Real perils in drive to privatize | Jan. 31, editorial
Goodwill aims to enhance safety
We are deeply saddened by the two crimes involving residents at the Largo Residential Re-Entry Center. Goodwill exists to serve the community, and we take that responsibility seriously. We have successfully operated re-entry centers for offenders since 1967 and this is the first time incidents such as these have occurred.
Goodwill welcomes regular inspections and continually works with the Department of Corrections to enhance public safety. In that spirit, we have instituted changes at the Largo center to make it even safer for the local community and more effective for the people served.
We are increasing overall staffing and hiring an additional substance abuse counselor. We are transporting some clients to nearby jobs and arranging for day labor employers to come to the center to hire clients. When conducting on-site job checks, staff will now meet individually with each client and supervisor instead of verifying work attendance collectively with the employer.
Community re-entry programs provide a valuable service by helping people with criminal backgrounds reintegrate successfully into the community. When offenders complete our program they have a job, an average of $1,200 in savings and they've attended life skills classes and received help to earn their GEDs. They have also paid fines and restitution. They are much better equipped to succeed than someone released from prison into the community with $50 and a bus ticket.
There is a growing need for re-entry programs. Goodwill is drawing upon our 46 years of experience to make this program even better and safer for the people in this community.
Oscar J. Horton, chair, Goodwill Industries-Suncoast Inc., Tampa
Boy Scouts | Jan. 31, cartoon
Not a business model
The Chan Lowe cartoon illustrating the "Tolerance and the Boy Scouts" editorial is spot-on for offering the worst advice and making the biggest mistake in decisionmaking on ethical matters.
Listening carefully to corporate sponsors — whose job is to contrive and create every deceptive psychological ploy to entice children, teenagers and susceptible adults to "need" their product — is not worthy of a merit badge.
Scouting teaches that critical life-impacting decisions are not made on a business model but on a Bible model. The core values of Scouting are not "old prejudices based on ignorance" or "irrational bias," nor are they for sale to corporate sponsors, media venues, politicians or even a newly elected president.
Dr. John B. Harrison, St. Petersburg
While the Boy Scouts are considering removing their discrimination against gays, why not go one step further and remove their discrimination against atheists and other non-Christians?
Frank Prahl, St. Petersburg
Town prays for hostage's safety | Feb. 1
A matter of priorities
It's disappointing to see the amount of press given the radio DJs on the front page while real news about a 5-year-old hostage in Alabama is relegated to the third page. After Sandy Hook, news about another shooter and more kindergarteners is more important and far more interesting than Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
Doug Palys, St. Petersburg
Ads fire wildly at Hagel on defense | Jan. 31
Chuck Hagel is a man who speaks for himself and not for any political party, which is anathema to members of Congress who oppose his views on Iran, Iraq and especially on Israel.
Imagine Hagel having to apologize for referring to the Israeli lobby as the Jewish lobby. A deja vu with President Jimmy Carter and others who dare criticize or impugn any government of Israel.
Hagel should maintain his course and not metamorphose into an Israeli sheep.
Arthur Hebert, Largo
Gun rights, gun control far apart, hearing shows | Jan. 31
Rights, limits can coexist
Strengthening gun sale regulations will not take away Americans' rights to own guns.
I do not own a gun. However, I grew up around guns. My father taught me how to safely use a rifle and a revolver. If people want to target shoot, fine. But do it in a safe venue and with a gun made for that purpose. I am not a hunter. If a person needs to hunt animals to put food on the table, I have no problem with that. Use a hunting rifle.
Other than for military and law enforcement purposes, there is no valid reason to have assault weapons on the open market. I have heard it argued that maybe, someday, in some imagined future, we will need them to protect ourselves from our government. I have heard it argued that somehow in the dark of night an assault weapon is needed to spray bullets at an intruder. (What are these people going to do? Sleep with an AK-47 tucked into bed with them?) These are irrational arguments. No one, especially our legislators, should accept this kind of reasoning.
Yes, there are many areas we need to improve to keep our streets, homes and people safe. However, banning the sales of assault weapons and requiring a current background check on every gun buyer is a minimal first step toward making America safe again.
Tell your congressional representatives you want assault weapons banned nationwide and mandatory background checks on every guy buyer.
Sandy Ericson, Clearwater
For the manufacturers
I am not a gun enthusiast. I'm not sure where I stand on the Second Amendment, as its intent for an on-the-spot militia seems outdated by police, the military and the reserves. However, I am for honesty, and I see little of it from the NRA.
The NRA is quick to say we don't need more gun laws, we just need to enforce the ones we already have. Since they have bought the congressmen, written the legislation, and influenced the reduction of the ATF to a paper tiger organization, it makes it easy to blame the lack of enforcement as the flaw. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When the majority of its own members are against assault weapons and for background checks, whom are they representing? Logically it would seem that they are a front for the gun manufacturers more than enthusiasts.
Steve Freedman, Treasure Island