Police sound off on leader | April 1
Stop the demeaning treatment
Among the many problems plaguing our black community in St. Petersburg is the fact that police officers serving our community daily chip away at our civil and constitutional rights. They racially profile people in our community and constantly search individuals without probable cause. I see them constantly harass and demean our citizens. I have personally witnessed them disrespect the elderly and talk rudely to our youth.
I feel that before hiring, officers should go through stringent evaluations and continuously have training and education in dealing with the poor and impoverished in our community. This problem has been here but is not getting any better. I hope Mayor Rick Kriseman will address this during his term and help us, the south side, get our voice back.
Georgina Smith, St. Petersburg
House blocks vote on solar | April 2
A lack of representation
State Rep. Ritch Workman's comments about his blocking of HB 825, the bill that would provide a tax exemption for businesses that install solar panels, are very revealing. The overwhelming backlash that he received from solar energy supporters caused him to "dig in his heels" against the bill.
Someone should remind Workman that he is a representative, which means he represents the people in his district, who apparently want to have this bill move forward. He also said that he doesn't "see the need to continue to expand the incentives and underwriting of solar."
I'd like to find out if he saw the need to provide state and local incentives to Northrop Grumman to the tune of $1.6 million in grants and property tax exemptions for their Melbourne expansion. Northrop Grumman makes around $2 billion in profits and the CEO takes home total compensation of about $11 million per year.
Workman should consider that using solar panels will reduce the cost of electricity for consumers, make us less dependent on foreign energy sources, mitigate climate change, transform our energy grid so that it is less vulnerable to attacks, and create jobs.
Kathy Freeman, Melbourne
Rich donors to gain sway | April 3
Welcome to Roberts' world
It is often said that Barack Obama, as president of the United States, is the most powerful man in the world, but he has to be satisfied with second place within the borders of this country. By far, when it comes to our internal affairs, the most powerful man is U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.
He has again bolstered his position with the court's decision on wealth in our election campaigns. He says there is no proof of money corrupting the political process, so it must be. Of course that ignores the history of these contribution limits that came into existence because of rampant corruption within the system caused by vast amounts of money. I guess, in his mind, the wealthy today are more socially conscious and are thus without the overbearing self-interest of their predecessors.
Arthur N. Eggers, Tampa
Ruling is a call to action
With the Supreme Court ruling on money and elections, we have a choice: to sing a dirge in the funeral for the United States as a democracy, or to use our voices to shout loud and clear that we, the people, are going to take our democracy back.
The 99 percent is a whole lot more people than the 1 percent, so we need to make use of all our votes to put some of us in the Senate and House of Representatives and get rid of the 1 percenters who fail to represent us there.
Esther Kirk, Riverview
Caution on rabbits as gifts
Over the next few weeks, many adults will be tempted to buy an Easter rabbit for a child. And a few months from now, animal shelters will be, as they are every year, inundated by a flood of cast-off bunnies. I ask that everyone who is considering buying a rabbit this year stop and think about three important facts:
First, although rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are naturally fragile and easily frightened. An active child who expects a cuddly pet can terrify or even injure a rabbit.
Second, a well-cared-for rabbit should live as long as a dog or cat (10 years or more) and will require just as much love, attention and specialized veterinary (including spaying/neutering) care as a dog or cat would. Living beings are not a prop; they require a commitment and an obligation that is often beyond the capacities of a child.
Third, just as there are countless dogs and cats without homes, so are there numerous rabbits who are languishing in shelters and rescues, often doomed to be killed unless adopted. If you wish to share your home with another species, visit your local rescue organizations and adopt.
If you want to make this Easter happy for a child, give a stuffed or vegan chocolate bunny instead, and make a donation to one of the many excellent local animal rescues on their behalf.
Bea Elliott, Winter Haven
Tourist ad section misses mark | April 3
Thank the snowbirds
This article about errors in a recent magazine advertorial promoting visits to Florida highlights the fact that tourism is the state's largest industry. I am nevertheless amazed at how many people resent the presence of snowbirds.
Three times in the past several days I have overheard acquaintances say how much they welcomed the snowbirds' imminent departure. Two were members of a literary group to which I belong and one was a volunteer at a charity flower service where my wife helps regularly.
These complainers appear to be unaware that visitors like us have an economic impact of about $67 billion annually in Florida. (Quick fact: The state budget is about $70 billion.) And one in every seven jobs is tourism-related.
That's not all. We snowbirds who are fortunate enough to own homes here pay property taxes roughly twice that of residents who live here year-round. And tourists who visit many of Florida's fine attractions such as Disney World often pay a much higher admission price than that paid by Florida residents.
To what degree would the lives of the three grumblers be different if even 10 percent of the snowbirds and other visitors went somewhere other than Florida every winter?
Brandon Jones, Clearwater