Mayor: Off our streets | June 3
Quick fix doesn't get at problem
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's heavy-handed attempt at a "solution" to the homeless problem may pacify downtown business owners, but the problem will remain — it just won't be downtown's problem, which is evidently all the mayor, the council and the downtown business community care about.
This measure effectively criminalizes people who are guilty of nothing more than being without a home, and in the long run it does not solve the problem, it merely relocates it. It may be legal to arbitrarily round up people from public spaces and offer them the option of jail or mandatory participation in a shelter program that operates under conditions hardly distinguishable from incarceration, but it is not compassionate, moral or responsible. Indeed, it has the chilling appearance of the kind of action one might expect from a police state, and this reader will not cast a vote in favor of any city official who supports it.
Finding suitable housing and life-skills training for the homeless population should be a social priority, but this is simply not the way. Safe Harbor, being located as it is right next to the Pinellas County Jail, has the emotional and psychological impact of being seen by one sent there as little more than a type of punishment. In an enlightened and democratic society, we do not demean the dignity of people by punishing them when they have done nothing wrong.
Moreover, in practical terms, the services provided by this shelter do not resolve the central issue faced by its clients — the need for a permanent place to live — and therefore the larger problem for the community will remain. This is a mean-spirited quick fix that won't actually fix anything.
John Feeney, St. Petersburg
International panel: Drug war a failure June 3
Drug war creates criminals
Did it really take an international panel to figure out that the war on drugs is a failure? It is obvious when you look at nearly every Cops episode and see someone getting arrested for drug possession. The only thing that the war on drugs has truly done is give organized crime a way to make a lot of money and turned more people into criminals.
All you can do is give people a good education. If they still want to use the drugs, about the only thing you can do is give them is a safe and secure place to use their drugs, and maybe some optional help in getting off. After that, it's up to them.
Jeff McElveen, Safety Harbor
Camera tickets in peril? | June 4
Equalize the penalties
With a judge ruling that you can't make two different punishments for the same crime, why not just make the fines match, whether stopped by a cop or a camera?
I never drive without seeing someone run a light. I tell my out-of-state guests, "If you are stopped at a red light, don't go when it turns green. Wait and look, because there is a very good chance someone will be barreling through, trying to make the light."
We need these cameras. Florida drivers must learn that red means stop.
Sandy Ericson, Clearwater
Lax dress sets bad example
I don't believe children should wear school uniforms, but teachers should. When I would visit my daughters in middle school, I was amazed at the lax dress of the teachers. How do they expect to earn respect when they dress like the students? The teachers looked like they were trying to bond with their students by adopting their appearance.
Tim Williams, Tampa
School chief search shallow | June 1
Not the governor's doing
This story was off the mark in blaming Gov. Rick Scott for the inability to attract "education stars" to the job of education commissioner.
Rick Scott was elected on a mandate for change, serious budget cuts and getting the state's financial house in order. This he has done and should be commended. Along the way he may have bruised some egos. But that is the byproduct of getting the job well done. He inherited enormous budget deficits. In no way is Scott to blame for a lack of great candidates for the job of education commissioner.
Referring to former commissioner Eric J. Smith, who did a great job, as a "rock star" does a disservice to the man and his distinguished efforts.
R. Victor Wood, Indian Rocks Beach
Action in House lacking
House Speaker John Boehner said recently that it was time for the president to get serious about job creation. It seems to me that Barack Obama was trying to do that with the stimulus packages and the car company bailouts and keeping the banks from going under and some of the infrastructure projects.
I don't agree with some of it, but at least he made some proactive moves. The Republicans/tea party took control of the House six months ago. What have they proposed or what bills have they passed to stimulate job growth? I'm talking about immediate job growth to put families back to work.
Jeff Cutting, Brandon
Profits roll in, taxes don't | June 2
Voters partly to blame
If you are having a problem understanding why Chevron, ExxonMobil, General Electric and other big corporations do not pay income taxes, look no further than Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which states: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes."
Your representatives listen to the corporate lobbyists who contribute millions to their election campaigns. Then ask yourself whom you voted for — and do a little homework about their record. You may come to understand that you are partly responsible for big corporations not paying taxes.
Arnold Christensen, Tampa
Talk of hookah safety is just blowing smoke June 4
It's a personal choice
Just as with cigarettes, smoking a hookah is a personal choice. Alcohol kills far more people than hookahs or cigarettes, and it is sold readily in bars throughout Florida as well as in supermarkets.
College students are adults and can make adult decisions, including whether or not to enter a hookah smoke shop. The vast majority of people who use hookahs are well aware of the dangers, just as drinkers are aware of the affects of alcohol. I don't know the point of this editorial, other than imposing your own personal choice on others.
Christopher Curley, Sun City Center