DCF acts to fix shortfalls | April 25
Steps to protect at-risk children
Two things for Secretary Mike Carroll of the Department of Children and Families to consider in the age-old attempts to correct and improve services to abused and neglected children are basic but sometimes overlooked.
Don't forget that staff on the firing line, though frazzled and inexperienced, are spot-on when it comes to seeing with less clutter the issues that prevent good outcomes for children. Experts know their business, but the sweating staff in the trenches have important, crucial things to contribute.
Obviously smaller case loads start the clock to reform. We are dependent on a clueless Legislature that doesn't know the ABC's of people protection, or would rather serve the interests of people who vote and give money. Abused children don't vote. There have to be enough voters who work in or have retired from the helping professions to stare clueless legislators in the eyes and mean business — put up or get out.
The most at-risk population, ages 5 and under, is well documented. Specialty units with smaller case loads and intensive training and using multidisciplinary approaches will yield positive results. However, without oversight and fail-safe tracking, no system to reduce child deaths will be successful.
Carroll is a humanitarian who struggles to keep his DCF above water, but his dog in this race is not going to win without us. We have to push harder and be more stern about where we want our money to go.
Darlene Dickson, Tampa
Seek balance between growth, character April 21, editorial
Modern but not out of place
There should not have to be a choice between preserving neighborhood character and creating a modern home.
A sensitive architect will spend time getting the "feel" of a neighborhood and then design a modern home that respects the fabric and character of that neighborhood. Midcentury modern architecture — by emulating a neighborhood's prominent materials, textures and colors, with gently sloping large overhang roofs and porches — could adapt itself to most neighborhoods in the hands of a sensitive designer. "Sharp-edge style" modern architecture, which definitely has its place in the correct setting, would be out of place in these locations.
As an architect, I've done this kind of work. It is definitely more challenging, but also very rewarding.
Sanford Goldman, St. Petersburg
Light rail won't work here | April 25, letter
Regional approach is key
This letter perfectly illustrates why we need a transit authority to cover the entire Tampa Bay region and not just a county-by-county system. There will always be parts of this community, as in any metropolis, where people will neither need, want, nor use public transit for a variety of reasons. But for those who live and work in our three major cities, transit is going to be vital as our region grows if we want to recruit desirable businesses and build a diverse workforce — which includes a generation or more of people not interested in spending time in traffic but who would rather use that time more productively on a bus or train (or ferry).
I am lucky enough to be able to work from my home in St. Petersburg, but I have given up on going to Tampa or Clearwater unless it is absolutely necessary. I would love to visit the shops, restaurants and other cultural destinations in the area, but the legendary traffic on the Howard Frankland Bridge or U.S. 19 and parking in downtown Tampa or by the beaches has gotten to the point that the benefits of enjoying the attractions are not worth the trouble. For those who commute between our cities, this is something they have to contend with on a daily basis and it is a tremendous waste of time, productivity, resources, not to mention fossil fuels.
Public transit is the key that separates the Tampa Bay area from being a vital, integrated and truly great metropolitan area. What is the value of all of those lost hours wasted in traffic and dollars not spent by people in the area who have just decided not to contend with our area roads? It is certainly greater than the cost of investing in real, usable transit infrastructure.
Rebecca Davis, St. Petersburg
Proceed with care on Tampa tree code April 26, editorial
Save valuable resources
Because my son is relocating to Tampa, he recently spent several days here looking for a new home for his family. Instead of a larger, newer house, he chose one in a beautifully shaded neighborhood, saying, "I'm paying an extra $300 a month for the trees." This confirms the Forestry Service's finding that mature trees add 10 percent to a property's value.
The Tampa Bay Sierra Club views trees as a community resource. They attract new businesses and tourists. Their removal impacts nearby property values. Trees improve our immune system and energy levels. They reduce stress.
Urban forests reduce air and water pollution. They cool our city through shade and transpiration. And yes, trees reduce carbon dioxide. Mature trees are simply irreplaceable. Their loss cannot be adequately mitigated.
The city of Tampa is legally and morally obligated to protect the community from shortsighted, fast-buck priorities. Making it cheaper, easier or quicker to destroy legacy oaks will not serve the interests of our community.
Kent Bailey, chair, Tampa Bay Sierra Club, Thonotosassa