1. Archive

Don't make it more expensive to go to college

After reading your July 15 editorial For realistic tuition, I feel it necessary to write.

Your newspaper constantly reports on the vast sums of public money wasted and misused annually by the government of Florida, and on dishonest practices of government like the infamous lottery deception. With that in mind, I find it particularly appalling that the Times now editorializes in favor of increasing tuitions and fees for students attending Florida's universities and community colleges.

One of the very last things a society should consider doing, in my opinion, is making it more difficult for young people to get an education. Doing that is especially foolish when there is no need to do it.

Please consider withdrawing support for increasing Florida's college and university tuitions. Instead, offer more support for efforts to reduce waste and misuse of public funds. Put more heat on those in the Legislature and elsewhere who operate the lottery scam and games like it. If we are able to redirect some of the money Florida's government now wastes and misuses and obtains from Floridians under false pretenses into support for our educational system, Florida will be able to afford one of the country's best educational systems, without making it tougher for Florida's young people (who are, after all, Florida's future) to get an education.

Charley Groth, Crystal Beach

Sizing up Powell

We all know that Colin Powell is a fine man, a true American success story in overcoming a very meager beginning and rising to great heights in public service. And his declared beliefs pretty well represent mainstream America, it seems. But what, other than his pleasant looks and demeanor, qualifies him for the adulation he has been getting? What does he have that has the Republican movers and shakers stumbling all over themselves trying to get him more involved in the Bob Dole campaign?

He rose to the U.S. military's highest position, you say? He was the architect of the winning strategy in the (two-bit) Persian Gulf war, you say? Yes, to both. He is a later edition of Ike, you say?

I say nay. What he is is a very intelligent, well-mannered American in whom most feel they have finally found someone for whom they can demonstrate their ethnic "fairness" at the same time they assuage their feelings of guilt.

I submit that there is nothing basically heroic about him, and further, that he has feet of clay. Let's refer to the recent non-partisan GAO report that gave the lie to most of the military's claims of outstanding weapons technology and performance (such as pinpoint accuracy), of the latest superbombs, missiles, planes, etc. used in the gulf war. These egregious misrepresentations occurred on his watch.

He appears to be such a reasonable guy that I wouldn't be surprised were he privately embarrassed by all the undue attention he is getting.

August Torreano, Palm Harbor

The too-coy general

Re: The general seems to be toying with us, by Maureen Dowd, July 16.

I always read and enjoy Maureen Dowd's columns and agree with her.

This column is another great one.

She writes of Gen. Colin Powell and his waffling. Every time he says (publicly) he is not running, I wonder why he keeps saying it! If he really means it, why doesn't he just be quiet?

Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

Dorothy E. Karkheck, Palm Harbor

Character is in trying to help

Re: After Dole's health, write about Clinton's honesty and Character and morals count, letters, July 17.

What really matters in deciding about "character" is not a bunch of rumors, unproved charges about supposed misdeeds and gossip. What matters is effort to make things better. Let us not forget that today 40-million people have no health insurance, according to the best estimates available.

If these people become seriously ill, what will happen to them?

If they need some medical tests to catch deadly diseases in an early, treatable stage, how will they get them?

Answer: They probably won't get the health care they need when they really need it. Some of them will die as a result.

Who are these people? Servers in restaurants, temporary workers, day laborers, minimum wage workers of all sorts. Look around you. You see them every day. They perform valuable services for you, like cleaning your house.

Who tried to help them get health insurance? President Clinton, that's whoand he and his wife got clobbered for it.

Who helped clobber them? Ex-Sen. Bob Dole. He could have joined in the plan to reform health care and didn't. He ended up criticizing the president's efforts. He claimed to have reasons, but the bottom line is that 40-million people are at risk when Dole could have helped save them. That's almost three times the population of Florida!

So, now tell us who has the higher moral character: Clinton or Dole?

