Lens moves ahead, slowly | Dec. 7
Pier plan aims beyond commerce
Communities across the country have reached into their pockets, bonded future tax revenue and given short shrift to libraries, roads and other public projects — all to build sports stadiums.
In St. Petersburg, we have the chance to do something different. We have the chance to use funds that are already earmarked for the purpose to construct a beautiful synthesis of sunlight, water, recreation and society. This is a facility whose first priority isn't commerce; it wasn't designed around the needs of capital or economy, but reaches for that something greater that architecture can sometimes achieve.
Paddling under the Pier approach is a frightening testament to what saltwater can do to aged infrastructure. There are areas where spalling is the norm and clean edges can't be found. The road bed will soon be unsafe for vehicles. So we can't do nothing or live with the status quo.
I wasn't a big fan of the process that brought us here but have come to appreciate the design that resulted. I think St. Petersburg should build the Lens.
Chris Kelly, St. Petersburg
Look to other examples
What happened to the idea that making a new pier shorter in length would cut costs? Then proper materials could afford to be used. A long walk to an open-air restaurant on a pier is not practical in Florida heat, wind and rain.
The architect needs to look in his own backyard at the San Clemente, Calif., pedestrian-only pier built in 1920s by a private builder and still a city landmark. Two restaurants are at base of this wide wooden pier, with a snack bar near the end where fishermen cast their lines. Shops, restaurants and parking are located across the street.
Sylvia Walbridge, St. Petersburg
Her story of infamy | Dec. 7
We need to remember
Thank you so much for finally letting Elizabeth McIntosh give her firsthand account about the Pearl Harbor attack. Yes, it is graphic and probably too much so for the sensibilities of 1941, but those of us not born then need to know the truth and why our elders can never forget what happened. It was most appropriate for Friday's front page.
It also tells us why the country became so united in the effort to defeat the Axis powers, something the Allies on a few occasions came very close to not doing. Even with today's economic problems, very few are being called to the sacrifices Americans, in uniform and out, made then to ensure this victory.
It's also nice that Elizabeth McIntosh is still alive to receive this appreciation, albeit 70 years late. She deserves our gratitude.
Theressa Placke, Tampa
Homeless still here, though not as visible Dec. 4, John Romano column
Afflicted can recover
I was dismayed at the throwaway comment in John Romano's column in which he distinguished between working families who are homeless and individuals with mental illnesses or addictions. He states that persons with these afflictions will "never be fully integrated back into society" — which is patently untrue. The science is clear. With the proper support and treatment, individuals with mental illnesses and addictions can fully recover.
Relatedly, the working poor are at extremely high risk to develop mental illnesses and/or addictions if they continue to live in uncertain and traumatic environments. Romano perpetuates a myth that mitigates against action to help those in need. What we need is the political will to do what we know will work. In fact, action to house homeless individuals with behavioral health disorders is smart public policy — ultimately resulting in net social savings.
David L. Shern, president, Mental Health America, Temple Terrace
Teacher ratings unreliable | Dec. 8, editorial
Rush to judgment
In view of such a rush to judgment, what rational outcome could be expected? As a master's degree "teacher of the year" with teaching experience in three states and England, I consider Florida a vacuum in terms of sanity related to teacher evaluation and teaching conditions. Teachers are now the favorite punching bag. Every eager politician from the county level to the state level claims to have the magical cure-all.
Even those with marginal awareness of child development know that growth in children is uneven, whether you are talking about height or student achievement. First, the student must be conceptually mature enough to master the material.
One of the wisest principals in my experience encouraged us to look at three successive years on a student's achievement test.
Lou Hunter, Clearwater
Crist all in as a Democrat | Dec. 8
It's all about power
Had Charlie Crist remained an independent, I may have considered him for a second run as governor. But now as a Democrat, I cannot.
Years ago it wasn't that uncommon to hear someone say "I don't vote the party, I vote the man." Those days are long gone. Today, we no longer elect a man (or a woman), we elect a party. And our two-party system is failing us. Governance is no longer about serving the people and serving the greater good. It's about serving the party. And the party is money — lots and lots of it.
Somehow Crist is able to attract voters and attract backers. I would like to have seen him take the political risk, put ambition aside (although there is no precedent for that) and continue as a populist-independent. Instead, Crist is a Democrat. It's politically convenient. He's just another mouth for the party, the power and the money.
Len Keller, Seminole
I adamantly disagree with those critics who say that Charlie Crist is willing to throw out his principles to achieve the goal. In fact, it's quite the contrary. Crist appears to be a man of principles, who has been continuously chastised by the GOP for his freethinking and not kowtowing to their mean-spirited "my way or the highway" attitude.
As President Barack Obama has stated, Crist's values are neither Republican nor Democrat. They are American values.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater