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Tampa is an egregious violator of its own code

Re: Death of Lillie Franklin, and the city of Tampa's arbitrary code-enforcement policies.

Lillie Franklin's death is indeed a grievous tragedy, one that the city of Tampa should hide its face in shame over. John Cutter's Feb. 15 article is precisely on point. Her death, and the others, were perhaps avoidable.

Members of the Property Rights Protection Group Inc. over the past 18 months have made numerous complaints to city officials regarding the city of Tampa's arbitrary enforcement of its codes. How can Mayor Sandy Freedman justify such an insensitive, arbitrary and hypocritical code enforcement policy that causes its citizens, who have fallen on hard times, (possibly due to the recession, or other circumstances beyond their control), to lose their personal property? What justification is there for the city's excuse that the city can't "afford" to maintain the properties seized from private citizens, and at the same time refuse to accept the plea from the private property owner?

I have attended many Code Enforcement Board hearings in the past year and a half and have never seen the city of Tampa brought before the code enforcement board as an alleged violator. What of Ms. Franklin's complaints regarding the city-owned lot next door to her home? Perhaps the city of Tampa should pay the citizens of Tampa $250 or $500 per day as a repeat offender.

Yes, the city is "doing a lot for neighborhoods through code enforcement," creating more blight and slum conditions within the city of Tampa, and at the same time depriving the citizens of the much-needed police protection and other services that the citizens have paid hard-earned tax dollars for.

If the city of Tampa had spent as many tax dollars the past two years on mowing and maintaining the confiscated property as it has spent for attorneys to foreclose on property, there would be ample money to bring those properties into code compliance. Perhaps this is just a problem of misplaced priorities, or perhaps barbarous hypocrisy?

H. Thomas Lewis

Property Rights Protection Group Inc.


It's interesting, but it's not art

Your feature on the USF "art" exhibit (On the Town/Art; Mary Ann Marger, Feb. 14) leads off with a disclaimer, a redefinition of art in order to make the ensuing commentary fit the materials on display.

Could be we need a new definition for the kind of thing on view up there at the Contemporary Art Museum? Innovative? Yes. Outrageously ingenious? Of course. Whimsical? Undoubtedly. But art? As generally accepted out here among the great unwashed, no.

It is a peculiar blend of construction, collage, and artifactal imagery. It is things made, not things created. It is a blow to the stomach of rationality, ironically using the most rational of tools to deliver it.

What caught our attention was the depiction of the Lorenz attractor in Ugo Dossis Natural Law, projected on the floor and across the pseudo-Mosaic tablets. It is a two-dimensional plot of the behavior of a mathematically constructed pendulum attracted by not one but two points of near-equilibrium; one of a family of such patterns known collectively as strange attractors. This one is often fondly referred to as the butterfly wings. The branch of science to which these things belong is a relatively new one, and is known as chaos theory.

Such an exhibit might better be identified not as art, but as chaos. That's not necessarily a put-down, because as any respectable chaotician will quickly assert, the presence or absence of order depends utterly on one's point of view. True chaos probably does not exist.

Nevertheless, our ears and eyes are accustomed to perceptions within certain wavelengths and from a point of view roughly 5{ feet off the ground and relatively nearby. Things that don't "work" in that frame of reference aren't necessarily bad, but they're discomfiting. Interesting, perhaps, but not art.

David Draper


Latest in a line of dumb ideas

Editor: In her never-ending search for revenue to pay off her dumb ideas, Mayor Sandy Freedman has proposed a tax on people who work in Tampa but live elsewhere. Taxation without representation. It would seem Her Mayorness has never heard of the Boston Tea Party.

If the mayor's proposal ever goes to the voters, we suggest an accompanying amendment. Place a moratorium (we suggest three years) on dumb ideas from Sandy Freedman. That amendment should pass overwhelmingly.

Dick and Peggy Murphy


Non-English speakers are ill-served

In Roger Hernandez's Hispanic column in the Tampa section of the Times recently, he mentioned the English as a second language program and bilingual education for non-English speaking students. Alas, the situation in the county in which I teach is different from what Mr. Hernandez portrayed: Non-English-speaking students are being shoved into classes in which teachers cannot speak their language at all, and the instruction (even in high school academic courses) is supposed to be done through gesture, pictures, games, etc.

ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages and refers to the $90-million fiasco forced on public schools by Education Commissioner Betty Castor (in response to a lawsuit) to compel all teachers to train in strategies to instruct non-English-speaking pupils who are mainstreamed into regular classes.

Having endured 60 hours of ESOL "training" this fall, let me express my utter frustration with this preposterous idea. In a class of 35 rambunctious 10th-graders, I am given one student who speaks little English and, without any materials whatsoever, I am told to prepare separate lessons for the ESOL student and regular lessons for the rest of them, all taught in the same room at the same time.

ESOL "training" is basically brainwashing. Teachers are told to modify their standards, i.e. to lower them and to pretend the students are learning. This cheats the non-English-speaking pupils and America as well because they are being released into society ill-educated. We are further told that all ESOL students must be passed.

What should be done is first to teach English to these students and then mainstream them. Society has saddled the public schools with enough burdens without requiring us to teach students with whom we cannot even communicate.

Renny M. Connell

Chairman, Social Studies Department

Pasco Comprehensive High School

Dade City