A black mother's memo on striving | Feb. 2, Perspective
A blueprint for student success
Thank you, Micki Morency, for the list for black families on how to improve student success. I will be clipping and copying it. I work as a therapist and parent mentor to mostly low-income families in Pinellas County. Repeatedly, I advise parents to form an alliance with the teachers and administrative staff at their child's school.
Almost all teachers want success for their students. Teaching can be thankless: It is poorly paid, heavy on overtime and sometimes downright dangerous. But hardest of all, teachers tell me, is trying to make headway with a kid when the parents lash out with criticism and blame, or simply ignore them.
I understand that poverty is a harsh starting place. And I also know that the only pathway out of that living hell is through education.
It is especially excellent that this list provides a solid checklist for all families, regardless of parent race, income or education.
Juliana Menke, St. Petersburg
Straight talk on Midtown | Feb. 2, Bill Maxwell column
Culture change required
As usual, Bill Maxwell tells it like it is. There was, and probably still is, a similar neighborhood in the Bronx, N.Y. Many years ago, I postulated a protocol to improve conditions there. I anticipated that meaningful changes demanded at least two or three generations of time and a vast financial investment.
There is no doubt that Midtown needs more than a bandage. Nikki Gaskin-Capehart and Kanika Tomalin can bring economic improvements to Midtown only by bringing about a major change in the culture of the community. I hope that they will set a foundation that will, in time (in reality a very long time) become a large-scale effective approach. Our political climate being as it is, I regret being short on optimism.
Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater
No escaping the facts
I wish to commend Bill Maxwell on his Sunday column in which he forthrightly addressed the problems facing the attempt to rejuvenate the economy of Midtown. I witnessed the results of just throwing money at a similar area in downtown Atlanta when the Underground was built at taxpayer expense. Two-thirds of the shops ended up empty and the remaining third paid no rent. The city thought it was better to have some buildings occupied than have everything vacant.
The reason the Underground failed was quite simple. Due to a high crime rate, people were afraid to go there. Maxwell acknowledged the problem and many of the contributing factors in Midtown. It was truly "straight talk" and refreshing to see him delineate the problems facing the area that discourage investment.
Personally, I don't have any easy answers to changing the culture in Midtown. Other than increased mentoring of black youth, I would not know where to begin.
I hope Maxwell's frank airing of the problems starts a candid conversation that will lead to progress for the residents. We need to be able to talk openly about solutions without the onus of being considered racist.
Mike Lyons, Apollo Beach
U.N. panel rebukes Vatican over abuses Feb. 6
The recommendations issued by a U.N. panel that reviewed the handling of clergy child abuse by the Catholic Church are an overdue vindication of thousands of victims whose grievances were silenced by misguided religious authorities.
The findings are also a somber reminder that evil lurks in every corner of our social fabric, including the most cherished and venerable institutions.
But by ignoring that for centuries the Catholic Church has been on the forefront of every battle to protect and uphold the dignity of each and every human life, the recommendations are also an egregious disservice for the millions of people looking for guidance in the interpretation of the human mystery.
The U.N. panel would have impugned the vision of the Founding Fathers when they issued the U.S. Constitution because many of them were slave owners in their private lives.
I found particularly troubling the attack of the panel on the church position on abortion and contraception. While most Catholics nowadays would accept the termination of a pregnancy in the rare cases in which it represents an imminent threat to a woman's life, by preventing the birth of a child considered undesirable, abortion on demand is the ultimate form of the same child abuse the panel meant to condemn.
Lodovico Balducci, Tampa
Retire? Surely you jest | Feb. 6, Weekend
Late night leader
If the writer likes David Letterman more than Jay Leno, I get that. But when he says that Letterman is, like Johnny Carson, a towering figure, I don't see the logic. Leno has been beating Letterman in the ratings for most of the time they have been competing.
Dave Brown, Spring Hill
Conservatives nix immigration issue | Feb. 6
Reform can't wait
An estimated 40 percent of our illegal immigration population is a result of visa overstays, and our legal process is blurry at best.
Any long-term solution to our immigration system must address the visa process, it must take into account the children of illegal immigrants who have assimilated into our communities, and it must clarify the legal immigration process in general. The time to fix this important process is now.
Sharril Cooper, Lutz
Optimistic report on Obamacare | Feb. 6, editorial
Running on idle
The CBO has stated that the Affordable Care Act provides a "disincentive to work." I guess in your world that is a good thing. Good thing we are going to raise the minimum wage; that will certainly keep more people "free" from work, as well.
The old system where we had incentives to work to provide for ourselves must have failed. Some might wonder where all this "free" government money is coming from, once everybody has lost the incentive to work and thus pay taxes. Let our kids deal with that. They'll have plenty of free time.
Chris Johnson, Clearwater