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  1. Opinion

Why getting to the Trop is so hard for at least one reader

Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor, including our letter of the month.
Tropicana Field
Published Oct. 4

Can’t get there from here

September letter of the month | The winning letter lamented the inaccessibility of the Trop

It’s just not true that the Rays lack fan support. Ironically, you report that the TV and radio ratings have spiked. The games have been getting the highest ratings in the market, and the share is among the best for all MLB markets. Not a surprise. Hundreds of thousands of baseball fans live here. The reason for low attendance is obvious and has been written about before. But it bears repeating. The problem lies with you, St. Petersburg, the location of the stadium and the above-ground nuclear fallout shelter you built to house baseball.

Let me explain. I attended the final game against the Yankees. I left my home in Forest Hills, a north central Tampa neighborhood, at 5:45 p.m. to arrive at a 7:10 p.m. game. On a normal traffic day, it’s 30 miles and about 37 minutes. I arrived at the stadium at 7:35 p.m. and got to my seat about 7:45 after a long walk down a concrete corridor that blocked my view of the game, almost exactly two hours after I left home. I missed the first two innings, and Joey Wendle’s home run (an historically rare event in itself). Most of that drive time was spent on I-275 between the Ulmerton Road exit and the 38th Avenue N exit, a distance of just over 6 miles. That drive took just over 40 minutes.

The stadium is inaccessible for most of the fans in the Tampa Bay market. Its location makes it reasonably accessible to South Pinellas and South Tampa. The total population of those areas is a bit over 500,000. From Largo north in Pinellas and from Seminole Heights to the north and east, it’s impossible to get to a game for most working people. The distance and the bottleneck of routes to St. Petersburg has effectively cut the Rays off from the team’s fans. The stadium is reasonably accessible to less than 20 percent of them.

Rex Henderson, Tampa

One united USF

Steve Currall, new president of University of South Florida, speaks with student government members at USF St. Petersburg. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

USF president promised to listen | Column, Oct. 2

Recent coverage of the state-mandated consolidation of the University of South Florida shows considerable concern for reporting the disappointment voiced by the regional campuses’ members and communities over the consolidation plan put forward by university leadership, but less attention on the significant reasons leadership has chosen that plan. I am writing to provide balance.

The proposed plan gives branch campuses budgetary and hiring authority respecting campus facilities and non-academic personnel. But it vests authority over budgeting for, and the hiring and retention of, academic staff in central administration. This does not mean such hiring is to be made by USF Tampa. Under consolidation there is no USF Tampa; there is only one USF, with three campuses.

Single accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires that programs, departments and colleges be singular: There can be, for example, only one English BA degree, one chemistry department, one College of Business and so on. Thus, divided authority over academic hiring would entail divided authority over hiring in academic units and programs present on more than one campus, and multiple lines of supervision for branch campus faculty. This is a recipe for incoherent hiring at the unit and program levels, and for conflicts in supervision.

A central administration can be expected to consider distinct branch campus needs and to consult the branch campus faculty and administration directly in any hiring decisions that impact branch campuses. Deans, operating through departments filled with field specific experts, are better positioned than regional chancellors to hire and evaluate faculty for their ability to serve departmental academic missions and the overall teaching and research missions of a major university.

College-centered control over academic matters is the best way to protect and strengthen as a consolidated USF the brand that USF Tampa has built to pre-eminence and national ranking.

Richard N. Manning, Tampa

The writer is associate professor in the department of philosophy and sergeant-at-arms of the USF Tampa Faculty Senate.

No smart phones in school

Solutions for a better learning environment | Column, Sept. 28

Bianca Goolsby, teacher who resigned

Bianca Goolsby’s piece detailed seven solutions toward improving the learning environment. Four of them involved social media. A major reform that needs to be made for school improvement, as well as society in general, is what access our young people have to social media. When 6-year-olds — first-graders — are signing “I have murder on my mind” we need more than social media etiquette education, we need social interaction lessons. Two improvements to the smart phone/social media world in which we live should be: (1) No cell phones in school during education hours — period. (2) No pen names for minors on social media. A signed name makes for better discourse and will squelch bullying and trolling. Such a reform will require cooperation and support from the social media platforms themselves, but if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other moguls are truly interested in fixing problems instead of doling out lip service, they can be pressured to sign on.

Stuart McKinney, Gulfport

The House is legislating

The impeachment inquiry

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell [J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE | AP]

One of the main talking points among Republicans when trying to discount the current impeachment inquiry is that Congress should focus on doing “the people’s business” instead of going after President Donald Trump. The Democratically controlled House has passed many important bills since talking office in January, but most of them have been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican. I believe that the House can continue to pursue important legislation while conducting an inquiry into the president’s possible violation of his oath of office. As long as McConnell continues to block any attempts at bipartisanship (which he has been doing since he took over as majority leader during the Obama administration), nothing will get done in Washington.

Jenni Casale, Palmetto

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