Editor's note: Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly helps.
Help us choose the letter of the month for April by reading through the three nominated letters and voting on the ballot at the bottom of the web page.
Take initiative and retrain
I am tired of hearing about the poor forgotten Donald Trump voters. They are not forgotten. If they are, it is quite possibly their own fault. The Republicans are always pushing the "personal responsibility" agenda; why does it not apply to these folks?
When you barely finish high school (or do not finish at all) intending to go to the local plant and get a job doing the same repetitious task a robot could do, you cannot complain when you show up one day and a robot is doing your job. Life has always moved ahead. If you do not prepare yourself for the future, you are not taking "personal responsibility" for yourself or for your family.
Never have there been so many opportunities to learn from a chair in your home or at the local library. I learned Microsoft Office at 48 from a set of CDs from Office Depot. I learned medical billing for $75 on a website at 67 and started a new career. My husband, who retired from a federal professional position of 30 years, was asked by friend if he would like to learn to be a construction inspector at 65. He accepted the challenge although he had a comfortable retirement and Social Security. He successfully worked in that position for four years, even while undergoing radiation therapy for cancer during one four-month period. You do what you must do. Whining is not an option.
No one should ever be left behind with the learning tools available today. The plants are not going to reopen, folks; you've been scammed. You are not the victim of anything but your own intellectual laziness and lack of motivation. Learn something new. That will make you and America "great again."
Carolyn Wallace, Tampa
Light rail won't work here | April 25, letter
Light rail will work here
Light rail can work in the Tampa Bay area, and it deserves serious consideration. Here's why: The latest U.S. Census Bureau report said the Tampa area had the nation's fourth-highest gain from people moving there in the last year, and there are more people coming every day. Anyone who has driven during rush hour between St. Petersburg and Tampa, just to name one route, knows we have a serious problem. Using cars for the majority of travel, like using coal for the majority of energy, is simply not the future.
Opponents like to argue that people won't drive to a rail station parking lot, but wouldn't you rather drive five minutes to park your car than drive an hour both ways through terrible traffic and deal with aggressive drivers? Think of the money saved in gas, not to mention the benefits of reduced stress and more time spent with family or doing things you enjoy.
As for the argument that winter visitors and seniors won't give up their cars, it's not about giving up cars entirely. It's about making it easier to get between cities so we can all enjoy our increasingly vibrant downtown areas at any time of the day without sitting in an endless line of traffic.
Light rail is not being pushed by greedy downtown business owners. It's being pushed by residents who want a more sustainable way of life, in every sense of the word. The success of the Cross Bay Ferry is a positive indicator that residents and visitors alike are open to alternative modes of transportation. Light rail deserves the same consideration.
Sara Feldman, St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg's economy
The costs of development
While St. Petersburg is going through an economic boom of sorts and property values downtown are rising, there is a social disease that is getting out of control: substance abuse.
Alcoholism is not a new problem in our city. Jack Kerouac drank himself to death here while spouting anti-Semitic, McCarthyist politics. But the recent economic boom has given rise to a disturbingly large number of new bars and seemingly little else. Art galleries that were truly dedicated to supporting local arts have been shuttered due to rising rents and lack of support from the city.
As with any burgeoning bar scene, there are other undesirable elements that come along with the alcohol. You create a thriving bar scene and you also create a thriving drug market. They unfortunately go hand in hand. You have a large number of people getting intoxicated every night, and people will see that as an opportunity to generate money in all forms.
I am sick of seeing our city held up to be a beautiful, shining example of an artistic community while I see people of my generation (I am a millennial, I suppose) succumb to drug addiction and alcoholism. We are running the risk of creating an epidemic for the sake of rising property values and economic growth for a small subset of our population. And let's be honest: A lot of property developers don't even live locally.
This isn't even touching the fact that there are large sections of our population who are shut out from this economic growth due to racial divisions that still exist in this city. I can't see these things continue to happen and sit by idly doing nothing, but I am essentially powerless.
David Brinkmann, St. Petersburg