Bill may ease rules in 30 fields | March 16
Licensing not a luxury
I am disappointed that a House subcommittee approved deregulating the profession of interior design. As an architect, I have worked with licensed professional interior designers for 15 years. To hear the debate reduced to comments like, "Someone who knows where to put the couch in your house does not need to be regulated," infuriates me. This is not what a licensed commercial interior designer does at all.
While there is certainly an aesthetic component to the practice of interior design, it is but one skill of many hard technical skills an interior designer must have.
Our firm recently designed a facility for a client from a state that does not regulate interior designers. We insisted on reviewing the interior design work and found basic errors. Aisleway egress routes were not maintained; the furniture contained too much combustible material, inappropriate for the fire safety features of the building occupancy; and the furniture system covered the windows and negated the daylight harvesting strategy of the building design. The fire safety issue was pointed out by a licensed interior designer in our office.
The act of designing buildings keeps getting more complex. It requires interpretation of building codes, understanding of accessibility and general safety, and mastery of myriad issues not addressed by building codes, such as energy conservation and disease and mold control. Architects and our clients rely heavily on the experience and advice of licensed interior designers to adequately address these issues.
Deregulating the interior design profession, along with geologists and surveyors, will create at worst an unsafe climate for the people of Florida and at best set back advancements made in the quality of design of Florida's built environment.
Christopher Patterson, St. Petersburg
To see Dalí, pay Prix | March 15
The time has come for a community dialogue on the St. Petersburg Grand Prix. We have an event that gets international attention but that closes down one-half of our waterfront for weeks and encloses two cultural gems (Mahaffey Theater and Dalí Museum) in a sea of concrete topped by metal fencing.
My view is that if we are to continue, we should find a way to do the set up and removal in three weeks, not eight weeks, and find a way to make accommodation for the Mahaffey and the Dalí so their businesses, which we are so proud of, can be conducted without interruption in the proper manner.
Now let's hear from the residents, workers and businesses in the affected area.
Paul Chiavacci, St. Petersburg
I was disappointed in my first visit to the new Dalí Museum. At the height of tourist season, after having two months to work out kinks, the museum had a total of 50 audio headsets to service a reported 1,300 visitors per day. There is also only one guided tour per hour, and there were so many people standing around the poor docent that you couldn't hear or see anything.
After all that was spent on this venue, it is hard to believe that so little money was spent on the technology necessary to let visitors enjoy this treasure. The staff indicated that it had not ordered more headsets because it wanted to make sure people would use them — funny, that seems to work pretty well at every other major museum in the world.
Get your act together, Dalí.
Leslie McKeon, St. Petersburg
Gov. Rick Scott
Some people have joked that Gov. Rick Scott, based on his appearance, is an alien. I think he might be a Ferangi. This species from Star Trek has no motivation beyond business. Their religion is business, and their god is profit.
Their culture and philosophy is defined by "the Rules of Acquisition." These rules make no provision for supporting the common good or those less fortunate. A Ferangi doesn't hesitate to cheat, lie or steal to complete a business deal. He will betray his family and allies for profit. The only dishonor a Ferangi knows is to fail to get the advantage in a business deal.
They regard other species as inferior, and their females have no power or rights.
Margaret Evans, St. Petersburg
Put out the cigarettes
One recent morning I stopped at my local RaceTrac to get a few things, and when I came out I saw something I have seen a lot lately: people pumping gas while they, or their passengers, are smoking.
The sad thing is these people had children in the car. Smoking while pumping gas is illegal, and I think it is the responsibility of the station employees to assure the safety of their patrons. If a station employee witnesses someone pumping gas and anyone in or around the vehicle smoking, that pump should be turned off immediately.
These people need to realize they do not have the right to put their own children's lives and the lives of every person in that gas station in danger.
Joseph Everhart, Port Richey
International baseball tournament
Great venue for a game
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and his former campaign manager, Jim Neader, should be congratulated on bringing the Korean and Netherlands teams to St. Petersburg for the recent tournament played at Al Lang Field.
Sitting in the stands watching the Netherlands' last game Sunday against the major-league Philadelphia Phillies could not have been nicer: sunny sky, planes taking off and landing at Albert Whitted airport, the Mahaffey and Dalí in the distance. What a great place to watch a game.
A couple of seasons ago, when the New York ownership of the Tampa Bay Rays planned a ballpark for the same location, it was called a terrible idea. Locals put bumper stickers on their pickups refusing to support those "greedy" owners building a new stadium on the Al Lang site.
