A few weeks ago, I ran across some old 1950s Florida tourism postcards selling the "Florida glow," and I realized that even though Florida has changed so much, especially here in Tampa Bay, not much has changed about how we promote Florida to visitors.
Many states and countries recognize and capitalize on the growing market of the "cultural tourist"— a tourist who stays longer, spends more money and is searching out available arts and entertainment in their destination. The initial draw may be February in the subtropics, but the cultural tourist travels in search of a more complete, more fulfilling experience, patronizing museums, theaters and historic locations.
Tampa Bay has developed into an impressive cultural hub that includes the Dalí Museum, Mahaffey Theater, Ruth Eckerd Hall, the Palladium, the Chihuly, the Ringling Museum, Florida Orchestra, Tampa Theatre … the list goes on.
I am proud of the density of Tampa Bay's artistic assets. We are Florida's Cultural Coast, a distinction that sets us apart and can launch us into the international market of cultural tourism. Let's move forward from the "sun and beaches" paradigm and market the whole picture of what we have to offer: sun, fun, beaches, theater, music, dance, comedy and a dynamic selection of exceptional museums.
Now is the time for all the convention and visitor bureaus of the Tampa Bay region to pool resources and invest in a tourism campaign that unites all the arts assets that so enrich the experience of coming to the communities in our region.
Judy Lisi, president and CEO, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa
Witness accounts vary | Aug. 20
Real problem is joblessness
By now, nearly everyone must know the details about Michael Brown, the Missouri teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer. What we don't hear are why these occurrences play out at all. Sure, more black police officers would help in a community that is 70 percent black. There are probably plenty of options that would help marginally.
But I believe the real problem stems from the near-50 percent unemployment rate among young black men. If these men had a job to go to, it would alleviate the violence that will only continue to spread across the nation. The problem, of course, is that there is a scarcity of jobs for people who have, at best, only a high school education.
There would be work for these young men if our Congress was a functioning body. Our crumbling roads and bridges desperately need repair. The Work Projects Administration, during the Depression, was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects.
We have plenty of out-of-work people and plenty of work to do. Why not repair our roads and bridges, and in the meantime employ the masses of young people who could do the work?
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Florida a patsy to power industry | Aug. 17, Robert Trigaux column
Energy options limited
Of course we would all like smaller electric bills, but solar energy isn't economical for bulk power systems and must be subsidized by government programs. Soon, coal-fired plants will be uneconomical due to government regulations. The only economical power plants in the near future are gas-fired.
Solar energy development ought to be left in the research stage until different applications make economical sense. Government research grants should be given to our universities to advance this science.
Climate change is only the latest "Chicken Little" disaster just like the "electrical magnetic fields" were 30 years ago or the claim 40 to 50 years ago that the Earth is starting into an Ice Age.
Remember, Duke Power didn't create the Crystal River nuclear problem; they bought it and hopefully will successfully solve the generation problems.
William Cullen, St. Petersburg
Duke shrinks routes — and fattens some customer bills | Aug. 20
Duke Energy added nine days to the billing cycle on my account. Every kilowatt hour over 1,000 used during those nine days was charged at the overage rate. This resulted in my bill being nearly $200 more. I complained, only to be offered a payment plan. And now I see that this is perfectly legal. Duke, you should be ashamed.
Nancy Blount, Seminole
Sheriff: Amendment 2 has bad side effects Aug. 21
Prison industry influence
I have been trying to understand why the Florida Sheriff's Association has come out against the medical marijuana amendment, which is supported by most of the public.
Objectively, the data are clear. Opiate medications are far more dangerous than marijuana. Therefore, if medical marijuana can substantially reduce dependency on opiates, legalizing it is a no-brainer.
The sheriffs have brains. Therefore their opposition must not be based on the facts. What else can be behind their opposition? I think what they really fear is that passage of the amendment will inevitably lead to a Colorado-type outcome of legalizing recreational marijuana use.
Can you imagine a scenario where people are no longer arrested and jailed for possession or sale of small amounts of marijuana? We might need fewer sheriff's deputies, fewer correctional officers and fewer bailiffs. Despite enormous savings to taxpayers and improvement in how the public perceives law enforcement, there might be an increase in unemployment for law enforcement personnel.
If you believe my hypothesis is farfetched, revisit what happened in California after the "three strikes and you're out" referendum passed. Prison populations escalated sharply, along with skyrocketing expenditures for prison guards, parole officers and court personnel. Guess who was by far the leading funder of the three strikes initiative? The correctional officers union. More prisoners equals more guards and more overtime pay.
Richard C. Horowitz, Palm Harbor
Indictment is pure politics | Aug. 20, commentary
Column's thinking flawed
I find some of the thinking of both Gov. Rick Perry and the columnist, Dan Thomasson, faulty. I think that a single DUI on the part of anyone doesn't indicate that he or she is unfit to work, as Perry seems to have concluded and which Thomasson finds plausible.
Secondly, Thomasson concludes that prior failed attempts of a similar nature by former officers in this office make it a slam dunk that the current charge is politically motivated. Should not each case be considered individually?
I find that people frequently take the easy answer as the explanation rather than consider the complexities of the situation. This is hardly what we need from our leaders and/or bloggers.
Anthony Moore, Tampa
Reject the status quo | Aug. 20, letter
Show them the door
The letter writer is right on target. The leaders who are elected over and over again to represent you aren't doing the job. They are there on their own agenda. If a new person goes with good intentions, he or she is swallowed up in party politics.
For many election cycles, I have voted against the incumbent. Call it my way to have term limits.
The only way elected representatives are going to start listening to and representing the people is to elect new people who will listen. If they don't, elect new ones the next time.
Folks, you only have one real voice in this matter and that is your vote. Register for some party so that you can vote in the primary and let's select representatives who will actually represent.
Jack Pope, Clearwater
Pinellas Democrats tout transit plan | Aug. 21
Sales tax hurts the poorest
I am an everyday bus rider and will be voting no on the sales tax increase called Greenlight Pinellas. Proponents state in literature and ads that the sales tax is more equitable than property tax. Not so. Businesses only collect sales tax from customers. Why shouldn't big, rich property holders — such as Walmart — pay?
We know that the government wastes our tax money, and it is foolish to vote for a sales tax increase that hurts the poor.
Robert D'Avanzo, Clearwater
Putnam got deer, forgot names | Aug. 20
Deer in the headlights
Adam Putnam can't remember who was on one of his King Ranch hunting trips? He does not sound smart enough to be a busboy. Come on.
Mark Crofoot, Clearwater