Say thanks to construction workers Labor Day is a holiday set aside to give our nation the opportunity to pause and celebrate the American worker. However, there is one member of the country's work force who is often overlooked — the construction industry craft professional. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 7.5- million construction workers are employed in the United States.
Historically, Labor Day is associated with labor unions, but it is actually a day to honor all workers, regardless of labor affiliation. The Labor Department reports that in 2007 only 13 percent of workers in the construction industry were members of a labor union. The majority of construction workers — 87 percent — have chosen not to belong to a labor union.
Merit shop construction professionals are masters of their own destiny and thrive in a free-market environment. They are competitive and multiskilled, with no limit to their opportunity to advance as far as their skills and dreams allow.
So, on this Labor Day take a look around and say thanks to all of the construction professionals, regardless of labor affiliation. These skilled workers build the offices, schools, hospitals, churches, sports arenas, restaurants and shopping centers that are central to our lives and make our communities unique. They are the electricians, millwrights, carpenters, welders, painters, pipefitters, roofers, masons, plumbers, ironworkers, heavy equipment operators, metal building assemblers, sheet metal workers, drywall installers, steelworkers, road pavers, concrete finishers and others who work hard every day building America.
Few industries touch our daily lives in so many meaningful ways, and no part of our environment exists without the sweat, hard work and dedication of the American construction craft professional. Have a happy Labor Day.
Steve P. Cona Jr., Tampa
Company blamed for delay in vote count Aug. 28
Machines should be tested
In reference to the vote-counting systems in the Hillsborough County election snag, it was reported that the new equipment "had never been used in an election anywhere in the country before Tuesday."
As an IT professional and consultant with over 30 years' experience, I could not believe this episode. Does the supervisor of elections office have an IT staff? If so, what is their background in? Video games? It is standard practice that when you are dealing with new technology you test, test and test again until you can certify that a technology can go live. This is known as "beta testing."
It is reported that the supervisor of elections, Buddy Johnson, "acknowledged Wednesday that his staff had not run a test of this particular function of the equipment" and that such a test is not required by the state.
What about doing your job?
Johnson said at this point he's not considering withholding any payments. "I don't believe in threatening like that. It's not my style." Not his style? This man has no business acumen.
Potential future contractors, take note: Don't worry about doing the work; you'll get paid anyway.
Ben Zavala, Tampa
Measles math | Aug. 29, letter
Running the numbers
The writer asks, "If half those measles cases are people who never got the vaccine . . . is not getting the vaccine just as effective as getting it?"
The answer depends on how many got the vaccine. The answer is yes if there were about equal numbers of those who were and were not vaccinated. Then the two groups experienced about the same rate of infection.
However if the nonvaccinated were a smaller group, the other half of the infections were spread over a larger group and their rate of infection was lower. For example, if only 20 percent were not vaccinated, half the cases were spread over four times as many who were vaccinated, and their rate of infection was four times lower. That is, vaccination dropped the infection rate from one in two to one in eight.
The letter reminded me of the perennial teenage complaint, "Why should I study math? I'll never use it." Of course, that's right. Why waste time on something you've decided in advance you'll never use? On the other hand, you can't use something you don't have, and life often forces us to make risk/benefit decisions: insurance deductibles, medical treatments and many others.
Harry Gaines, Seminole
More news is welcome
Congratulations and thank you for returning Section A to its proper content and stature. A further improvement, in my opinion, would be to include a weekly recap of complete stock market listings as you formerly did, albeit daily. Readers won't then be asked to seek this information in competing media or other newspapers.
Bob Johnson, Largo
Judge masters the pool | Aug. 26, LifeTimes
Positive impact on students
What a wonderful article on Judge Robert E. Beach and his interesting background and optimistic approach to life.
One of the facets not mentioned in the article on this 24-karat life is the powerful impact Judge Beach has made on so many students during his time on the bench and through his classroom teaching at Stetson Law and at St. Petersburg Junior College.
He treated his students as if they were important people and people he enjoyed being around. He encouraged them to visit his courtroom, his mock trials and his office. He was never too busy to give them the benefit of his advice and his genuine friendship.
Barbara Whitney Hartwell, St. Petersburg
How to win my vote
I am neither a registered Republican nor Democrat and I wonder if either candidate is really interested in my vote. The requirements for my vote are as follows.
First, stop all backbiting ads. Namecalling and innuendo mean that you have nothing of substance to discuss and you are wasting my time. The only ones profiting are the ad agencies.
Second, stop talking in circles — in other words have a concrete action plan and stick to it even it means you offend.
Third, ever since I started voting I have heard the same "platforms" about wars, drugs, affordable health care, poverty, new resources to decrease fuel dependency, downsizing government, good schools and safe streets. It's sad that we have brains, wealth, technology and no accomplishments to show for it.
Fourth, the first time I voted we were going to win the "War on Poverty." Guess what? It didn't happen, and with 12-million illegal aliens we are creating another welfare class. Do one thing and do it right from the beginning. Do not try to sway me with every bell and whistle; I want results, not empty, half-hearted promises. And in four years don't tell me that you need another four years to start another government agency to look into the matter.
Fifth, stop reinventing the English language. Softer nouns, adjectives and verbs do not solve or make a problem go away. Illegal means against the law. Punishable means the law should be on "our" side. The recent stimulus checks would fall into category of "tax credits," which means a surplus of monies, but really it isn't because the money was borrowed from the Chinese which created a "tax debit" and that means we owe.
Sixth, I offer a challenge to either candidate to look me square in the eye and tell me he is ready, prepared and willing to live up to these conditions "so help you God" to secure my vote. For 50 years I have waited to say that honesty, morality, integrity and good old common sense earn the right to be in the same sentence with the word politician.
Lois M. Spatuzzi, Brooksville
Who favors creationism?
I voted but did not select school board candidates because I was uncertain of which of them was in favor of teaching creationism. I feel so strongly that we must not have this message in our public school curriculum that I could not risk selecting someone who favored it.
It would have been helpful to publish a box score by candidate on a series of key education issues. Now that we can't watch the school board proceedings on television, these people are total unknowns to me.
The box score/issues list should appear on the day of, or day before, the election. That would put the personnel squarely in front of the public and help us make educated choices.
Margaret Radens, St. Petersburg