1. Archive

Mental hospital's closing makes housing a priority

Re: Trial involving mental hospital has larger issues at stake, Sept. 9.

"Officials want to close G. Pierce Wood Hospital, but what happens then to its patients?"

Indeed, what will happen to its patients? As a nurse, retired from the New York State Department of Mental Health after many years, I was there when the psychiatric hospitals discharged two-thirds of their patients to the community. Unfortunately, the community was unable to care for them, resulting in the large number of homeless living on the streets of New York.

If G. Pierce Wood does close, tax monies will be needed to provide proper residences to house these patients, with staff adequately trained to treat them. Local communities might object to having these patients housed near them. And what about the long-term-care patients who will not survive outside of a structured hospital setting?

Patricia Gloeckner, R.N., Seminole

Decent, affordable housing needed

Re: Big issues cloud hospital suit and DCF selects interim director of region that includes bay area,

Sept. 9.

As Florida officials continue on their path to shut down G. Pierce Wood state mental hospital, the newly named regional director for the Department of Children and Families' reorganized services for the Tampa Bay area certainly has his work cut out for him. Coupled with the impending closing and DCF's now narrowly defined role to fund and monitor, decent affordable housing must be a top priority as too few such residences now exist.

In addition, not only does sending severely mentally ill patients to the community possibly violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also it resigns some of those who cannot easily make a transition into the community to the streets or jail, as community mental-health providers are already overburdened and understaffed.

The current lack of affordable housing has already caused a few family members to band together to provide a decent, clean and safe residence for their loved ones. Although the process of incorporating, receiving non-profit status, finding a piece of property, commissioning an architect and opening for occupation in about 20 months was no small task, it was accomplished primarily by two determined women this March when they opened a "family-style" residence.

But now, they are working every waking hour of the day to ensure that adequate funding to maintain this model facility continues so it can stay open. The government stipend received by the residents doesn't even cover salary costs for the small staff. Operational funding relies on grants, donations and fundraising efforts. It has only six residents, but it can be replicated many times over with proper funding and monitoring. If not, as the article asks, "what happens then to (the hospital's) patients"?

Judy Turnbaugh, president, board of trustees, Benedict

Haven Inc., St. Petersburg

A better use for memorial funds

We have only the utmost respect for those brave people who served in World War II more than 55 years ago. Since most of those people have gone on to final glory, wouldn't it be nice to use that money instead for the children who today and tomorrow will go to bed hungry?

B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg

Remember sacrifices already made

Re: Memorial site is inappropriate, letter, Sept. 11.

What I find inappropriate is having the letter writer ask the World War II generation to "not besmirch their names" for wanting the World War II Memorial in the National Mall.

The writer asks, "Do you not have respect and honors enough, that you must destroy a work of great beauty and historical significance?" How quickly we forget the lives lost and the sacrifices made so that this so-called historical place may be enjoyed by future generations. Because they so gallantly fought for this, it is a small tribute we can pay for the lives lost and sacrifices made to bring peace not only to this great nation but to all nations of the world.

I wonder if, by chance, the letter writer is a Vietnam vet. My son is, and all his comrades are in favor of this movement. Lest we forget!

Delia Maldonado, Tampa

Thank WWII veterans for National Mall

Re: Council against WWII memorial, Sept. 7.

As a World War II Navy combat veteran, I take umbrage at the insult to all veterans by the so-called Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

If it were not for the men and woman of the "greatest generation," the Lincoln Memorial would be a Japanese garden, the Washington Monument would be a Nazi Bierhalle and the National Mall would be a parade ground for Aryan youth.

These intellectual kooks talk about the memorial violating "the open feeling of the Mall." Did they ever consider the "open feeling" of Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa or Casablanca, Sicily Casino, Normandy or Bastogne? No, they were probably coloring Little Orphan Annie or burning the flag in the '60s or objecting to the Enola Gay story being told at the Smithsonian. We World War II veterans will probably never live long enough to see the memorial in the first place, kooks like this notwithstanding.

Wake up, America, and tell your elected officials what you think. God bless America!

Donald C. Steinle, Tarpon Springs

The facts about those memorials

Re: Memorial site is inappropriate, letter, Sept. 11.

