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Albert Whitted remains an asset for the area

Re: The airport remains a hazard, editorial, March 15.

Your editorial about the expansion of Albert Whitted Airport continues the St. Petersburg Times' misguided attitude toward this valuable city resource.

In fact, the way the editorial reads, you might have "cut and pasted" portions of past editorials to get this one.

The present members of City Council have taken the time to listen and learn about the value of the airport from the citizens, not the Times. Your editorial pointed out that "Twice in the early '80s, the city manager and downtown business leaders had recommended closing the east-west runway."

You should tell the complete story, that these individuals had a vested interest in their recommendations. They stood to gain personally from "closing the airport and putting its 117 acres to better, safer public use." Wasn't the city manager you spoke of, Alan Harvey, asked to resign because of his history of conflicts of interest?

Fortunately, this airport continues to be a viable commercial airport that pays its own way and will continue to do so with these planned improvements. The business operators and aircraft owners, who are not all "private pilots" have to pay to be at Albert Whitted Airport. A portion of this income is earmarked to pay for the upcoming changes. Some monies will come from grants.

Fortunately, we have a City Council that listens to "business leaders" who know what they are talking about and not to the St. Petersburg Times. I am one of those business persons who actively supports the improvements to the airport.

Jack W. Tunstill, Seminole

Re: The airport remains a hazard.

St. Petersburg's gateway to the world is the Albert Whitted Airport and the port for ships. We want downtown revival and a Major League Baseball team which attracts fans who charter planes to fly in for games and events. Airports have safety records which surpass those of automobiles and other transportation.

The expansion includes updates that will help keep safety a priority. Airports have neighbors that depend on the convenience of air travel. As a pilot, I understand the need for an east-west runway which actually makes it safer under certain wind direction conditions. It sounds like a misguided journalist should look at the good Albert Whitted does for our city.

As I get ready to take a charter flight to Tallahassee with other colleagues from Albert Whitted, I shudder to think we would have to fight the Ulmerton traffic jam going to and from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport for the same flight.

We should applaud the efforts to make the airport safer and more convenient. There is much more than private pilot convenience at stake here. You support downtown revitalization but want to tie one hand behind the backs of those who seek to make it a reality!

Michael C. Grant, St. Petersburg

Re: The airport remains a hazard.

In my opinion, your characterization of Albert Whitted Municipal Airport as a "hazard" is unjustified by the facts. The only statement in your editorial with which I can agree is your admission that your newspaper has a long history of opposing the existence of Albert Whitted Airport.

You claim that the proximity of the airport to other facilities _ particularly the University of South Florida campus and the Bayfront Medical Center _ is a legitimate cause for concern. You also refer to two accidents, one of which occurred in the waters of the adjacent bay. You suggest that aircraft activities be moved to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

If the accidents which have occurred in the area surrounding the airport are valid reasons for closing the airport, why not also close St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport? After all, accidents have and likely will in the future occur in the vicinity of the airport. What about Tampa International Airport? In your opinion, is it somehow less a hazard? If accidents are valid reason for elimination of the facilities which attract the vehicles involved in the accident, why not eliminate I-275 or other heavily traveled thoroughfares?

The Federal Aviation Agency considers Albert Whitted Airport to be a safe facility. I regularly fly from the airport and consider it to be a safe facility. Albert Whitted Airport is a valuable community asset, one rare in the overbuilt environs of most U.S. cities.

Tourism is a major part of the economy of St. Petersburg. Few cities in the United States possess our unique combination of assets _ a luxury hotel, three first-class marinas, a yacht club, a cruise port and an airport. Rather than attack the existence of the airport, I believe your newspaper would better serve the community by participating in a positive effort to make the most of the downtown area, its marina, port and airport. To eliminate any of them is, in my opinion, stupid in the extreme.

C. B. Husick, Tierra Verde

It is taxpayer money

Re: Albert Whitted upgrade to be urged, March 14.

This article indicates that the Albert Whitted Airport needs major upgrading _ according to Floyd Glisson, director. George Webb, public works administrator, talked about how to finance the work. The customary pay-as-you-go method seems inoperative because the capital improvements would cost more than the city has been accustomed to spending. So money would have to be borrowed.

