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St. Petersburg College appointee is a perfect fit

St. Petersburg College appointee is a perfect fit We have read, with increasing astonishment, the St. Petersburg Times' coverage of the claims that St. Petersburg College president Carl Kuttler "played favorites" when he appointed Violetta Sweet as head of the SPC international studies program.

Unsaid in any of the articles is the fact that SPC has had a long-term and very successful cultural/educational relationship with Russia; that Dr. Kuttler is the honorary consul of Russia to this area; or that SPC plays a huge part in a national effort to enhance the cultural and educational relationships between the United States, Russia and other Russian-speaking nations.

In our opinion, the appointment of Violetta Sweet was a "home run" for SPC. She is fluent in Russian, is a native of Kazakhstan, and has a deep understanding of political and cultural similarities and differences between the United States and Russia and Central Asian nations. As a person who was born abroad, she has a natural affinity for understanding and dealing with those who see the United States through the eyes of an outsider. She is also articulate, intelligent, well-educated, and extremely gracious when dealing, on behalf of SPC, with international visitors.

The International Council of the Tampa Bay Region is the U.S. Department of State's officially designated host organization for emerging leaders from around the world who are brought here to our region by our State Department. This year, alone, the ICTBR has hosted more than 100 visitors from more than 60 different countries. We work closely with Dr. Kuttler, who chairs our board of advisers, and with St. Petersburg College (as well as many other local colleges and universities) to plan five-day professional agendas for these visiting groups.

We applauded the appointment of Violetta Sweet, as she appeared to us to be perfectly appropriate for the job as director of the international studies program. Experience in working with her has only affirmed our earlier assessment.

Dr. Kuttler and Violetta Sweet have, either individually or as a team, met with at least half of all of our visitors. She has proven to be as adept at dealing with visitors from the Near East, Africa, and South America as she is in dealing with Russian-speaking visitors. She is focused on her mission of increasing the depth and breadth of SPC international programs, and spares no effort in working with us to create linkages between SPC, our region and leaders around the world.

Working with Dr. Kuttler and Ms. Sweet has been invaluable to the ICTBR, and we look forward to continuing our successful working relationship. As to "playing favorites," we have seen no successful organization that does not have a leader who is capable of picking "the best man or woman for the job." Dr. Kuttler has accomplished unbelievable things for SPC because of his ability to do just that.

James E. MacDougald, chairman, board of trustees, International Council of the Tampa Bay Region, St. Petersburg

Pinellas wrongly limits early voting Sept. 21, editorial

Elections supervisor is acting prudently

I'm curious why you made this personal attack on Deborah Clark, Pinellas County supervisor of elections. It appears Clark is a dedicated public servant running an office with no hint of impropriety and is a good steward of the taxpayers' money. But you wouldn't know it by the St. Petersburg Times policy of "Good News is no News," now would we?

By your own admission the elections office follows the law by staffing early voting sites in its offices and leaves it up to the supervisor to establish more. Because Clark feels this isn't a proper use of the taxpayers' money, you object? It's a documented fact that more early voting sites don't equal more total voters so why waste tax money in these hard times when that money can be better spent encouraging ballots-by-mail voting?

This editorial darky implies there are evil forces at play at the ballot drop-off sites because the voters may be "uncomfortable." Really? Prove it. Each drop-off site is manned by an elections official, and the voters put their ballots in a locked ballot box which, at the end of the day, is transported to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Gary West, St. Petersburg

Pinellas wrongly limits early voting Sept. 21, editorial

Poor management

I find two interesting points in your editorial regarding the Pinellas supervisor of elections.

1. She claims that the passage of Amendment 1 forced her to reduce costs, although she cut the early voting sites to three in 2006, long before this amendment was passed.

2. Counties throughout Florida supervised by both Republicans and Democrats appear to have no trouble having extended early voting within these budget constraints.

Isn't this just another case of mismanagement on the part of our supervisor?

Jim Donelon, Bay Pines

Pinellas wrongly limits early voting Sept. 21, editorial

Mail voting isn't an answer

I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the problems connected with having only three early voting sites. The mail-in ballot is not a solution. There is too much margin for error and a lack of accountability. There is no way of truly knowing how many people actually voted this way and how many ballots have been "lost."

I urge Deborah Clark her to open more sites.

Pamela Wilson, Indian Rocks Beach

Bailout deal advances | Sept. 23

No golden parachutes

It is disheartening to imagine any deal for saving our economy could turn a blind eye to the tendency shown by U.S. megacompanies to grant failed or fired CEOs multimillion-dollar golden parachutes. Whatever plan is adopted must rein in such indefensible largesse when average taxpayers have to bear the cost of buying back $700-billion or more of worthless mortgage instruments in order to save our national economy.

Besides denying scandalous golden parachutes to unworthy departing executives in future, the legislation passed should mandate formal efforts to recover as much as possible of excessive farewell packages.

The CEOs already implicated for such responsibility ought to have come forward by now offering to donate to the government some or all of their unmerited gains to help pay for the bailout.

Jeff Corydon, Tampa

Bailout hits resistance | Sept. 24, story

Just sit tight

Everyone, including Congress, should just cool it. The sky is not falling. Capitalism is self-regulating. Things will settle out on their own. Let every idiot responsible for this mess — real estate flippers, Wall Street hotshots, irresponsible consumers, etc. — live with the consequences of their folly. The best thing Washington could do is nothing.

Pete Wilford, Holiday

St. Petersburg College appointee is a perfect fit 09/24/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 28, 2008 6:58pm]
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