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Federal courthouse for Pinellas wins support

Re: Pinellas needs and deserves a federal courthouse, Feb. 3.

We would like to add our strong support for the Times' editorial calling for the creation of a federal court division in Pinellas County. As indicated in your editorial, the statistics confirm that our county needs, and deserves, greater access to the federal court system. Compared to cities and counties of comparable size in the United States, we experience an uncommon disability in obtaining access to the federal courthouse. Anyone familiar with the current state of the federal court system in Tampa recognizes that more space is needed and that St. Petersburg is the logical choice for future court expansion.

Stetson College of Law obviously has great institutional interest in seeing the extension of the federal court system into Pinellas County. This interest, we believe, is reciprocal with the interests of the federal judiciary, the federal bar, and the public. With an enrollment of more than 600 students, and a faculty that includes professors with special federal law expertise, Stetson could make a unique contribution to the federal court system. Already, Stetson students are assisting numerous federal judges and magistrates in managing an overwhelming case load. Our federal judicial internship program, inaugurated through the determined efforts of Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, provides federal judges research and case management assistance that does not cost the taxpayers one dollar. Such assistance helps expedite the processing of litigation, and helps ensure that the quality of federal law interpretation and enforcement retains its historical qualities of excellence. This assistance could be expanded appreciably with the creation of a court division in Pinellas County.

Finally, there is the overriding concern of the public interest. Certain public services _ fire and police protection, sanitation, utilities _ have long been viewed as the legitimate obligation of government. But the public service provided by a federal court system is equally necessary if the supreme laws of this land are to be practically enforceable. The federal courts have played a unique role in the constitutional history of our nation, as they have ensured that the law "on the books" is also the "law in action." The practical enforceability of federal law requires that the federal courthouse be accessible; and for many in Pinellas County, that accessibility is denied by geographical barriers.

We have entered a new era of cooperation among the various cities and municipalities in the Tampa Bay area. It is our hope that this new spirit will make possible the extension of the federal court system into Pinellas County.

Dean Bruce Jacob and Professor Michael Finch,

Stetson College of Law, St. Petersburg

Hooray! Are we finally going to have a federal courthouse in St. Petersburg? We need the courts to save us.

I can't imagine how the federal government can possibly turn down the most generous offer made to them by St. Petersburg City Council in donating the prime, 4.6-acre piece of downtown land. This would certainly help the local economy. Downtown St. Petersburg is dying.

I have been in business in downtown St. Petersburg for 20-plus years. Mine is the only one left in a building which had seven or more other businesses which have closed or moved to other locations.

Maisie Dowell, St. Petersburg

Another view

Your proposal to build a Pinellas courthouse may not be the best solution to the problem of providing justice for all.

If you consider that the United States, with 4 percent of the world's population, has 50 percent of the world's lawyers, then maybe William Shakespeare's proposal to kill all the lawyers would be a better alternative.

John A. Hibbert, Belleair Beach

Stop the growth

As a lifelong Florida resident, I deplore the water restriction measures that officials place on us while still allowing growth and development to run rampant. Why should I conserve water to allow more growth which further increases our water problems?

I will happily practice conservation methods when I see our officials place more concern on growth management, the environment and protection of natural resources. It is imperative that we wean our economy away from the growth industry before Florida turns completely into an overcrowded slab of concrete and asphalt.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to run all my faucets at home at full blast until some sensible regulations and measures are taken to assure our quality of life for now, instead of accommodating the masses to come.

Suppose anyone would take notice if a couple of million other fed-up residents did the same thing?

John Murphy, Pinellas Park

The answer to the water problem is water conservation. Reduce the watering of business or residential lawns to once a week and stop watering of city and county property altogether.

I'm not that familiar with the building laws. The building laws should include mandatory water-saving toilet tanks and water-restriction faucets in any remodeling or new building. New laws should be passed so any hotel, motel or any rental properties (apartments, rooms or houses) must comply the same as new or remodeled buildings. These new laws would help in reducing our water problems. These are costly but what other measures would help as much?

Gary Galbraith, Clearwater

Why is equality so difficult?

Re: Should girls pay their own way on dates?, by Amanda Smith, Jan. 27.

