Who'll pay for new stadium? | Sept. 22
Bay area doesn't need a stadium
Why does the state's best newspaper so shamelessly flog a supposed "demand" for a near-billion-dollar, white-elephant, brand-new baseball stadium?
This area has unmet human needs aplenty, from infrastructure to education to health care to housing, and lots of unpaid public debt, unemployment and limited "recovery" prospects. Yet you still flack for clotting up the bay area's future with a huge new debt, a gift of our collective wealth payable to a bunch of supposed "capitalists" from New York who can easily afford to build their own dang stadium.
There's no evidence that half a billion or a billion in taxpayer money (current, or as debt service on municipal bonds) dumped into an entertainment franchise where all the profit goes to the Hamptons will return any net benefit to the area.
Businesspeople in San Francisco and St. Louis, including the franchise owners, put up their own stadiums with minimal public assistance. On the numbers, I doubt even 10 percent of Tampa Bay residents are "participating fans," yet you expect all of us to give them, and particularly the sky box crowd, a new playpen? I bet there are more people involved in Little League and softball and soccer here than major-league baseball. Going to offer them a billion in new fields and dugouts and stands?
Why not put your investigative reporters to work, documenting the financials of the owners and the team? And, if you can find any, produce evidence that a freebie stadium for Stuart Sternberg and pals is anything other than a sucker punch to the taxpayers.
Jon McPhee, St. Petersburg
Who'll pay for new stadium? | Sept. 22
Flawed business model
Perhaps the "need" for a new baseball park would be eliminated if the boys of summer would steal a few bases from the National Football League's business model. There, parity allows the Bucs to compete player-for-player with the bigger-market teams.
Politicians and insider businessmen would have us believe a new ballpark will bring back those fan-packed days of yesteryear, when the 1998 Rays opened in the "new" Tropicana Field and around 31,000 folks visited (as opposed to this year: 18,000 or so).
For the plugged-in, another new stadium means new real estate profits and all manner of new, and private, business action.
If a new stadium is built for the Rays, I predict a bump in attendance for a few years, and then a return back to today's reality or less. The new stadium will allow owners, or force them, to charge more for tickets, killing demand. In 10 more years, they'll want another stadium or bailout.
Bruce H. Alexander, St. Petersburg
Pinellas teacher dilemma | Sept. 21
Care starts at home
I have been associated with Pinellas County schools for over 37 years. To base teacher pay on the performance of their students is asinine. If you have a "low" class, or a few students below average, then the total scores are affected adversely. Why blame the teachers because they have to work with what they are assigned? This is demoralizing to the teachers and students involved.
Teaching starts at home. Have parent classes so they can relate to what is required. Many would attend; all should attend if they care. Care starts at home and teachers should not suffer because of home situations or below average students.
S.C. Hill, Clearwater
Vengeance survives as justice slowly perishes | Sept. 23, Daniel Ruth column
Utmost care required
Although I'm sure I lean a tad further right philosophically than Daniel Ruth, I do read his column.
The "Baron of Bloviation" departed from his usual attack sarcasm and penned a fine, thought-provoking column on capital punishment.
While I am a careful proponent of the death penalty, I echo his assertion that "in all probability, innocent people have been put to death." And yes, after four hours of deliberation on Troy Davis, the U.S. Supreme Court should have at least the decency to sign their ruling and let us know how they voted. This did involve a human life.
My only consolation is that God — the final Supreme Court — has judged Troy Davis fairly.
The utmost care has to be exercised when even considering the death penalty. Sometimes there are murderers who deserve to die, and we must be as humanly sure as possible that that is the case.
Thanks, Mr. Ruth, for a fine piece of journalism.
Kenn Sidorewich, Oldsmar
Obama balances cuts, taxes | Sept. 20
Fortune favors the diligent
President Barack Obama insists that his policies and proposals are "about math, not class warfare." I find it interesting then, to hear him speak about how those who are "more fortunate need to pay their fair share" to help those who are "less fortunate."
Webster's defines fortune as "receiving some unexpected good." It seems to me that frugality, strong work ethic and persistence are better predictors of "good fortune" than some unexpected good.
Instead, our president seems to minimize the contributions of the 53 percent of us who pay income taxes while generating resentment among the 47 percent "less fortunate." Dictionary.com defines class warfare as "conflict … resulting from different social or economic positions," which is exactly how Obama is framing his policies.
As one of the proud 53 percent who actually pays income taxes, I am offended by our president and his implication that I am the recipient of "some unexpected good."
Doug Meyn, Tampa
In government, it's not size that counts Sept. 23, commentary
The line is headed upward
With this column, professor Edward Renner provided a graph of government spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. He states that "by this measure our government is no larger than when we were born." I certainly hope that Renner can read a map better than he can read a graph, or else he must be constantly getting lost.
The graph he provides clearly indicates that government spending as a percentage of GDP consistently ran about 3 percent from 1790 until about 1930. During the Depression, the government took on the new role of attempting to stimulate the economy and providing safety nets.
Renner's graph clearly shows how government spending as a percentage of GDP has steadily increased to 24 percent today. More importantly, with 10,000 baby boomers per day becoming eligible for Social Security and Medicare, unless there is a significant change, government spending as a share of national output will only march higher.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs