Homeless families can't be ignored | June 25, editorial
Put focus on affordable housing
In the most recent of numerous editorials concerning affordable housing, the Times brought to our attention a human crisis too few of us are even aware of: the plight of homeless families. The most recent Housing and Urban Development estimate of nearly 2,000 homeless families and almost 12,000 homeless people in Pinellas County identifies a severe human crisis. According to the Times, "The homeless family crisis is fueled by low wages and a dearth of affordable housing." How many more children of working families will have to sleep in cars and brush their teeth in public restrooms before our officials give the need for affordable housing the priority it demands?
Pinellas County voters will be asked in November 2017 to approve renewal of the Penny for Pinellas tax. This is the perfect opportunity to set aside funds to make a serious dent in the affordable housing crisis. Faith communities from throughout Pinellas have proposed that 4 percent of funds from Penny from Pinellas be set aside for affordable housing The Pinellas County administration has responded by promising that 8 percent will go to economic development and housing. That is not acceptable. Affordable housing must be an independent initiative with its own goals, funding and management in order to be successful and accountable to the taxpayers.
In the current plan there is no guarantee that any money will actually go to affordable housing. Voters will be much more likely to support the renewal of the Penny if there is clear commitment to set aside 4 percent for affordable housing. Let's not miss out in this once-in-a-decade opportunity to do something significant to help working families in Pinellas who struggle to find a safe place to raise their family.
Bob Meehan, Clearwater
Mayoral hopefuls trade barbs | July 14
Let's hear plans, not politics
I resent that the sewer issue is being politicized to the extent it is in the race for mayor of St. Petersburg. The finger-pointing back and forth is nauseating. What is obvious is the sewer infrastructure has been neglected for decades, with some pipes over 80 years old. It is futile to try to place blame on one person.
Whether or not the Albert Whitted plant was open, a spill was inevitable. It was just a matter of degree and the extent of the overflow. The water that flooded the system came from numerous points with a duration and amount that could not have been anticipated.
Now that there is a plan in place, I want to see respectful discussions about some of the other issues facing our city. Here are a few for starters: plans for the less fortunate among us, getting drugs out of our neighborhoods, providing affordable housing, improving the environment and supporting the arts community.
Patrick J. Sweeney, St. Petersburg
Glades official rebukes scholars | July 15
Cost of ignoring science
Gov. Rick Scott water carrier Pete Antonacci has split with the National Academy of Sciences in its role in the multibillion-dollar Everglades restoration project he oversees because, in his view, the NAS insists on intruding into "policy." And what is their offensive intrusion into policy? In its most recent report, the NAS criticized the fact that the project "does not include calculations for dealing with climate change and sea level rise."
Antonacci wants to tilt at his patron's — the governor's — ludicrous windmill of climate science rejection and guide his project's expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars with eyes and ears tightly shut to science and reality.
This is how climate change denial infects our politics, and then our policy, and wastes not only the billions of tax dollars at stake but also the many billions of dollars in further loss that will be sustained directly as a result of property losses and future emergency remedial measures.
Steve Douglas, St. Petersburg
Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Donald Trump, has demonstrated that she is masterful at the art of deception. When speaking on behalf of the White House, Conway regularly and unabashedly makes use of a straw man construct.
In recent interviews, Conway successfully navigated the discussion away from the Trump administration's ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign by suggesting the media is responsible for the scandal. When presented with evidence to the contrary — Donald Trump Jr.'s email correspondence showing a willingness to collude with Russia — Conway was undeterred and pivoted again, this time to alleged misdeeds by the Clinton campaign.
While these tactics may work with Trump-friendly media outlets, it would be unrealistic to expect the same result when Trump associates appear before special counsel Robert Mueller or Congress.
Jane Paladino, Tampa
All federal employees whose jobs include dealing with classified information are first required to fill out Standard Form 86. It is over 120 pages in length.
Jared Kushner, in addition to being Donald Trump's son-in-law, also functions as an unsalaried special adviser to the president who is involved in many sensitive, high-level activities requiring a security clearance. According to press reports, Kushner has now been interviewed at least twice by the FBI about the information he provided on his SF 86, which he has now also amended at least twice, specifically as regards his dealings with Russians.
The U.S. Criminal Code provides that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony that may result in fines and/or up to five years imprisonment. In addition, federal agencies generally fire, disqualify or do not grant a security clearance to individuals who have materially and deliberately falsified these forms.
How many times will Kushner be allowed to amend his SF 86 before he is charged with a felony or at least have his security clearance revoked?
Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center