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Sunday's letters: Preserve civil rights landmark

Jackson House plan halted | Jan. 17

Preserve a civil rights landmark

It is time for another perspective on Jackson House. The focus has been on whether bringing it into code compliance is economically feasible. Estimates vary, but a cool million comes close, plus the cost of acquiring the property, perhaps another $150,000. The cheapest but worst way to resolve the problem is condemning the Jackson House, razing the building, and selling the vacant lot for multifamily use or as a hotel site.

Lost would be the hostelry where Count Basie, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and other major cultural figures, as well as thousands of less famous black people, stayed when no other Tampa public accommodation would let them pay for a decent night's rest. Instead, just as homes where Washington slept are historically significant, so is the Jackson House, a visible reminder of Florida before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Jackson should be a museum and cultural center where visitors and locals, schoolchildren and adults could feel history coming alive. But this can happen only if the Tampa City Council, Hillsborough County Commission and local legislative delegations show their leadership. It is not self-serving statements about leniency in enforcing building codes that we need, but a demonstrated sense of government commitment to a public-private partnership, before it is too late.

Daniel Rutenberg, Tampa

Why you should care about net neutrality Jan. 20, editorial

U.S. broadband leadership

Your editorial coverage on the recent net neutrality decision misses a few important points.

First, by most measures, the United States is a world leader in broadband. We have the most affordable entry-level pricing; are one of only two countries with three competing broadband technologies; and have networks capable of 100 mbps or faster available to 85 percent of U.S. households (as compared to Europe, where connections of 30-plus mbps reach only 54 percent of households). Our broadband investments lead the world and double our nearest rival.

Second, we had an "open Internet" long before the FCC's 2010 regulations, and the court's decision does not change broadband providers' commitment to giving consumers access to lawful web content whenever they choose. Moreover, the court affirmed the FCC's authority to ensure the nationwide deployment of broadband.

Third, some critics now want the FCC to reclassify the Internet as an old-style "telecommunications service" and regulate it as a "common carrier" like the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. Back then, the government regulated prices, profits and the terms of competition within the industry. But since the Clinton administration there has been wide, bipartisan consensus that broadband is not like the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly and should not be regulated as such. We shouldn't go back to rotary phone-era regulations any more than we should go back to dial-up Internet connections.

There have been scant instances alleging that broadband providers breached the principles of an Open Internet, and such controversies were resolved cooperatively and quickly. An Open Internet is in everyone's interest, including ours.

We have state-of-the-art broadband networks and the world's best Internet companies. We should be focused on finding the "next big thing" rather than relitigating debates that time has passed by.

Michael Powell, president and CEO, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Washington, D.C.

Stolen page to return to Italy | Jan. 28

Admirable example

Bravo to the St. Petersburg couple for returning the stolen 15th century Italian manuscript to the Italian people. Sadly there are many more stolen national treasures that have yet to be repatriated.

Case in point: the ancient Greek sculptures known to the world as the Elgin Marbles. These Greek antiquities were "collected" (read: looted) from the Athens Acropolis in the early 19th century by Englishman Thomas Bruce and have been held in the United Kingdom since. One would hope the U.K. would be as honorable as this local couple and do the right thing: return the Elgin Marbles to their rightful owners, the people of Greece.

Luther Hendricks, Clearwater

Seeking a year of action | Jan. 29

Imperious president

If President Barack Obama "can't get cooperation from Congress," he "vows to use executive orders where possible." What a wonderful show of bipartisanship. It's his way or the highway.

William C. Bolin Sr., Largo

Dozier yields 55 bodies | Jan. 29

Valuable journalism

The horrific abuse, miserable deaths and lifelong trauma of so many children sentenced to the Florida School for Boys is heartbreaking. It is scandalous that the "school" (a ludicrous name) was only recently closed.

The pitiful belongings found in the graves, including the marble in the boy's pocket, reduced me to tears.

This was quickly followed by fury at the quotes attributed to a local historian, Dale Cox, who said that the media should apologize for wild accusations of murder. He apparently stated that Marianna and Jackson County have been vindicated. Vindicated? Were I from either of these two counties, or connected in any way to those who ran this wretched institution, I would hang my head in shame.

Far from condemning the media, I congratulate the Times and Ben Montgomery and all the reporters who aired this story. That is journalism at its most informative.

Michele Elliott, St. Petersburg

On the line, out of line Jan. 26, Perspective

Push '5' for fed up

In the past five weeks I have spent several hours of several days trying to resolve an issue with through their customer service ranks. (Yes, that is a pun.) "Yes, ma'am, I am a customer also, and I understand your frustration. But we need (another) three to five days to resolve this issue."

I realize now that I should have subcontracted this irritating task to the customer service expert, Gene Weingarten. He would at least have brought some interesting twists to the scripted dialogs.

Karen A. Estes, Pinellas Park

Sunday's letters: Preserve civil rights landmark 01/30/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 4:24pm]
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