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Sweepstakes are pure exploitation of nation's elderly

I am angry, angry, angry! Words cannot express the revulsion I felt when I read the Oct. 24 headline Ensnared in sweepstakes hype. The anguish on the face of Bill Lusk and the drooping head of his father I will never forget. The exploitation of the elderly who are most vulnerable is an American tragedy.

Copies of this article should be sent to Ted Turner, Ed McMahon and Dick Clark. Is it possible that they are unaware of where some of the money that goes into their bank accounts comes from?

Never again will I enter any sweepstakes contest.

Dorothy V. Goodwin, Bradenton

Lies in big type; truth in fine print

Re: Ensnared in sweepstakes' hype, Oct. 24.

How sorry I was to read the story of Bill Lusk and his purchasing of magazines and books, hoping that he would be the contest winner. But, as has been said many times before, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true.

A problem today is that the advertiser is ashamed to quote the real price or real odds. And that is true in our political life.

Often you will read an ad to sell a car. In large letters will be an unbelievable price, say $8,000. Then, in small print, you read that this price is after a rebate of $1,500, down payment of $3,000 and other extras such as cost of engine, tires, etc.

Try to get a banker to tell you what is the rate they will pay on a certificate of deposit. The odds are they will only quote a fictitious figure called APR, APY or similar. The APR is not what they will pay. It is a compounded interest figure. If you want your interest paid to you monthly, the APR is meaningless, but it will be on the certificate.

Last year, five months prior to the expiration of a magazine subscription, I was notified of the need to renew. I was informed I could be billed later, so I sent in my request for renewal and indicated I wanted to be billed later. The magazine did exactly what I requested. I was billed later _ two weeks after I had sent in my renewal notice. Needless to say, I am no longer a subscriber.

You have to search and search the small print to find out what the odds are of your winning these prizes that it seems you have won. I am constantly bombarded with notices that I am one of only 15 Floridians who have been chosen to receive some sort of a lottery entry form. But when I read the fine print, I find that the odds of my winning are slightly more than one in 100-million. Why advertise this tripe? Why not be honest?

Carl T. Hartzell, Homosassa

A test proves where "NO' envelopes go

Re: Sweepstakes.

I am one of the gray-headed grumpy grandpas who has been sucked into the sweepstakes scams. But I rarely buy anything and of course never win. Suspicious that no-order "NO" envelopes or those with black corners were never opened and were immediately relegated to the sponsor's shredder, I devised a plan.

In my "NO" envelope, I inserted an addressed and stamped postcard saying, "To prove that this was really opened and submitted, please mail this." To date, I have received only one postcard _ from Reader's Digest. Needless to say, this is the only sweepstakes I still answer. The rest go into the circular file upon arrival.

Robert B. Reed, Tierra Verde

Spare diners the underarms, bare feet

I applaud the Oct. 22 column by Elijah Gosier, Rude diner reflects devalued courtesies, relative to the stupidity and ignorance (my words) of some people when dining in a restaurant.

One of my pet peeves is the so-called "macho men" who choose to dine in their undershirts (muscle shirts?). There is nothing quite so revolting as having to sit near someone in this attire and have to look at hairy armpits. Gross! Why do restaurants permit this?

Another observation: men in thongs or sandal-type shoes without benefit of socks. It's disgusting to have to look at dirty feet exposed while one is supposed to be enjoying one's dinner!

Perhaps now that the cooler weather is upon us, we will be spared from people in inappropriate dress.

Kathryn S. Moore, New Port Richey

Might as well bring in Martha Stewa

Re: Rude diner reflects devalued courtesies, Oct. 22.

The recent column in the Times in which Elijah Gosier related his sad experience in a cafe brought on by an inconsiderate diner who was constantly relieving his nasal passages struck a chord of deja vu with me. I have just gone through similar discomfort in a restaurant.

