Agency's close ties pay | Aug. 13
Housing group works with integrity
The internal matter of the county's business has unfortunately spilled over onto Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida Inc., its board members and this writer. There were apparently innuendos made in the county auditor's report and subsequently displayed in the St. Petersburg Times that CHAF had been given preferential treatment by the Community Development Department and the Pinellas County Housing Finance Agency.
After several years of operation, CHAF was designated a Community Housing Development Organization for multifamily housing development by the Community Development Department.
Community Housing Development Organizations, so designated across the nation, are given preferential consideration of available housing funds due to the difficulty of developing and maintaining affordable housing with the low rental rates necessary for low- and moderate-income families.
The newspaper article cited the audit's insinuation that two former county employees — Jake Stowers and Fred Marquis — being on the CHAF board of directors had unethical implications. Stowers and Marquis are men of impeccable character, and the implication that they would somehow be involved in something improper is unforgiveable. The addition of Stowers and Marquis to the CHAF board of directors not only provided great experience and counsel but also oversight in the complexities of working with various governmental and other agencies.
CHAF has, for over a decade, worked to provide affordable multifamily rental housing to the citizens of Pinellas County, at the same time repaying the Community Development Department tens of thousands of dollars on its loans, allowing that agency to reinvest those monies in additional housing.
CHAF's operations and its management are constantly monitored for compliance with fiscal and procedural protocols, and the citizens of Pinellas County can rest assured that this board and its employees will continue to maintain the highest standard of integrity.
John D. Carr, president, Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida Inc., St. Petersburg
Negativity is shortsighted
It is frightening to watch our country's two major political parties inflict havoc upon themselves in Florida. In both the Republican gubernatorial primary (Bill McCollum vs. Rick Scott) and the U.S. Senate Democratic primary (Jeff Greene vs. Kendrick Meek), the unrelenting negative campaigning is effectively weakening whoever may outlast the other in the Aug. 24 primary.
This is certain to provide a degree of campaign relief for the likely Democratic nominee (Alex Sink) in the governor's race, the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate race (there are three men in the primary), as well as independent Charlie Crist.
What has happened to long-term thinking and strategy? So much in political, business and social thinking and behavior these days looks at today, and not tomorrow. Very sad.
Ray Blush, New Port Richey
Sorry election selections
In all my years on Earth, over 81 to be exact, it's hard to recall a bunch of candidates who are chewing each other up and spitting them out like the bunch running in this election. They are calling each other crooks, frauds, mismanagers of our money, wasteful, self-serving — and the list goes on.
I can't imagine what any of them are going to do to improve our way of life and get this great country of ours back on track. None seems willing to share their plans with voters. They only want to talk about how terrible their opponent is. It seems to me the choice would be the lesser of two evils, and it's a shame that our nation has to make such a choice.
Good luck folks. I'm just glad I don't have grandchildren to suffer through all this.
Charles R. Prevatte, Dade City
Think about inexperience
In 2008, Americans elected a relatively inexperienced senator to the highest leadership position in this country: the presidency.
In preparation for the upcoming primaries, the mantra from some candidates in both parties is change, no political experience (which must be a plus as political experience is a negative?) and ambiguous promises of creating jobs.
Do we really want our state and local leaders to be as politically inexperienced and ineffectual as our elected president? Do we really want our elected officials to "learn the ropes" at the expense of our economy and communities?
Personally, I would prefer to have leadership with political experience, people who will know how to work with both parties from Day 1.
Please think before you vote, because the candidates who win this primary will be our choices in the November election.
Brenda Belanger, Lutz
Fed up with voting
I have been a lifelong liberal and was very pleased with the outcome of the last election. I am 67 and "have mine" — health insurance, retirement benefits, etc.
I burned my mail-in ballot. Let the tea party have it. I'm sick of gutless Democrats and the Republican Party of yes to the rich and no to the poor. People deserve what they get when they vote.
Good luck to you young people. I will be dead before the corrupt Republicans and corrupt Democrats have time to destroy everything.
John Low, St. Petersburg
Weep for our future
Every day I read letters that criticize "our" lawmakers and our county officials. I sense the level of frustration growing, even as our ability to impact the laws and rules created by these people lessens.
In the unending election cycles we have conservatives calling each other liberals. We have the superrich playing at their latest hobby: running for elected office. We have legislators sneaking changes into laws to pay back their election bribes — and make no mistake, call these donations exactly what they are: bribes.
One politician wants welfare recipients to take drug tests — so does that mean the corporate welfare recipients too? Hypocrisy is the order of the day: Get the general public to argue over the immigration demon, while allowing the real jobs to be shipped overseas by the corporate welfare recipients who are paying the bribes.
I'd say, "Take back our government," but it would just end up as a campaign slogan backed by more bribes. Instead I suggest finding a quiet spot to remember what our country used to represent, and weep for our future.
Jay Cooper, Riverview
Daniel Ruth columns
Twice as good
It is so great that Daniel Ruth's column is now in the Times twice a week! We switched from the Tampa Tribune to the Times because of his columns. His writing is funny and insightful and we look forward to now reading it in the Times on Tuesday and Friday.
T.J. Oliver, Valrico