BayWalk sidewalk stays public | Oct. 2
Council vote a blow to downtown
Anyone with reason and a genuine interest in the vitality of downtown St. Petersburg would have voted yes to vacate the sidewalk and accept the very generous gift from C.W. Capital of $6 million and the contributions of Muvico and the city to revitalize BayWalk.
It was not a First Amendment issue as the case law cited during the City Council meeting clearly allowed the council to vacate. Fear of other businesses asking for sidewalks to be vacated was also a smokescreen because they would not have overcome the strict criteria BayWalk met.
Thanks to council members Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner, Wengay Newton and Herb Polson for thwarting the progress of downtown, slapping current and prospective business owners in the face and deeply hurting those of us who are actually invested in downtown by living and working here.
Barbara A. Stein, St. Petersburg
Protest in the park
The BayWalk sidewalks will never be mistaken for London's Hyde Park. Since 1872, the Brits' Speakers' Corner has been a model on accommodating free speech with sensible separation from nearby businesses.
St. Petersburg's Williams Park is a natural setting for protesting lefties, nihilists, Tea Party activists, teenagers and others. Mixing protesters with diners and moviegoers is a dog's dinner.
Discipline and accommodation are not primary objectives of rowdy protesters. This alone should mitigate in favor of the disciplined, hard- working small business people of BayWalk.
Give the barking nutters more elbow room in the park. Let them exercise "their rights" there — till the cows come home. Meantime, insensate politicians should throw the economically stressed BayWalk merchants a bone.
Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg
Why I am a virgin | Sept. 27, Perspective story
The wisdom of keeping marriage sacred
The article by Arleen Spenceley is refreshing for her candor and inspiring for her truthfulness and courage. She reminds us that life — and marriage, one of life's centerpieces — acquires sense only when it is experienced as a sacrifice. From the Latin sacrum facere, sacrifice means to "render sacred," that is, "reserved for a special function, a special call."
If we ignore where we are coming from or where we are going, the only real choice we are afforded is whether to leave a unique print in this world based on faith (faith in a God, in reason, in science), or to sail adrift without a goal or a destination, destroying in the process the world we were trusted to steward.
Recreational sex is feasible only by denying the uniqueness and sacrality of our humanity. Like the death penalty, abortion, racism and unrestrained capitalism, recreational sex is a statement that humanity is a disposable commodity. And let's not forget that thanks to recreational sex entire cultures have been wiped out by AIDS and syphilis and we are experiencing an epidemic of HPV infection whose long-term consequences are still unknown.
Lodovico Balducci, Tampa
Visions of retirement nest egg vanish | Sept. 27, Robyn Blumner column
First they take
Robyn Blumner rather quickly assumes that the reason she sees elderly gentlemen bagging groceries at the supermarket is the failure of the American retirement system. Could these folks actually enjoy remaining productive in their senior years? Could they enjoy the social interaction with the customers they serve? Could they find the activity and responsibility a benefit to their pride and overall health? Oh, yeah, I suppose the extra money is a plus, too.
Blumner makes international comparisons to France where folks retire at 60 with generous state pensions and Denmark where worker retire on 91 percent of their prior salaries. Of course, what she conveniently doesn't mention is that Denmark has a sales tax rate of 25 percent and a marginal income tax rate of 59 percent on incomes the equivalent of $70,000 or more. France has a sales tax rate of 19.6 percent and a tax rate of 30-40 percent on incomes over the equivalent of $50,000. It certainly is not difficult to provide generous pensions if you are willing to take enough from the workers in taxes.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
Visions of retirement nest egg vanish | Sept. 27, Robyn Blumner column
Save for retirement
Let me try to offer some reality in response to this column.
A more likely scenario for the individual bagging groceries is that he had some downturn in his life that requires him to do some extra work now. It could have been war, or health issues, or working hard, giving up his retirement so that a daughter could have a better life. Or he just didn't put enough aside for the later years.
Unlike Robyn Blumner, he didn't feel that it was the duty of a company or the government to take care of him for the rest of his life. It seems clear that when Blumner started her career, she felt that a company would take care of her, or as I would bet, the government.
If at the beginning of her career, she took responsibility to prepare for her later years, or moved to Denmark, then she would be ready for what awaits her. Don't blame it on bankers, or companies. Have compassion for the grocery bagger, and remember to keep your eyes on your money. If you don't, it will be their money. Also add the government to the list of moneymongers.
Hugo Gottlich, Spring Hill
The Afghan imperative | Sept. 27
Keep up the fight
As David Brooks point out, the struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan is only secondary to the fight for Pakistan. Pakistan is a nuclear power, and its capture by Islamic terrorists would make the threat of that terrorism incalculable.
While action in such an undeveloped and mountainous nation as Afghanistan may be discouraging at times, we must steel ourselves to continue it in order to prevent the Taliban's conquest of Pakistan where it also has a strong force against Pakistan's weak civilian government.
W.H. Riddell, Tampa
Get out of your comfort zone to learn, grow Sept. 27, Floridian story
All that life entails
The case of the 16-year-old refusing to read a book that makes her uncomfortable is interesting. One is tempted to ask if mental or emotional "comfort" must be consulted in the process of learning, and one wonders about the opinions of Mari Mercado's parents. Is it their intention to keep their daughter wrapped forever in a cozy insulation from knowledge of the terrors, passions and uproar of the world? If so, they are clearly in for a struggle.
The great books of the International Baccalaureate program do what all art does: show what living is: its glories, its horrors, its surprises and, yes, its beauty. No one who aspires to an educated adulthood can really escape knowing these. How he or she reacts will help toward the grown-up qualities of understanding and compassion.
One might add a footnote: curiosity as to the Mercados' knowledge of the Bible. The Old Testament in particular contains stories of murder, suicide and sex that would cause discomfort to a sensitive teenager. Yet imagine the uproar if she were barred from reading it!
Abigail Ann Martin, Brandon