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  1. Opinion

Why the October letter of the month winner lives with her parents

Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.

Why I live with my parents

October letter of the month | The winning letter lamented the lack of opportunity for millennials

I am white, privileged and educated. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh summa cum laude, and I cannot afford to live in Tampa Bay, specifically, Bradenton. I was only able to live here because of the generosity of my parents for the last two years. Almost all of my friends live at home. We are in our 20s and 30s, working service-related jobs, because this area offers little to no professional work. At $11.87 an hour, I hustle 40 hours a week as a library assistant at Selby Library in downtown Sarasota, and on the weekends I babysit, dog-sit, cat-sit … or just sit (as in doing laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills…).

I love Selby; I love books, my co-workers, the idealism and freedom that public libraries still offer. I don’t love that anything costing over $10 takes considerable thought as to whether it is necessary or not. When trying to find affordable housing, I simply had to laugh because all I could budget for on my current salary is $250 a month; a cheap HOA fee for some. I am completely priced out. In a culture (still) deeply divided by race, class and gender, how are our black, brown, Latinx and queer residents getting by? I am not. They are not. We are not. So tip generously, act kindly and remember all of us invisible folk, the ones who serve you day after day. We are trying so hard to simply make ends meet. Vote to increase minimum wage and take a stand — for us, for this community. Until then, I have to move to where the grass is greener on the other side (as in anywhere, but here).

Emily Grant, Bradenton

Dealing with reality

Majority in state perceive threat | Oct. 30

Sixty-eight percent of Floridians may believe climate change to be a reality, but they have peculiar ways of displaying that view at the ballot box. From the U.S. Senate on down, Floridians consistently elect officials who, at best, take “adaptive” stances: It’s coming folks, better get used to it. For eight years as governor, Rick Scott wouldn’t even go that far, echoing Sen. Marco Rubio’s “I’m not a scientist” stance, rather than taking the leadership in strategies that could stave off, not simply live with, the worst of global warming. Our legislators consistently take money from fossil-fuel-linked donors and have dragged their heels at harnessing Florida’s sunshine to produce energy. If they don’t take proactive leads in mitigating the effects of climate change, public officials need to be voted out of office, irrespective of their political stripe.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg

What ‘Tampa Bay’ means

Rebrand to ‘Bay’ results in bray | Brink column, Oct. 13

The downtown Tampa skyline, looking north from south of the Kennedy Street Bridge. [Tampa Tribune]

“Tampa Bay” means Tampa Bay, the region. Not Tampa. Not Hillsborough. Not Pinellas. Years of effort and expense have established “Tampa Bay” as a regional brand for economic development. Yet the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council decided to change its name to the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council effective Oct. 29. On Oct. 24, members of the Pinellas County Economic Development Council expressed their disappointment with the decision. They were concerned that the move undermines the establishment of “Tampa Bay” as a regional brand. The organization unanimously approved a motion stating that the Council fully supports a strong, authentic, and cooperative regional economic development alliance for marketing efforts, while retaining independence for individual counties in addressing the needs of individual prospects. Our marketing and promotional activities will have far greater impact if all counties in the region help spread a unified message. We must work together to promote the Tampa Bay Region, yet we must remain independent economic development organizations, county by county, to negotiate and close deals on individual sites. We cannot afford to have confusion in the minds of site selection consultants and corporate decision makers as to where to turn for complete and unbiased location information on the Tampa Bay region. A regional economic development alliance could fill that role.

Mike Meidel, Clearwater

The writer is Pinellas County’s economic development director. The Pinellas County Economic Development Council is a group of over 50 representatives of private business, non-profits and educational institutions appointed by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners to advise on strategies and programs to stimulate economic expansion, trade and investment for the benefit of the citizens of Pinellas County.

Get what you pay for

Voluntary Pre-K

Four-year-olds listen to a non-fiction book about bats at Celebration Baptist Kinderschool in Tallahassee. Emily L. Mahoney | Times [Emily L. Mahoney | Tampa Bay Times]

The Florida school system wants highly qualified teachers in the VPK program. With salary of just over $9 an hour and no benefits, this seems a very unlikely possibility. My daughter and her teaching partner had one of the best VPK programs in Pinellas County. County officials would come in and bring other VPK teachers in to observe. Both my daughter and her partner were college graduates. They had positive learning results with their students because they loved what they were doing. But having families to support, they couldn’t afford to stay in this position. A VPK teacher is a teacher and should be required to be certified and placed on the same pay scale and benefits as regular classroom teachers. They have benchmarks they are required to teach and assessments done with the children to monitor progress. Hiring a babysitter to come to your home costs more than $9 an hour, and their job is to keep children safe and play with them. To instill high learning as a priority, the state needs to pay more than “babysitting salary.” A well-run and funded Pre-Kindergarten program is vital for students higher success as they enter school. The state needs “transformational change” in the VPK program to see higher results in learning.

Jane Schramek, Seminole

Thanks for newspapers

The Tampa Bay Times

We have the internet, radio, TV and, it seems, endless sources of information and misinformation available, but only the newspaper does the in-depth reporting that uncovers what is happening in our own area and does it so well. Thank you.

Madelyn Lawson, Clearwater