In his State of the City address, Mayor Bob Buckhorn laid out a compelling vision for an overdue transformation of Tampa. The mayor simultaneously called for an expanded urban core centered around the Hillsborough River and embraced the necessary investments that will lead to a thriving, knowledge-based economy.
As a 28-year-old Tampa native, it was refreshing to hear the mayor's bold vision for our city. I have watched as too many of my friends, our best and brightest, flee to other cities. Buckhorn is one of the few elected officials talking about the brain drain. We need to implement his vision to reverse it.
In a knowledge-based economy, workers are not tied to a specific factory or town. They follow opportunity and quality of life. My friends have left for cities where they can reap the benefits of a well-funded education system, a broad transportation system, and quality parks and museums. These are public goods that can only be provided by government.
Fundamentally, there are two economic models at battle in Florida and in Tampa. One says we need to endlessly cut government services — education, parks, transportation. Gov. Rick Scott believes in this model and so do many members of the Hillsborough County Commission.
The other vision says we need to invest in our city to build a knowledge-based economy that attracts the best and brightest. We need to invest in affordable, high-quality neighborhoods, where all of our children can get a world-class education and, when they graduate, stay here to work in high-paying, creative and knowledge-based jobs.
It goes without saying that we must invest wisely and efficiently, but this is a race we can win. Our region has a world-class port and airport. We have a blossoming university. We have a diverse and inclusive culture. We have a young population that is hungry for change.
Improving our city is not just government spending, it is an investment in the residents of Tampa.
Brian Willis, Tampa
Repeal state's license to kill | April 3, editorial
Protect self-defense rights
I agree that a portion of the "stand your ground" law may need to be modified, but not repealed. This law should not be a license for someone to go out looking for trouble or revenge with a gun.
However, the part that should remain is the protection it provides homeowners when someone breaks into their home. I agree that you do not shoot someone who may be running away — even if he has a TV under his arm.
But coming face to face with robbers who have broken into your home should be enough cause to attempt to hold them there, at gunpoint, until police arrive. If they threaten you in any way, you should have the right to shoot to stop them — even before they touch you.
Robert Carlson, Dunedin
Law-abiding gun owners
Before the ink was dry on the first published account of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, the antigun crowd was coming out of the woodwork. There are those who would have you believe that everyone who legally carries a gun is a carbon copy of George Zimmerman. In the same breath, they condemn our legal system, knowing that this case is far from over.
So how about clearing the air with some facts that result from research, not emotion. John Lott of the University of Chicago Law School looked at 15 years of FBI files from throughout the United States and found that "invariably where responsible law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry firearms, the rate of violent crime plummeted."
At Florida State University, criminology professor Gary Kleck surprised himself in his research finding that "higher general gun ownership rates reduce homicide rates."
As the evidence shows, our Florida laws protect us and allow us to protect ourselves. I feel much more comfortable living in a state where I know there is a reasonable chance to survive an attack by an armed criminal. If the right to defend ourselves is stripped, no such chance exists.
John Kauzlarich, Largo
City not allowed to limit firearms | April 3
Keep the guns out
The article focuses on safety at the coming Republican National Convention. The items that are restricted include water pistols, pieces of wood, hard rubber, etc. What is truly absurd is the fact that one can carry a concealed handgun into the area. Given this setting, with all the crazies that could attend the convention, allowing any guns is a recipe for disaster.
What was the Legislature's thinking behind statute 790.33? Why is Mayor Bob Buckhorn being stripped of his duty to protect his citizens and guests against the possible criminal use of concealed firearms?
Jack Bechtold, New Port Richey
Rules are all wet
When you outlaw squirt guns, only outlaws will have squirt guns.
Richard Kirchner, Tampa
Senate inaction | April 3, letter
Budget starts in House
The writer who complained about the left-leaning news media denigrating the Republican House's budget noted that the Democratic Senate did not even prepare a budget.
Maybe he should take a refresher course in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 7, says: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives."
Stephen Clark, Clearwater
Flags fly in face of rules | April 4
Priorities out of line
It's unfortunate that Code Enforcement doesn't have anything better to do than count flags. How about citing people with cars that don't run in their driveways, or have overgrown yards, or bare electric wires hanging from the sides of their houses? And, Mr. Mayor, how about spending more time on finding the money for a new police station, which is a heck of a lot more important than Maher's business. No wonder people don't have faith in their government.
Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg
The homeless lose a hero | April 3
He will be missed
I met Bill Sharpe about a year and half ago, so I did not know him for very long. From behind the scenes, I admired his heart to help the homeless of Tampa. We will miss his passion and community spirit.
Marcia Krivonak, Tampa
Warm and welcoming
As a military spouse, I find myself setting up household after household wherever the Army sends us. I strive to make each place home, which is oftentimes easier said than done. So when we moved to Tampa, I had no idea we were about to find what I've come to feel is our second hometown.
There are so many aspects that, when combined, result in a feeling of belonging, familiarity and pride that I've not experienced anyplace else. I've been delighted with the unusual blend of cultural and educational offerings with the feeling of small-town warmth and welcoming and the many opportunities for involvement that give you the sense that you're not merely a spectator but a participant. Tampa is the perfect size to allow you to get to know it quickly without feeling overwhelmed or sidelined.
I have three questions when facing a new community: How are the schools, churches and doctors? Tampa answered all three with a perfect score. We found an excellent public school where the faculty cares and goes the extra mile, and our children are challenged, encouraged and inspired. We are members of First Baptist Church in Brandon, which is a thriving, community-minded church that offers a well-rounded program with a sincere spirit. Regarding the medical community, our third child was born at Tampa General. I couldn't have been more pleased with the level of attention and professionalism we received.
Tampa is a treasure chest. There's so much to value and discover. From the athletic to the artistic, from cultural exposure to spiritual enrichment, anyone can benefit from the diverse array the city provides. We're so proud to call it our second hometown.
Ellen Kergosien, Valrico
Carry-on bag? You'll pay on Allegiant Air April 4
In addition to the new carry-on fees for Allegiant Air, there are new weight restrictions on checked luggage. Before April 4, you were allowed 50 pounds before an additional $50 was added; now you will be limited to 40 pounds. They will probably lose more passengers with this new rule than with the carry-on fee, myself among them.
Margaret Eldridge, St. Petersburg