Can we get our mass transit act together? | July 28
Political dithering on mass transit
While New York, Washington, D.C., and many other cities have a densely populated urban core, Los Angeles (the poster child for urban sprawl and car-dependent transit) and a host of other urban sprawl regions do not.
Yet Los Angeles, like other similar regions, has realized that car-dependent transit doesn't work. Many of these regions have well-planned bus, rapid transit, subway, plus light and heavy rail systems that cannot keep up with demand.
Meanwhile, Florida utterly fails to understand urban sprawl realities in its lethargy to create or "improve" ever more car-choked roads.
The overriding problem is politicians who refuse to work together to create policies in the best interests of their constituents. Politicians in Tampa Bay, and Florida in general, have utterly failed to create comprehensive, coordinated public transit, and adequate stable funding to maintain and modernize what little transit exists, as well as to create new systems to meet emerging needs. They're still blissfully in a love affair with cars and roads.
That's a certain recipe for an also-ran status in an economy dependent upon transportation, plus a generation not immersed in that "love affair."
I lived and worked in Washington, D.C., when it was struggling to create its Metro, with all the pro and con rhetoric associated with such ventures. Finally D.C. succeeded, and it works very well.
I have resided in Tampa Bay since 1983. Every three to five years, Tampa Bay engages in verbal histrionics over public transit in which little, if any, progress toward that goal results.
Moving at a glacial pace, will Tampa Bay pols ever create adequate public transit, or just blindly "improve" car-dependent infrastructure?
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater
Doubting 'stand your ground' is reasonable July 21, John Romano column
There's no reason victim should have to retreat
"Stand your ground" is an improvement over duty to retreat. In our jury system a defendant is innocent until proven guilty and is not required to testify. The duty to retreat conflicts with this basic concept of our legal system. The prosecution could simply state that the accused did not retreat, and therefore is guilty. The only option left for the defendant is to testify and explain why retreat was not possible.
A law that would cause a defendant to testify violates a basic concept of our legal system. The "stand your ground" law fixes that flaw in the old law. Also, the "stand your ground" law does more to protect the victim. There is no reason to protect the assailant at the expense of the victim. When an assailant attacks a victim, there is no reason under the law that the attack should create an obligation on the part of the victim.
There is no reason, when the victim is reasonably in fear of death or great bodily harm, that he or she should be considering or planning a retreat. There is no reason for our legal system to examine self-defense in hindsight at the expense of the victim.
Remember, "stand your ground" requires that a person act as a reasonable person would do under the same circumstance. It's not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Standing your ground is not an obligation. That should be included in all discussions on "stand your ground." Anyone who has an opportunity and the presence of mind to retreat will save themselves a lot of time, trouble and money. However, retreat should not be required.
Richard Minzenberger, Ocala
Having been fortunate to grow up in an era reflecting solid family values, when most Americans felt good about themselves and their neighbors, it is depressing to see our own communities so divided. They appear to be full of angry residents who are, consciously or unconsciously, driven by self-interest and personal agendas that end up causing irreparable damage to the community.
St. Petersburg and Safety Harbor are two prime examples of otherwise nice cities being ripped apart by bitter infighting. It's difficult to pin the blame on who or what is at fault: the failure of local government to take a strong lead in guiding our community development and affairs, individuals with personal agendas, or the difficult times in which we now live. Add to the list a breakdown of community trust and positive social contact.
A good example of a community working together for the greater good was the overwhelming support for little Ireland Nugent, injured not long ago in Palm Harbor. One the other hand, one of the underlying causes of Trayvon Martin's death in Sanford may well have been the lack of communitywide trust.
I was living in California during the riots in Los Angeles and Rodney King's public plea following his beating, asking, "Can we all get along?" This may have come from his heart but, sadly, those memorable words uttered in 1992 seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Harvey A. Smith, Palm Harbor
Obama rips GOP inaction | July 26
Recently, President Barack Obama referred to the earth-shaking revelations being uncovered in Washington as "phony scandals." I wonder how the relatives of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, feel about their loved ones being described as part of a "phony scandal." Why does the administration continue to stonewall and prevent the truth from being known?
Jim Hayes, Clearwater
Tampa Bay Times
Thank you for making the effort and paying the expenses to sustain the effort to say things that badly need saying. Latest example: your exposé of William A. "Hoe" Brown. Better yet, you didn't just drop the bomb and go on to another story, you followed up with more stories — on the front page — as more information became available.
And as often happens with your stories, they are not there just to amaze or provide gossip. After you lay out the whole story, authorities find themselves forced to deal with the situation, time after time. I love it. This is what newspapers are for, and you are doing a great job.
Linda B. Hope, Tampa