1. Archive

Black wealth ought to do more for community

A month for more than just rhetoric (Feb. 26) by Bill Maxwell is one of those columns that I could not ignore. After I thought awful and disgusting things for his slamming the Rev. Rep. Frank Peterman, he goes and brings great critical attention to an issue so profoundly true that I marveled at its simple challenge.

What strikes me deeply in his column about the substance or shallowness of Black History Month is the stinging criticism I continue to hear about the socially successful but socially insignificant black wealthy in St. Petersburg. The column mentioned that more could be done by the black economically able, socially connected and influential individuals in alleviating the ills of the black community. This time the ill is the sad state of affairs of our children or, as some would have them, young men.

I often lament with others that we have more black professionals, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, business owners, architects, computer engineers and athletes than we have ever had in the history of St. Petersburg or Tampa. Yet when we had very few, they were the front line guardians for the rights of our children and our community. They used their wealth for more than individual gain or comfort. They used it for community gain and the general welfare _ particularly at times when we could not count on government because of Jim Crow laws. A black economy thrived and got things done with or without the assistance of the majority culture.

It appears now with all of the increased advantages of education and economics, the black wealth ought to be able to accomplish major developments and substantive projects whether or not the majority culture is involved. Where is the critical mass of black wealth to build bastions of economic development, create jobs in Midtown or to create a "Baywalk" of Afro-centric theme anchored by a Sylvia's of New York or a B. Smiths of Washington, D.C.? Why should we have to beg downtown money to do anything that we can do for ourselves in Midtown?

I do not criticize the individuals who are actually working behind the scenes to make a difference. But I am reminded of a dominant theme which challenged Fr. George Clements, the founder of One Church One Child: "If you people don't care enough about your children to adopt them, then don't expect us to." So said Gordon Johnson as the newly appointed head of Illinois Department of Children and Families. And thus a movement was born.

Why should we have to grovel for any majority financial institution to do for us what we might do for ourselves? Why should we have to beg the Grand Prix to keep its promise to include black people on the board and in the charitable giving?

I challenge black people of means to come together and pool their financial resources for the greatest good of our community. We need you at the NAACP. We need your financial support as we advance the cause of liberating the community.

Darryl Ervin Rouson, Esq., president,

St. Petersburg Branch NAACP

Ditch the political correctness

Re: Language police use excessive force, March 2.

Bill Maxwell's column hit the nail on the head regarding the use of politically correct words and phrases in the books used by today's schoolchildren.

It would seem as though the people in positions of power (politicians and educators) are trying to shield our children from the realities of life. The natural result of this is that the children will not be prepared to deal with situations not under the control of the politicians and educators. It would be better for the children if we would scrap the notion of "political correctness" and tell it like it is.

I am sure there are many people who would agree that political correctness is doing our children more harm than good.

Robert Bueckers, Clearwater

Special Olympics inspire greatness

March is Mental Retardation Awareness Month. Although most are unaware of it, there are approximately 170-million people with mental retardation worldwide, and more than 7-million in the United States _ many in our own community.

Through Special Olympics, we serve more than 1-million athletes with mental retardation in more than 150 countries providing year-round sports training and competition in 26 Olympics-type summer and winter sports. Yet to reach the millions who could benefit from this program, we need the help of many more volunteers and contributors.

We see the abilities _ not the limitations _ of people with mental retardation. We've witnessed the true Olympics courage, spirit and joy of our athletes.

This June, 16 Special Olympics Florida athletes, as part of Team USA, will travel to Dublin, Ireland, for the 2003 World Summer Games. The Games will be the largest athletic event ever staged in Ireland, and Florida's athletes will join more than 7,500 athletes from 160 Special Olympics programs from around the world. The international event is expected to draw 3,000 coaches, 28,000 family members and supporters and 30,000 volunteers. The motto of the games is "Share the Feeling," words that live in the hearts of Special Olympics athletes and volunteers each and every day of the year.

By participating in Special Olympics, people with mental retardation have gained self-confidence, self-esteem and social skills to succeed both on and off the playing field. Our athletes are performing as coaches, referees, reporters, photographers, board members and spokespersons. Across the world, stigmas are being shattered, people with mental retardation are successfully relocating from institutions into communities, and individuals once thought burdens to society are proving themselves productive citizens.

