What a naive notion it is to assume that all legislators are doing a poor job. The recent thrust to "vote out all incumbents" is the lazy man's way of passing the buck; it only adds to the problems of our government, not its solutions. Instead of blindly going to the polls on Nov. 6, take the time to investigate the facts and get to know your legislators; call their offices for information regarding their voting record on issues of importance to you, and voice your opinion. Your vote does make a difference.
William and Dayna Nichols, St. Petersburg
Re: I am so confused and disheartened by what the candidates in the upcoming election have to say about their respective opponents that I have decided the only intelligent course of action to be taken at the polls this year is to vote for all candidates who oppose incumbents. That way there is always a chance of some improvement in our government
John R. O'Hanlon, Largo
Price "right in line'
Re: your Sept. 27 front page article Campaigning in a luxury car, followed by your blistering editorial (Sept. 28) of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's purchase of a $29,124 Lincoln Continental, for as Mr. Young says, "It's a pure provision of transportation for political purposes. There's nothing hidden here. There's nothing improper about it at all."
So what if he dipped into his PAC money from defense contractors interested in his work on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Considering the taxpayers have paid defense contractors $436 for a hammer, a $640 toilet seat, $999.20 for a pair of pliers, $117 for a soap dish cover, $120 for a paper cup holder, $1,868 for a toilet cover for a C-5B transport plane, a $30,000 Lincoln is keeping right in line with the mentioned defense contractors' prices that make it so necessary for Mr. Young to keep in touch with his constituents.
William R. Eggers, Largo
Rights for the disabled
On July 26, 1990, President Bush signed into law the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This piece of legislation has been called a "Bill of Rights for Persons with Disabilities." Interestingly enough, I have seen very little analysis of this law in the St. Petersburg Times. I point this out because the lawsuit which is the subject of your editorial just happened to get settled a few days after the ADA was signed.
There are a number of very significant sections to the ADA. It provides that persons with disabilities cannot be denied employment based on their disabilities. It also requires that the public and private transportation providers have systems, vehicles and terminals which are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. (The law provides a series of deadlines by which such entities must be in compliance.) The ADA also requires that telephone companies establish relay systems which will allow people with communications problems (i.e., speech and hearing problems) to be able to communicate telephonically with each other or anyone else they wish to.
The most important part of the law addresses the issue raised in your editorial. Title II of the Act provides that:
"No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by a department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a state or local government."
Clearly, the city of St. Petersburg is a provider of public services pursuant to this section of the act. However, just in case there might be some confusion as to the interpretation or requirements of Title II as it would affect the stadium, I would point out that Title III of the ADA removes any room for misinterpretation.
Title III deals with Public Accommodations. It reads:
"No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodations by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodations."
I believe it is very obvious that the Florida Suncoast Dome or any of the other spring training facilities in this area, along with the rest of the facilities and services generally available, are covered under this law.
It is true that the Dome was not covered at the time it opened to the public; however, the argument about accessibility for persons with disabilities and debate on the bill occurred virtually simultaneously. It was obvious also that this law would pass and that President Bush would sign it. Failure by the city of St. Petersburg or any other local government to adopt policies and designs which clearly provide access and accommodations for persons with disabilities clearly runs counter to current public policy.
With regard to the Dome, it was prudent to sign a settlement agreement at this time based on efforts to get Major League Baseball. The major parts of the ADA take effect two years from the date the law became effective. This would be around July 26, 1992. When the city is successful in obtaining a baseball franchise, certain additional modifications will be required prior to the first game being played. It is my opinion that at the time those additions are made it would have been necessary for the city to provide appropriate facilities for the disabled community. Making appropriate arrangements now will cost less and provide adequate accommodations for persons with disabilities. No doubt, once enforcement begins,there will be efforts to bring the stadium into full compliance with the law.
I have used the Suncoast Dome as an obvious example; however, the requirements of Public Law 101-336 will affect every area of our society, at least those which are in the public domain, including the St. Petersburg Times office building and printing plant. The message is quite clear _ anyone who employs people or provides any type of service to the public is covered by this law.
There is plenty of assistance available to determine whether or not a development or construction project is subject to access laws: the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights, the Clearwater Office of Community Relations and the St. Petersburg Human Relations Department.
The Pinellas County Office of Human Rights looks forward to providing every assistance possible to persons with disabilities, as well as organizations that will be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Leon W. Russell, Human Rights/EEO Officer,
Pinellas County Government
Office of Human Rights
Re: The budget brouhaha.
Question: If "pro" is the opposite of "con," then what's the opposite of "progress"?
Answer: You got it.
Mrs. R. J. Murphy, St. Petersburg
After reading and listening to the comedy in Washington, D.C., called the Battle of the Budget, I came to this conclusion: to use an old baseball cliche, the president and his administration, and Congress are all "Bush leaguers."
Michael Fanning, Holiday
Re: Tax-break breakdown, Oct. 5.
