive an addiction, it is their responsibility to handle it proactively so that the situation does not escalate as it did in Karen's case.
Things need to change, but it needs to start at the source and continue through the solution.
Liz Corey, Lutz
Stop giving them money
I have been a resident of Tampa Bay (specifically Citrus Park) for the past 18 years. I am concerned by the issues with panhandlers disturbing traffic and making the Tampa Bay area look like a Third World country. I have witnessed panhandlers impeding traffic, yelling at passers-by and fighting.
There are lots of approaches to the problem that have been discussed, from panhandle zones to total bans, which would include street vendors such as newspaper sales.
The problem exists for one reason: The public continues to give panhandlers money. If we, as a community, would quit giving them money, the problem would go away in a matter of days.
Homeless advocates have told us that giving money to panhandlers does nothing but reinforce the cycle of dependence. It is time that we started to listen to them.
Jerold Crawford, Tampa
A stoplight rant
How nice of you to have my favorite panhandler featured on the front page of your newspaper Monday. About three weeks ago I was waiting for the light to change at Manhattan and Gandy when this person yelled out to all of us waiting for the light, "You cheap a--ed SOB's, sitting in your damned cars …" I didn't catch the rest of his rant, as the light changed, and I was more than happy to move on.
Delinda Stembler, Tampa