The writer surprised me by making some good points in this short piece. (Her basic conclusion was that, yes, if women pay their own way, neither party's motives will have to be in question.)

Still, this article provided me with an illustration of why I've never been able to get past square one with feminists. Between honest people, wouldn't the obvious answer be "Whoever's got the money this time pays"? If you're so hung up that you can't even pool your resources for a movie, it's doubtful you'll have much fun anyway. Okay, you're broke: Chances are, next time it'll be me. If things are always one-sided, that's something we'll have to deal with sooner or later anyhow.

Call it socialist dating, whatever _ I don't care. But why do people have to make equality so difficult?

J. Smith, Gulfport

No sympathy

It is with deep disgust that I read your staff writer's sob stories about the young men who are accused of a double homicide. Are we to feel sorry for them? Instead of showing compassion for the victims or remorse for the horrible deeds of blowing a man's head off and cutting his mother's throat, one of the boys was worried about where he left his bike on the night of the murders!

The writers keep using broken homes, poverty and abuse as excuses for lawlessness and murder. I find that insulting to those of us who grew up in poverty and more family trouble and violence than those poor mistreated "wimps" ever heard of; yet we commit no crimes nor murder helpless elderly people for sport, as they are accused of doing.

How much longer are we going to teach our young people that if they were treated poorly by life they are not responsible for their actions, and then wring our hands and wonder why they rob and kill?

Charles T. Cyphert, Hudson

Class-action lawsuit suggested

Re: Poor senior citizens feel pain of HRS cuts, Feb. 3, about the HRS letter to the lady eliminating her Medicaid money. May I suggest a class-action lawsuit against the state to cancel this?

Francis M. Bever, Clearwater

Not "institutional racism'

Re: The unsteady state of black America, editorial, Jan. 27.

While I certainly have compassion for those blacks who _ like those of other races _ find themselves unemployed during this recession, I simply refuse to accept the tired, old liberal argument that all of black society's problems are caused by racism.

The fact that one-half of black children live in poverty can be largely attributed to the fact that the illegitimacy rate among blacks is over triple that for whites. I find it difficult to find a connection between racism and indiscriminate procreation.

Similarly, I need someone to explain to me how racism is responsible for spreading AIDS in the black community. If blacks account for 31 percent of new AIDS cases, the problem would seem to lie primarily with rampant drug abuse and deviant sexual practices rather than with perceived discrimination by other ethnic groups.

If unemployment is the reason for 25 percent of young black males being locked up or on parole on any given day, why did we not see a similar rate for whites during the Great Depression earlier in this century?

It's time to realize that all of the above are behavioral problems, not problems caused by "institutional racism." Furthermore, the Urban League's call for a "Marshall Plan" is not the answer. We've been pouring billions of taxpayers' dollars into AFDC, food stamps, housing projects, Head Start, etc., for close to 30 years. What have we achieved with this money? Crime, illegitimacy, drug use, murder rates, illiteracy. Our national debt and taxes have risen dramatically. Respect for authority, family unity and prison terms have decreased. There's got to be another answer.

Bob Lindskog, Clearwater

Child passenger safety

Although we have made some positive strides in child passenger safety, the plain truth is that last year 53 children under the age of 9 lost their lives in car crashes. Importantly, 43 of these children who lost their lives needlessly were not in a car seat or seatbelt.

This week, Feb. 10-16, is Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week, and in memory of those children who lost their lives and for the other 31,000 children involved in a car crash on Florida's roads, we need to continue to move forth with strong voices and educational efforts to protect our children.

We must work vigilantly to educate, and continue to educate, parents and caregivers about the need to use and reduce misuse of child safety restraints. We need to improve access to child safety seats through discount and loan programs, especially to low income families, and we must strengthen and improve enforcement of our existing state child occupant protection laws.

Buckle up for each ride _ it can be the gift of life!

Debbie Whitney, RN, Executive Director; Helen

Strait, Program Director; Kathy Varga, Education

Specialist; Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS Coalition

sponsored by All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg

The shame of Gasparilla

I can not begin to imagine the cost of Gasparilla.

In a poor county in Tennessee they have not been able to afford to run the school buses for three months.

Shame, shame, shame.

Veronica Donovan, Tampa

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731, (FAX number, (813) 893-8675.

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