The fields, where slavery endures | May 20, Bill Maxwell column
Focusing on the daily grind | May 20, story
Similar men, different choices
It's unfortunate that Bill Maxwell's column in Perspective about the value of his education did not run side by side with Walter Bouiye's similar profile in the Floridian section. Both worked as children in the fields as migrants. Both wanted a better life. Both heard the same family advice. One valued his family's admonitions; the other had to learn those same life lessons through trial and error. One took the hard path of education and hard work; the other took the easy path to money, crime and drugs.
Robert Frost was right: "I took the (road) less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
Ted Sullivan, Odessa
The fields, where slavery endures
Bill Maxwell's recollection of his travels with his father and their experience as farmworkers in Florida bears witness to the truth that labor history isn't just about unpleasant things that happened a long time ago to people not very much like you and me. Every time I hear a well-paid politician whining about "job-killing regulations" I want to remind him that every one of those regulations arose from the blood and sweat and wasted talents of people who were abused and exploited.
Gregory P. Smith, San Antonio
I am a white elderly woman, my family was poor and we worked in fields picking whatever we could find to make money. There are many white people who also worked in the fields, and there are many poor whites who work for minimum wage or less. Prejudice is prejudice. Wouldn't our time and words be better spent using them against human predators?
Vernetta Skinner, Palmetto
The wisdom of slime | May 20
Cause and effect
Interesting that you had the story on slime mold on the page facing "For teen moms, it's poverty, then baby," which talked of how cause and effect can be not only confused but even reversed.
The "slime" tests would be a lot more convincing if researchers had selected the top 20 urban areas in 1950 for their models. Then would slime mold's growth mimic the U.S. interstate highway system?
John Chamless, Pinellas Park
Bern's overreaches on organic claims May 20
Disservice to the Laxers
Your story about David Laxer and Bern's Steak House was poorly done. It did not cover the fact that Bern Laxer's death was the result of injuries from an earlier late-night car accident that occurred while he was taking compost from the restaurant to the farm.
His son David is one of the owners of the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team, and the farm was offered as a site for a stadium for the team. A group objected to the location, and now the Rowdies have breathed life into a vacant Al Lang Field in downtown St. Petersburg. Considering the history of the property, it is no wonder that David Laxer's priority was not to keep the farm running.
David Laxer and the owners of the Rowdies provide hundreds of jobs in the Tampa Bay area. They reformed the Rowdies in the middle of the worst recession since the 1940s. The Tampa Bay Times has done a poor job of following the team. And now the Times publishes a one-sided, twisted article.
Eric Greene, Tierra Verde
Bern's always excellent
I would take issue with Laura Reiley's front page article.
I probably eat at Bern's as much as or more than most, and the experience in food, quality and service is second to none.
I haven't had our waiter tell me once in the last six months anything about vegetables from the farm. In years past he would tell me he had picked up certain vegetables from the farm, but not a mention that I can remember any time recently and our guy has been at Bern's for some 25 years.
Additionally I know of no diner who comes to Bern's with great expectations and leaves with anything but his expectations fulfilled at the highest level.
I am not sure what Sweetwater Organic Farm founder Rick Martinez's comment that "David's father was a food fanatic. David is a soccer fanatic" has to do with running a great restaurant, which is what David Laxer does.
John Osterweil, Tampa
An odd time to purge rolls | May 20
Robyn Blumner, like many liberals, finds any attempt by state officials to protect the sanctity of the voting booth to be "suspicious."
To some, attempts to verify citizenship or validate identity by a photo ID are akin to voter suppression. Voter fraud, they claim, is a ginned-up issue by the GOP.
The courts recognize the existence of voter fraud; hence they have been very dismissive of Department of Justice suits challenging photo ID laws. Justice John Paul Stevens — no conservative he — in writing the majority opinion affirming the constitutionality of Indiana's photo ID requirement said that the state has the right and obligation to protect the integrity of the voting process.
Even the most liberal appeals court in the land, the 9th Circuit, recently affirmed Arizona's photo ID requirement.
You've got to wonder why liberals keep trying to sell their lame argument that requiring a photo ID constitutes voter suppression.
John Kriegsmann, Land O'Lakes
No maybe about it
Once again, Robyn Blumner is correct.
But I would adjust one word. Regarding the Republican attacks on early voting while ignoring absentee (or mail-in) voting, she wrote: "Maybe this lack of interest stemmed from the fact that absentee voters tend to lean Republican, while early voters typically lean Democrat."
In no way is this a maybe. That they continue to ignore the easiest way to commit voter fraud clearly shows their intention.
Dan Favero, St. Petersburg