Jeb Bush On Reaching Hispanics | Jan. 23
Take stock of the Hispanics here
Hear! Hear! Jeb Bush touched on so many points in regard to Spanish-speaking immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean that our politicians, community leaders and media should take notice.
The majority of immigrants from these areas do not come to be given a handout. They want an opportunity to excel, learn and progress. They have been assimilated quickly into the American weave of cultures. Yet the essence of who they are remains.
They are not third-, fourth- or fifth-generation immigrants who have been absorbed into this country. Many in that older group have forgotten the reason they are here in the first place. But no assumptions should be made about Spanish-speaking immigrants who have entered this country.
As Hispanics become the largest minority in this country, we should all stand up and take notice. If immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean stand up to be heard, imagine the impact it can have in this country.
Walter J. Garcia, Land O'Lakes
Wrong time for stalling on rail project Jan. 22, editorial
Rail project is good business
Business decisions are based on return on investment. Generally a 10-to-1 return is a winner, and that is close to the return ($2.4 billion in federal funding) Florida will receive for its $280 million investment in the high-speed rail project. With tourism generating revenue for Tampa Bay and Orlando, the return on Florida's contribution needs to include the vast increase in tourism this rail project will bring.
Tourism in Florida employs more than 1 million Floridians, produces over $65 billion in spending and $4 billion in state revenue. Anticipate a 20 percent or more increase in tourism from a better economy and the high-speed rail project. Add that to the increase in long-term jobs prospects in Central Florida, and this investment shines.
Gov. Rick Scott knows that nothing beats an investment in hard assets that produce a business return. What about the Legislature?
Stuart Berney, Tampa
Delay is prudent
It is not politics as usual that causes our political leadership to shy away from high-speed rail. It is an understanding of our difficult economic times and the reality that public projects cost more and produce less benefit than promised.
It doesn't matter what the federal government is willing to give Florida.
If operating costs are not covered by ridership and businesses don't cover the shortfall, Floridians are on the hook.
And don't forget, this high-speed rail project doesn't even have a terminal at Tampa International Airport.
Tourists arriving in Tampa who want to try high-speed rail and go to Disney World will have to be ferried to a terminal away from the airport to catch this rail system. Think of the thousands of tourists who will forgo arrival or departure from Tampa simply because we weren't smart enough to connect the airport to this high-speed rail system.
Robert Weisman, Tampa
Make the feds pay
Nice editorial, but you missed several points.
One of the key phrases you used was estimated cost of high-speed rail. What if the cost rose to $4 billion and the feds provide only $2.4 billion? Who pays the difference?
You stated that the state could lease the rail line to a private operator who would be responsible for any cost overruns. Overruns are part of any project of this size and sometimes are larger than the beginning bid.
Remember the Boston tunnel?
If President Barack Obama wants us to have high-speed rail to Mouse Land, let him cough up another $3 billion or $4 billion and we could name the rail line "the Obama Express."
The federal funds are part of my paycheck, and I don't want to see my money going down the drain.
Colin Kelley, Largo
A win-win plan
The Times is right in urging the governor to take advantage of the high-speed rail grant, and the governor is right to study the proposal as there are some major flaws in the present plan. After spending the holidays in South Florida, staying about 2 miles from the Tri-Rail transit line, I understand the tremendous challenges we have in Florida with our transition to a more diverse transportation system. Not once did we use Tri-Rail. One has to drive to get to the line and drive again at the destination station. This is too involved, and I don't like buses. I have a feeling tourists really don't like them, either, and the proposed high-speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa is dependent on tourists.
We need to upgrade all of Florida's Amtrak lines, at a fraction of the cost, and become the first state with a statewide network of trains that go up to 150 mph. We also need to take our time and explore the possibilities to connect the coasts to the Orlando and Tampa train stations. Buses just don't cut it.
Jeannie Cline, St. Petersburg
Whose fault is the Taj courthouse? | Jan. 23
Light of day was the 'enemy'
Congratulations to Times senior correspondent Lucy Morgan for her excellent tracing of this modern-day corruption by government — and publishing an admission that journalists also failed the public by not seeing it earlier.
I was pleased to see the reference to Ed Ball, and like Morgan, I suspect few readers know the history in our state that Ball created. As the creator of a business empire that included the St. Joe Paper Co., the Florida East Coast Railroad and the Florida National Bank, he was legendary for his control of the Florida Legislature as well.
Ball's inveterate toast each night with good Kentucky bourbon was "Confusion to the enemy." And this sad saga of Florida corruption involving every sector of our state government reminds us that Ball was right. The "enemy" was kept in the dark — and that was all of us Florida residents.
Peter Klingman, Tampa
Broaden vision beyond St. Petersburg Jan. 23, editorial
City needs to keep Rays
Your editorial concerning Mayor Bill Foster and the Tampa Bay Rays is way off the mark. The Rays are not a regional asset, but an asset of Stuart Sternberg and his investors. It is obvious they don't consider St. Petersburg an asset. The city of St. Petersburg was the one with the foresight that struggled with the political and financial hardship to build the Florida Suncoast Dome (Tropicana Field) to lure a baseball team. Tampa and Pinellas and Hillsborough counties wanted nothing to do with a stadium back then, but now it appears they or a group of developers want to reap the harvest after it has been sowed by St. Petersburg. I am surprised that the mayor has expanded his stadium site boundaries to include parts of Pinellas County.
However, if he goes beyond his own county, it would be a betrayal and ripoff of his constituency. He might as well move his office to another city. As a Rays ticket holder, and hopefully a resident of downtown St. Petersburg in the near future, I hope Mayor Foster makes the right decision so he can be my mayor when I arrive.
John Peterpaul, Madeira Beach