While dining out in a two-star place, I spotted a St. Petersburg police officer (in full uniform) drinking his coffee without first removing the spoon from his cup. Nowhere to be seen was his pinkie raised in the traditional upright position. Once, when I pretended not to be observing, I caught him using his salad fork with his entree.

So now that our police officers have been commanded to remove the blue from their language and use no word of less than two syllables (and no hyphens), it follows that equal attention should be paid to their social behavior. Really, if all our cops are going to be speaking like William F. Buckley, it's only natural that their demeanor should be in keeping.

With federal funds on the way, some of them allocated to improving police/community relations, it might be a good idea to bring in an expert _ say, Martha Stewart or possibly Miss Manners _ to expose our police to some of the fine points of haut monde etiquette, proper selection of silver, folding napkins, what to do when the nose runs, etc.

If some of these new drills should cut into their time for other, more coarse exercises like scaling building walls and climbing down ropes, so much the better.

Those activities only cause them to sweat _ that is, perspire _ and are certainly no friend of a good manicure.

Bill Dorr, St. Petersburg

Whaling tradition is wrong

Re: Tribe seeks to resume whale hunt, Oct. 22.

For the past two days I have read in stupefaction the intention of the Makah Indians to resume whaling practices. They say it's part of tradition, ensconced in their culture of past generations.

This makes about as much sense as reinstating human sacrifices under the guise of an ancestral "way of life."

Upon reflection, this may not be such a bad idea. We can start with the Makah Indians!

Michelle H. McKune, Palm Harbor

Lend a helping hand for paws in need

Nov. 2-8 marks the celebration of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, an event sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States in recognition of the indispensable role that animal shelters play in maintaining the safety and health of a community for all of its residents.

Whether it's controlling a dog roaming at large, rescuing an injured cat or bringing a lost animal home, the professionals at local animal shelters work hard to help both the two- and four-legged members of our communities.

Not all animal shelters can provide quality services because of a lack of funding, resources or community support. If your animal shelter needs a helping hand in caring for your community's unwanted and stray animals, get involved. Here are a few ways you can help:

Talk to local and state officials about the need for responsible, well-funded animal shelters and the services they provide for a community's safety and well-being.

Encourage legislators to vote for effective animal control laws that protect both animals and people.

Be a volunteer for animal shelter programs. Many shelters use volunteers to walk dogs and play with the cats but are also helped by collections of pet food and other supplies. Organize a fund-raising event or encourage friends and family to consider a donation to the shelter to celebrate a pet's birthday. And offering special skills, such as bookkeeping or gardening, may also be helpful.

Educate friends and neighbors about the importance of caring for their pets responsibly.

An animal shelter is only as good as a community makes it. The HSUS encourages everyone to support local animal shelters, not only during National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, but all year. These efforts will help animals in local communities and across the nation.

Laura Bevan, director, Southeast regional office,

Humane Society of the United States, Tallahassee

Who has time to march

Re: Million woman march fails to hit its stride.

Those words sent chills down my spine as a fingernail across a blackboard.

Failure! Excuse me! I'm too busy running this world to take the time to march in it!

I guess it's easy to see that the other gender has time to take a bus ride and march around a city. Meanwhile, back at the ranchthe groceries, bills, driving the kids to school, extra activities, etc., have to be taken care of. Pardon me, but I do have a parade to march to _ it's called life and making a living.

Nancy Culver, Palm Harbor

Crybaby banks reap what they sow

Re: Credit unions shouldn't have an unfair advantage, letter, Oct. 21.

The writer's statements are misleading and one-sided.

The credit unions do not compete directly with banks. My daughter wanted to open a savings account so she could save part of her earnings and cash her payroll checks. Well, every bank in Tampa wanted a minimum of $50 to open an account. They also wanted a $200 balance for a savings account or they would apply a monthly surcharge fee of $5. She had $25 to open an account. I took her to my credit union. There we received service and a no-minimum-balance savings account.

