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Neighborhood's future hangs in the balance

As a new resident of south St. Petersburg, I was moved by Roy Peter Clark's Oct. 23 article Lakewood: A proud integrated community worries. As a former Pinellas County teacher, mother of a graduate of a Pinellas County high school and a community-minded citizen, I have watched with interest the introduction of Dr. Howard Hinesley's plan and the subsequent reaction. However, I wasn't clear as to exactly how the plan would directly impact me until I learned the facts about my new neighborhood from my new neighbor, Roy Peter Clark.

Until I read his article, I knew only that after an exhaustive search of the entire county, the home and neighborhood my husband, my father and I were drawn to was here. We, of course, know the area is integrated _ we've all lived in Pinellas County for over 20 years _ but integration honestly had little, if anything, to do with our decision. Unlike Mr. Clark, we didn't move here because the area is integrated, but we, too, love the beauty and community the south side offers, especially greeting neighbors as we take our turn around the Lake Vista Park track.

However, we are educated and alert citizens, also readers of W. E. B. Du Bois, who are only too aware of the history of problems with integration and know we probably wouldn't have been drawn to this neighborhood if long-time residents hadn't worked so hard to maintain the delicate balance so necessary for success. And now we are aware just how much we have at stake if that balance is threatened.

No wonder I have been instinctively dissatisfied with most of the discussions of Dr. Hinesley's plan I have read, particularly by many of the School Board candidates. I plan to do my part, to follow the lead of my neighbors, and get involved in the preservation of my new community. We plan to be here for a long time. At the same time, I too urge Dr. Hinesley and the School Board not to make a quick decision and definitely not to make any decision without extensive consultation with my new neighbors and me.

Gay Robertson-Reed, St. Petersburg

Re: Lakewood: A proud integrated community worries.

Thanks to Roy Peter Clark for taking the time to sort out and then pen his feelings about our wonderful south side. He is so right when he explains that it is the very mix of our neighborhood (in my case, Bahama Shores) that was a selling point when we purchased our home six years ago. I would not trade the south side for any other neighborhood in St. Petersburg.

I regret that he is probably right _ we are members of a tolerant minority, rather than the accepting majority. The congregation-based community organization, Congregations United for Community Action, is working to change racist perceptions through cultural diversity workshops and opportunities for multicultural worship. Emphasis is placed on getting to know individuals on a one-to-one basis, much as Clark described.

Real change is achieved on the personal level rather than through legislation or regulation. Busing produces an artificial integration, better than none, until that genuine change _ acceptance of all cultures _ is achieved.

Kitty Pelster Rawson, St. Petersburg

I read with interest the Oct. 23 article by Roy Peter Clark. Mr. Clark is correct in stating that the Lakewood Estates, Maximo Moorings, Pinellas Point and Broadwater areas of St. Petersburg can be viewed as examples of how people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds can peacefully coexist.

As a resident of this area, I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish in south St. Petersburg. First and foremost, it takes people who are committed to the goal of being sensitive and tolerant of others. Second, the residents within my community strive to see and accentuate the positive traits in others. Finally, we realize that our inability to communicate, and lack of understanding of each other, can lead to negative stereotypes, racial intolerance and an unnecessary fear factor.

I realize there are still many strides to be made regarding race relations. But when the smoke is all clear and all the fat is boiled off the bone, no one can rightfully argue that the residents in this area aren't heading in the right direction.

Cedric Gordon, St. Petersburg

How will we know?

I saw, with interest, on the TV news last night (Tues., Oct. 25) that Paula Jones displayed an envelope containing, she said, "affidavits as proof that she did indeed see President Clinton's genital area."

Since I personally have never seen it, how will I know if she is telling the truth? Will President Clinton have to show the world his "private parts"?

Absolutely incredible.

M. Nichols, Spring Hill

Take action

Re: It's time to move on to individuals.

In his column on Oct. 24, Charles Krauthammer cautions us not to make assumptions based upon a person's race. He is correct when he expresses the ideal that every person should be judged on his abilities. Unfortunately, implementing Krauthammer's ideal will result in a perpetuation of injustice that has already gone on for more than 200 years.

As a group, African-Americans have never had the long-term opportunity to accumulate the same wealth and power enjoyed by other Americans. African-Americans are collectively far behind in education, property ownership, political power and financial investments. Changing our laws eliminates a lot of discrimination but doesn't correct the continuing disadvantages faced by African-Americans. (It's as if we kept someone out of a foot race and then reluctantly let him in late. Everyone else is several miles ahead, but we claim it wouldn't be fair to them if we give the new entrant a break!)

For many generations, our society took advantage of African-Americans, and racial distinctions mattered very much. It isn't enough to say that racial distinctions don't matter anymore. We need to take action in this nation to ensure that we compensate for disadvantages caused by past and present discrimination.

Jim Moir, Clearwater

Nothing for something

As usual, Martin Dyckman is right on target with his treatise on the evils of gambling (Draw the line on moral decay, Oct. 23). And yet, despite his penetrating analysis and the erudite nature of his argumentum, the most salient argument against casino gambling seems virtually ignored.

As a first premise, it would seem logical to examine the nature of the activity being discussed. By this we mean an analysis of the activity itself. To say it is "gambling" is not enough. As most casino adherents are quick to remind us, "Life is a gamble." And it's true. Daily, we gamble against fate or nature. Every driver who eases his vehicle into traffic is gambling that he will not have an accident. Pilots and passengers gamble that their aircraft will stay aloft. Fishermen gamble, not only on their catch, but that they will not be lost at sea. But in all these situations _ and even when we gamble against time or the elements, as when Bannister gambles that he will break the four-minute mile barrier or when Peary gambles that he will reach the North Pole _ unlike the outcome of artificial gambling situations, when these gamblers win, we are all nourished or inspired. In short, we all win.

So the world gambles on, as designers and manufacturers gamble that their products will find favor with buyers, and farmers _ the greatest gamblers of all _ play the odds that neither drought, frost, fire, flood, birds, rats, insects nor other unforeseen occurrences will wipe them out.

And the point to be made is that for all these natural gambling activities, there is a meaningful, productive outcome.

In casino gambling, however, what one person wins, other persons have lost. There is no net gain. Nothing is produced. The activity is essentially sterile. And that is what is wrong with casino gambling. The rest is all window dressing.

Ben Tutoli, St. Petersburg

Limited casinos for us to vote on? Why 47? Why not only one, or four, or seven? That would be limited! The end result would be the same.

Why, all of a sudden, are there so many law enforcement people in favor of the casinos? Did they learn something from the PACs and the U.S. Congress?

Kay Foxx, New Port Richey

Billion-dollar savings?

The Nobel Peace Prize for taxpayers' pocketbooks should go to a recent letter writer for his suggestion to send our prisoners to other countries needing financial assistance _ a brilliant move to save our tax dollars and give foreign assistance which will provide those countries with more funds to trade with us.

What a savings for us for those criminals serving life sentences. No need any longer for death sentences with their outrageous legal appeals costs _ just give them life. No need to worry about staffing boot camps for juvenile criminals _ just send them to the "resort camps" in other countries until they're 21.

Bravo to the letter writer _ he's saved us billions.

George Armitage, Tampa

An "infuriating' move

It's infuriating to see that the switch from CBS to Fox for NFL football games hasn't changed the idiocy of switching away late in the fourth quarter of an exciting early game to watch the beginning of a 4 o'clock Bucs game. The Bucs can't come anywhere near to filling their own stadium with fans. What makes Fox think that anyone wants to watch them on TV?

Jay Gorzelany, Bradenton

Share your opinions

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Letters must include the name, address and telephone number of the writer.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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