Baseball spring training
Florida's spring baseball boost
During the 2013 session, the Legislature passed SB 406, a bill providing a $5 million trust fund to construct and renovate stadiums used for spring training. As chairmen of the Clearwater, Greater Tampa, and St. Petersburg Chambers of Commerce, we are pleased to see the state support the Grapefruit League and Tampa Bay. On behalf of businesses we represent, we would like to thank Gov. Rick Scott and state Sen. Jack Latvala for their work to keep our teams in their rightful second hometowns. Our three chambers work as a coalition on issues affecting our region. Tampa Bay has a rich baseball history; so does our state. The support the trust fund will provide helps to ensure that spring training is also a part of our future.
Major League Baseball teams began coming to Florida for spring training in the late 1800s and have continued to take advantage of this state's warm weather and appetite for great baseball ever since. This year marks the 100th anniversary of spring training in Tampa Bay. The Chicago Cubs were our first team in 1913, followed quickly by the St. Louis Browns in 1914; the Philadelphia Phillies came in the '40s. Today we cheer the Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays the way our parents and grandparents did before us.
Florida is the premier state for the spring training, with 15 teams statewide, and our teams are an integral part of Tampa Bay's economy and recreation. Along with the tradition of warm days, watching baseball from the lawn and catching that foul ball or home run, there is the economic impact for hotels, restaurants and stadiums that spring baseball brings every year. And those benefits extend year-round when our minor league season arrives.
We are confident that making this $5 million investment will help ensure the continued positive economic impact of Major League Baseball on our region and encourage our teams to turn a blind eye to the west and to spending their spring in the desert.
Along with Tampa Bay, cities such as Port St. Lucie and Lakeland will benefit from the improvements this fund will bring, and it is important to support the league as a whole. The Yankees, Phillies and Jays won't have anyone to play if we don't fight for all of our Grapefruit League teams. We must make sure that there is no better place than Florida for spring training.
Our teams are both a great tradition and an intelligent business decision for Tampa Bay and the state of Florida.
Gregory Celestan, chair, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce; Nick DiCeglie, chair, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce; David R. Punzak, chair, St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce
Senators challenge top brass on sex assaults June 5
Commanders have failed
Last week the commanders of the armed forces sat before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The topic was the 26,000 sexual assaults that occurred in the armed forces just last year, never mind the thousands that have occurred over the years. In many cases the accusers' superiors fear that it hurts their career to have these cases brought up on their watch.
Congress wants to move the oversight and prosecution of these cases out of the hands of the commanders and into the hands of independent military prosecutors. The commanders have failed miserably in taking care of this problem. For decades, these same commanders have promised to correct the problems that stand in the way of prosecuting these assaults. How much longer are we to let these commanders block the reforms that need to be made to help resolve the assaults?
Recently we heard that one of the military commanders threw out a sexual assault conviction of an officer because he didn't "believe" the officer could have done what he was convicted of. Commanders should not have the ability to overrule convictions that have been through the proper court processes.
Jim Simons, New Port Richey
Deadly year for couples | June 6
Women are the victims
As a former college editor I know how difficult it can be to craft a headline that accurately reflects the article, meets the requirements of newspaper style and is also eye-catching.
But the headline on your recent article regarding the 13 Pinellas County homicide cases attributed to domestic violence was particularly misleading. It read: "Deadly year for couples" despite only one female perpetrator on the list of reported domestic violence-related homicides. All five of the murder-suicides were perpetrated by men. By my count, seventeen women died at the hands of their male partners, scarcely reflecting a deadly year for couples.
Lydia S. Castle, St. Pete Beach
To be honest, without seeing this statistic, I was theorizing before it was released that this community would produce a high incidence of domestic murders. The same thing happened when I was struck by why there were so many bullies in this community.
I researched Google to find out. Sure enough, St. Petersburg is listed as the second meanest city in the country, after Los Angeles, based upon certain friendliness factors. The pervasive bullying and mean, insulting population is quite obvious.
Emily Kaczmarek, St. Petersburg
Fountain of youth
A six-year study of 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that vegetarians and vegans had a 12 percent lower risk of death over the six-year period of study.
This is but the latest evidence linking meat consumption to killer diseases that kill 1.3 million Americans annually. It comes only two months after a discovery at the Cleveland Clinic that carnitine, contained in all meat products, is a major factor in heart failure.
Each of us can find our own fountain of youth by adopting a meat- and-dairy-free diet.
Thomas Carter, Tampa