Chamber bucks tax hike | Sept. 22
Tampa needs tax increase
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chamber's opposition to the proposed property tax hike in Tampa is disappointing. For business people who should understand the dynamics of financing and business, it appears they did not listen very well to the mayor's explanations. The tax raise is rooted in the city acting in a fiscally responsible manner. All solid reasons. We hear our visionaries speak about the shortcomings of Tampa with regards to transportation and roads, and then we get this reaction — unbelievable. We are in one of the lowest-tax states and localities in the country. Keeping the city fiscally sound is imperative to have the ability to take advantage of opportunities for transportation when they arise. To say that a $140 ( cost of a night out) increase per year will be a disincentive for business to move here is an obfuscation. How about we assess additional taxes for better transportation and roads? Do you think taxpayers will get a return on their investment? In my mind, without a doubt. Fiscal policy is the only path to set the stage for local GDP growth. We must not let labels distract us from the tasks at hand.
Luciano Prida, Tampa
Rural poor still need help
As emergency responders wind down their work in Florida, the need for help among Florida's rural poor is decreasing very little. Thousands of people have been left without work, without cash, without food, in smashed, dangerous housing. Thanks to media attention, help is flowing into Immokalee, the heavily damaged hub of Florida's migrant farmworking community. But Dover, Mulberry and other rural communities have scarcely seen any of the major charities or any significant aid. A wrecked trailer with a bare kitchen is just as dismal in Plant City as in Immokalee.
South and Central Florida need sustained aid from major charities and government agencies at every level. Low-income farmworkers in Florida will need help with basic necessities until the strawberry and tomato farms revive following Hurricane Irma's damage. It would be cruelly premature for aid groups to withdraw this soon.
Gayane Stepanian, Immokalee
The writer is executive director of the nonprofit Redlands Christian Migrant Association, which operates 18 child care centers and two charter schools in the Tampa Bay area alone. All serve low-income families in farm communities.
Thank the line workers
Hurricane Irma ravaged our state, stealing power from the majority of us. Our line workers — as prepared as they could be to handle the worst case scenario — faced the Herculean task in getting our neighborhoods restored and returned to routine. These men and women left their own families to help families like yours and mine. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with paramedics, firefighters, police and the like, their dedication during and in the days since Irma has renewed the dialogue on how line workers, too, should be designated as "first responders."
Yet, despite all their preparation, sacrifice and grueling shifts, the aftermath of Hurricane Irma has seen some who benefit from these line workers' services to be critical of the pace of restoration. The task of restoring power is not as quick and certainly not as simple as one might think. As they work to support the needs of nearly 20 million Floridians, it is important that we extend our willingness to learn, understand and unite with these dedicated professionals in solidarity as they do what they do best: supporting each and every one of us.
It is easy to overlook our line workers' passion as we go about our lives as usual in the comfort of our homes and workplaces. But it is times like these when we must recognize the comforts they forgo to support us in living our daily lives. These hardworking people deserve all the grace and compassion of our southern hospitality.
Lila A. Jaber, Tallahassee
The writer is the regional managing shareholder for Tampa, Tallahassee, and Orlando, and the governmental affairs practice group leader of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A. She is a former chair of the Public Service Commission and the founder of the Florida's Women in Energy Leadership Forum.
Pinellas grants request to increase pier budget | Sept. 26
Pier not a priority
A Category 1 hurricane caused considerable damage to our electrical infrastructure. We still have flooding and sewage issues in downtown St. Petersburg and surrounding communities, and yet Mayor Rick Kriseman persists in making our new pier a costlier project than is required. Residents do not care about additional art and improvements to the pier approach. We care about not damaging our bay with sewage, not have flood waters enter our homes on sunny days and having electricity during a storm.
Jay Fazakerley, St. Petersburg
President clueless of what flag means | Sept. 26, Washington Post editorial
Why I stand and others kneel
Whenever I am in a venue where the national anthem is played, I will stand. I will stand because my father endured multiple Japanese air attacks in the South Pacific during World War II. I will stand because my wife's father was shot down over Europe and languished for 10 months in a German POW camp. Their sacrifices and the sacrifices of millions of others for our country deserve my respect, so I will stand.
But that does not mean that I agree with the statements made by our president this weekend. To stand because your boss might fire you does not demonstrate allegiance to our nation. This man has shown that he does not understand our great country.
From what I observed, those who decided to kneel or to link arms were not showing disrespect for our country. They recognize that, as great as we are, we still have injustices and inequality in our land. They want to bring attention to these problems so that they may be fixed. They love their country and want it to be better. That is patriotism. Those who stand and those who kneel are not really so much different, if they do it for the right reason.
James Andrus, Pinellas Park