Thank you for the outpouring of support
On the morning of Jan. 24, 2011, two St. Petersburg Police Department officers, Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and canine Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, tragically lost their lives while doing what they loved — protecting and serving the residents of our city. These two fallen heroes understood and accepted the moral obligation to serve the public interest as peacekeepers.
This was an overwhelming, devastating loss that brought great sorrow to all of us. In spite of this trying and difficult time, my faith continues to be renewed and inspired by the overwhelming and loving outpouring of support from the people in this great community, state and nation. Sometimes tragedies bring out the best of the American spirit, and this was without a doubt one of them.
We had a monumental task and moral obligation to memorialize Tom and Jeff in a way that would be deserving of their acts of heroism and bravery. As a community, you united in a common cause to achieve a common goal. Thanks to you, by all accounts, we exceeded our goal and met our responsibility to these officers and their families. This could not have been accomplished without you.
I am eternally grateful. The overwhelming acts of kindness came, and continue to come, in all forms for the fallen officers — contributions for the families, countless cards, letters, poems, e-mails, children's drawings, teddy bears, phone calls, candles, flowers, food, fundraisers, well wishes, prayers, and acts of service by those just pitching in to help — just to name a few.
I would like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies that supported our efforts at the scene and later at the services for our fallen officers. I also commend the medical and other support personnel who responded to this very unfortunate and tragic event.
We will continue to lift up and move this city forward in a positive and responsible way. Our officers and employees are committed to our profession and will continue to police in a manner which adheres to our core values and tenets of respect, accountability and integrity.
Let us remember the legacies of Tom and Jeff, two courageous and heroic officers, by being a beacon of everlasting hope and peace. Keep their families in your thoughts and prayers. We must never forget the significance of this tragedy and remember that all of our destiny is intertwined as we and the community continue to partner on a higher plane of dignity, peace, trust and respect.
Chuck Harmon, chief of police, St. Petersburg
State budget gap: $4.8B | Jan. 28
Set an example on cuts
I totally agree with state Sen. J.D. Alexander's quote: "I did not run for office to tell state employees we want to cut your pay and benefits, but we are where we are."
He can start by cutting his (and other legislators') pay and benefits first to set an example.
Then they can see how easy it is to live on less while food and energy prices keep increasing.
Dwight Huff, Seminole
If elected, I promise to sue the taxpayers Jan. 27, Troxler column
Don't forget GOP control
Howard Troxler's commentaries on Tallahassee are always insightful, often witty, and only rarely unfair. This recent column is unfair to all of the Democrats in Tallahassee who oppose Republican-led efforts to thwart the recent vote in favor of fair congressional districts.
I applaud Troxler for drawing attention to our House speaker's desire to waste precious tax dollars on a self-serving and politically motivated lawsuit, but he does his readers a terrible disservice by questioning the motives of all 120 members of the Florida House.
Let's be crystal clear. The Florida House of Representatives, like the rest of our state government, has been controlled by Republicans for more than a decade. They didn't invent dysfunction in Tallahassee, but they've been perfecting it for a while now.
I share Troxler's outrage. I've shared it since I arrived in Tallahassee more than four years ago, and I haven't been shy about it. Our state is broken, and while we all bear responsibility for fixing it, it's Republicans who are currently leading the way. They want nothing more than for the public to be confused as to who to blame. It's the responsibility of reporters and columnists to provide needed clarity.
State Rep. Rick Kriseman, District 53, St. Petersburg
State of the Union
All the politicians in Washington seem to be in agreement that the recession ended in June 2009, as stated by the Obama administration.
It makes me wonder if any of these folks buy gas for their cars or food for their table. My wife and I are retired. We live on my pension from the U.S. Postal Service, and she has a small pension from the Pinellas County Schools. We also get a small amount from Social Security.
With no cost-of-living adjustment for the second year in a row, our income has decreased $3,872, caused by rising taxes and skyrocketing health insurance premiums.
They are so busy printing money in Washington trying to keep up with the growing deficit that the strength of the dollar declines, which in turn causes us to spend more dollars to buy everything including food and gas.
In Accounting 101 they teach you that if you spend more than you make, and you borrow money to buy what you want but cannot pay for, you are digging a hole that eventually will become your grave.
Replacing the Democrats with Republicans may not be the answer. Are any accountants running for office?
Donald Kennedy, Largo
A budget-cutting plan
We have to stop kicking the can and curb spending now. There are many federal programs we can cut that fall beyond the constitutional role of the government. After the chief offender — Obama-Care — education, energy and housing each have huge departments in the federal government that devour money.
Rand Paul proposes to cut $16 billion for wars, eliminate the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development and Education. Other agencies with massive budgets would see massive reductions. Put current federal workers already to work cutting all budgets.
The Rand Paul budget-cutting plan may make us cry "uncle." But it is better than being chained to China with unpayable debt and screaming for mercy.
Paula Kelly, Dunedin
Let Americans go to Cuba
Let our people go to Cuba! A year ago I traveled to Cuba with two dozen others from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Eckerd College under a humanitarian license. We enjoyed superb accommodations along with hundreds of tourists from around the world who find Cuba a most desirable destination to enjoy culture, music, art and architecture.
The Cubans were wonderfully warm and especially welcoming to us, expressing the hope that travel restrictions would lessen in the very near future. The Cuban people are remarkably resilient and resourceful. They love their country, and they love Americans.
Do we really want Venezuela to be a better friend to Cuba than we are? Think about it.
Laurie Clement, Tierra Verde
Try a bake sale
How is it that big businesses in Florida can complain about burdensome taxes and profit-eating regulatory costs yet somehow find thousands of dollars in their company budgets to fund parties for the new governor and spend $10,000 on a cake baked by the daughter of the new agriculture commissioner?
One can only imagine what a company would pay for a pie baked by the governor's wife. Maybe the governor should consider state-sponsored bake sales to raise revenue.
Ray Smith, Tampa