Kent A. Fanning, St. Petersburg

Sturdy enough

Re: Sturdy enough?, front page article on Bob Dole, July 14.

Some months ago you showed some favorable print regarding Bob Dole; I was pleasantly surprised.

I sadly see with this "front page" article, no less, you give no better example of your true feelings.

Just a historical remembrance: We did have another disabled president in ill health during a very trying time in our history _ or perhaps Franklin Roosevelt wouldn't have cut the mustard with you either.

Gregg E. Brewster, Clearwater

Cable TV's costs

Your reports of June 28 concerning rising cable TV rates, and earlier ones (June 20 and 22) about Time Warner's free Disney offer and GTE joining the cable TV battle provided information of interest to all cable TV consumers. Actually, Pinellas County cable rates have been increasing for many years.

My wife and I live in mid-Pinellas. The hefty $3.08 (20 percent) monthly increase by Time Warner for its Standard Service Package was effective last January and was charged to all customers in what it now terms upgraded and non-upgraded areas. Inflation was listed first among several reasons for this large increase. It is worth noting that consumer prices rose only 2.5 percent in 1995, and were below 3 percent for the previous four years. The same reasons were given by Time Warner for its 9-percent increase levied against Standard Package customers in 1995 just before the 20-percent rise. Vision Cable never bothered to give us any reason for the many annual increases it inflicted on us before Time Warner took over.

After paying the increased fee for the past six months, we in the non-upgraded area _ former Vision Cable territory _ learn the $9.95 monthly Disney channel is now free but only to upgraded area customers. Meanwhile, we in the non-upgraded boondocks will continue to be charged the $3.08 increase for service which cannot be provided by Time Warner until it gets around to upgrading us sometime next year!

Your report tells us Time Warner official Linda Chambers defended the January increase by saying it followed two FCC-mandated rate reductions of nearly 17 percent in 1993 and 1994, "so that our rates are really about where we were three years ago." The truth is the only relatively small mandated cut in all of Tampa Bay was in St. Petersburg!

During the years Vision Cable serviced our area, rates were increased each year. Instead of the 17-percent mandated reduction quoted by Ms. Chambers, our combined increase for 1993 and 1994 was 11 percent. When I queried Vision Cable about receiving an increase instead of reduction, I was informed, "We are one of the few cable systems in the country that did not have to lower rates because of the fair and reasonable rates we have been charging." They blamed the increases on the FCC. Time Warner, of course, was fully aware of this fact when it raised our rate by 9 percent not long after absorbing Vision Cable and shortly before the 20-percent increase in January 1996.

Our rates have never been reduced _ always increased!

Ed Dobyns, Seminole

Just cut off the cable

Have you had enough of cable television price increases? In recent months, Time Warner took over Paragon and other local cable channels. They started a so-called promotion that would lead you to believe that customers would get more channels at a lower rate than we are used to paying. I bought into this promotion and after a few months of service, my bills are even higher than they were with Paragon.

We have all made our complaints to Paragon, Time Warner, Vision Cable and the FCC, but these complaints are falling on deaf ears. In fact, our complaints are so expected that the cable bill always lists the address for the FCC "for your convenience." Still the prices continue to go up and up.

At this point, the best solution seems to be to boycott cable television. This is the best way we can get our message across. Think about it. What is the worst thing that would happen if you just disconnected your cable television? You might finally get to read that great book you've been saving, get some exercise or spend some quality time with your family. You'll also be saving money.

If you can't stand being disconnected from technology, you can always pick up a newspaper or turn on your computer (if you have one) to catch up on the news. You probably are not as addicted to your television as you think you are. Missing a few episodes of Frasier won't kill you.

So think about it, talk to your friends about it and spread the word. We can use our power as consumers to get our message across by not consuming cable television.

Eddye S. Salvioni, Largo

Who are the power hogs?

Re: Sweltering heat and power bills.