The letter writer is incorrect. The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, popularly known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is dedicated to Marines of all wars for the past 225 years. It is not, nor was it meant to be, a memorial only for World War II vets. The Tomb of the Unknowns was built after World War I, and contains an unknown soldier from WWI, WWII, Korea, and until recently, Vietnam. There is not a national memorial for WWII vets or Korean vets.

I think it's also interesting to note that these memorials, although put on federal property, are paid for through private sources. There is an ongoing disagreement between the Air Force and Marines about the location of a proposed Air Force memorial. They are trying to locate it too close to our War Memorial.

As a veteran of 30 years in the Marine Corps, all things being equal, I'm more concerned about the next occupant of the White House than where a memorial is located. The wrong person in the White House tends to increase the need for memorials.

E.F. Devitt, Seminole

Don't punish the parent company

Re: Hollow verdict, hollow justice?, editorial,

Sept. 4.

Your editorial calling for Sabreliner Corp. to be held accountable for fines and restitution ordered to be paid by its subsidiary, SabreTech, for its role in the ValuJet crash, misses several salient points, and your conclusion is just plain wrong.

First, as you pointed out, there is uncontestable evidence that SabreTech is defunct, out of business, has no cash flow, and has a negative net worth of more than $20-million. It cannot pay the $2-million in fines and $9-million in restitution ordered.

SabreTech went out of business approximately three years after the ValuJet crash because of publicity surrounding its role in the crash. Yet, despite the fact that SabreTech had already suffered the equivalent of the corporate death penalty, the government indicted the corporation anyway. Rather than scolding SabreTech's parent corporation for not paying a debt it doesn't owe, perhaps you should ask the government why it would spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to indict a company it knew was out of business.

Motives aside, let's turn to Sabreliner. The company was not involved in the ValuJet matter and never accused of any wrongdoing in this case. Despite that fact, your editorial suggests Sabreliner should be required to pay the penalty imposed on SabreTech. In support, you point out that Sabreliner has spent several millions of dollars to defend SabreTech. You fail to mention that a large part of those costs were voluntarily paid to defend former SabreTech employees who were out of work and unable to afford their defense and who were acquitted of every charge against them. Then you suggest that because the parent paid to defend the subsidiary, it now should be forced to pay more.

SabreTech and Sabreliner are two separate corporations. They are not legally responsible for each other's obligations. We recognize the frustration associated with an uncollectable judgment. However, the fact remains that SabreTech drowned in a sea of red ink more than a year ago. It has no operations, no employees, no facilities, no customers and an enormous negative net worth, facts the prosecutors knew before they charged SabreTech.

For you to urge that Sabreliner be held financially responsible for the crash not only sets a bad precedent, but also is unjust. Under our system, innocent shareholders of a company not involved in misconduct should not be penalized. This has nothing to do with hiding behind the corporate form. It has everything to do with fundamental fairness. Quite simply, in this country, those who do not transgress are not punished. And hundreds of years of established law upholding the limited liability of separate corporations should not be stripped away in a misguided attempt by prosecutors to punish the parent of a company that already has been punished out of business.

Martin R. Raskin, attorney for SabreTech, Miami

Articles show contrast of characters

It could not have been more appropriate to have such contrasting articles (Sorority is suspended after racism reported and Judge candidate says he'd "probably' quit Krewe, Sept. 8) in the same edition of the Times. I immediately thought of Plutarch's Lives and was just a bit suspicious that the editors were subtly attempting to morally illuminate their readers.

The first article relates how a young, female University of Georgia student, at great personal cost, resigned from a whites-only sorority. Its deliberations over a black pledge had involved racist remarks; this she could not tolerate. She chose the hard, moral path, even though it meant having to sacrifice a year of schooling. Bravo!

The second article dealt with the candidate for a local judgeship. He is a member of a prestigious local fraternity that is strictly male and almost exclusively white. He has stated that he will resign only if elected as a judge. What difference would it make then, except as some hollow exercise? I admit that from what we read of the current and ongoing Hillsborough courthouse shenanigans, his moral compass would serve him well.

As Plutarch sketched out the lives of famous Romans and Greeks, and compared them, he always asked who was worthier. We should do the same. And maybe you will come to the same conclusion as I: That what Hillsborough County needs is to find this girl in Georgia and elect her as our next judge.

Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa