Tampa Bay Times
Times is rewarding, enriching
Since moving to the Tampa Bay area as a young man more than 35 years ago, I can think of only one constant in my life (other than my wife): having the St. Petersburg Times in my hand.
In the beginning I read mostly sports, jobs, local news, entertainment, police reports and business. As my life changed with children, and I became self-employed, I added a few things like local and national politics.
I am proud to say it has enriched my life, because when I placed an ad in the Times for my new business, and it worked, it helped me to succeed. The ad reps were great people who helped in that regard.
Culturally, I have learned many things in the Times; socially, I was able to converse about many subjects I read about. Occasionally, I would even write an opinion letter to vent or express a view.
Overall, it has been rewarding and enriching to my life, and I feel that some of the longtime reporters and writers are my friends, whom I dearly need to hear from!
I've just reached a number where I have to stop calling myself middle-aged, but as long as I can get up and go to my driveway, I will start my day reading the St. P … I mean Tampa Bay Times. Keep the presses going, the reporters writing, the classifieds selling, and the editors editorializing, because I can't wait to read what the new year brings.
Jerry Tetro, Seminole
New $5 parking fees start | Jan. 3
Taxes by another name
Welcome to the wonderful world of Republican taxes. The new park fees for Pinellas County went into effect Tuesday.
Add this to the higher insurance rates from Citizens Insurance Corp., which is a co-owner of the Republican Legislature along with other financial institutions and special interest groups; the new charges, for their lack of oversight, from Progress Energy (a company that also owns the Public Service Commission); to name just a few Republican taxes, and one can see the Republicans are not at all as tax-shy as they so often claim.
Ronald Reagan — excuse me for a moment while I genuflect at the mention of his name — called taxes "revenue enhancements." As Shakespeare once said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Taxes are taxes no matter what Republicans choose to call them.
R.R. Campbell, St. Petersburg
Lift state gun law's cloak of secrecy Dec. 30, editorial
Don't inform the criminals
The logic of publishing the names and addresses of individuals who have obtained a concealed weapons permit escapes me. Perhaps we should also publish an additional list of any expensive electronic equipment, jewelry and other valuable personal belongings that a criminal might be searching for.
Statistics prove that as the percentage of legally armed citizens goes up, crime goes down. Of course, those statistics may change dramatically as soon as the bad guys know where to find the tools of their trade.
John Kauzlarich, Largo
System works fine already
The assertion that Florida's concealed weapons permit program lacks accountability, based on a New York Times review of another state's database, is the most "disturbing" aspect of this Tampa Bay Times editorial.
It fails to articulate a single compelling reason, other than idle curiosity, to publicly identify the 878,174 Floridians with such legal capacity. The knowledge that your "neighbors, estranged spouses or co-workers could be packing" would not address public safety, since every qualified Floridian may legally own and transport guns in anonymity.
Similarly, the claim of public disclosure being necessary to ensure accountability in the proper issuance of such licenses is hollow given that many of a potential applicant's disqualifiers are not public record.
There are many good reasons for maintaining the current confidentiality, including the significant percentage who are current or former law enforcement officers, or because doing so would create a de facto directory of "homes likely to contain one or more firearms" for criminals to target.
Florida now subjects every prospective applicant to fingerprinting, a criminal background check, and proof of minimum levels of knowledge and skill proficiency — a much higher standard than obtaining a driver's license, which, by the way, is also shielded from public disclosure.
Florida provides broad information such as licensee demographics, geographical distribution, total licenses issued, revoked, suspended and denied.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' website, the program has denied 648 licenses, revoked 354 and suspended 1,551 for disqualifying arrests or DUI over the past six months. Additionally, the department responds to records requests from editorial boards and the general public for other aggregate information such as the number of licensees committing gun-related crimes.
Instead of denouncing our current system using North Carolina data from the New York Times, perhaps a well-informed, fact-based presentation of the current situation in Florida might be in order?
Foster Harbin, Lloyd
Honor all who saved Jews | Dec. 30
Courage and humanity
I was touched by Eva Weisel's story about Khaled Abdul Wahab, who rescued her and her family from the Germans in Tunisia. By any standards, his actions merit him being designated as one of the "righteous" protectors. At risk to himself, he provided shelter, sustenance and comfort to Jewish families. Although Abdul Wahab may have been so far denied recognition for his courage and humanity by the commission, I know he is enjoying his just reward in the afterlife.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center
12 phrases on avoid list for '12 | Dec. 31
Four to bring back in 2012
While Lake Superior State University lists phrases like "baby bump" and "man cave" to be eliminated in 2012, my wish for the new year is to bring back these words: happiness, health, prosperity and stability.
Edward Coombs, St. Petersburg