Poor people vote with their money. That's why credit unions have more members now. The banks want rich and well-to-do people to utilize their services. But we working people know the banks charge too much in fees for the services they provide and charge fees for savings accounts with balances less than $500. We are not rich or well-to-do. We have to watch every penny we spend so we can live or just survive.

Tell me, Mr. Chairman, what is the lowest amount of money your bank will loan? Can I get a $100 loan to fix my car, or do I have to apply for the minimum amount of $1,000 to have a loan from your bank? Not enough collateral? No credit history? The credit union will lend the amounts we want, without having to borrow more than we need or want.

Credit unions do not sell their services. As a credit union member, I have a voice in what services we have and what the charges are. We vote for what we want in services. Why should we charge ourselves outlandish prices for services, since we own the credit union?

Larry D. Leonard, Seffner

Key for schools: discipline, respect

An article in the Times on Oct. 20 states that schools are having trouble finding enough teachers, and many reasons are advanced as the possible causes. Included is one that certainly has a major impact on the selection by graduates of a life career, and that is the pay that teaching offers as compared to other opportunities.

Nowhere, however, is mentioned other conditions that have a major impact on the shortage of teachers. Young people learn from what they see and experience, and many of them, seeing the situation in their classrooms, decide very early that they do not want teaching as a career.

Once upon a time teachers were respected, and children expected and were expected to obey their teachers. Now, we hear, teachers may cajole, tempt, reward, "motivate" and stimulate, but if students do not respond and decide not to participate in the class learning activity (and perhaps prevent others from participating), the teacher has little recourse. The principal cannot help, because he is hesitant to enforce any discipline because the parent or parents may "vote" his dismissal (via local school councils, etc.) if they wish. Some parents, it seems, do not want their children to be required to do anything or follow rules they do not like.

Somewhere there is an idea that if the principal had the discretion to suspend disruptive children, the power would be abused and the classrooms vacated. Such is not the case. First, there are only a few such children in a given classroom _ the others would like to learn in a conducive environment. Secondly, experience has proved that if one can remove the first disturbers, there will be few replacements.

My years as an elementary school principal were rewarding because we had full parental support. The 10 years as high school principal were the best of my entire career though later years brought higher titles, more income and larger areas of responsibility. I could enjoy the students because there was discipline and respect for me and the teachers. The authority that was vested in me as principal was rarely used because everyone knew it was there.

Psychologists tell us that among basic human needs, like food and water, we also have the need for recognition, acceptance and belonging. There is much satisfaction in achieving success, whether it is in winning a game, painting a picture or teaching a child. Teachers would love to have every learner be a success story.

Until parents, school boards and others realize that if competent teachers are to be recruited and perform diligently, there must be adequate pay, equipment and conditions for learning but also discipline and respect. These are the missing keys.

Virginia F. Lewis, former assistant superintendent,

Chicago Public Schools, St. Petersburg

Loser Democrats still earn big bucks

Re: Democrats snivel when hard work is needed, by Howard Troxler, Oct. 24.

As a progressive, yellow-dog Democrat, I couldn't find fault with nearly anything Howard Troxler wrote in his lengthy column outlining Democratic legislative campaign failures over the last 10 years, culminating with the Republican takeover this week of the traditionally Democratic 58th state house seat.

However, he could have just simply defined those inept Democratic strategists _ operatives from Tallahassee who lose race after race _ as simply "always wrong, never in doubt."

The one question he didn't raise specifically was this: How come after a losing streak of 10 years, these incompetent Democratic staffers responsible for coming elections still have their jobs and actually earn bonuses and raises? Who's in charge here?

Chuck Levin, Tampa

Opposed to Tampa Catholic stadium

Re: A school's breach of faith, by John Hill, Oct. 25.

My friends, who live across the street or backed up to the recently approved Tampa Catholic stadium, fought this travesty by the church with all the stress, pain and emotion they could muster. Most have lived there close to 40 years. Their homes were paid for and life was pleasant until Tampa Catholic opened a chink and made the run to trample them.