Florida's public utilities have long been high-profit monopolies, darlings of Wall Street, whose millionaire executives make horrendous mistakes, give big price breaks to big users and get big increases from the Florida Public Service Commission.

Meanwhile, the temperature is 90 degrees, humidity is 60 percent and the human body is near heat exhaustion. That's in the shade, but many folks work in the sun. I've seen many electric meters turned off because people could not afford to pay their bills.

Are the country's biggest power hogs to be found in paragraph one or two?

Henry Doyle, Pinellas Park

F-16 pilot did what he had to

Re: Boy dies as F-16 slams into house, explodes, July 12.

I read in the paper that the father of the woman burned in the F-16 crash in Pensacola is talking about court-martialing the pilot of the jet. I can understand the grief of a man with a badly injured daughter, and a dead grandchild. But his talk of a court-martial is ridiculous.

I was an Aeroscout Observer in the Army, and I can understand how the pilot of the jet might have thought he was pointing his stricken airplane at a stand of woods instead of a neighborhood. I trained at Fort Rucker, Ala., which is not far from Pensacola. The area in which the jet crashed was described as "a heavily wooded area with ranch style homes." I have flown over areas like this in lower Alabama, Florida, and Germany. In such areas a pilot cannot see that there are houses there until he is practically on top of them.

Given this situation, the jet pilot probably thought he saw a forest in front of him instead of a residential area. Given that, he did exactly as the Air Force directs. When the pilot judged he was not going to be able to make his emergency landing field, he pointed his plane in a "safe" direction, and punched out. If he were to be brought in front of a court-martial he would be acquitted.

It is easy for non-fliers to question the judgment of the pilot of an aircraft in distress, and to second guess his decisions while sitting safely on the ground.

Alan S. Petrillo, Clearwater

End all the terrorism

Re: Peace his true goal, Netanyahu insists, July 11.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells us to "think about a situation where you would have had that happening . . ." (bloodshed on the streets) "time and time again, in your major cities _ "in Tampa, or St. Petersburg, or in Cleveland, or in Washington and in New York." He says that peace will not work unless the terrorist attacks stop.

He didn't mention Israeli terrorists or the illegal occupation which has not ended. I personally cannot imagine anything more terrifying than to have Uzi-toting strangers come to my door, telling me that their god gave them my land, my home and my possessions, and that I must, therefore, leave or be bulldozed with the house or simply dispossessed for the strangers to move in. Thousands of Palestinian Christians and Muslims lost their lives disagreeing with the strangers who came into their land, many of them American Jews.

Netanyahu is correct that there can be no peace until terrorism stops. But Israeli terrorism continues daily. Land is being stolen continually, people are beaten, roads are being built only for Jewish use to go to homes built illegally on occupied land for Jewish use only. The bigotry and racism practiced by the Israelis are largely ignored by American Jews who support Israel. Yet, they may protest racism and/or bigotry here.

Jerusalem is a very divided city, controlled by sullen, trigger-happy Israelis, many of them American Jews.

I would ask Netanyahu to think about a situation I have just described, a situation that he is guilty of supporting. He also claims Jerusalem for Jews only to control. As a Christian, Jerusalem belongs as much to me as to him, and that city should be internationalized.

James V. Rogers, Oldsmar

Jerusalem's future

With regard to the matter of Jerusalem, I have difficulty understanding the logic of Diplomatic Editor Jack R. Payton (Truth be told about Jerusalem: Israel won't give up any of it, July 13.

I first visited the Middle East region 40 years ago. In 1956 the status of Jerusalem, as discussed in the United Nations, leaned toward the possibility of being named an "international" city.

Resolution 242 looks at East Jerusalem as being occupied.

What Payton overlooks is the status of gentiles and Muslims. They will determine their own future in East Jerusalem.

For 29 years Israel has occupied the West Bank. Israeli publications show this area as being Judea and Samaria.

