Street soliciting banned June 4, story
City deserves our thanks for ban
Hooray! I commend the St. Petersburg City Council for its vote on banning street solicitation and panhandling.
I own a business on a corner of a very busy intersection, and I have had problems beyond belief with the panhandlers and vagrants for many years. A business owner should not have to deal with problems from these people on a daily basis.
These are not homeless people either. They are young, physically and mentally capable individuals who chose this lifestyle because our city allows their behavior. Other counties banned it years ago, and you don't see every street corner lined with beggars and litter. It's a disgusting problem, and I am so proud of the City Council for having the backbone to stand up to these special interest groups!
The St. Petersburg Times can find plenty of other ways to sell its newspapers, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association can still have its telethons and fundraisers, just not out in our busy streets. Good job, council!
Kyle V. Calkins, St. Petersburg
Legitimate efforts should be allowed
While it is understandable that something had to be done about the panhandlers dominating St. Petersburg, it is absolutely unnecessary to stop legitimate groups from doing fundraisers at the city's intersections. Virtually every city in the nation allows groups, with permits, to spread their goodwill. Just why is the St. Petersburg City Council disregarding the well-established practices nationwide?
It's particularly disturbing to learn that the St. Petersburg Times will not be allowed to help those in need with the excellent Sunday morning street vendor program. Just what does the City Council expect these people to do now?
I think that they made this decision to disallow legitimate street vendors because it is easier for the city, that's all.
It's just one more example of the lack of leadership our city is experiencing, and I hope and pray that this is appealed. These Sunday morning vendors are relying on this program to get back on their feet.
What more could we ask?
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
Is Mahaffey doing any better? May 23
Mahaffey should appeal to students
I agree completely with the conclusion of AMS Planning & Research that the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg must establish itself as a niche market. The Florida Orchestra is a great base upon which to build. This is its home venue, something the Straz Center in Tampa and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater cannot claim.
St. Petersburg, especially downtown, has become a "college/university" town. Why not exploit this market? Zellerbach Hall (about the same size as the Mahaffey) on the Berkeley, Calif., campus of the University of California is possibly one of the most successful general-purpose venues in the country. Their success is, in great part, due to a broad spectrum of world music, interesting dance companies and other acts you will not see in other area theaters.
I have seen the Mahaffey sell out for the Gypsy Kings, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Garrison Keillor and others. Why not expand on this? For some esoteric groups, charge $25 general admission seating (possibly less for students) and fill up the hall; introduce people to the theater in this way.
It's misguided to think the Mahaffey can compete with the 10-play Broadway series at Straz. To show Spamalot two years after it appeared in Tampa is a "yawner."
Go for the niche! Go for the student market! Build on our wonderful orchestra!
Hal Freedman, St. Petersburg
USF creates post for Baker June 3
Rick Baker's job is just featherbedding
I was glad to see our former mayor, Rick Baker, land a new job and at $225,000 a year. Good for him, bad for us! Who was doing this job last year and the year before?
If this is a new job, created just in time, this appears to be another example of government featherbedding. He now joins the club with Goliath Davis.
Dick Fortune, St. Petersburg
Division grows over teacher pay | May 22
Loss of mentors will hurt IB program
The Pinellas County School Board needs to stop and think what it is doing to the International Baccalaureate program by cutting the pay of the teachers who mentor in the program.
There is no question that all teachers have a heavy load and extra work. There is no question that teachers are underpaid, given the job they do.
The IB program that was started back in the 1980s has literally transformed the advanced education that thousands of highly motivated children have received, not only because of the program itself but also due to the mentoring that is part and parcel of it. If we lose those mentors, the program will be destroyed.
Corinne Freeman, Pinellas County School Board member 1989-1999, St. Petersburg
Emergency service was outstanding
I recently had a medical problem. My wife and I decided that I needed transport to the emergency room. I was unable to move, let alone get into a car. From the time the 911 operator answered until I was placed on a bed in the ER, the service was outstanding. All the people from the 911 operator to the Clearwater Fire Rescue and the paramedics were professional, efficient and caring.
Several years ago we were in an auto accident in another county. Clearwater/Pinellas has them beat hands down. Our thanks to everyone involved in taking care of me.
John L. Blechschmidt, Clearwater