But then the story says, "Taxpayer money would not be involved. However, the improvements would be financed by hangar rentals, other airport fees and federal grants"! Glisson also said current federal programs already would support about half the cost.

If not with taxpayer money, how are federal grants and programs funded? Please stop inhaling and reaching into my wallet for more pie in the sky.

William Borecki, St. Petersburg

A strange lack of caring

Re: Indigent care tax.

The American Family Association is "pro-life" but against health care for the indigent, demonstrated by its opposition to the efforts to preserve the Hillsborough County health care tax.

It has always seemed hypocritical to me how many supporters of birthing-regardless-of-consequences are opposed to the public support of disadvantaged children after they are born. Is it truly a stand in favor of life, or a stand in favor of a dogma of the association's religious belief?

If the county's tax goes under, many children will not get primary, preventive care. David Caton and his associates then will claim victory for taxpayers. Will they also claim it proves a god is on their side? I wonder how many members of the American Family Association depend on the tax subsidized program for their health care.

Ron Melancon, Tampa

Penalties for insurance brokers

Re: Prudential "churning."

Many people have been victims of the Prudential Insurance Co.'s "churning," and we read about it often. Reports state that Prudential is being fined and money will be refunded to the insured who were affected.

What course of action is being taken with the individual brokers who knowingly sold these policies? Who polices the brokers? Stockbrokers are fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the National Association of Securities Dealers. There are ads in papers from attorneys stating: "If your stockbroker lost money for you, call us."

Insurance brokers are licensed and should be governed by the insurance commissioners of the states from which they sell. To go free after such a scam is unjust. A broker is a broker; they earn commissions.

Playing the stock market is gambling. Buying insurance is a concrete agreement. Where is the justice in the insurance industry? Are its brokers immune to regulations and rules?

Patricia Beck, Port Richey

A classroom disruption

Re: District sues to move autistic boy, March 12.

This article saddens me and at the same time infuriates me. The parents say the school ought to be able to control the situation. They could if the child was at the proper school that has teachers who are able to deal with this type of situation. Not all teachers and staff members are trained to deal with every child and his or her unique problems. But placed in the right school they can get the education and help that child needs.

I know what I am talking about. I have a child in the exceptional education program in the Pinellas school district. There is a child in his classroom who is in the wrong placement. The school is working through the "system" to have the child moved to the right placement but, again, the parents don't want the child moved. So, the rights of this one child outweigh the rights of all the other children in the class.

Here is a child who disrupts the whole class with his behavior; the other students are picking up the misbehavior (hitting people, spitting, throwing things, making noises, etc.) and the people left to deal with it are the teacher, aides and other parents.

Are children in this type of classroom getting the education they deserve and are entitled to receive? Is the student who is in the wrong placement? I think not.

Whose fault is this? It is the system that needs to change and become more fair for everyone and to move faster for quicker resolutions. Right now it is not fair for the teachers, staff or the parents in these kinds of situations. But most of all, it is not fair for the students. Change has to happen now!

Terri L. Lee, Largo

Don't glorify greyhound racing

Re: Legends of Derby Lane, March 12.

Congratulations are in order for staff writer Tom Zucco for once again succeeding in glorifying Derby Lane by portraying it as an old-fashioned, family-run business, instead of exposing it and all greyhound tracks for what they truly are: a contemptible gambling mecca which has no regard whatsoever for the welfare of the racing greyhound who cannot turn a profit.

It seems a bit ironic that Zucco finds it amusing that employees have been able to raise families on salaries earned at Derby Lane, while problem gamblers might neglect to feed their families due to their habit perpetuated at greyhound tracks and the like. But the most distressing fact about greyhound racing is the downright immoral manner in which these dogs are bred for the express purpose of profit _ a profit which, if not realized, will almost certainly mean death for that losing dog or even an untimely end for a puppy not deemed a champion.

To alleviate any doubt as to the validity of these statements, please visit the Humane Society of North Pinellas where over 30 greyhounds from Fort Myers were recently placed after being rescued from certain death. This is one of many ongoing rescue efforts _ efforts which, unfortunately, save only a small fraction of greyhounds from an inhumane plight.

I appeal to the St. Petersburg Times to print more articles about this most disturbing situation, which hopefully will inform citizens and move them to call for a ban on greyhound racing in Florida and all other states.

Alanna D. Watson, Palm Harbor

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