There are so many
better uses for the money
As I waited to listen to people discuss the future of Al Lang Field and whether the Rays should have a new ballfield, it occurred to me how a half-billion dollars could be so much better utilized than to build a new stadium 16 blocks away from the current one. I am not a proponent of the move and certainly believe a big corporation such as the Rays should pay its own way in St. Petersburg. But the amount is staggering. With so many people just getting by these days and others not even able to do that, it seems to be a waste for something so trivial.
We are still fighting for property tax reform that is equitable and substantial. With the subprime meltdown and the continuing credit crisis, our state continues on a downward spiral in economic growth. Foreclosures are common, budgets are being strained beyond the breaking point and people are just trying to get by.
Just the other day I picked up the paper to find another insurance company leaving homeowners stranded in the state, universities experiencing shortfalls in income, another revision in the state budget showing the revenue stream drying up.
I might be in the minority, which I cannot believe, but wouldn't it be nice if we had some of that money to cure some of the issues that plague us today, and still have that beautiful Tropicana Field dome to watch baseball in?
This is really what I wanted to say being speaker No. 98 at the recent public hearing, but unfortunately I had to leave early to pick up my daughter. I thought of these things as I walked down the steps of City Hall and less than 200 feet from the entrance I saw a couple unroll their mattresses on the curb for the night.
Maybe, just maybe, we could take that money and use it in better ways.
David R. Simpson, St. Petersburg
Don't be duped
I sincerely hope the voters of St. Petersburg demonstrate their wisdom, foresight and plain old street sense, and avoid falling for the sucker deal associated with the proposed new baseball stadium. Simply stated, it's a bad idea.
No one will want to go to a ballpark that has no parking and promises a gantlet of panhandlers (or worse) between public parking facilities and the stadium. No one will want to go to a game to sit outside in St. Petersburg's 90-degrees-plus temperatures and 90-percent-plus humidity.
No one will want to sit next to two fat guys sweating their buns off and smelling like bug spray. No one will want to pay even more outrageous prices for food and drink. And, no one who cares about the game will give a damn about home runs hitting the water. But most important, no one will want to see his hard-earned tax dollars spent on a stadium that we don't even need.
If you vote for the proposal, let there be no doubt that your taxes will eventually pay for it. And in the end, because no one will want to go, this experiment will fail, the Rays will fail as an economic entity and move (maybe to Orlando), and you'll have either the St. Pete Mudhens playing in your stadium or you'll have the nicest venue in the country for a flea market.
William Smith, Tampa
Preserve our fine waterfront | Feb. 23, commentary
Park is the best bet
I agree with this article by Thomas Churchill Dunn. His points are well taken and should be considered, not only by the mayor and City Council, but also by all voters. We in St. Petersburg are very fortunate to have such a lovely, unspoiled waterfront, which all citizens and visitors can enjoy. Since the Rays are moving their spring training site next year, my vote would be to convert Al Lang Field to a waterfront park.
Doris Houdesheldt, St. Petersburg
Seek another spring team
Amid all of the talk of a waterfront stadium or a waterfront park, has anyone ever considered the idea of attempting to bring another major league team to Al Lang Field for spring training? It would be a shame to raze the stadium for another "waterfront park."
If another team could not be lured in permanently, maybe several teams in the state could agree on playing a few games there. Considering the historical significance the stadium has and its wonderful location, I know you could count me in as an attendee.
Mark A. Chianese, St. Petersburg
Watch for foul play
"Upon further review" is a phrase we've come to know from professional football. However, we truly need to apply this phrase to the world around us. Are we not outraged when we see Congress about to step up the persecution of a star athlete?
These are the same people who can't even come close to balancing our budget, managing our huge trade deficits or safeguarding our economy. How dare they squander their power and our time and tax money with needless witch hunts when so many critical and urgent actions need to be addressed. We need to make these people accountable; we need to get involved.
Let us now adopt the phrase "upon further review" and use it in the real world to address some of the nonsense and foolishness that's masquerading as common sense.
Bobby Lonardo, Seminole
State leaders make Crotzer a priority
Feb. 21, story
Make sure justice is done
I want to commend the press for keeping this man's plight in the media. Home Sweet Home Ministries was there for Alan Crotzer when his day of justice finally arrived.
Our purpose is to aid exonerated people upon freedom until they are able to stand on their own again. By providing safe housing, utilities, job assistance and counseling, we are able to help make their transition back to civilian life a more compassionate experience.
As the founding president of Home Sweet Home Ministries, a 501 C-3 nonprofit, I have become friends with Alan and his new wife and family. He is an inspiration to all who know him. He uses his newfound fame to encourage troubled youth and he is a faithful advocate for the wrongly accused. It would do my heart good to see the House, Senate and governor agree this legislative session to provide at least $2.5-million in compensation for the injustice that was done to this innocent man. For those who want to join our efforts, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Allstaedt, St. Petersburg
World in a snap | Feb. 26
Watch your language
I find the caption accompanying the photograph of the Israeli soldier deployed in a wheat field inappropriate and disturbing. Not only does it enforce the Times' inaccurate portrayal of all Israelis as either soldiers or Ultra-Orthodox, but now you refer to the Palestinian militants or terrorists as "protesters." I think you could use another, more accurate description for a group that mandates the destruction of Israel.
