This editorial was on point in stating that St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater has been an "underutilized jewel" that consumes too much in taxpayer subsidies. This should cause every city resident concern. It is time to rein in this cost.
The editorial accurately stated that Big 3 Entertainment offers the most appealing financial plan of the three competitors. It goes on to say that "Big 3 promises to substantially reduce the city's annual subsidy." But Big 3 plans to eliminate the city's annual subsidy. This point alone separates Big 3 from its competitors, who would maintain or even increase the subsidy.
Big 3 has a team of experienced, skillful and talented individuals who have successful track records as theater operators-managers and marketing experts in highly competitive and diverse markets.
Big 3 has stated its commitment to maintaining the Florida Orchestra's substantial presence at the Mahaffey and assisting the orchestra in enhancing its programming.
Big 3 has also indicated a commitment to diversify the programming at the Mahaffey Theater. It wants to offer programs that reach into all demographic communities in the bay area. I believe that it has the plan and capacity to strike the right balance of programming.
Ray Tampa, St. Petersburg
Appeal to the young
As a local resident and proud member of this great community, I agree with your opinion that the Mahaffey Theater has been underutilized for too long.
Our extended family and friends, which span several generations, find little to attract us to the Mahaffey. For that matter, the 40-and-under generations have little relevant entertainment to see at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Most of the time they end up in Tampa or going to Orlando to attend shows.
I would suggest that the selected management firm bring more diversity in the acts they book — for all age groups, price points and genres of music and comedy.
Stephanie and Del Goforth, St. Petersburg
Red light cameras
Carelessness can kill
I am astonished by the outcry of those against the positive effect that red light cameras have on the safety of all drivers.
I drive an average of about 10 miles per day in the South Pasadena-St. Petersburg area and am shocked on a daily basis by the high number of blatant red light runners I witness.
The March 20 Times article reporting the death of the driver who collided with a PSTA bus illustrates how rampant and accepted red light running has become.
As a responsible driver who stops at yellow lights, I support the expansion of red light cameras, which promote safe and responsible driving while adding much-needed cash to our municipal budgets.
Kim MacKellar, South Pasadena
Slow down, pay attention
Attention, Tampa Bay: Red means stop. It's a novel idea, I know, but one that you should have learned back in kindergarten.
I have lived in the Tampa Bay area for only nine months and witness on a daily basis many inconsiderate drivers, but running through red lights is one of the worst offenses I see. Let's face it, the majority of you are not in dire need of getting anywhere so fast that you must run red lights — most of you are not firefighters, police officers, ambulance drivers or brain surgeons.
I know many of you are so self-absorbed that you think everything is about you, but actually you are not that important. However, the person you just maimed or killed by running that red light is important — he or she is someone's son, daughter, mother or father. Slow down, don't run red lights and get off the phone.
Angie McDowell, Tampa
People stood in the crowded bank lobby, anxious to use the automated teller machine. My turn. I entered my PIN, covering the keypad carefully with my body so no one could see it.
My transaction almost complete, my hand reached out to take the wad of bills the machine spit out at me. I looked at the top of the ATM for further instructions, and there, in big print above me, for everyone the lobby to see, it said $600. I froze. Everyone in the lobby knew I was walking out with $600.
We are cautioned about robberies at ATMs. Why does Bank of America allow the amount of a withdrawals to flash in its lobby?
Gayle Lerman-DeCoste, Dunedin
A right worth using
I am 76 and have voted in every election since registering many years ago.
On a recent tour of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, I asked the bright young guide about voting. She said that citizens who did not vote in Ecuador were fined and had to attend classes the following year. We could all learn something from Ecuador, as many people seem to have forgotten that many of our young men have died on foreign shores to ensure we have this right.
Charles Harris, Tampa
Corn price not to blame
In response to complaints that ethanol and corn used for ethanol is causing a rise in food prices, it should be pointed out that food-grade corn (used in cornflakes, corn chips, corn oil, etc.) is not used to make ethanol. Farmers either produce food-grade corn, corn to feed livestock, or both. Farmers are proud to work growing food, feed and fuel for all American families.
When corn or wheat is used in food products, the cost of the grain is only a small percentage of the overall price charged. There are 56 pounds in one bushel of corn. If corn is priced at $5.60 per bushel, there would be 10 cents worth of corn in a 16-ounce box of cornflakes.
Ethanol, used correctly, does not cause harm to vehicles. For all vehicles we own — cars, pickup trucks, grain trucks, older gas tractors, mowers — ranging in age from three to 30-plus years, we have used ethanol/gas-blended fuel for many years with no performance problems.
Consumers should understand that the price of grain or the production of ethanol is not the reason for the rise in food prices. Added costs such as packaging, processing, additional ingredients (sugar, salt, vitamins and minerals), marketing, transportation and grocer markup are the reason for the final costs of the finished product.
Fred Finkbiner, Clearwater
The Times front page on Tuesday had these words in the headlines: fear, strike, stalemate, emergency, theft, pollution.
