Voters sink Lens | Aug. 28
Vote on pier makes city look silly
Sadly, I must offer congratulations to the backward-thinking obstructionists who succeeded in stagnating our downtown pier development for who knows how many years. With no alternate plan and absolutely no concept of what public/private work projects mean to cities like ours, this group succeeded in convincing 19 percent of the registered voters that the Lens was not a good idea.
Having lived in St. Petersburg for most of my adult life, I have seen other forward-thinking people get projects done, in spite of being heavily criticized. Without these people, the Vinoy would have been torn down, I-275 would never have been built through St. Petersburg, Beach Drive would still be empty and the Howard Frankland Bridge would still be two lanes with a yellow line down the middle.
Our system asks that elected officials make decisions. That's why we put them there. Allowing a fraction of the citizenry to overrule a well-thought-out process makes little or no sense.
Now we will sit for years while the next artistic fight takes place. I, for one, think that makes our city look silly.
Scott Stewart, St. Petersburg
Voters sink Lens | Aug. 28
Focus on the water
The next pier could become something better than the Lens. Try a mix of restaurants, food trucks and bars (open-air and air conditioned along part of its length), with paths for strolling or biking, space for some real shops, and wet slips for charter businesses like dolphin viewing cruises and bigger boats to tie up for the day or a few hours.
Florida is about the water and doing things on it. Places like that are getting rarer. The Lens concept is too tame. What gets attention is something that has a multitude of things to do and see for almost everyone. And you can still wrap all of this in fancy trim if you must make an architectural statement.
The combination of these things elsewhere has worked. The piers and river walks in San Francisco, Monterey, Savannah, Charleston and Seattle are huge draws and places I want to go back to.
Bruce Clark, Tampa
Back to the future
The Lens was voted down. So be it. But we absolutely must replace that thing that is an eyesore.
The two structures in the St. Petersburg area that make all jaws drop are the Don CeSar and the Vinoy. Look at the photos of the original structure on the pier in the 1920s. It was breathtaking, it should be re-created, and it should be pink.
Nancy Moore, St. Petersburg
Rubio weighs in on Syria | Aug. 29
Tired of endless war
Sen. Marco Rubio's comments regarding Syria show, yet again, that he doesn't get it. The people of the United States, including increasing members of his own party, are tired of an endless state of war, as well as U.S. military involvement in the affairs of other sovereign countries.
Why Rubio feels the need to identify and arm every possible group that may be friendly to the United States today, but may in the future use these very weapons against us, is beyond me.
We need to learn from our continued military mistakes and act only when our country is directly affected.
Chris Curley, Sun City Center
Obama blames regime | Aug. 29
We always provide reasons for our military actions, regardless of how tenuous or deceitful they are.
In Vietnam, it required the questionable Gulf of Tonkin incident for President Lyndon Johnson to fully commit us to war against North Vietnam. In Grenada, President Ronald Reagan claimed that American students were at risk — this, despite the fact that Grenada is in the British Commonwealth and Margaret Thatcher herself urged Reagan to reconsider.
In Iraq, among the disastrous consequences of that war, millions of Iraqis fled, and a large percentage of them went to Syria. What effect this has had on Syrian politics is not clear, but the struggle between Sunni and Shiite is historical and endless. We seem to be so little guided by history and so artfully by short-range political expedience that we are often tragically confronted by unintended consequences.
Rodger Lewis, Crawfordville
$15 minimum wage
It's a starting point
First, you're not supposed to support a family on minimum wages. The idea is to earn enough before starting a family.
Second, one's minimum wage job is a beginning point, not a permanent station in life. Even Walmart promoted 170,000 workers last year, and most of their store managers started out in low-wage positions.
Third, what would a $15 wage do to the costs at McDonald's and other fast-food companies? Obviously, to remain profitable they'd have to raise prices significantly, or their stock price would tumble. Besides hurting millions of shareholders — many of whom are employees — the reduced cash flow means fewer dollars to build more stores, and thus fewer new jobs.
Based on today's weak economy, such a drastic increase in costs would be an inflationary nightmare, ultimately affecting everyone.
Peter Ford, St. Petersburg
Feds won't target legalized weed | Aug. 30
The right decision
Marijuana activists are celebrating the latest news that the federal government will not target Colorado and Washington's legalized marijuana laws.
A Pew Research Center poll conducted in March found that 60 percent of Americans think the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states where its use has been approved. The federal government is doing the right thing by backing off. It has the right priority by focusing on prevention of marijuana sales to minors, keeping revenue away from organized crime, and not raiding the marijuana dispensaries.
Floridians should pay close attention to how the federal government handles these new guidelines, because in 2014 Florida voters may have the opportunity to make the state the 21st to allow the use of medical marijuana.
Devin Wittcoff, Tampa