Bigger than N.Y. | Dec. 24
A guide for Florida's newcomers
I would like to welcome the 803 new residents a day who have decided to call the Sunshine State their home. I have prepared for you a small welcome list to make you feel more at home.
Bring a gun, don't be gay and don't be dazed by the decisions coming out of Tallahassee (it's the capital). We have: a governor who responds to the 1 percent, some of the highest property and health insurance rates in the country, a public utility commission that answers to big utilities, environmental protection that is consistently undermined, no mass transit on the horizon, sinkholes, Medicaid expansion turned down and threats to our clean drinking water. There are a few more, but I didn't want to question your choice to move here too much.
The bright side: no income tax, cheap booze and great weather. Welcome.
Darryl David, St. Petersburg
Florida's brighter place in the sun | Dec. 25, editorial
No cause for celebration
What exactly are you celebrating with the editorial trumpeting the population boom in Florida? A growth rate such as we have experienced is nothing short of a disaster in so many ways from ecological to economic that I find it hard to believe that a responsible newspaper would act as though this were a great thing. It is not.
You conclude with this: "a peninsula touching the tropics where dreams were big and success was there for the taking." Exactly so. This is the land of the takers, the users, the abusers, the rich who get richer by any means possible (see current governor) and the poor whose lives are made increasingly miserable (see homeless being harassed by local authorities). The poor get poorer by working harder at low-wage dead-end jobs; the educational system (of which I am a part) gets worse with no clear idea how to fix it since spending money on good schools is not an option; the environment gets worse as we overbuild and overcrowd and enlarge; public services go wanting; and the rapacious business leaders and developers take what they can, aided by their political hacks and toadies in the Legislature, squeezing the peninsula like an overripe orange, sucking the juice and leaving behind husks and leftovers.
You celebrate this? For shame.
Jude Ryan, Safety Harbor
Vaccine program gives life, hope to children Dec. 24, commentary
A worthy pledge
I applaud the compassion and determination of these authors, two young medical professionals, as they reach out to help prevent childhood deaths. It is a no-brainer for the United States to pledge strong support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. A U.S. pledge of $250 million a year for four years is not much more than we have contributed in the past. We can afford it, especially at this annual time of gratitude for the blessings we have, generosity toward others, and the fresh promise of a new year.
I urge the president to make that pledge and demonstrate the wisdom and humanity that symbolizes our country.
Linda Schatz, Tampa
Sony rethinks its 'Interview' release Dec. 24
Movie script material
Could you ask for a better marketing scheme for what is likely a very mediocre film that would have soon been on cable television? Maybe this could be the basis for a sequel to the movie. Here's the plot:
A movie corporation realizes its latest production is not likely to be much of a commercial success. Suddenly, there is a media blitz regarding an "evil" nation's hacking of this U.S. corporate giant that disrespected its leader in the film about to be released. This is followed by terrorist threats. Then there is government and media dialogue regarding the corporation's acquiescing to the threats, thus hampering the ideal of free speech in America. Next, the movie is released and those who see it are patriots. Nah, nobody would buy that.
Will Scott, St. Petersburg
Senate president spells out his priorities Dec. 24
Too much testing
I question Senate President Andy Gardiner's assertion that "the jury is still out if we are over-testing." The court of public opinion — which consists of students, parents and educators — has sent a clear message that we are past the point of over-testing. Anyone not noticing the tide toward reduced testing is living in the past with old policies.
The article mentioned that he wants "his" education committees to review the number of school tests required of Florida's K-12 students. I'm not confident "his" educational committees will have the proper input from the people most affected by current testing. Instead of input from front-line educators, students and parents, I suspect "his" committees will be representative of politicians and testing companies.
To lend further credence to this, I find it interesting that one paragraph down in the same article, Gardiner was all but ready to jump on the Jeb Bush for president bandwagon. That should seal any thoughts of any changes to reduce testing. I doubt Bush will be advocating any reduction in testing.
Ray Sargent, Inverness
New Year's wishes
Hopes, dreams for 2015
As 2014 draws to a close, here are a few hopes and dreams for St. Petersburg and beyond.
I hope downtown St. Petersburg continues to grow and the Rays find there's no place like home. I hope the Pier finds the right mixture of excitement and sensibility. I hope our new police chief unites everyone and makes a positive change of acceptance and tolerance.
I dream we make a concerted effort to move our homeless in the right direction. I dream we stop utility companies from controlling our politics. I dream of affordable public transportation and clean-energy jobs. And I dream of a nation that will be at peace.
Thomas J. Cook, St. Petersburg