Let's stay No. 1 in space exploration
When President Barack Obama recently released his recommended budget for fiscal year 2011, the proposal called for an end of the space shuttle program and cancellation of the planned Constellation program (thus halting plans to return to the moon and then going to Mars). The White House proposal would leave our country with no defined mission and would open the door for China or Russia to assume the mantle as the world leader in space exploration.
Not only would this threaten our nation's position as an economic superpower, it also could have serious ramifications for our national defense. Military superiority was once measured by who had the best army. Then it was who had the best navy, and then air force. Today, it is measured by who controls space. Therefore, being the leading nation in space exploration is both an economic and national defense issue.
The president has scheduled a "space summit" in April here in Florida. The "health care summit" the president recently moderated amounted to nothing more than the exchange of political talking points. As a state, and as a nation, we cannot allow the space summit to become another political forum with no real effort to find a solution that is in the best interest of the country.
It is with the need for a defined space mission in mind, and the desire not only to save 7,000 to 19,000 jobs in Florida, but also to maintain our nation's position as the world's leader in space exploration, that I challenge the president to debate the need for the creation of the nation's next human space exploration program now. This is not the time for flowery speeches, it is the time for action.
It is time to make a bold statement and give the American people another challenge (putting astronauts on Mars for starters), another purpose, with a defined time line (within the decade), to continue our nation's leadership in space exploration. Americans rise to the occasion every time we are challenged. Now is the time to take on a new challenge in space exploration — not to retreat from our history, our collective accomplishments and our position as the world leader in space.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, chairman, Space Florida, the state's aero-space economic development agency
Tampa council reaffirms prayer March 19, story
Just pray separately
The Tampa City Council members seem to think they need to invoke a deity to help them make decisions. If the voting public were aware they would be doing that, then we should have the right to know which religious ideations candidates are going to bring to the council meetings.
Since the Constitution states there can be no religious test for a candidate, we cannot ask that question. Therefore, it is possible for one religious group to control the meetings at the expense of the citizens who come to conduct public business.
To make things fair for all, the council members could meet in a separate room just prior to the regular meeting and have their prayer there asking for guidance.
The citizens want to think the council is making decisions based on existing city, county, state or federal rules and regulations and not based on any religious ideation, and do not want to think a god is responsible for denying a petition.
Gloria R. Julius, St. Petersburg
Tampa council reaffirms prayer March 19, story
Not at public meeting
I am not as adamant as the atheist groups who object to an opening prayer at the Tampa City Council meetings. There is not a clear line that separates church and state. Just look at "In God We Trust" on our money.
However, I am extremely bothered by the statement made by pastor Frank Williams of the Missionary Baptist Church. When he says that if they don't like it, "why don't they just get out of here," he reminds me of those intransigents who used to mock antiwar protesters by chanting, "America, love it or leave it."
Worse, however, is his statement that "Jesus Christ died for our sins." At the risk of offending many, and with all due respect to the pastor, Jesus did not die for my sins, nor for those of other Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and the members of many other religions that do not recognize Jesus as the savior. His beliefs belong in his own church, not in a public, government body.
Ronald Medvin, Tampa
A valuable leader lost
I am vice president of properties at Southwest Airlines, and have worked with airports around the country for more than 25 years. In that time, I have never come across a finer airport director than Louis Miller. His departure is a severe loss to Tampa and to its airport, both of which have enjoyed his leadership for the last 14 years.
Airports are about customer service, which means safety, convenience, value and alternatives. Under Miller's guidance, the airport has delivered on all these fronts. He constructed Southwest's home, Airside C, in record time and on budget. He transitioned the airport's rates to create a sound legacy for future generations, and did it while also maintaining low costs for the air carriers that serve Tampa. He expanded the revenue base for the airport, and worked cooperatively with all the air carriers to provide the best air service possible for the local community. Most of all, he created an airport staff and a culture with capabilities that will endure long after he enters the next chapter of his admirable career.
Thank you, Louis Miller, for showing us all how character, diligence, hard work and focus can create excellence.
Bob Montgomery, vice president, Properties, Southwest Airlines Co., Dallas, Texas
Offering quality higher education March 14, letter
Chancellor Margaret Sullivan's response to Eckerd College president Donald Eastman's self-congratulatory article contrasting liberal arts colleges with public universities was superb.
As one who is familiar with both institutions and has taken more than 20 courses at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg over the past eight years as a senior auditor, I know that students in these courses find faculty who are productive and caring teacher/scholars.
As one who has been an academic administrator and teacher his whole life, I know quality in higher education. USF St. Petersburg has it. I invite more of our seniors to experience it for themselves.
Merle F. Allshouse, St. Petersburg
Private colleges thrive by serving students | March 8, commentary by Donald Eastman
Private colleges a plus
As someone with a degree from both Eckerd College and the University of South Florida, and having attended Florida State University for one year, I can state that my experience in higher education supports the views of Eckerd president Don Eastman. The attention to student success at Eckerd leaves that of state universities far behind, as does student-faculty ratios and many other indicators of quality education. Dr. Eastman has the facts on his side.
Do the public universities serve students well? Yes, they do, but the differences with a quality private college are clear and noteworthy.
Margaret Sullivan of USF St. Petersburg (Offering quality higher education, letter, March 14) has a point that the learning environment at the comparatively small St. Petersburg campus is better than at many mainstream universities (and I would like to see that campus continue to grow), but her points serve to tout her campus rather than rebut Dr. Eastman's points.
Dan Chesnut, St. Petersburg