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As a Roman Catholic who believes that people of faith are to be integrated in improving pluralistic communities, I remain troubled by the idea of a "Catholic town." Though I do not doubt the intent or good faith of Thomas S. Monaghan, I believe that his idea will undermine the witness and mission of American Catholics.

I cannot blame Monaghan for being so in love with our shared 2,000-year-old Roman Catholic faith. However, I believe that our faith is best demonstrated in the communities that need its vigor and witness the most. Somehow, I doubt that society's outsiders, about whom the faith has a great deal to say, will play a role in this lush, ideal "Catholic" community. Surely beggars will be as welcome there as they are in neighboring Sarasota, and undocumented immigrants will be relegated to doing the lawns. And those lacking access to basic health care or a living wage will continue to lack a voice. In short, this is yet another step backward from Vatican II.

Furthermore, as an American, I am troubled by the idea of an exclusive religious community for the laity for what is now an integrated religious group. The American community includes all persons, including those of different religious faiths, sexual orientations and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Catholics should not retreat from this American value and ideal.

Again, I do not fault Thomas Monaghan for his unabashed love for the Roman Catholic faith. However, that faith should not be a call for the faithful to wall themselves within a lush community. Instead, they should go into all the world and, to quote St. Francis, preach always, and speak if you have to.

Luis Viera, Tampa

Tribute to fallen leads to rebuke July 22, story

Insensitive reprimand

I am shocked, saddened and furious over the way Pasco County handled the situation with Capt. David Garofalo of fire rescue. (He left a department shirt at the scene of a fire in Charleston, S.C., as a tribute to the nine firefighters who died fighting the blaze.)

Should he make a habit of giving away county equipment? No. Has he done so in the past 10 years? Apparently not. He made a touching gesture in a moment of sadness. He should not be reprimanded in any way. The only reprimands should go to Assistant Chief Mike Ciccarello and any other superiors who allowed the reprimand to be given to Capt. Garofalo to begin with, after which they should all apologize to him for their insensitivity.

They should then send an apology to the Charleston Fire Department because their actions embarrassed not only themselves, but all firefighters under their command when Garofalo had to ask for the shirt back.

Paul Gibbons, Lithia

Tribute to fallen leads to rebuke July 22, story

Where's common sense?

In defense of Capt. David Garofalo, I am appalled at the despicable behavior of Assistant Chief Mike Ciccarello over such a petty "offense." I suppose if this infraction goes unpunished everyone will be giving away the firehouse next. I am fed up with neurotic, by-the-book bosses who can't temper their leadership with a little common sense.

I am 78 years old and this is the first letter I've ever written to a newspaper but couldn't suppress the anger I felt over this story.

Ray Smith, Largo

Lawyer halts paralyzed teen's $8.5M July 20, story

Greed on display

So, a million dollars is not enough compensation for the work that attorney Sheldon Schlesinger did.

Let's calculate this out.

If he worked 200 hours on the case, that equals $5,000 per hour. That 200 hours is five weeks, working at 40 hours per week.

If he worked 400 hours, that is $2,500 per hour for 10 weeks of work at 40 hours per week.

If he worked 1,000 hours that is $1,000 per hour for 25 weeks of work at 40 hours per week.

If he is like the rest of us working stiffs who make less than $20 per hour, he would have had to work on that case 50,000 hours. This translates into 1,250 weeks or about 24 years.

I think that most of us would be happy with a million-dollar payoff. It just shows the greed of the attorneys these days. No matter how much they make, it is never enough!

Jim Byers, St. Petersburg

Lawyer halts paralyzed teen's $8.5M July 20, story

Lawmakers delayed, too

Putting aside for a minute the question of whether the attorney was right or wrong in freezing the payment, there is another issue that ought to be addressed:

In 1999, a jury made up of Florida citizens decided that Minouche Noel was entitled to $8.5-million as a result of the medical negligence of a state-run clinic. Presumably this was a fair trial in which the state was represented by competent attorneys of its own who were promptly paid for their efforts. Nevertheless, following the verdict, eight years went by before the Legislature got around to passing a bill that would allow her to actually receive the money.

During that eight years, she was forced to do without the care that the money would have allowed her to obtain. Now the lawmakers are wailing and crying "outrage" over the way her lawyers are keeping her from providing adequately for herself.

So where was this compassion for Ms. Noel during the previous eight years? It seems to me there ought to be even more outrage over the Legislature's delay in compensating the victim.

I recognize that lawyers are rarely the objects of sympathy, and that the general public isn't going to criticize lawmakers for saving money by cutting legal fees. Nevertheless, if the Legislature had granted Ms. Noel her money to begin with, the lawyers would not have had to put in the additional hours or hire a lobbyist in order to get their client the money that the jury long ago decided she was entitled to.

Michael Ross, Pinellas Park

Teacher goes to jail

Hands off the kids

I really don't understand all of the uproar regarding a teacher going to jail for what he did to an underage girl. You can call it a relationship if you want to, but it sure looks like statutory rape to a lot of us.

Some teachers are better than others. But the one standard we expect from even the worst of our educational professionals is for them to keep their hands off the kids. It's a job, not a dating service.

And regarding the consent issue: It doesn't matter if a 17-year-old says "yes." How many teachers have to go to jail before the rest of them figure this out? It also does not matter that the girl was only a few months from becoming "legal."

I hope Daniel Zdrodowski thinks about this as he joins the seemingly continuous line of prison-bound teachers who don't understand the rules. Even more important, I hope that all teachers who are still walking the streets but who consider their workplace a sexual smorgasbord see this as a wakeup call.

It's simple. Do your job. Teach our kids. Keep your hands to yourself. Now do you get it?

David Fraser, Clearwater

Prison sentence lacking justice July 18, editorial

Inconsistent justice

Why should Daniel Zdrodowski go to prison for his actions when the "too pretty to go to jail" blond schoolteacher in Tampa got off without a prison sentence?

And the difference is: The young girl in this instance and her mother did not want to prosecute, whereas, in the earlier situation, the mother of the young boy (age 14) wanted the teacher punished.

The laws need to be uniform, and the judges need to be consistent with their sentences.

Jo Ann Sanderson, Temple Terrace

An extra helping of confidence - July 20, Floridian story

Heartwarming recipe

Thank you for the wonderful story of Rose Law and her dedication to her craft of cooking for others. Just imagine how many desperate souls she has shone that bright "light" on. We are all blessed to have her in our garden. Thank you, Rose, for being you!

Marilyn Miller, Clearwater