Public transit could rally fans to new stadium | April 10, Ernest Hooper column
Baseball fans need mass transit
I couldn't agree more with this column. My wife are I are big baseball fans. We just moved down from Rochester, N.Y., where we held season tickets for the Twins' AAA affiliate Red Wings (commute time 20 minutes if you hit all the lights). Though we now live just a couple of miles from the gorgeous baseball complex at USF, we looked forward to frequenting the Tampa Bay Rays by becoming season ticket holders down here.
Forgetaboutit! Just try to get to Tropicana Field from Tampa Palms for a night game. You might as well pack a lunch because you're going to have to leave the house by noon to make it by the first pitch. I'd bet many of us national pastime lovers would quickly become Rays' season ticket holders if we could only count on getting to the game without sacrificing an entire day and suffering the ill effects of just trying to get there.
We love it down here with the warmth and the sunshine. But we also love baseball. Smarten up and spend some cash now to begin to catch up with other progressive cities. Tampa needs bus-only lanes, high-speed rail and maybe even, someday, Uber helicopters (you never know).
Richard W. "Rick" Sherin, Tampa
St. Petersburg's economy
The costs of development
While St. Petersburg is going through an economic boom of sorts and property values downtown are rising, there is a social disease that is getting out of control: substance abuse.
Alcoholism is not a new problem in our city. Jack Kerouac drank himself to death here while spouting anti-Semitic, McCarthyist politics. But the recent economic boom has given rise to a disturbingly large number of new bars and seemingly little else. Art galleries that were truly dedicated to supporting local arts have been shuttered due to rising rents and lack of support from the city.
As with any burgeoning bar scene, there are other undesirable elements that come along with the alcohol. You create a thriving bar scene and you also create a thriving drug market. They unfortunately go hand in hand. You have a large number of people getting intoxicated every night, and people will see that as an opportunity to generate money in all forms.
I am sick of seeing our city held up to be a beautiful, shining example of an artistic community while I see people of my generation (I am a millennial, I suppose) succumb to drug addiction and alcoholism. We are running the risk of creating an epidemic for the sake of rising property values and economic growth for a small subset of our population. And let's be honest: A lot of property developers don't even live locally.
This isn't even touching the fact that there are large sections of our population who are shut out from this economic growth due to racial divisions that still exist in this city. I can't see these things continue to happen and sit by idly doing nothing, but I am essentially powerless.
David Brinkmann, St. Petersburg
Failure to protect bicyclists, pedestrians April 8, editorial
European approach works
Instead of making driving lanes narrower to make room for bike lanes, we should take examples from Europe, namely Germany. They have wide sidewalks and bike lanes on them. Do not walk in a bike lane or you will get run over as bikes have the right of way there.
Donna Herrick, Hudson
Don't tamper with Tampa's tree ordinance April 8, commentary
Fewer trees, more flooding
Former council member Joe Chillura wrote an important and meaningful tribute to the value of Tampa's trees and the reasons to continue to protect them against builders and developers. An appointed group, the Mayor's Economic Competitiveness Committee, will be able to decide what happens to our trees. These are not elected officials but people in the building business, or connected to it, who will gain financially from easing what they consider to be the burden of working around massive 100-year-old trees.
The loss of the trees will mean more concrete, less permeable soil and more flooding. Just what South Tampa doesn't need.
We cannot afford to fail to protect our grand oaks, camphor trees and all the other huge treasures that are the trademark of South Tampa. People who can attend the meeting April 27 should go en masse to object to any changes in the ordinances.
Judy Batson, Tampa
Heard it here | April 11
Public money, private gains
As a physician who takes care of uninsured, underinsured and insured patients, I am well aware of the financial burdens of obtaining and paying for insurance, as well as all the hoops patients jump through to get appropriate (or any) care. The small notice mentioning the increase of WellCare Health Plan's CEO Ken Burdick's compensation to $9.3 million should have been front-page news.
Per their own website, WellCare is a publicly traded company that "focuses exclusively on providing government-sponsored managed care services, primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans, to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs."
What this means is that this is a wholesale transfer of public money to private hands. The doubling of the stock price means that money for care — to physicians, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, tests, preventive care, medication, therapies, etc. — is being diverted to dividends and executive pay. However we as individuals think the health system should be set up in the United States, we as a nation must get a handle on how "government" monies are being transferred to private companies.
Linda Nied Prieto, M.D., Clearwater