The Israeli leader has dreams of more settlements on the West Bank. No country sees the settlements as being legitimate.

Surely, this is not the time to praise Netanyahu!

George Sexton, Largo

Distorting Mideast history

The two letters in the July 10 Times predicting Israel will back out of its commitments and accusing it of persecuting Palestinians contain a number of distortions. In fact, they represent a revision of Mideast history.

The writer of the first letter ignores the fact that the Palestinians have yet to amend their charter in a clear and unequivocal manner. When Yasser Arafat addresses his own groups, he still speaks of the destruction of Israel. This, of course, is a violation of the Oslo commitments. In addition, the despicable acts of violence against innocent Israeli civilians are the work of terrorists sponsored or supported by Arab states, such as Syria and Libya. As for Hebron, it is the oldest city in Jewish history; it contains the graves of the patriarchs of the Jewish people. The 400 Jews have a right to be present there and to live there in safety. Certainly they are not a threat to 100,000 Arabs. Until the Palestinians demonstrate a true commitment to their protection, Israel has a right to allow its soldiers to assure their safety. Jews in Judea and Samaria are certainly entitled to the same protection that Arab-Israelis, who are almost 18 percent of the population of Israel, enjoy in Israel.

The writer of the second letter has gone to amazing lengths to rewrite history. To suggest that "Zionists were the aggressors," and that since 1948 "the Palestinians have been fighting to regain what is theirs" is a gross distortion of history. It is a fact that the Palestinians were the first to reject "land for peace" when they refused to accept the U.N. partition of one small amount of land which remained from the original mandate. The Jews accepted the U.N. proposal. All the Arab states sent their armies to drive the Jews out of their ancient homeland. As for the so-called Palestinians, where were they when Turkey, Jordan and Egypt ruled the area? Their newfound awareness of peoplehood has been recognized to a greater extent by Israel than it has their Arab brothers. Hopefully, the Palestinians will reject terrorism as a weapon and prove that they can be trusted as peaceful neighbors.

Finally, as Americans we are shocked to read of the bombing that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia. The reluctance of our Arab allies to provide adequate protection for our troops who are there to help protect them seems to indicate that it is the Arabs who can't be trusted. As for loans to Israel, the government of Israel has pledged to reduce its need for loans. We have yet to hear of our Arab allies _ Jordan and Egypt _ making the same pledge. Israel, indeed, remains our most dependable ally in the important Middle East.

Lenore Blumenthal, Palm Harbor

More concern for canines

The recent problems concerning two local canine hero police dogs, points out the need for a re-examination of safety procedures. The latest case concerned a dog let loose to run in a mangrove forest with a leash attached. Not just an ordinary leash, mind you, a 30-foot leash.

Is this standard procedure? How could anyone NOT expect this leash to become entangled? This is a case of negligence on the part of Deputy Doug Young, or a rule that needs changing.

The previous case, in Pasco County, had a much sadder ending. The heroic dog died after being left in a car for an extended period. I consider 5 minutes the maximum time a dog should be left unattended in a car in this heat, even with the air conditioning running.

Please consider the welfare of these wonderful animals and not the convenience of the handlers, when drafting the rules under which they operate.

Fred W. Otten, Lutz

This is in response to the story about Sabre, the Hillsborough County police dog, and the one in Pasco County, named Flash.

It seems to me that the dogs were both well trained and a necessary part of police work, but I have doubts about the training of the deputies in charge of these dogs. It sounds foolish, if not plain stupid, to release a dog in a swamp area where there is much undergrowth, with a collar and 30-foot leash attached, or to trust the air conditioner in a car to keep working for two hours without possible failure.

I keep wondering what charges would be brought against me if I were to make either mistake made by these deputies! I'll never know because I do not take those kinds of chances with my dog. She is considered part of the family and is treated accordingly. I suggest more training for these deputies in regard to care of these very important parts of the police department.

Charles R. Gravel, Seminole

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