Friday, April 27, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Sunday's letters: We need true equal opportunity

Poverty keeps stubborn grip on Midtown | Aug. 6

We need equal opportunities

In crushing detail, the Times now reports that Midtown — the poorest, most predominantly black section of St. Petersburg — has actually become poorer despite 20 years of well-intentioned mayors' promises to improve "conditions." While the rest of the city has prospered so well that it is now a favorite of the New York Times' travel section, two major grocery stores in Midtown failed in succession, as did several other city-sponsored initiatives.

Why? Because there wasn't a sufficiently prosperous customer base nearby to support them.

To be sure, the streets look a lot better, with new landscaping and trees. And there's a new post office. But as one astute neighborhood observer said: The city's deals always seem to profit banks and developers, but then nothing remains for the rest of us.

The main thing holding Midtown back is that most families who live there have never had access to the sort of capital that middle-class white families take for granted — through good credit or (less often) a modest inheritance.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates documented not long ago in Atlantic magazine, a century of housing and economic discrimination against black Americans, after the end of slavery, has conspired to keep the majority of these, our countrymen, on the razor's edge of poverty. Coates' essay is titled, "The Case for Reparations."

I'm not sure how "reparations" would work, but one thing's for sure: Until we work together so that African-Americans mired in generational poverty have the same opportunities as the rest of us — for advancement, for investment, for ownership, for growth — we will always have these economic dead zones in our cities and in our country.

Jim Harper, Tampa

Trump can't save American Christianity | Column, Aug. 6

Secular and proud of it

Rod Dreher bemoans the decline of Christianity and the increasing numbers of the unchurched. He states: "There's nothing wrong in principle for Christians to bring our faith to the public square (if you disagree, take it up with the abolitionists and the civil rights movement)."

No there is not, but there is everything wrong with attempting to be the only voice in the public square and shutting out all others. There is everything wrong with rubbing non-believers' noses in your particular God obsessions. And it is a violation of basic human rights, much less the Constitution, to compel people to pretend to believe in doctrines they would not otherwise profess (if you disagree, take it up with Thomas Jefferson).

A staunch secular American myself, I think the church should act to encourage individuals to participate in democracy according to the rules of the Constitution, to wit, by respecting and defending strict separation of church and state. There is good reason to separate church and state by the strictest and most scrupulous standards of exclusion. It safeguards individual conscience against the tyranny of either church or state.

Christianity has only itself to blame for its woes. I am reminded of a wise observation by no less than Benjamin Franklin. In a letter to Richard Price, Franklin stated that he believed that religion should support itself without help from the government, claiming, "When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig'd to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."

Amen, brother Franklin, amen.

Barry Lockard, Sarasota

Mother shares story of Jimmie | Aug. 10

Reach past the present

The teenagers involved in the fatal high-speed crash all had lengthy arrest records. It's a chronic problem. But it's not an economic problem; plenty of people were poor during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and plenty of people are poor today. It's not a community problem; there are plenty of programs and activities available, but you have to want to attend. It's not a wealthy vs. poor problem; people have been wealthy and poor since the beginning of time.

There's nothing wrong with looking beyond your circumstances and wishing your life was better. But you can use your circumstances as a crutch or excuse to avoid taking responsibility for your own life, or you can treat them as a stepping stone to reach beyond them. Nobody else can want it for you, you have to want it yourself.

Debi Ford, St. Petersburg

Teach your children well

Anytime a child dies, the community mourns. While I understand those who love these teens are bereaved, my sympathy goes to the innocent man who was simply on his way to work and is now seriously injured because of the actions of six teenagers with criminal histories. One mother said she begged the justice system for help for her son. It is not law enforcement's job to teach her children.

Sherri Marquez, Clearwater

HART slashes bus routes | Aug. 8

Losing it, not using it

Does anyone else remember when HART's slogan was "You've got to have HART?" Mission Max is a heartless plan that will further widen the rifts between rich and poor, rural and urban, disabled and abled and create insurmountable hardships for many.

We wouldn't elect school board members who have had no experience with public education. How is it that the people appointed to the HART board do not use public transit? If I were in the position to move to a more compassionate community, I'd be on the first bus out of here. Oh, wait, there isn't a bus.

Elizabeth Corwin, Tampa

Building blocks of creativity | Aug. 7

Art is a wonderful gift

Many thanks to the Vinik Family Foundation for "The Art of the Brick." The Lego artwork is a joy for both adults and children. What a wonderful gift to Tampa Bay.

Anne Reidy, South Pasadena

Comments

Friday’s letters: Why just single-member districts are a bad idea for Hillsborough

Murman’s bad idea on districts | April 20, editorialSingle-member districts’ flawYour editorial opposing single-member districts in Hillsborough County is totally correct. I have served as Miami-Dade county manager twice. The first time (1976-198...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: A surgeon responds to story about a needle being left in a baby’s heart

All Children’s surgeon left a needle in a baby’s heart | April 22My view as one of the surgeonsI am one of the physicians discussed (but not interviewed) in this article. Whatever the motive for such an article, I disagree with many of the claims...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/26/18

Wednesday’s letters: How we plan to improve foster care in Hillsborough

Improving foster care inHillsborough | April 19, editorialOur plans for helping kidsThis editorial poses many good questions. The Department of Children and Families’ peer review report is expected to be released soon. And while we welcome the an...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for April 27

Stop Ridge Road extension, reader saysWhen I spoke at the Dade City meeting of the Pasco County Commissioners on my opposition to the Ridge Road Extension, three of them responded, but only when my three minutes of free speech expired, and I could sa...
Published: 04/23/18

Monday’s letters: Term limits don’t work

U.S. Senate campaignTerm limitsdon’t workGov. Rick Scott has begun his run for the U.S. Senate with TV ads promoting term limits for representatives and senators. Aside from the probability that this would require a constitutional amendment, I think ...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18

Sunday’s letters: Problems with high-speed rail

Thanks, Gov. Scott, for ghastly I-4 drives | April 18, Sue Carlton columnProblems with high-speed railIn her Wednesday column, the writer bemoaned the traffic on I-4 and blasted Gov. Rick Scott for turning down free government money for a high-sp...
Published: 04/21/18

Tuesday’s letters: Student journalists push to save their newsrooms and independence

Save student newsroomsAs professional newsrooms shrink, student newsrooms have become an increasingly important source of local coverage, holding not only our universities accountable but also local government. We write these articles, attending meet...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Saturday’s letters: Don’t weaken rules on fisheries

Florida fisheriesDon’t weaken rules on fish stocksMembers of Congress are proposing changes to an important ocean law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, that would adversely affect coastal states including Florida.Since it...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18

Friday’s letters: We owe it to our children to teach them history

If we don’t understand past, future looks grim | April 19, Daniel Ruth columnThe history we owe our childrenIt’s not often I agree with Daniel Ruth, but this article was spot-on. I’m not sure when the schools started ignoring Germany’s World War ...
Published: 04/19/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun research can save lives

Gun ownershipCommon ground: Find the factsThere are many areas in the current debate about guns and gun ownership where both sides must agree to disagree. But there is one area where common ground ought to exist. That concerns the need for continuing...
Published: 04/18/18