Wasn't there one good thing going on in the world or in Florida? Can't we read about stories of goodwill, charity, betterment, life affirmation? Something, anything, positive?
Oh, wait, Joel Glazer is "giddy" about the Bucs. Now I feel better.
Tom M. Petty, Madeira Beach
They've got theirs
While Gov. Rick Scott and his merry band of swashbucklers (a.k.a. the Legislature) revel in the cuts they're dictating to the unemployment compensation system and to teachers, public employees and other middle- and working-class Floridians, we hear not one peep about what sacrifice well-to-do Floridians can make to help through this fiscal crisis.
We need to bring back the intangible tax on large stock portfolios and impose a tangible tax on luxury goods like boats, RVs and expensive cars. We need to have an estate tax so that those who have benefited the most from our economic system are required to leave something to the state.
The arguments against imposing some higher taxes on the well-to-do are red herrings. All middle-class and working Floridians, including those unemployed who want to work, should be livid about the fact that the Republicans have an undeclared economic war going on against the middle and poorer classes. The governor seems to be telling all of us, "Hey, I've got mine. The rest of you are on your own."
Mark W. Brandt, Dunedin
When will we learn?
Recently I stopped at a fast food drive-through on Fourth Street in St. Petersburg. There were a fire truck and an ambulance in the parking lot, and the agencies were obviously trying to get into a car. Two young women stood by. I arrived at the window as the firefighters were successful in their efforts to open the car, and a child was pulled out. The employee at the window looked disgusted and told me that the young women had come in and eaten in the restaurant while the child was left in the car.
I asked if she had shared that information with paramedics or the firefighters. She had not, so I pulled over to do so. After sharing the information, the firefighter asked me what I wanted him to do. I said I wanted him to call the police or I would. He did, and a squad car arrived about 10 minutes later.
The officer stayed for about seven minutes, the women left, and he pulled into a parking lot across the street. I drove over to make sure that the story had been relayed to him properly. It had, but since he had not seen them leave the child in the car, despite the fact that a restaurant full of employees had, he said there was nothing he could do.
I did not want these women arrested. What I did want was a referral to the Department of Children and Families to check in on the family and make sure that the young mother has the parenting skills and resources she needs.
The community will be outraged if and when something happens to this child. We had the opportunity to cut a potentially bad outcome off at the pass and we missed it. When will we learn?
Joena Bartolini, Clearwater
Downtown St. Petersburg
How to revitalize BayWalk
I've lived most of the last 39 years in St. Petersburg, having moved here from New York after college. When I arrived, it was shocking to see a virtually empty downtown area.
The changes since then are phenomenal. Beach Drive is crackling with activity day and night. The Dalí and Chihuly are drawing tons of visitors. And Central Avenue all the way out to U.S. 19 has come alive. Add the Rays, the Vinoy and the waterfront, and we have one of the greatest downtown areas in the country.
Now, visualize one more thing. A wide, second-level walkway with shops and restaurants from BayWalk to Beach Drive. Whatever happens with BayWalk, the only way to get it involved is to attach it to Beach Drive.
Scott Stewart, St. Petersburg
Greek mother's joy turned to anguish March 22, Daniel Ruth column
A compassionate side
What a welcome and surprising column by Daniel Ruth.
I seldom read more than a few words of his twice-weekly columns before I am lost in all of his cute, demeaning phrases.
Ruth and his wife, Angela, along with Holland & Knight and St. John's Greek Orthodox Church, must be commended for their efforts in assisting Sofia Dionysopoulou and her children.
I wish we could see the compassionate side of Ruth more often.
Tom Lewis, Bradenton
Judge explains use of Islamic law | March 23
Let legal minds handle it
Strange as it may seem to laypeople, there are a number of situations where Florida judges are legally required to apply the law of other states or countries to Florida disputes. This concept — "conflicts of law" — is one of the more esoteric areas of the law.
Tampa Judge Richard Nielsen is one of the more intelligent, scholarly and conscientious judges on the bench. People should not question his rulings unless they know what they're talking about, and I suspect that few (if any) of those raising questions know anything about the subject.
Tom Ellwanger, Tampa
Weeks of unbearable noise
Imagine that at your home the last two months a construction project awoke you every morning around 7 with the beep-beep-beep of heavy equipment backing up and the clatter of steel bars tossed by work crews onto the pavement. Imagine this racket at your home all day. That's what we've lived with for two long, dreary months at Signature Place as the city prepares for the Grand Prix.
In the final week before the race, the noise has gotten much worse, with the construction starting in the dark in the wee hours and running late into the night.
A key reason for the resurgence of downtown is the string of new condos near the waterfront. Why kill the goose that laid the golden egg by allowing months of slow-paced construction for the next race?
The impact on business and quality of life will be greater next year. Signature Place, for example, will be filled with new businesses in new storefronts — all fenced off for weeks from the public.
Notice I never even mentioned four days of racket from the race itself.
Tim Spofford, St. Petersburg