Brian Fox and Bruce Epstein, co-chairs, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Pinellas/Pasco Jewish Federation, Clearwater
Jessica Lunsford's parents filing suit
Feb. 22 story
A despicable action
I read that Mark Lunsford is planning to file suit against Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy.
Do I understand, Mr. Lunsford, that you are implying that the professional who assisted you in the recovery of your daughter is somehow culpable in her death? And by extension, we the public are also being held accountable for her tragic death? Who do you think pays the sheriff's salary and insures the department against lawsuits, both reasonable and frivolous? You are entitled to feel a sense of loss, but this course of action is despicable. As Dawsy made clear, "There's only one person in this world responsible for Jessica's death. That's John Couey."
What was never articulated in the press, throughout your ordeal, was that many of us in the public questioned the level of safety you provided your daughter in the first place. The outrage and solidarity that your loss evoked overshadowed what may have been lax parental oversight on your part. Those concerns were secondary to finding Jessica. We commiserated and noted as a community that there, but for the grace of God, could we all have gone.
To now suggest that the point-man, or the department for which he worked, on such a heart-wrenching case is in any way responsible for your daughter's death is ridiculous.
Furthermore, this lawsuit that you are proposing smacks of an effort to prosper as a function of your daughter's death at the expense of an honorable man with public funds footing the bill. Correct me if I am wrong, but perception is everything and I, for one, am disgusted by your base display of ingratitude. Shame on you.
C. J. Gerber, Tampa
A battle we can fight here
I read with continuing horror the recent cases of child pornography, including the case of the former elementary teacher and the Largo police officer. The police officer had more than 1,700 images of child pornography, and the victims' ages ranged from 6 months to 13 years old.
If our country is so intent in invading and conquering countries that have not done us any harm, perhaps we could wage that same time and money into conquering child pornography that does us unmeasurable harm.
Barbara Driscoll, Treasure Island
Influence is a concern | Feb. 27, letter
Attack is off base
This letter writer is way off the mark regarding John McCain's integrity. He bases his snide remarks about McCain on a New York Times article that has already been shot full of holes and discredited.
Throughout his long career, John McCain has never been for sale. The writer refers to the letters McCain wrote to government officials on behalf of a lobbyist. He accuses McCain of asking for these officials to rule in the lobbyist's favor. This is false. The letters were written to request that a ruling, any kind of ruling, be made.
The writer then accuses McCain of being "sleazy" due to his association with the Keating Five. In fact, McCain was cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with Charles Keating. This is typical of the New York Times and those who only hear what they want to hear.
Jay Johnson, St. Petersburg
Unfounded claims | Feb. 16, letter
A plan to punish Wilson
Contrary to this letter, it was not found to be true that Joseph Wilson himself was responsible for "the leak of Ms. Plame's identity." The letter writer's source was but one of many writings that were sometimes based not on facts, but on political leanings.
Perhaps the most knowledgeable and last word on this issue was written by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who in April 2006 wrote there was "a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House" to undermine Wilson. A front-page article from the New York Times on April 11 of that year states, "Mr. Fitzgerald's filing talks not of an effort to level with Americans but of a 'plan to discredit, punish or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson. … It is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish Wilson.' "
Daryl Pierce, Spring Hill
I read with interest and sadness the front-page Times article on the resumption of elephant culling in South Africa. While most of the article dealt with South Africa, perhaps the most disturbing aspect was the immoral and ignorant statements of Larry Killmar, Lowry Park Zoo's director of collections.
Killmar asserted that there is no alternative to culling. In reality, that is not true. Such alternatives include contraception, relocation and the creation of protected corridors for elephants between parks.
While these may not be cheap and easy solutions, they do offer a consideration of the elephant's life. Instead Killmar opted to align himself with the hunters, ivory industry and those who feel elephants have no intrinsic value.
It is disturbing that a man who purports to work with animals would hold such beliefs. I hope anyone considering a visit to the Lowry Park Zoo reflects upon the views of this employee.
Joseph Patner, St. Pete Beach
Tragedies at home
Your huge headline that elephants will be shot in Africa gets attention, of course. It's a terrible thing and deserves condemnation.
But where is the similarly huge headline that says "Florida continues to destroy habitat at record pace to kill off native species?" Or "Pacific Northwest has killed off all but 5 percent of the largest rainforest in the Northern Hemisphere?"
And so on.
We get all upset about shooting elephants on the other side of the world and remain ho-hum about the tragedies within reach.
Howard C. Batt, Clearwater
Problems in common
Overpopulate, overdevastate. Who said elephants and humans were the most intelligent mammals on the Earth?
Donald E. Burke, St. Petersburg