Keep site hunt open | June 8, editorial
Build a new stadium downtown
The current discussion about future regional growth focuses on transit, urban infill and redevelopment. The stadium should be the leader in that shift, and a downtown St. Petersburg location is the place to do it.
Think small and think urban. The problem with Tropicana Field is that it's too big and too suburban.
The new stadium must be smaller, but so must the scale of development that goes with it. The mammoth mixed-use project that would be needed to make the stadium succeed in any of the "new" locations is untenable. In downtown, however, the supporting development of restaurants, offices and residential buildings can be accomplished in smaller increments by a constellation of smaller developers and investors, building on what is already there.
It's not enough simply to locate the stadium downtown; it has to be part of downtown. Remake the current site as an urban environment: 1) Reconnect the street grid, creating a dozen or more new blocks; 2) build the new stadium closer to downtown, and pull it right up to the street; 3) locate a TBARTA rail station nearby, configure the area's streets to absorb more game-day parking, and bury whatever dedicated parking is left in a mid-block garage, shared with other uses.
The financial model of this approach is far more reasonable than the alternative sites. It requires much less public investment and risk, increases community buy-in, and enhances the city's most valuable asset: downtown.
Frank Starkey, Trinity
Look across the bay
When I first saw this headline and saw a picture of Tropicana Field below, I was thrilled to think that the Times might be open to sites other than those in Pinellas County. Needless to say I was very disappointed that the editorial did not even mention the possibility of locating in another county.
Considering that you are trying hard to sell newspapers in Hillsborough County, you have just announced that your view of the world will be from St. Petersburg, not from Tampa Bay.
You point out that the population within a 30-minute drive of the new stadium is important. The fact is that a location in Hillsborough County offers the greatest number of people within that 30-minute drive. This would suggest that this criterion is important when only Pinellas is considered.
The Rays deserve the best opportunity for success that we can give them. This best opportunity is in Hillsborough County.
Russell Kruetzman, Thonotosassa
Customer service cuts business woes
The media are full of dire news about the economy. While I agree that times are tough, from my perspective as someone who has worked and lived many years, some are finding it a great time to sit back, excuse their lousy business practices and just gripe and moan.
Here are a couple of examples of my failed attempts to buy. A local carpet warehouse had a full-page ad delivered by mail several weeks in a row. The deal looked good, so after wondering "what's the catch," I called. Someone took my message. I told him I wanted to carpet my home, and he transferred me to the mailbox of someone named Jennifer. I left a second message. Alas, it has been two months and I never got a call back.
I had some dental work done to the tune of $1,500 and when the new partial plate didn't fit, the dentist blamed me. After he yelled at me, he did make the adjustment, and it fits fine now. But I won't go back.
In my 40 years of work I was a salesperson, then sales manager, then field executive, and finally a business consultant specializing in customer service training. I supported a large family on my commissions, rarely a salary. Needless to say my customers were gold to me and I treated them so.
My advice: If you treat the people who are trying to spend their money with you well, you can worry a lot less about "the economy."
Jan Golden, Largo
Bills will improve system of state's courts and clerks | June 8, letter
An assault on clerks
I take issue with the letter submitted by the two attorneys touting how SB 1718 and SB 2108 will accomplish fairer and better management of the court system. It is laughable how attorneys and judges think that they know better than anyone else, especially the clerks, some of whom are CPAs, and their employees who have been doing these jobs for the past 100-plus years.
Please don't think that these bills were not part of a well thought out and executed plan concocted by the judiciary and the Florida Bar to strip the clerks throughout the state of their constitutional and statutory duties, claiming all of the revenue in the name of protecting the clerks from themselves.
The clerks throughout the state already are subject to oversight by submitting their budgets to the Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corporation (created by Article V of the state Constitution). According to the judiciary, those poor clerks don't know any better so we had better watch out for them. After all, the judiciary and the attorneys in the Legislature have done such a great job with the state budget.
And, yes, SB 2108 doesn't take any duties away now, but the original version of that bill certainly did and the current versions of both bills hamstring the clerks and hamper their abilities to provide quality customer service to the public. Do you really want the same judges who deny access to recordings of court proceedings to the public to be in charge of the court files and evidence, too?
Kevin Haumann, Largo
Health care reform
Keep free choice
The Obama administration says that it can expand health care and lower costs at the same time, but common sense tells me that is impossible. How can you add millions more Americans to a huge health care system while reducing costs? The only way would be for the government to control medical decisions, and that means rationing health care and limiting treatments. That is the problem with the Canadian and British socialized health care systems.
Polls indicate most Americans are content with their present plans and do not want to be forced into a new government-run plan that raises taxes, rations care, and creates penalties for small businesses that cannot afford to provide health insurance.
I believe patients and their doctors, not Washington bureaucrats, should make medical decisions. I want the option to keep my present health care coverage and I think Americans should have the freedom to choose the plan that best meets their needs.
Congress should not be rushing through a new health care system the way it did the unread economic stimulus plan. Any worthwhile reform should include the careful scrutiny of the proposed plan, how to pay for the actual cost of the plan and any unintended harmful consequences.
The Obama administration, Democrats and Republicans should work together to create a plan that will guarantee the American people their best medical choices and their individual freedoms.
J.A. Brady, Osprey
The big lie exposed: "We have the best health care system in the world." If this were true why don't we sell it in Canada, France, England or Germany?
Remember Capitalism 101: If you build a better product they will buy it. They are not buying it. The health care insurance industry is in business to make money. The more customers they have the more money they make. So why are their only customers in America? Because Congress is bought and paid for by __ ___ ____. You can fill in the blanks.
Gerald A. Cerveny, Tampa