Thursday’s letters: The Florida Holocaust Museum offers help in coping with hatred

These are Thursday’s letters to the editor
Published October 31 2018
Updated November 1 2018

Respects in Pittsburgh | Oct. 31

Don’t be a silent bystander

What happened at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh is devastating. Worshipers who had come to synagogue to pray and to rejoice in a family celebration were murdered because of their faith — the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in American history.

The Florida Holocaust Museum mourns with our community, and the rest of the civilized world. While we grieve, we also remember another of the primary lessons of the Holocaust. People cannot be silent when confronted by prejudice. We continue to see the horrific results of unchecked hatred. It is time put an end to bigotry and intolerance.

Over the past few days, people of all faiths and backgrounds have been asking, “What can I do?” When people visit the museum, they are greeted by a quote from Elie Wiesel: “What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.”

In the wake of this tragedy, we can remain silent, or we can take action. The Florida Holocaust Museum challenges every Floridian to make sure that love, respect and hope conquer hate. Here are a few suggestions:

• Volunteer at the museum, your local house of worship or civic organization.

• Contact schools and your children’s teachers to let them know about our Teaching Trunks and other free resources and programs created to combat hatred, bullying, prejudice and propaganda.

• Arrange for your school or civic organization to participate in our “Skype With A Survivor” program.

Our goal at the museum is to give people tangible tools that they can use to make their schools, communities and the world a better place.

We stand with the victims, their families, the congregation, the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and all others who are subjected to hate. The world must know that we are not bystanders. Show that you are an upstander by posting the good you do on social media using the hashtag #IAmAnUpstander.

Michael Igel and Elizabeth Gelman

The writers are, respectively, the board chair and the executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

Strong mayor in Clearwater

Tampa’s mayor says yes

The Clearwater referendum offers residents the opportunity to enable positive change in their government for decades to come. While the City Manager Bill Horne and your current Mayor George Cretekos have much to be proud of and will be remembered for ably steering Clearwater through the worst recession since the Great Depression, let me offer a perspective on the upcoming referendum.

Having served on both the legislative branch of local government and the executive branch, I cannot tell you how strongly I believe in the accountability and responsibility of a strong mayor form of government. The tangible differences that have occurred in my city, like significantly expanded city parks, improvements in workforce and affordable housing, a downtown that has transformed itself and new employers flocking to these cities, are directly attributed to the ability of a strong mayor to articulate a vision with the authority to carry out that mission. We have a laser-like focus on progress because we know our job will be hotly debated and on the chopping block in the ballot box in just four years.

Having a strong mayor in Tampa brought us the Riverwalk — an effort that took the focused attention of six Tampa mayors and more than 40 years of planning and construction. In St. Petersburg, the efforts of strong mayors are bringing a new destination pier and the world-class artwork of Janet Echelman.

Strong mayors give citizens a clear choice on Election Day. You, the voters have the ability to discern who is prepared and capable of leading your community as mayor. It is not a vote to be taken lightly as you are investing much authority and responsibility in this person. I urge Clearwater residents to vote yes on the Clearwater referendum.

Bob Buckhorn

The writer is mayor of Tampa.

Commissioner says yes

Put Clearwater first and vote yes on the Clearwater referendum, the last question on the ballot. Clearwater is our third-most populous city, boasts one of the nation’s top-ranked beaches and is the home of our Pinellas County government. The city has enjoyed growth due to the fine work of City Manager Bill Horne and Mayor George Cretekos but, because of the limitations of a council/manager form of government, Clearwater residents have not fully benefitted from the economic recovery and they been largely excluded from regional transportation discussions.

Meanwhile, discussions about transportation solutions revolve primarily around the narrow desire to get tourists from the airport to Clearwater Beach. Recently, I was asked why Clearwater wasn’t at the table on the regional transportation discussions in a way that was reflective of their population and overall standing in our region. The answer is simple: Without a strong mayor with the authority to direct staff and carry out a vision, Clearwater will always lag behind Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Voting yes on the Clearwater referendum gives residents an accountable and elected full-time mayor who can fight for their needs during important regional discussions like transportation. It gives Clearwater residents a clear choice to choose which candidates’ vision they want to vote for the future of the city of Clearwater. They deserve nothing less; vote yes on the Clearwater referendum. It will be another decade or longer before the city will have this opportunity again to move forward.

Janet C. Long

The writer represents District 1 on the Pinellas County Commission.

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