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St. Petersburg should ban feeding of homeless on public grounds

Helping the homeless is a juggling act for city | Feb. 10, story

Pass an ordinance against feedings

Residents of the Mirror Lake Park area have been voicing their concern for years about the unregulated feeding in St. Petersburg's streets and parks. The vagrants and drifters mentioned in the article lie around the park all day smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, using the lake and surrounding area as their bathroom, and leaving trash to foul Mirror Lake.

Many of them are drawn to the park because of the free chicken dinners handed out of a private van at 5 p.m. The city has many nonprofit organizations and church-sponsored locations that are set up to feed the hungry. They have kitchens that are inspected by the state Health Department and where donations of food should be brought, not to the street.

I urge the City Council to pass an ordinance to prohibit these feedings on public streets and in parks.

Frank Bird, St. Petersburg

Helping the homeless is a juggling act for city | Feb. 10, story

This 'help' hurts

I wish the good Samaritans who feed the people on our streets in downtown St. Petersburg could realize how badly their efforts affect not only the business owners, residents and property owners downtown, but also our entire city.

Their good deeds encourage people to camp out in our parks and on our streets and use anywhere they can as a toilet. This practice of helping discourages people from using our parks, eating at our restaurants and shopping downtown. It encourages panhandling for drugs and alcohol. They already receive plenty of free food. If you wish to help financially, please give your money to one of the many organizations that legally help the homeless.

In these tough economic times, our property values have already been adversely affected, as has our businesses' commerce. This situation with the homeless only makes it worse. Try selling your home with 200 people lined up daily for free fried chicken on the beautiful lake in front of your property!

We have met with city officials and Don McClendon (the Chicken Man). We discussed these problems with him, but he is unwilling to work with any of the organizations that have sanitary facilities. He is also unwilling to move his operation unless the city provides him a place. Why is this the city's job?

Our city has many facilities and social services to help those who wish to help themselves and get off the streets. We know that many have mental health problems or are disabled and are unable to help themselves. We also know that a majority choose this lifestyle and do not wish to obey the law.

Friends of Williams Park, Art in the Park and Wednesday's at Williams have had great success with helping make that park safer and cleaner. The city installed beautiful lights in the trees and added security. Please help support these groups by using this park! Bring your lunch down and enjoy this wonderful space in the heart of our city.

Let's work together to make our city the best it can be!

Shirley O'Sullivan, St. Petersburg

Wants vs. needs

We've just been though Gasparilla. Before that, it was the Super Bowl. Before that was the party for the new president. They borrow billions to bail out banks and car companies. And all this time, they say we are in a recession.

When I hear and read about the Depression of the 1930s, there was only heartache and starvation among our people and no money for parties. Today, many have lost jobs and homes and claim to be down and out and need help to feed their families, but they still have money for recreation. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Yes, it means people do not know the difference between needs and wants. That's a sad situation. Food is necessary. A roof overhead is a necessity. Clothing is necessary (but not new ones). To a degree, cars are necessary.

Credit cards, cell phones, iPods, computers, global positioning systems and many more are wants, not needs.

This country will never get back on track until we all learn what our grandparents knew, and that's the difference between what we want and what we actually need.

Fran Glaros-Sharp, Clearwater

Fine the litterbugs

With Florida legislators struggling to both trim the budget and find creative ways to enhance the state's coffers, why not enact laws that are already on the books and fine litterbugs?

Go to any intersection where cars are stopped at a red light and witness the parade of car windows being lowered and motorists casually flicking cigarette butts or tossing other unwanted trash onto our streets.

Perhaps funds could be earmarked to promote an informative ad campaign conveying to all that Florida will no longer tolerate the trashing of our beautiful state. Hitting litterbugs in the pocketbook may be one solution to several problems.

William Schaefer, St. Petersburg

Stop means stop

What is the matter with drivers on the road today? Has no one taken a driver education class? Does no one understand that when a school bus turns on its red lights and the STOP sign opens up that it means they need to stop?

With the number of incidents that have happened at bus stops over the past few years you would think people would be more aware of the traffic laws. Yet nearly every day on the Pinellas Bayway, people blow right by the bus when it stops for my son, a tiny 6-year-old.

The bus driver yells at plenty of cars, but that doesn't seem to help. Please, people, be more aware on the road — and stop for school buses!

Misty-Lynn Chappell, Tierra Verde

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St. Petersburg should ban feeding of homeless on public grounds 02/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 21, 2009 3:30am]
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