During Mental Retardation Awareness Month, if you'd like to inspire greatness and support a movement that celebrates differences and embraces acceptance and understanding, call Special Olympics Florida at 1-800-322-4376 or visit us on the Web at and volunteer today.

Monty Castevens, president/CEO, Special Olympics

Florida, Clermont

Scientology ought to be avoided

Re: Scientologists establish missions in their back yard, March 1.

Gee, where can I sign up to give my $1,500 check to the Scientologist cult to walk on its treadmill, use its sauna and feel better with a spiritual awakening? Oh, wait _ that money would buy a year's membership at a good spa.

The awakening? From a group of atheists who worship L. Ron Hubbard? This is a man who lived for years on boats so the U.S. government couldn't nail him for crimes and back taxes. He also professed to flying to another planet and killing all the inhabitants.

I worked as a volunteer at the Lisa McPherson Trust. I remember best the poor mother who came and asked if we could help her see her daughter. Twice at the door to their building downtown, she was turned away, told that "her daughter was in audit and couldn't be seen." The next time she was told that her daughter had left for California! Ah, such wonderful "hope-for-man" people.

Beware the "creeping cult." They are not harmless buffoons. Run, don't walk, from any and all things connected to Scientology!

M.L. Fitzpatrick, Dunedin

A multilevel marketing scheme

Re: Scientologists establish missions in their back yard, by Robert Farley, March 1.

Why did Robert Farley not include a follow-up question after he asked whether Kathy Feshbach earns a salary? If he had probed as a reporter ought to, he would have learned that Scientologists make money for every new recruit they enlist, exactly like a multilevel marketing scheme pays the top earners to sign up new distributors.

Jean Reeve, Clearwater

Offering hope for a decent future

Re: Scientologists establish missions in their back yard.

I applaud your article covering the new missions in the Clearwater-St. Petersburg area.

Given the amount of crime, illiteracy, drug use, economic strain and threat of war and terrorism we face, people need to know that something can be done about it. Only by knowing that a person can do something effective can you then increase the person's ability to hope for a decent future for their friends and family.

I have been successfully applying Scientology methods to my life for the past 12 years. The most important thing I have learned is that it is okay to improve your own life as long as you are also trying to improve the lives of others. My company supports a local literacy center, and we have helped hundreds of children learn to read. We also support effective drug rehabilitation methods that have saved many lives.

I would never have known this was possible if a friend hadn't asked me to read Dianetics over a dozen years ago. L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote Dianetics in 1950, was a compassionate and brilliant humanitarian who found workable solutions to what ails man. He made these solutions available at a grass-roots level. Through his solutions, millions are now living better lives. I now know that help is possible and that there is hope for a brighter future.

The fact that there are several missions that will be opened in the near future is proof that something effective can be done about improving conditions in a person's life.

Jim Mathers, Clearwater

The value of reclaimed water

Reclaimed water will play a key role in developing a sustainable water supply for the Tampa Bay area. At one time, reclaimed water was an issue of disposal. Local governments were desperate to find customers to avoid having to discharge the treated water into existing water bodies. Incentives were offered _ low prices, unlimited use.

Today, we recognize that reclaimed water has real value. By using reclaimed water for irrigation and other purposes, we reduce the demand for potable water that provides relief to heavily pumped well fields and freshwater resources.

A recent article (Mayor wants power to limit lawn watering, Jan. 24) addressed St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker's request to be given the authority to anticipate emergencies such as low water pressure in the city's reclaimed system and restrict usage of reclaimed water before these circumstances occur.

I support the mayor's efforts to be proactive in managing the city's reclaimed water system. As our focus continues to shift toward reclaimed water as a vital benefit, I expect there will be many changes in the way reclaimed water is managed. The city of St. Petersburg has always been a leader in the implementation of the innovative use of its water resources. Mayor Baker's request continues this leadership and should be implemented.

Ronnie E. Duncan, chair, Southwest Florida Water

Management District Governing Board, Brooksville

Fuel is of a different sort

Re: A ridiculous waste of fuel, letter, Feb. 28.

Someone please tell the letter writer that his views regarding the "ridiculous waste of fuel" resulting from the Grand Prix recently held in St. Petersburg are in error. This race was not a waste of fuel as he knows it. The fuel used in races such as the recently held Grand Prix is alcohol-based and bears little resemblance to the fuel he buys at his local gas station. The race did nothing to reduce the amount of "fuel resources" available to the rest of us.

Les Ciesemier, Largo

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