They park free, but want to raise fees | Sept. 1
Working for the benefit of TIA
I want to set the record straight regarding a recent article written by Steve Huettel concerning parking issues at Tampa International Airport.
In the article, he suggested that the reason for moving away from the first-hour free parking policy at TIA was to avoid potential embarrassment for TIA's governing board. Because of the Sunshine Law, no member can discuss any of these policy changes in advance of the board meeting. We met Thursday to discuss this very issue. The proposal was made in an effort to balance the budget without cutting vital services to the airport or being forced to lay off employees. There was no vote taken at the first meeting. In fact, three members of the board had reservations about eliminating the free parking policy. My concern, along with Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's, was balancing the budget without cutting services to the airport. It was decided at Thursday's board meeting to keep the first hour of parking free, but only for those who exit the garage within the free hour.
To single me out as the champion for eliminating the free parking is irresponsible. The recommendation was brought to us by the director of the airport and the budgetary committee. As a member of the board, I'm responsible for reviewing all suggestions and making educated decisions that are in the best interests of the airport.
Huettel's article also attempts to paint me as an elitist, trying to "stick it" to Joe Public. I am Joe Public. I am the son of two immigrant parents who were forced to leave school prior to starting the eighth grade in order to support their families. I worked every day through medical school in order to obtain my degree. After serving three years in the Air Force, I arrived at Tampa in 1974 with $200 in my pocket and began to build my medical practice. I managed to build a successful practice with my own sweat. I started with nothing and worked my way up.
Last year I was approached by the governor and asked to serve the community I love. I jumped at the opportunity to give something back. As a board member, I spend numerous hours each month going over materials, researching issues, and meeting with the director and the board. While on vacation, I still receive phone calls, e-mails, and correspondence concerning airport matters. I certainly did not take the volunteer position on the board in exchange for free parking. In fact, I go out of my way to travel to the airport to meet with the director and legal counsel whenever the need arises. When I was told of the parking policy for board members I double checked with the director and with the airport's legal counsel to make sure that there wouldn't be any issues. In discussing the matter with them, I was encouraged to utilize the only benefit that I receive for my service on the board, a benefit that is also enjoyed by every other employee of TIA, including the director and legal counsel.
I do not apologize for giving my time and energy to serve on the airport board, and while I do not know the reasons why a mean-spirited article was written about me, I remain unwavering in my commitment to the board and helping to make our airport the best it can be.
Joseph F. Diaco, M.D., Tampa
Legislator likely is Scott's No. 2 Sept. 2, story
Look beyond labels
Jennifer Carroll is a U.S. Navy veteran, a former lieutenant commander, which to me means she has a head on her shoulders, can make reasoned decisions and can enunciate her opinions. She is currently a state representative, which I hold in substantially less esteem, but is still a very positive accomplishment. All in all, I would have to say she is a qualified choice for lieutenant governor.
Your article points out that Jennifer Carroll would be Florida's first African-American lieutenant governor, and that she is a native of Trinidad. Trinidad, to the best of my knowledge, does not normally consider itself an African nation. So if she can't now just be considered an American wouldn't it be more accurate to call her a Trinidadian-American?
Voting some ethics and competence back into Tallahassee is important. Folks should go to the polls and vote for (or against) her skill sets, and the fact that she is a dark-skinned immigrant should be, at best, a footnote to the story. Accomplishments are real. Labels are arbitrary.
Ed Abernathy, Brandon
Personal responsibility | Sept. 2, letter
Some have no resources
I wish people would stop to think before they assume that everyone has the same opportunities and resources that they do.
The letter writer says that "If I lived in New Orleans, much of which is below sea level, and I had several day's notice that a massive hurricane was headed my way, I would have taken personal responsibility for my family and myself and been long gone."
Just how would you have done that if you had no vehicle, no credit cards and no money?
I remember a picture from New Orleans of a woman pushing her mother in a wheelchair through 3 feet of water in the street. I bet if they had had the money and opportunities, they would have left town too.
Many people in the inner city do not have cars. Many do not have a spare $50 for the gas tank or hundreds for food and motels, even if they do have a vehicle.
So stop being so self-righteous. Responsibility is much easier to maintain when one has the resources.
Elizabeth Jacobsma, New Port Richey
Mike Luckovich editorial cartoon Sept. 1.
Weapons of mass destruction were in fact a real issue at the time of our invasion of Iraq and were a bragging point for Saddam Hussein. They were used by him and his thugs on Kurds many times prior to our invasion and their use was openly threatened by Iraq again and again.
President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton all talked about the issue of WMDs and saw the threat of their use on others if we did not act.
This cartoon holds Uncle Sam up as a villain, and I and many other loyal Americans take offense at this sinister implication. I say again and again, God bless America and may she reign forever. Please, don't lower yourself to this level by printing trash like this ever again.
Daniel J. Moran, Clearwater