To save and create jobs, our policymakers need to continue supporting Job Corps.
There is no program like Job Corps, which gives at-risk youths with few other opportunities the chance to get hands-on career training in a safe, positive environment. Almost 90 percent of Job Corps graduates get jobs, go to college or enlist in the military. The average Job Corps Center across the country creates or supports about 228 local jobs and generates $1.91 in the local economy for each dollar invested.
We wanted Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay region to realize the same economic benefits. That's why I spearheaded, alongside Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, local officials and business leaders, the effort to bring Job Corps to St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. It is doing great things for Central Florida.
Pinellas Job Corps Center currently serves almost 150 young people and soon will have the capacity to serve 300. Many of these young people felt they had few other opportunities to finish their education and learn a trade. Now they are preparing for well-paying jobs in some of the fastest-growing industries, such as health care and construction.
Some Job Corps students and graduates fear that federal investments in this important job-creating program will be cut in Washington. That would leave hundreds of Central Floridians out of work and even more without the hope of learning the skills they need to be successful.
In our current job crisis, it makes good economic sense to keep Job Corps strong so our young people are independent and well trained and so employers can hire local, experienced workers.
Bob Stewart, former St. Petersburg City Council member and Pinellas County commissioner, Crested Butte, Colo.
It pays to ask | July 18
It is disappointing to see someone use her podium to reach others to spread a message of entitlement, a big problem in today's society.
It is true that mistakes are made, and in most cases employees are taught that no matter what, the customer is always right. It is disheartening to see someone who deliberately takes advantage of such service.
People make mistakes and I will be inconvenienced; I am not owed anything as a result. I would rather accept an apology and move on with my life. It is a small world, and the guy who messed up your order just might be on the opposite end of one of your mistakes some day.
I wish the writer the best of luck with her set of values and thank her for reminding me of mine.
Natalie Clark, Tampa
I am a Tampa native and also co-run a small business in the bay area.
This article about how it won't hurt to ask made my jaw drop. I wonder if the writer has ever worked in the service industry.
I think it pays to have class and patience. The service industry is a beast; keeping people happy is not easy. Encouraging people to ask for handouts is just tacky.
I think you should be encouraging readers to be patient and understanding.
Ashley Niven, Tampa
Cleanup finds fewer derelict traps in bay | July 17
Traps need to be redesigned to include spring-loaded tops secured with a biodegradable twine (or similar devise) that will dissolve and release the top within two weeks of submersion. This way they will not become death traps if they are not regularly serviced. Instead, the release devices specified in current regulations take too long to degrade.
As a sailor, I contend with dodging crab traps all along the southwest coast of Florida and have snagged a few. They can be a real hazard, especially at night in rough conditions, because there is no easy way to free them from a rudder or the running gear. Someone could get seriously injured. It would be helpful if the strings of traps were positioned perpendicular to the shoreline rather than parallel so a line could be crossed.
David Tarbox, Clearwater
Mayor proposes budget cuts July 19
Truth on cameras
Finally! A smidgen of truth has shown up. In this article about the Tampa city budget, this line appears regarding the city's deficit: "$2 million in new revenue from red-light traffic enforcement cameras expected to go into operation in November."
Residents have known all along that is the primary purpose of the cameras, but officials have denied it. They will continue to deny it, but the gold rush to install the cameras will mush forward.
Steve Meador, Lithia
Sweepstakes cafes closed by deputies | July 15
Missing a chance
I feel so much safer now that we have wasted taxpayers' money to shut down those dastardly Internet cafes. We can't keep with to road rage, break-ins, murders and human trafficking, but we can sure stop those old ladies from wasting their money in these dens of evil.
Is it possible that these terrible places could be a source of tax revenue? I guess we'll never know.
Richard G. Brehm, Hudson
Scriptural teaching | July 19, letter
The author of this letter makes a correct point about Jesus teaching generosity, but grossly mislabels Jesus as a socialist. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say it is the job of government to take care of anyone. He advocates giving willingly with a generous heart to those who need it. By forcibly taking our money and giving it to others, the government actually undermines this teaching.
Byron Hood, Clearwater
Remodel may put more 'Tampa' in TIA | July 16
Not a problem
According to a member of Tampa International Airport's board, "It's hard to tell you're in Tampa when you're in the airport." Really? I think that if you buy a ticket to TIA and the airline announces, "Welcome to Tampa, the local time is … ," you might have a clue. That usually works for me. I buy a ticket to Tampa, they announce we're here and guess what, I've never been surprised. I've always ended up in Tampa — never MIA, never ATL, never LAX, never JFK.
This sounds like a $240,000 solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
Douglas Bauer, Clearwater
Track down fraud
To reduce the deficit, our government needs to crack down much harder on Medicare fraud.
As an example, my mother has had an oxygen concentrator that she has not used for eight months. I have called the company that owns the machine several times and told it that my mother no longer needs oxygen and that it needs to pick up the machine. That was in December. It continues to bill Medicare more than $400 a month for the machine.
I have called the Medicare fraud hotline three times, and nothing has been done. The person at the hotline told me that people need to be tested every three months to see if they still need oxygen. My mother has never been tested in two years. I had her tested myself and found that she has no need for the machine, yet here it sits.
This is just one example. Think of the billions every year that are being wasted.
Thomas Leonard, Palm Harbor
Drop party line
I am a 61-year-old retiree who has long been a registered Republican in Florida. I think our Republican members of Congress should abandon the party line that rejects all compromise with their Democratic colleagues and the president.
• Stop making pledges that prevent them from acting in America's best interests.
• Say that they are willing to change their mind when they learn more. That's not weakness.
• Waste no more time on the "cut, cap and balance" plan. Ditto the Medicare voucher program which I can't support.
• Support the bipartisan plan by the Gang of Six, including raising tax revenue.
Yes, the American economy needs both cuts in spending and increased revenue. I am willing to pay more in taxes and believe it is the right thing to do.
Our representatives should represent the interests of Floridians like me in Washington.
John DeGelleke, Palm Harbor
Our tax code is incomprehensible to the point of benefiting only our very wealthy citizens and corporations. But it ignores one of the greatest sources of revenue: the "underground economy" of people and businesses who work "under the table" and avoid taxation.
The abolition of the current tax system and the institution of a national sales tax would put everyone on equal footing.
Don Holderness, Valrico
City gives up fee dispute July 20
Poor word choice
To characterize the city's payment of death benefits to the families as "a hit" on the self-insurance fund is both insensitive to the officers' families and friends and insulting.
Lori Harmon, St. Petersburg
$1.2M to keep a company July 20
Apparently the state of Florida will likely "chip in" $800,000 (along with $1.2 million from the Hillsborough County government) as a gift to a private company to prevent its leaving the state, thus preserving jobs.
This is okay with me. I just wonder what Gov. Rick Scott and the Republicans who railed and foamed at the mouth about the federal bailouts are thinking. How do they reconcile this with their rigid stance that "the government" stay out of private business affairs? Is it only the federal government they mean? Or is it only when it is Democrats doing the interfering?
Or (more likely) is it okay for government funds to be used to support private business when those businesses are the ones who have contributed to their campaign funding?
Harry Ellis, Tampa