With the baseball commissioner, ESPN broadcasters, our own local newspaper and especially the team owners constantly complaining about how horrible Tropicana Field is and how a new stadium is needed, why would anyone want to go to a game there?
My family has been attending Rays games since Day One. We find nothing wrong with the Trop. You can't have it both ways: complain about the venue and then complain when attendance is low. The Rays are an exciting team and the Trop is a great venue to see the live action.
Cindy Hamilton, St. Petersburg
We need less cowbell
As to poor attendance at Rays games, no one in this article mentioned an important factor: noise. All baseball stadiums produce noise, but noise is magnified in an enclosed field.
As a Yankee fan, I attended many games when the Yankees were in town, however the last time I attended I vowed would be my last. It was not pleasant spending three hours with some moron ringing a cowbell in my ears. Whoever thought of allowing those into the stadium should have his head examined.
And the person with a horn that sounds like a sick foghorn disrupts the game even on TV. When you add this on to the price of food and drinks, and the nightmare of trying to get out after the game, that says it all.
Henry D. Reiss, St. Petersburg
Bad economy is to blame
It doesn't take rocket science to figure out the cause of low attendance at Rays games. The elephant in the room is the 11 percent unemployment rate in the area. All of the talking heads in this article dance around that subject. Also, none of them touch on the inflation rate rising in conjunction with the stagnation of wages.
Then they disregard some of their own data about the population shrinking in Pinellas County due to the high unemployment rate coupled with the high foreclosure rate. Give me a break: One plus one equals a sizable drop in attendance.
David Bellinger, Largo
'Tale' follows his script | Sept. 25
History of caring, success
Congratulations to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium staff and volunteers, CEO David Yates and, of course, rescued dolphin Winter herself on the exciting success of the movie Dolphin Tale.
As a former CMA volunteer and employee (1992-2005) I would like to point out that the 25 years before Yates' arrival were also filled with proud accomplishments. During the early years, CMA (then the Clearwater Marine Science Center) was a humble former sewage treatment plant. A staff of a dozen biologists, trainers, teachers and "all-arounders" like me worked with animals in rusty concrete tanks that were renovated, one by one, as funds allowed.
The stranding team rescued dolphins, whales and turtles with an old utility trailer pulled by an older van, and volunteers spent hours holding them in water during overnight shifts.
Through it all, staff and volunteers worked with fierce dedication to the mission of rescue and rehabilitation. Money was tight. There were many a Friday when it was so tight, the staff would come together to see if anyone could wait a few days to receive a paycheck.
Former executive director Dennis Kellenberger was a marine biologist, not an MBA, and that was what the fledgling facility needed. It was his tireless vision, hands-on work ethic and compassionate leadership that brought the organization its steady growth in the early days.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a complex mosaic composed of the thousands of adults, children and animals who have passed through its doors from 1978 to the present. Let's celebrate them all, as well as those yet to come.
Marianne Klingel, Belleair Bluffs
Lee Roy Selmon
A heartfelt thank-you
On Sept. 4, 2011, our family lost, for Claybra and the children, a beloved husband and father; and for the rest of us, our baby brother, the youngest son of Lucious and Jessie Selmon. It was a shock then, and now more than three weeks later, remains a stunning loss that has left our family both numb and incomplete.
Two things have carried us through these last heartbreaking days. First is our unwavering faith in Almighty God, our Father who loves us and shows His mercies new every morning. Second are the countless acts of kindness, both random and deliberate, which have daily enveloped the lives of each and every one of us. We have received hundreds of cards and condolences from all across the country, some from lifelong friends, others from brief acquaintances, and many from people we have never met. Each has taken time out of their day to share in our sorrow, to send words of encouragement, to give us hope. Thank you.
We especially would like to thank the Bryan Glazer family and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Your generosity was astounding. You and your staff are first-class. Brian Ford and Andres Trescastro, you stepped in to help carry the burden in our time of greatest need. The support of Jill Hobbs, Brian Mathiews and Killeen Mullen was irreplaceable. Buc players, past and present, were a constant source of strength. Thank you Mark Cotney for speaking on their behalf during the service. Our University of South Florida family was equally as generous: Our heartfelt thanks to president Judy Genshaft and intercollegiate athletics director Doug Woolard. Renaming your athletic center in Lee Roy's honor was an amazing gift; we are humbled by your kindness.
We are further humbled by the kindnesses of so many others. For all the many kindnesses and prayers that have come our way, we will forever be truly grateful.
The Selmon family, Tampa and Norman, Okla.
Downtown St. Petersburg
Clean up the beaches
Visitors to downtown St. Petersburg often comment how nice our waterfront parks are. At the same time, however, they question why the beaches along the waterfront are left so dirty, particularly Spa Beach, which all visitors to the Pier see.
If the city cannot find the resources to keep it clean and attractive, it would do well to ask the designers of the new Pier to eliminate any beach from their plans.
Marvin Honig, St. Petersburg
No work vest without work
Tampa elevated the status of panhandlers to imitation "public works" folks by mandating reflective vests. They are faux workers in safety gear.
On visits to the city, I've been approached by Tampa's vested-blight. I expected directions around a work zone. Surprise!
Other cities prevent the plague of false-vested ringers. Only real, safety-conscious, required workers (in vests) are permitted.
Louis J. Rinaldi, San Antonio
Middle class losing ground
I learn from newly minted GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry what's wrong with America — that middle income Americans don't pay enough taxes. Really.
He's dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don't pay income tax, but apparently not that more than half of Americans have been in a 30-year recession with little or no income growth.
He's apparently willing to write off Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, which are the big federal taxes for low- and middle-income Americans. A family of four earning $30,000 may pay no federal income tax, but it pays $4,590 in payroll taxes (including the employer's share, which economists believe is ultimately paid by the employee in the form of lower wages). Payroll taxes are much bigger than income taxes for most families.
Working households also pay federal excise taxes on gasoline, beer, wine, liquor, tires and cigarettes. And state and local taxes are notoriously regressive. Feel better, governor?
Here are some facts, courtesy of the Tax Policy Center. They may not allay Perry's dismay, but they should assuage the concerns of anyone with a soul.
Of the 46 percent of households who don't pay income tax, nearly two-thirds pay payroll taxes.
Of the 18 percent who pay neither income nor payroll taxes, more than half are elderly.
More than one-third have incomes below $20,000. (Ronald Reagan made the decision in 1986 to exempt people with incomes below the poverty line from federal income tax. Twenty-five years later, that still seems like a good call.)
Only 1 percent of non-taxpaying households are nonelderly with incomes over $20,000. I'm dismayed about them too, governor. Maybe we should close some of the loopholes that allowed almost 1,500 millionaires to escape income tax in 2009.
Robert Lloyd, Ruskin
Cuban connection | Sept. 25
Sounds of Cuba
I enjoyed this article but can't help reacting to the section on Benny More. Biographer John Radanovich calls More a salsa singer, but he was a sonero, a word derived from the Cuban music style called son montuno. As Celia Cruz once declared in an interview, salsa to her was what she bought in grocery stores.
From the montuno came the guaracha, rumba and a slower and very danceable rhythm called cha-cha-cha. True, More was also a great bolerista, a ballad singer, with his very own style.
Sergio Billy Delgado, Tampa