I feel the Tampa City Council took the easy way way _ "Oh, well, they're gonna sue us, and this is no big potatoes we want to fight, so let them have their stadium and save ourselves the money. On to bigger and better things!"

John Hill brought to everyone's attention just how stinking this whole Tampa Catholic deal was, and I appreciate his honesty. Would that his alma mater

could have been the same.

Wynelle Gilbert, Tampa

Reno is a rock of integrity

I was shocked and disappointed at a recent editorial in the Times (The evidence is there, Oct. 21) castigating the attorney general and calling for the appointment of yet another independent prosecutor to investigate the president. Surely all politicians realize that "soft" money spent to advance issues they support will enhance their chances of winning an election. Surely they will thank those who contributed to these funds. The nation needs a change in the system to prevent large donors to either party from influencing the election process.

President Clinton advocates such a change; his opponents refuse. Attorney General Janet Reno stood as a rock of integrity before those self-serving congressmen who are badgering her.

Readers expect more even-handed assessment and more common sense from a newspaper with the reputation of the St. Petersburg Times.

Ann T. Cook, Temple Terrace

Snowbird cartoon easy to figure out

Re: Snowbird feels slighted, letter, Oct. 27, responding to Don Addis' Oct. 18 cartoon.

I am continually amazed at people's reactions to different presentations in your paper, but this oversensitive reaction to Don Addis' convict/snowbird melting-pot cartoon really blew my mind.

I don't understand how anyone could misinterpret Addis' concern for the snowbirds' arrival occurring at the same time as the convict early release from prison. His statement was such an easy read _ very poor timing on the part of the responsible governmental arm. A most valuable part of Florida life, safety and economy has been overlooked.

To the "snowbird" letter writer, welcome back, but, really, get a life! Mr. Addis, keep up the good work! Miss you on the comics page!

Janet Lashomb, Brandon

There's no place like "Home'

I've been meaning to write for some time to applaud another of your fine columnists: Judy Stark.

Her articles in the Saturday paper are always interesting. I enjoy homes and home remodeling so always look to that section first on Saturdays. I've read a lot of "Homes" sections in different papers and none is as informative as yours because of those well-thought-out articles by Ms. Stark. Her observations reflect a person who takes her topic seriously and reviews many sources _ model homes, magazines, etc.

She is a fine writer. Thank you for including her work on Saturdays.

Jill Rommel, Clearwater

A great concert, plus food for hungry

We live in the best part of the state of Florida.

The Florida Orchestra played a free concert Oct. 25 in Straub Park. Typical Florida weather allowed us to sit by the shore of Tampa Bay with beautiful fireworks to complete a perfect night. We thank the sponsors, particularly Homes by Helen, for this event.

The many people enjoyed this by spreading cloths and sharing food with their friends. Best of all, they shared with the hungry people we have in the Tampa Bay are by bringing canned goods for Tampa Bay Harvest to take to the shelters, food kitchens and charities. Well over a ton was collected!

Margaret Betson, volunteer,

Tampa Bay Harvest, Palm Harbor

It's nice to read about racial harmony

I have written many times concerning Bill Maxwell's columns. He happens to be my favorite columnist.

His Oct. 26 column on Jeb Bush (Bush and the black activist) really was so revealing. I had never heard of T. Willard Fair of the Urban League of Greater Miami, but I have much respect for both and their assessment of each other.

It is so great to see white and black in harmony where no barrier of color or politics is in the way of good government.

Jeb Bush will do well, as will friend T. Willard Fair.

We certainly need someone of Jeb Bush's caliber as governor, someone without bias and working for Florida's best interest.

Elsie Yates Bouvier, South Pasadena

Share your opinions

We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

They can be sent by e-mail to letterssptimes.com or by fax to 893-8675.

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