Some HART officials balk at merger talks | Dec. 18
Keep eye on goal of better transit
The potential merging of PSTA and HART has proven to be a somewhat messy business. Can it still be done? Yes, although it's a very complicated process. Must it be done? That is an entirely different question, and debatable.
Merging agencies is not a panacea for the region's transit inadequacies. Saving a few million dollars is nice, but both PSTA and HART need better funding sources if they are going to expand their capabilities and enable the Tampa Bay area to shape itself into an economically competitive metropolitan region. Right now, compared to the rest of the country, we're rinky-dink land. Is that how we want to be known for the foreseeable future?
By all means, we need to continue our regional transportation conversation and work toward greater ease of movement across the bay in multiple modes. But as far as transit management and governance goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. And there is no need to panic over a hiccup here and there, as long as we keep moving forward toward the greater goal of significantly increased transit funding.
Pinellas County has its eyes set on a sales tax referendum in 2014, and is in the meantime honing the plan it will place before the voters. This is one path forward that is becoming clearer by the day. Polling has consistently shown a strong desire for better transit service in this region. Our leaders now need to place themselves squarely at the front of the parade.
R.B. Johnson, mayor, Indian Rocks Beach, former chair, PSTA, Indian Rocks Beach
Scott: Higher learning is about higher earning | Dec. 23
Education in ethics
In his interview with Tia Mitchell, Gov. Rick Scott touts profit-driven education as the recipe for improving the future life of graduating students. He sees little point in a liberal arts education.
I agree that students should be more aware of what they are paying for. But the governor's own business history demonstrates what happens when education omits the basic ethics problems that challenge students studying literature, history and even anthropology.
Cynthia Faulhaber, Treasure Island
Learning's deeper purpose
While I appreciate Gov. Rick Scott's single-minded focus on going to college to make money, it might explain his lack of social skills and ability to connect with people.
It would be foolhardy to argue that marketable skills are not a necessity in this exacting society of ours. But learning for the pleasure, excitement and sake of learning is also a necessity for the human heart and soul and the good of man/womankind.
Linda Halperin, Sun City Center
Congress must stand up to NRA Dec. 23, editorial
Change will come
I am a 78-year-old urban African-American male. I lived most of my life in segregated neighborhoods including Roxbury in Boston, Tampa's College Hills housing project and New York City's Harlem. Statistically, these were high-crime areas. Yet I knew personally only one individual who was wounded with a gun. He was shot breaking into a business. I personally do not know anyone killed with a gun and knew only one individual who was murdered by another means.
Based on street crime statistics, we African-Americans should be quaking in our boots. Yet only 21 percent of us own guns. I owned a gun back in the 1960s. One Sunday morning, I heard a noise in my locked garage and almost shot a teenager who had broken in. Shortly thereafter, I disposed of the gun because my wife and I determined that the $15 he stole was not worth killing or injuring him.
On the other hand, whites have a far lesser chance of being the victim of street crime or home invasion. However, 47 percent of them put their families at risk by owning guns. The news media report many more cases of murder-suicide and other family/neighbor-related shootings than it does of shootings of home invaders.
Thank goodness the tragedy of Newtown is causing sane discussions about guns, such as limiting bullet magazine capacity. History tells us that sooner or later Americans will get it right. America abolished slavery, gave constitutional rights to blacks, labor, women and recently to gays. Someday, somehow, Americans will stop the carnage caused by the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.
Howard F. Harris Jr., Tampa
Biting the bullet | Dec. 22, Reading files
The other day I went to a drugstore to buy an over-the-counter cold preparation containing pseudoephedrine. Because that ingredient is used by criminals to make amphetamines, the drug is kept behind the counter. Before I was dispensed the medication, I had to show my driver's license, which was scanned into some database no doubt to determine that I was not buying an excessive amount. The same procedure is followed with controlled drugs (narcotics) to prevent patients from doctor- or pharmacy-shopping.
The same procedure could be easily followed for the sale of ammunition whereby a gun owner would be allowed to buy a small quantity of bullets, specifically designed to fit his registered weapon. Any attempt to buy a large quantity of bullets could be flagged and the authorities could be alerted. Bullets designed for assault weapons should not be sold at all.
John Rinde, Largo
NRA: Arm and protect | Dec. 22
Robbed of our freedoms
Why don't we go ahead and surround our schools with 12-foot chain-link fences with razor wire on top and space armed guard towers around each school? What is this country coming to? Guns are robbing us of our freedom.
Bill Balmer, Seminole
A time for forgiveness
One gift that some people would love to receive this holiday season is forgiveness. It is the hardest gift of all to grant, but it's a truly unique and invaluable gift that can save a family or friendship.
From time to time there are people in our lives who have made poor choices and do things they wish they could undo. Of course, that's impossible. One thing that it is possible is to forgive the person who hurt you. As the offender, you can only offer sincere apologies and hope the person you hurt will grant you the most extraordinary gift of all: forgiveness.
Kevin Starnes, Tampa