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Life is fine in "God's waiting room'

Published Sep. 21, 2005

Re: St. Pete, shed mask of niceness and be real, by Mary Jo Melone, Dec. 8.

When you mention that St. Petersburg is "God's waiting room," some of us seniors consider that's just what it is. For those of us who are prepared to meet our maker, we feel St. Petersburg, located on one of Florida's paradise peninsulas, is a pretty nice place to live life to its fullest ... young or old.

However, St. Petersburg is not "... a benign little haven for the old who don't want to be bothered anymore with paying taxes." Sure, there are a few but, for the most part, we grannys and grandpas are very concerned about the distribution of wealth and how it impacts our children and grandchildren. For instance, we don't just want Medicare health care for ourselves _ we want a universal comprehensive (affordable) national health care plan that covers all of us. (This issue was voted our No. 1 priority with the Florida Silver-Haired Legislature in October.)

And for the record, Mary Jo, you are wrong when you observe ... "how little life in St. Petersburg has changed in the 50 years since law dictated where blacks could liveand where they could sit _ not on those green benches." There was no "law." It was just the way it was. But today, blacks live all throughout the city and, thanks to the South Pinellas Senior Citizens Club, "green benches" are back and viewed as a symbol of unity, inviting all citizens to sit and talk about their problems _ regardless of their race or age.

Dick Holmes, executive director,

Florida Silver-Haired Legislature Inc.,

St. Petersburg

Putting St. Pete on the ma

It took acid-tongued Mary Jo Melone to put St. Petersburg back on the map. I'm sure one thing Melone never intended was to say anything nice, but she did. She made people aware there is a St. Petersburg. Always before it was either Tampa or Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg sort of got lost and left out in the cold. I got so tired of reading about Tampa Bay when anything happened in St. Petersburg.

I began to wonder _ I had a St. Petersburg address and got mail addressed to St. Petersburg. My bills came to St. Petersburg. So thank you for making people aware there is a St. Petersburg after all, even though you meant it to be a slap in the face.

Vera Zeuty, St. Petersburg

Different views on ag

Re: St. Pete, shed mask of niceness and be real, Dec. 8.

No less reprehensible than racism is ageism, and while no doubt Ms. Melone does not intend ageism, unfortunately the column strongly suggests it. To quote Ms. Melone: "St. Pete: God's waiting roomnothing bad ever happens, as long as you discount the funeralsSt. Pete, where the dance floor of the Coliseum and the shuffleboard courts across the way are landmarksbenign little haven for the old who don't want to be bothered anymore paying taxes," etc.

As if in counterpoint to Ms. Melone's column was the wonderful article by Jeff Klinkenberg, Old Woman River, celebrating the life of Dessie Prescott, age 90. Ms. Prescott was a friend and mentor of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, but is no less an accomplished spirit in her own right. Not only does he describe Ms. Prescott's influence on Rawlings, but also Prescott's life as entrepreneur, military officer and Florida sportswoman. Ms. Melone would do well to take a cue from Jeff Klinkenberg. While the mean age of St. Petersburg has declined significantly, seniors still represent a quarter of our population. They too are a part of our community, and like Dessie Prescott, continue to make important contributions to it.

"God's waiting room"? All of us, young and old on both sides of the bay, are in God's waiting room!

Will and Kathy Michaels, St. Petersburg

Keep those with HIV ou

Re: U.S. extends political asylum to gays, Dec. 8.

I read this article with incredulity. It astounds me that a person with human immunodeficiency virus is permitted to enter the United States under a preferred status while legal aliens have to undergo extensive interrogation and X-rays for health purposes before being permitted to enter the country as residents.

I realize that this is a human rights issue; however, I feel strongly that people with HIV should not be permitted this status, as we are trying to reduce these numbers, not add to them.

Judy Marley, Clearwater

Whose planet is it anyway

Re: Mangroves vs. property rights, editorial, Dec. 8.

Finally, a modicum of common sense! The 1995 Private Property Rights Protection Act recognized that environmental regulation has run amok. No one is proposing to poison the well, yet your editorial frames this small residential homesite as a "destructive land use."

Despite the warm and fuzzy sentiment to the contrary, the Earth does belong to man. To all the folks who think the mangrove is more important than a human being, I suggest they hurry out and purchase the largest parcel of waterfront property they can afford and protect it from development. Just don't use my tax money to do it.

Also, don't be fooled into thinking only waterfront property is affected by the myriad rules of the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection. A recent example is the Preservation 2000 land-grab of Topsail Hill in the Panhandle. Part of the acquisition consists of many acres of forests that are not environmentally sensitive (whatever that means) nor contain endangered species; yet the tree-huggers still oppose the use of this property for the construction of a prison (truly a genuine public benefit). I can hear the Sierra Club's wailing and gnashing from here!

Your editorial mistakenly characterized the McGinnises' property as "the state's resources." From the original article, I understood that they bought this land at a U.S. marshal's sale and will also be responsible for a hefty property tax bill every year.

Now that the state has "granted" these landowners the right to clear a half acre of mangroves from their property, I suggest the DEP dispatch one of its many make-work environmentalists to monitor the forecasted "destruction." I propose that, like a child dragged kicking and screaming to the doctor for a vaccination, they will find out it's not so bad after all.

Joe Paige, Clearwater

Divorce is no solution

Re: Divorced doesn't mean deadbeat, by William R. Mattox Jr., Dec. 8.

Thank you for publishing this excellent column that does not berate all divorced dads. William R. Mattox makes a good point suggesting couples attempt to solve their problems and stay married. We can learn how to get along with a partner or we can learn how to get along by ourselves.

Psychologist Wade Horn's "joint parenting plan" is another good idea to help divorcing couples reduce the negative emotional impact divorce has on children. However, this plan does not consider the financial problems created by divorce. When parents share equally with raising children, they should also share equally with their financial responsibilities.

When both parents have an equal share with the residential care of children, the need for a "non-residential parent" to pay court-ordered child support disappears. Maintaining two separate households is very difficult for both parents. Many families today must have two incomes in one household to survive. The best deal, as Mattox and Horn suggest, is to stay married.

Robert A. Zeller, president,

National Congress for Fathers

and Children, Tampa Bay Chapter,

Dads Assisting Dads, support group

leader, Redington Shores

Cheating phone companie

Re: Free calls over Net called unfair, Nov. 29.

If you can stand one more comment on this article, I would like to add my two cents' worth. All the writers seem to have overlooked a simple fact in their zeal to get around the phone company. You cannot access the Internet to make those free long distance calls without using the phone companies' lines. Why should anyone be allowed to use the phone companies equipment to cheat them out of their long distance fees?

Alan Levesque, New Port Richey

The official clappe

I think I finally know what Vice President Gore's job is. In addition to being Clinton's flunky, he is the official "clapper." Every time I see him on TV or in a picture in the newspaper, he is leading the applause (like Ed McMahon) for Bill Clinton!

Dorothy E. Karkheck, Palm Harbor

Women in the militar

Prior to females' being allowed into the armed forces, you never heard claims of abuse or sexual harassment. Those who said women in the armed forces would cause problems must be screaming, "I told you so!"

P. J. Miller, Tarpon Springs