Public to weigh in again on Pier plan | June 18
The waterfront looks great as it is
My sister is a resident of San Francisco, which has a few icons of its own: Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, San Francisco Bay, etc. She visited this spring. Puzzled by the conversation about replacing the Pier, she said, "You've already got a crown jewel, the Dalí. And you have marvelous waterfront parks, great dining near the water, wonderful views and marvelous art venues. Why not emphasize what you already have?"
I think she has a point. We keep looking for something — what we're not sure — to make St. Petersburg stand out. That November scientific poll indicated a high demand for fine dining, air conditioning, observation and viewing areas, an iconic design and a place to walk, jog, bike and fish. We've got all that in spades. What are we trying to remake?
Sometimes I feel we are trying to create something based on a perception many years old, when we didn't have the same waterfront amenities we have today.
Let's just encourage the movers, shakers and entrepreneurs who have done us so proud to keep moving and shaking. Not spending the money allocated for the Pier replacement? Why is that a bad thing?
John Greene, St. Petersburg
On campaign trail, Scott flunking Hispanic 101 | June 17, Daniel Ruth column
The silent candidate
This opinion was right on point about Gov. Rick Scott. If pleading the Fifth is saying nothing, he is still pleading the Fifth. He never answers a question directly. And when he does, the answer has to be researched or is an obvious misrepresentation. His mouth is moving but he is saying nothing. He is good at it since he has had much practice.
Charles Madison, Valrico
Al Austin leaves lasting legacy | June 1
Amazing show of respect
I attended the visitation at the Vaughn Center for the late Al Austin, who passed away last month. As you would expect, since he was a wonderful person and did so much for the Tampa Bay area and on the national scene, many hundreds of our top officials and business leaders were in attendance. They were joined by Mr. Austin's friends from all walks of life.
What I found amazing and pleasing was the immense respect shown by the people lined up for up to an hour or more to meet with Mr. Austin's family. That respect was shown by something I did not see or hear. The entire time I was there no one spoke on a cellphone. No cellphones rang. No phones were in evidence at all. No selfies, no texting, nothing. In our present society, I found this to be an utterly amazing show of dignity and respect.
Roger P. Schulman, Clearwater
Jolly speaks out on VA scandal | June 17
Playing the numbers game
As a retired registered nurse with 27 years of service at the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, I was privy to a litany of experiences: good, bad, unexplainable but, for the most part, rewarding.
What is being missed is the denied access for mental health care by the administration's closing of 64-plus newly renovated inpatient psychiatric beds in Building 1 and then securing millions of our tax dollars to build a new "mental health tower" because "the beds are needed."
The beds are there. Who was responsible for this new construction? This is another irresponsible slap in the face to returning vets seeking promised sanctuary in a system breaking under the weight of its own vanity.
Management pats itself on the back with self-modeled goals met with a numbers game that would make Houdini proud. All the while, thousands of returning wounded carrying scars of war are told there is "no room at the inn." They deserve better.
Tom Wilson, Indian Rocks Beach
Excellent care received
I have been going to the VA for my medical care for 11 years. From the clinic in New Port Richey to the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, it has been the best care I have ever received.
However, with two wars lasting over 10 years, there was bound to be a backlog, and these so-called "concerned" congressmen and senators, including Marco Rubio, voted down increased VA funding in February. Just what did they think was going to happen? They expect the fine people at the VA to do more and more with less and less. They always seem to support the wars, but not the warrior.
Everyone at the VA should be praised and supported for their efforts, not shot down.
Yvonne M. Osmond, Clearwater
U.S. views risks in Iraq airstrikes | June 19
The "shoot first and ask questions later" crowd has criticized President Barack Obama for not immediately ordering airstrikes in Iraq, or sending troops in, and stated that his response has caused the United States to lose stature in the world.
The Iraq crisis has dangerous implications that could easily cost us (and innocent Iraqis) dearly. Many of us value the leadership of a president who chooses to use diplomacy, intelligence and careful planning to strengthen Iraq's security forces, and perhaps targeted drone strikes once ISIS militants can be pinpointed, rather than blindly dropping 500-pound bombs.
Hal Chase, Hudson
No more credit card wars
President Barack Obama has stated as a condition for assisting the Iraqi government that it must reform itself to be inclusive of all Iraqis. The president should also submit a request for approval from Congress before launching any attacks, and at the top of that request should be a list of the tax loopholes to be closed in order to pay for more war.
Tomahawk cruise missiles, bombs and personnel deployments are costly. How can we justify such action without paying for it? Those leading the charge to get into the fight should also be leading the charge on how it all gets paid for.
Gregory Parmenter, Largo