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St. Petersburg deserves better leadership

Street feud's sad toll | April 7, story

St. Petersburg deserves better leadership

When cab drivers were being robbed and slaughtered, our St. Petersburg police chief, Chuck Harmon, said drivers should be more careful as to whom they allowed in their cabs.

When convenience store owners were being robbed and shot weekly, the chief said it was partly the store owners' fault because they let strangers in their stores.

Now a gang of drive-by shooters put 50-plus bullets through the front of someone's home, with three of those shells killing an innocent 8-year-old little girl, and Harmon says, "Crime in Bartlett Park is down."

These are the utterings of a police chief with a total disconnect.

As this happens, it appears our mayor and City Council seem to be in their own world also. Rather than pay attention to our city's crime, they're out there annexing portions of communities that want no part of our city, they're spending $171,000 of taxpayer money on a doggie park or trying to outlaw lawn fertilizer.

Our citizens deserve more from our law enforcement and elected politicians than they are getting. Senior police administration spouts statistics, the mayor tells us it's a good day and our City Council nannies us. Meanwhile, fear rules the streets and a little girl is going to be buried soon.

Elections are coming.

Gary West, St. Petersburg

2 sides of St. Petersburg | April 7, editorial

Moral education is the missing element

The editorial was right about the need for the whole community to be involved, but you neglected to say how. Marches seldom make a difference to the people who need to take note.

On the same day you printed a letter that shows how to begin to improve problem neighborhoods (A model for success in education). The Academy Prep Center for Education is teaching parents and students the personal responsibility that enables us to achieve success in our lives. This is what is called morality and civic behavior.

In their zeal to maintain separation of church and state, the liberals have separated the teaching of moral and personal responsibility from education in our public schools. I know this because both my sons were educated in Pinellas public schools, but it was necessary to have one son finish in private school. We can learn from the Academy Prep's methods.

Eleanor Gunter Nicholas, St. Petersburg

More funds for police

Having lost two sons to the so-called "drug society," I am left with very little tolerance for those who walk our streets, in gangs, with their pants down around their knees espousing attitude.

This is exactly what walked by my home, while I was reading about little Paris Whitehead-Hamilton: loud teenagers, in a gang, during a school day.

It's hard to blame the parents, once these young people have chosen their career of stupidity.

Our police are not to blame; they are overwhelmed. The St. Petersburg Police Department is an exemplar of good service to the community.

I feel, however, that better leadership at the top of our city government could redirect important funds to help expand the Police Department. Our government could be much less top-heavy, and more crime-control oriented, for the people. I think we should reduce some of the more expensive regulatory departments such as code enforcement and the City Attorney's Office to better fund the police.

This would be a commonsense approach to a serious problem that is affecting all of our lives here, in our once-peaceful little city.

Guy Nash, St. Petersburg

State budget

Capital cowards

For too long our legislators — not just our current ones — have irresponsibly ignored fixing our fractured system of taxes. In a "good" economy, it is easy to avoid. In a "bad" economy it is major drag exacerbating any problems we have.

Laying off teachers and cutting back on education are not solutions to budget deficits. The Republican leaders' mantra of cutting, cutting, cutting may be appealing to some, but it is not leadership and is creating real harm to Floridians.

The Republicans who dominate the Legislature act like they just woke up yesterday and discovered, "We could cut sales tax exemptions! Whoops, not enough time! Oh well maybe next year …" Shame on them. Shame on us for allowing them to continue to play these games.

It is not leadership to nibble at the edges of the problem — it is cowardice. We need leaders in Tallahassee who will take a fresh look at how we finance our state, and truly fix the problem.

James O'Gara, Indian Rocks Beach

Cigarette tax

Aiming at addicts

After spending years proving that cigarettes are addictive, the state of Florida now wants to take advantage of that fact to balance the budget. They can try to justify it by linking it to health care costs, but they aren't taxing fatty foods or people who don't exercise, two things that are also linked to higher rates of disease. But it's much easier to give up burgers than to quit smoking, and so they tax cigarettes knowing that many people will have to cut other areas of their budget to afford this new increase.

I am not a smoker. I never have been. The fact is that the cigarette tax won't change my life at all, and so logically I should be in favor of it. But knowing that my government is trying to use the biochemical need created by cigarettes as a key part of its budget, just seems to be taking advantage of people instead of offering real solution. That is something I can't support.

Melissa Becker, Clearwater

Businesses will suffer

I hope the legislators in Tallahassee consider the plight of Florida retailers before making their decision on whether or not to raise the state cigarette tax by $1. As if it wasn't bad enough, the new cigarette tax that is being proposed will be in addition to a 62-cent federal cigarette tax increase that went into effect April 1. That means a pack of cigarettes could cost my customers $1.62 more, in just a few months. That is ridiculous. This is the last thing that Florida residents who are struggling financially need.

As a retailer in the Homosassa area for a number of years, I am always trying to help my customers. But it is frustrating when that opportunity is taken out of my hands. This tax increase will be extremely detrimental to my bottom line and my customer's bottom line, as well. I am fearful that people will find other places to obtain tobacco products, such as Indian reservations or the black market to avoid paying higher taxes on their cigarettes.

If you think that the black market doesn't exist, think again. My business was burglarized recently and guess what was stolen: hundreds of packs of cigarettes. If the price of cigarettes skyrockets, as it could with this tax, I worry how often my business will be victimized by thieves looking for cigarettes. This will be a serious problem. It is bad enough the economy is struggling, and now crime could be on the rise as well.

Penn Patel, Homosassa

St. Petersburg deserves better leadership 04/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 7:11pm]
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