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When stimulating economy, give schools priority

Stimulus wish lists readied | Dec. 14, story

Education deserves to be a priority

I was surprised and shocked, to say the least, when I read the "wish lists" of Pinellas County leaders. Have they not been reading the problems we are having in Pinellas County schools?

We have a $40-million shortfall and are closing schools and reassigning more than 30,000 students with new bus routes, yet they want to widen Keystone Road for $82-million and relandscape Cleveland Street for nearly $4-million?

At least Hillsborough County is seeking to put almost $200-million into schools. We, on the other hand, are extending sidewalks and replacing curbs.

Being at one of the closing schools, I realize I have a vested interest in this, but please tell me that someone in Tallahassee has read some of our correspondence and sees the irony of widening a road where the houses are in foreclosure, which is why the schools are in this mess in the first place. Please tell me that someone in Tallahassee realizes that schools need to come first.

So, teachers and students, please be assured that as we close our doors soon, we could all be safer walking across the Friendship Bridge, which is on the list for being refurbished.

Patricia Norris, Clearwater

Look beyond shovels

The politicians are having a field day. Barack Obama's pledge to create jobs by improving the infrastructure is a direct throwback to FDR's New Deal.

A recent Times article stated that everyone is pressing for projects that can get a "shovel in the ground" quickly. This will certainly help the construction industry, but what about the hundreds of thousands of white-collar jobs that have been lost?

Is the United States interested in saving only the construction industry at the expense of the "dumbing down" of America? Surely there are jobs for the white-collar professions as well, which will also improve the infrastructure. Why not invest some money in high-speed rail, light rail and regional transportation systems?

Let's invest in new energy sources on a continual basis instead of having these programs turned on and off depending on the price of gas. Why must our elected officials be so shortsighted?

Albert E. Brendel, Clearwater

Republicans dawdle as Detroit falls | Dec. 12

Bankruptcy is best option for automakers

Your editorial misses three key points:

1. The marketplace determines the value of anything. The stock price of the three automakers reflects their financial performance. If it's such a good deal, why don't investment banks or individuals put money into these wonderful companies with such great investment opportunities?

2. The current bailout or loan proposal is a drop in the bucket. With the debt of these companies and onerous labor stipulations they will never be successful. They are simply not competitive.

3. The only solution is bankruptcy. This would give the companies a chance to reorganize and get rid of past labor and management mistakes.

What the UAW and other unions simply don't get is that it's never labor vs. management. It's the customer, stupid. Customers are simply not willing to buy a car with a pension content of $2,000 per vehicle or a labor content at $70-plus per hour. Puting another penny into Detroit is pouring money down the drain.

Peter Sontag, Clearwater

Bashing unions

You have to give the Republicans credit. Even though labor costs account for only 10 percent of the Big Three's budget, they are trying to blame the failure of the bailout on union demands. The UAW has "given back" on their last three contracts.

The Republicans are simply continuing their decadeslong obsession with ending union labor. Does anyone really believe that without unions we would have health care, retirement funds or make more than $5 an hour?

Steve Harden, Holiday

Detroit can't catch up

It's hard to imagine why senators, or anyone else, think that doling out enough money to get American automakers through a few more months will, in the long run, make any difference. Asian carmakers have been making a superior product and eating the lunch of American carmakers for the last 30 years.

Why that has happened is, I'm sure, a long story with many twists. But I suspect that it begins with management and their general attitude. It's not unusual to hear of a disgraced Asian executive taking his own life when his actions bring failure and disgrace to his company. The story we hear most often in America is that the disgraced American executive has negotiated a very lucrative severance package and is off to play golf at his country club.

It's not that Americans don't understand excellence and innovation. The founders of Google and Apple have created superior products. The auto industry, however, seems to be an old dog that just can't learn new tricks.

Alan Reeder Camponi, St. Petersburg

Gay protesters to Crist: When can I get married? | Dec. 13, story

Ridiculous protest

First of all I would like to congratulate Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and his beautiful wife, Carole. May you both have a wonderful life together as husband and wife. This wedding, first and foremost, is between a man and a woman. The man happens to be the governor of Florida.

The 200-plus protesters who were across the street from the church and the park in front of the Vinoy resort where the reception was held had no business being so rude and obnoxious to the members of this wedding and the guests attending.

Amendment 2 was voted in by more than 60 percent of Florida's voters back in November because the sanctity of marriage should be between one man and one woman. Those silly protest signs that said "Best Wishes: Why Can't I" are ridiculous because of Amendment 2. Florida does not recognize homosexual marriage today and I hope and pray Florida never does. If these people want to marry then they should give up the homosexual lifestyle and marry a person from the opposite sex.

Lester K. Gehman Jr., St Petersburg

Gay protesters to Crist: When can I get married? | Dec. 13, story

Respectful demonstration

Impact-Florida's goal was to be a visible presence to celebrate the wedding of Charlie Crist and Carole Rome's wedding, their right to marry, to mourn the passage of Amendment 2 and to ask the governor, "When can I get married?"

Impact-Florida's 200-plus demonstrators remained peaceful and respectful at all times. Even Larry Keffer's usual tactic to incite confrontations and shouting matches with demonstrators failed miserably.

Impact-Florida's demonstration at the church and candlelight vigil at the Vinoy was intended to be a as silent, peaceful and respectful, as they were. When Gov. Crist and his new wife, Carole, exited the church after the ceremony for a photo-op, we cheered and wished them well, just as we did when they arrived for the their reception.

R. Zeke Fread, Impact-Florida organizer, Tampa

Florida's budget hole: $2.3-billion | Dec. 11

Money-saving ideas

The article incorrectly states that I am "proposing early release for some nonviolent offenders …"

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations, I have been working diligently to ensure public safety and access to justice, despite shrinking state revenues. One of the suggestions that came forward through our research was to consider community-based incarceration. This plan would simply provide an option for less expensive housing for nonthreatening inmates who are in the last months of their sentence and who are successfully participating in a work-release program. The Department of Corrections and the Parole Commission would screen and approve each inmate for this program.

Currently, the state is spending hundreds of millions of dollars building new prison space, and this is one plan that could help shrink that cost, freeing up much-needed revenue for budget deficits in public safety, health and human services and education.

Currently there is no legislation, only ideas that will be workshopped throughout the upcoming legislative meetings.

Victor D. Crist, state Senate, District 12, Tampa

When stimulating economy, give schools priority 12/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 2:29pm]
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