A rethink on young offenders | Jan. 3, editorial
A model for saving young lives
In fighting juvenile crime, Miami has some success that we can learn from. But one of the successful programs in that fight began right here in Hillsborough County. The Prodigy Cultural Arts Program is a unique prevention, intervention and diversion program targeting children ages 7 to 17. Through visual and performing arts, Prodigy utilizes a positive youth development model that is designed to keep children out of trouble and to deter future involvement in criminal activity for first-time, nonadjudicated offenders. This is achieved by infusing life skills training — such as problem-solving, anger management and communication skills — into visual and performing arts classes. This methodology is designed to not only improve behavior, but also has proved to cultivate new skills that actually enhance children's learning abilities.
Funded by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Prodigy is seeing impressive results. As a collaborative initiative of the University Area Community Development Corporation, the University of South Florida School of Social Work, and Bay Area Youth Services, Prodigy last year provided direct services to 8,483 students and impacted another 10,000 families and friends through ancillary services. Of the approximately 1,500 first-time-offender diversion participants, Prodigy had an outstanding 90 percent non-recidivism rate. With proven results such as these, Prodigy has now expanded beyond Hillsborough into six other counties in west central Florida, and like Miami-Dade, has become a national model.
Of course, these are not the only answers. With innovative efforts and continued focus on intervention and prevention, we can continue to impact justice issues before they become greater problems.
Victor Crist, state senator, R-Tampa
Health care block | Jan. 8, editorial
Democrats are just making deals in secret
You must think your readers are lemmings, following without question your every word. The first sentence of this editorial states, "As Congress negotiates the final version of health care reform legislation …" Pardon me, but there are no congressional negotiations. Only the Democratic members of Congress and President Barack Obama are fashioning a bill and they are doing it behind closed doors. You cannot even call that negotiating. It's wheeling and dealing a la old time Chicago machine politics.
During the presidential campaign, Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats promised us the most open and transparent government, with negotiations on bills such as health care reform being televised on C-SPAN. Pelosi put it best when she giggled and said a lot of things are said during a campaign. In other words, lying is okay if it helps get you elected.
We will remember in November … and that's not a lie.
Joseph G. Wynne, New Port Richey
Secret dealings are scandalous | Jan, 8, letter
Obstruction is GOP way
I agree with the letter writer that C-SPAN should be able to televise the health care negotiations. But as to shutting the Republicans out, they declared before debate ever started that they would not vote for the bill, before they ever had any idea of what would actually be in it. One lone Republican in the House voted for the bill because "his district needs the help." The rest of the GOP could not care less about their districts. All they want to do is defeat the president, no matter who else suffers.
And to say the Republicans had no input into the bill is ridiculous. What would they call the months-long negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee with Democrats and Republicans? The GOP has had plenty of opportunity to state their case. The president and the leadership in Congress have tried to incorporate Republican demands in the bill and there was still nothing viable from the other side except NO, NO, NO.
There is nothing President Barack Obama can do about anything that won't cause a negative response from the GOP. It's time for all Democrats and Independents to start thinking on their own. We are still the educated class, aren't we?
Kay Kelly, Clearwater
Seeing through Obama | Jan. 8, letter
A telling tone
David Brooks' piece, The coming decade could be a tea party, seemed to unduly rile the letter writer, and perhaps the letter helps to convince us that tea partiers might indeed be zealots. The letter's rhetoric, in its haste to anoint the president with the title of "thug," was certainly not subtle, nor cultivated in its tone. Such discourse is more likely to be heard at the local tavern after 1 a.m.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Our lost unity | Jan. 7, letter
Where's Obama's outrage?
The letter writer states that there was unity after 9/11. "The entire country rallied around the president without regard to political party." Then he writes about the recent blunder on the airline flight from Amsterdam and how right-wing radio, TV and the Internet are condemning the president. He wonders what happened to the unity of purpose.
Well, maybe there would be unity if the president was as gung ho as President George W. Bush was in dealing a blow to the enemy. There was anger and determination in President Bush's speech as he stood atop the rubble with the firefighters. I don't see that with this president. And I am not alone. Many don't see the outrage in President Barack Obama. What is there to rally around?
Ronald Melone, Clearwater
Safer air travel
Airlines have a role
Listening to all the rhetoric (from our president, the director of Homeland Security and all the "talking heads" on TV) regarding the terrorist attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day, it seems to me that something is missing.
Not one of them has mentioned any responsibility on the part of the airlines, which the flying public pays dearly for and depends on. When an individual comes up to the counter and pays cash for an international one-way ticket and does not check any baggage, perhaps agents should have a button under the counter that immediately sends a silent signal to airport security.
We have these safety measures in place for bank tellers, why not airline personnel? Just a thought.
Carol Mathis, St. Petersburg
Police union's first political target: Saul-Sena Jan. 6, story
Every county, city and state in America is facing money problems right now. With no end in sight, the voting public is going to be looking more closely at the people running in the next elections. I know I want elected officials willing to stand up to big union threats and say "No" when they demand more money for raises in this bad economy.
Our city, county and state government has very little money coming in now. With a very high unemployment rate and very few jobs and lots of foreclosed homes, the public is watching to see who is getting those big raises and where our tax dollars are being spent.
Lizabeth Cantos, Tampa