However, when the "local" boys wanted baseball downtown, it suddenly became a good idea. Perhaps St. Petersburg is a little too parochial for its own good.
Martin Daugherty, St. Petersburg
Schools' early release days
Extra hours welcome
Though some people do not like half days, as a student I do. My school, Coleman Middle, normally lets out at 4:15 p.m., but on half days we let out at 2:15 p.m. Even though the days are short, teachers still do full lessons, but they compact them to do them in a shorter period of time.
Also, in the time off, teachers plan lessons and evaluate student progress.
Finally, remember when you were young and had more time off? We don't. We don't have much free time except weekends and break time. Having the half days gives us more time to go to friends' houses, have people over, play more video games, or just sleep.
Clayton Hurd, Tampa
Upholding rule of law | March 16, commentary
I am amazed at how swiftly the attorney general and Gov. Rick Scott managed to sneak through the measure delaying rights restoration.
At what point do you stop punishing? If you have three license violations in Florida that makes you a felon. Does it make you dangerous? This is a broad-brush approach to our justice system.
If your sentence was 10 years and you do your time, how much longer are you to be punished? I am not advocating coddling people, just giving them the opportunity to become productive.
Karl Roesser, Safety Harbor
It's not a bad word
As a Tallahassee native, I'd like to point out that we residents take exception to the fact that editorials use "Tallahassee" as an epithet meaning no-good, corrupt politicians.
Not all people from Tallahassee, or those who live here, are irresponsible political animals. Yes, we are the capital; yes, we have politicians who conduct business here for 60 out of 365 days a year. But that doesn't encompass all that is "Tallahassee."
We have two large universities and one of the largest community colleges in Florida, industry, associations and professional jobs — not to mention it is a beautiful place to visit.
Tallahassee is unique and not like the rest of Florida. Please stop referring to us as strictly political. We are also still largely Democratic in demographics, and we do not all agree with the political shenanigans of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Kathy Dilworth, Tallahassee
Student's death is talk of the beach March 16
A valuable warning
Thank you to the Times for this article.
We have college-aged children who live away at school. As they were growing up we talked about drugs and alcohol abuse all the time. When they started driving, we reminded them that we do not tolerate drinking and driving. We even text them to be safe and don't drink and drive. I know they are tired of hearing us say it, but it is too important to let slide.
But when we read this article we realized we had not once warned our children about binge drinking. So thank you. We have sent them this article and reminded them that they must be responsible for themselves and that they only have one life, one brain, one heart and one liver and to take very good care of them.
R. Walters, Land O'Lakes
What I have noticed in the coverage of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is that there is no evidence of looting, rioting, acts of violence or pity, nor insulting remarks made about the lack of rescue efforts. The people of Japan have displayed extraordinary patience and unbelievable self-control.
I read that an elderly woman, homeless for days and unable to find any of her family, was apologetic to her rescuers for being a bother to them when there were obviously others in more dire need.
Every American should take a hard look at how the Japanese have handled this unprecedented catastrophe with dignity and respect for other victims, along with a deep appreciation for those who are risking their lives, time and money to help. I am not a big fan of sending any of my hard-earned dollars off to aid in every worldwide crisis, but I will happily pitch in to help the Japanese.
Arthur Ryan, Apollo Beach
Return to civility
Much has been said recently about the decency and respect that Japanese victims of the earthquake and tsunami have shown to one another. Much has also been said about the loss of civility in this country. While our countries obviously have vastly different social structures, nonetheless the Japanese have shown the world that honor, respect, and dignity have not become extinct.
People of this country need to take a close look at themselves and realize that a return to civility is in every person's interest. A return to decency can do more than all the budget cutting, government programs, political victories, moralizing and preaching could accomplish in a hundred years.
Michael S. Greenberg, Clearwater
The nuclear dilemma | March 16, editorials
Nuclear too dangerous
Until recent events in Japan proved otherwise, I was willing to consent that nuclear would have to be an element of our future energy policy. While the endgame has not been played out, we are all hoping and praying that these Japanese plants can be brought under control.
With earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires and, of course, hurricanes that affect various parts of the continental United States on a regular basis, it is time that we halt any plans for more nuclear plants for the immediate future. Until the nuclear industry and government can provide us with assurances that these plants pose no threat to our safety, we would be better advised to expend our resources in developing sources of energy that do not put the future of mankind at risk.
In Florida, there is already an abundant energy source ready to be tapped: solar.
Jay D. Jennings, Brooksville