When I first had the news broken to me that my name was among the elite company of just 300 Tampa Bay Rays full season ticket holder accounts tied to a St. Petersburg address, I was initially quite proud, as though I possessed privileged access to the inner circle of something magical. However, when I examined this fact against the background of the larger picture that is the future of my beloved Rays, I was considerably dismayed.
I have long considered the Rays' attendance woes to not be a St. Petersburg problem, nor even a regional problem, but a Florida problem. If you didn't grow up here with spring training, before the advent of Rays baseball, rooting for your favorite team from out of town, you're likely one of countless residents who relocated from up north bringing their pinstripes or crimson socks with them. Old habits die hard, especially when they're as entrenched as cheering for a favorite childhood team. It may be easy to forget that our local franchise is but a mere 15 years old. The Rays are still young, and thus so are many of its most devoted fans.
As a member of the 300, I believe I stand out even further within the ranks of the faithful, as I am just 22 years old. I was seven when the Devil Rays and I first became acquainted, and we've been sharing memories, both heartbreaking and elating, ever since.
After attending a vibrant Fan Fest this past Saturday populated by many starry-eyed youngsters, I have renewed hope in the future of the Rays franchise. If our elected officials (many of whom I have learned do not themselves enjoy the benefits of holding season tickets) can come together soon and squelch their bickering without driving a legal wedge between themselves and the Rays that may ultimately drive the team away, I suspect that we won't need the entirety of the next 15 years left on the Rays' lease to determine whether or not St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay are indeed a viable home for a major-league ballclub.
Buy my generation (and those that follow) a little more time to settle down and get their financial bearings as we head out of the recession. More like myself will follow, and season ticket sales will rise. Just as the Rays have climbed their way out of the basement of the American League East with plenty of homegrown talent, so the Tampa Bay area will begin to climb its way out of its turnout doldrums with a fresh crop of homegrown fans.
William Skinner, St. Petersburg
Scott's jobs key: roads | Feb. 20
Ride to nowhere
The citizens of Florida are once again being taken for a ride to nowhere.
How did the governor derive the figure of 500,000 new jobs? I would like to see the detail of new jobs by date, county and project. Who decided on the specific projects noted?
It is amazing that the chair of the House Transportation Appropriations Committee states this activity will create jobs. "The construction industry was one of the most hurt by the economy," he said. "This is a way to get it going again."
If these statements are true, why did the Republicans in Congress keep blocking bills back to 2010 to the present for this very purpose?
Barry Kanter, Lithia
Behind the curve
The bay area and Florida is at least 30 years behind the curve on public transportation, and Gov. Rick Scott intends to keep it that way.
Fred Kann, St. Petersburg
City wants to clean up park | Feb. 19
Buses aren't the problem
Removing the buses from Williams Park is not a solution to the drug and alcohol abuse and vagrancy problems there. The PSTA bus hub at Williams Park is easily accessible to all.
And the shuttle offers a direct route to Grand Central for bus connections to the entire Pinellas County area. In this era of pleas for more and easy access to mass transit, removing the buses from this area will cause more harm than good.
Ted Wolfe, St. Petersburg
Monsanto, the court and the seeds of dissent Feb. 20, commentary
You bought it, you own it
So if Monsanto develops a strain of seed, no one can use the seeds from raised produce? I don't understand how that can make any sense. Is Monsanto selling their seeds or are the renting them? Seems to me, once you've bought something you own it.
It's kind of like selling someone a can of soda then telling them they can't recycle the aluminum to make another can. Or selling someone livestock but claiming rights to the livestock's offspring. Huh?
If Monsanto wants to make these claims, they must switch from selling their seeds to "renting" their seeds. I bet they would be cheaper to rent.
Lost in all this discussion is an even larger question. If Monsanto is developing seed strains that are resistant to Roundup pesticide, how resistant are humans to Roundup? After all, it is humans who will eat these genetically modified foodstuffs. How nice that these plants can resist glyphosate. How do humans do versus glyphosate?
John Andrew Warrener, Odessa
Tampa Bay nets Bass Pro | Feb. 21
Thank you to Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner for voting in support of economic development and against subsidizing Bass Pro with $6.25 million in taxpayer dollars.
Studies show that for every two jobs Bass Pro and Walmart creates, three local jobs are lost. Unfortunately, Bass Pro has a Walmart-like wage structure meaning that taxpayers will have to subsidize Bass Pro's workers (as we do Walmart) with public assistance — housing, health care and food stamps.
When government gives taxpayer money to a favored business, it must tax the rest of the public for that missing share. Small businesses, or those less connected to government leaders, or those who cannot hire lawyers and lobbyists to fight for their own subsidies, are left holding the bag.
All these subsidies further create an unlevel playing field because the small businesses have to charge more for their products to pay for these subsidies and the big retailers can sell their products for less.
Bass Pro would have located here without a dime. Hillsborough County already provides retailers like Bass Pro with a valuable market. I hope that in the future the commission will take a cue from Pasco County, which refused to subsidize Bass Pro, and that the Hillsborough County Commission acts to protect the limited taxpayer dollars we have for economic development.
Patricia Kemp, Tampa
Support local businesses
It looks as if we will have a Bass Pro Shop in our area after the commissioners approved a $6.25 million subsidy for the developer. On the surface, it looks like Hillsborough County will get a good return on its "investment," and there will be new jobs as a result.
What doesn't sit well with me is that this is a large retail business that will compete with many other smaller, privately owned businesses in the area who had no such advantage when they opened their doors. Surely, this will have a negative impact on their businesses.
Subsidies have their place when luring new industry or manufacturing to our area, but one thing is clear: Consumers can still choose to shop where they want. Supporting our local small businesses, and in turn, our community, is ultimately up to us.
Suzanne Inzina, Largo
Citizens must attract top-level professionals Feb. 21, commentary
I read, with an open mind, Carlos Lacasa's column regarding the need to pay his upper management the salaries they receive in order to keep the "best and most competent" professionals. I would ask him why he felt it necessary to pay out three quarters of a million dollars to employees in severance packages who resigned after misconduct allegations. I would think that that would nullify any severance packages they might have had with their contracts.
I have held positions in both middle and upper management and if it was found that I had been asked to resign for misconduct, I would have been merely shown the door, quickly and quietly.
Rosanne Paris, Palm Harbor
The chairman of the board of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. contended in this column that Citizens must attract top-level professionals.
Taken alone, this is a true statement. But there are better ways to attract top-level professionals than to create a culture of exorbitant expense accounts, salaries and raises.
The best professionals are not motivated by compensation and perks alone. They are motivated by the integrity and value of the organization's mission and an ethical culture which looks after customers, employees, shareholders and the community.
Susie Hoeller, Land O' Lakes