This letter is intended to correct some of the statements printed in your newspaper regarding my role in the so-called Burdine's amendment.
Of most concern to me is the impression left that I was involved in a decision to deceive other legislators by not disclosing whom the provision benefited. I decided to review a tape recording of the chamber proceedings when SB 862 was taken up by the House. The tape recording reveals that in my explanation of what SB 862 did, I revealed that the provision was for Burdine's: ". . . we do a sales tax exemption for commercial property leased between related business entities for Burdine's." In fact, in the consideration of amendment to the bill, I also disclosed the beneficiary of another provision included in an amendment. It has always been my policy to fully inform the other members of the House of the impact of legislation I am responsible for.
If one listens to the tape recording, it becomes clear that other House members did not want to listen to all the minute details of an amendment offered on the floor, and at that point I explained that the amendment contained more tax provisions, and no questions were asked. The amendment in question dealt with a tax administration matter and was offered after I had fully explained the provisions of SB 862 and of another amendment offered on the floor.
In closing, I am dismayed that your newspaper printed false information when the truth could have been determined easily by doing a thorough job of research.
Rep. Anne Mackenzie, Tallahassee
Ethical treatment of animals
Re: Animals killed to prove Exxon case, Oct. 20.
The St. Petersburg Times is to be highly commended for publishing the truth regarding the fate of hundreds of animals killed "in the name of science" or "building a scientific foundation."
The fact that these occurrences were permitted ironically on a National Wildlife Refuge is even more heart-rending.
The above situation is comparable to the Pound Seizure Law that permits the very purpose of an animal sanctuary to be violated; i.e. animals being used for scientific purposes. An animal shelter or wildlife refuge is supposed to protect the animals.
As Gandhi stated, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Let us, as taxpayers, get beyond the rhetoric and support ethical treatment of animals _ stand up in favor of animal and human rights; being the way of the "whole human being."
We are in the '90s, when modern technology can replace the barbaric practices of the past still being used out of habit or convenience or cheap source.
Everyone is searching for peace, however, Albert Schweitzer reminds us, in his words, until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, men/women will not themselves find it.
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.
Gloria Owens, St. Petersburg
Elderly abuse can take on many forms, such as physical, emotional, or by attitudes. It's still abuse however you look at it. The majority of the riders that I have encountered on the PSTA system are elderly. Without those riders, who would many of the drivers transport? I've watched rider after rider load the bus and they are not given even a few seconds to seat themselves. They most times balance canes, crutches, walkers, or groceries, trying just to get seated because an uncaring or disrespectful driver cannot take a few seconds out of his busy schedule to afford them the courtesy of being safely seated. The state makes laws to protect the children by requiring infant seats, to keep them safe, especially from sudden starts and stops. But what about protection for the elderly? These drivers take off letting these individuals fend for themselves in trying to just get seated. I don't know if these drivers realize that someday, and for many of them quite soon, they will be headed for elderly status, then let's see how they like being treated with disrespect.
S. Robinson, St. Petersburg
Defining what is "shameful'
A recent letter writer says that James Brady and his wife are being "exploited by anti-gun proponents" and that she finds this "shameful." I say these remarks are insulting to Jim and Sarah Brady who have suffered much at the hands of an unstable assassin and who are working hard to reduce the dangers from misuse of handguns. What is really shameful is the ease with which the ammunition merchants are able to convince their NRA membership that a three or seven-day waiting period for gun purchases is a threat to their life and liberty.
Allan J. Wash, Oldsmar
Light-rail planning off course
Re: Light-rail planning is back on track, Oct. 17.
Light-rail planning is back on track? Maybe not; maybe it's off-course.
Nearly two years ago a public exhibit of mass transit options took place in Tampa. That exhibit you reported in Section B on Oct. 30, 1988. Back then, I asked why monorail was not a viable option and gave some thoughts on its relative merits. They are, I think, still valid today:
The right of way is far narrower than that required for any surface-mounted alternative. (It does not have to be "shoe-horned" in.)
It can be routed within existing commuter corridors.
The narrow right of way tends not to displace other surface traffic; we can expect to see less disruption of traffic during construction and we will have nearly full-width highways afterward.
It can be routed to places where surface tracks would be unthinkable.
Because the railbed is well off the ground, children are less likely to stray onto it.
Monorail is cleaner: The railbed does not collect litter.
It is quieter than surface-rail.
It is relatively unaffected by flooding.
It is no more expensive to construct, and probably cheaper to maintain.
It is forward-looking and would have a positive public relations value for the bay area.
The great failing of so-called "light rail" is that it (like the electric buses of yesteryear) must coexist with surface traffic. The Tampa Bay area doesn't need any more "improvements" that reduce its options. Bring on mass transit, yes and soon, but put it above ground. Put it on a monorail.
No one ever bothered to respond to these points in 1988. Now that the Tampa Bay Commuter Rail Authority is thinking of spending $2.5-billion, someone ought to come up with some answers.
Frank Clarke, Oldsmar