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  1. Letters to the Editor

Wednesday's letters: Tampa airport tower needs work

Published Jul. 27, 2017

Tampa International Airport

Control tower needs upgrades

Looking down at Tampa International Airport from the air traffic control tower, we see the exciting improvements coming to our airport. Unfortunately, working in the tower, we face a different reality.

Our tower is in poor condition. Parts of the tower exterior are being held together with repair-work sealant. The large glass windows, which are essential to monitor planes on the ground, are no longer up to safety standards. Our controllers, who work hard 24/7 to monitor one of the nation's most complex air systems, use antiquated technology like paper flight strips. We're unable to install a modern ground radar system in part because of wear and tear to the tower.

The airport is undergoing a $2 billion renovation project to improve the Tampa flight experience, yet our air traffic controllers, who are responsible for keeping travelers safe and flights on time, work in a deteriorating physical environment with largely outdated technologies.

Although we're making progress by implementing modernization projects nationwide, long-term advancements are hampered by an unstable, unpredictable funding stream. That is why we support current U.S. House legislation, HR 2997, the 21st Century Aviation, Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act, which would create a federally chartered, not-for-profit air traffic control corporation to operate the system. The legislation would provide a stable, predictable funding stream that supports air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization, preventive maintenance and infrastructure modernization. It would also ensure the system keeps pace with current technology and would remove many of the government's slow, bureaucratic processes.

Tampa International is taking exciting and progressive steps toward the future of aviation, but modernization of our critical air traffic control function is falling behind. We can have a seamlessly run terminal, but without an updated air traffic control system, we are doing a great disservice to all Tampa travelers.

Jason Rebmann, facility representative, Tampa tower and terminal radar approach control, National Air Traffic Controllers Association

St. Petersburg mayor's race

Why I support Baker

I have served on City Council with both mayors Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker and have witnessed firsthand their leadership styles.

Baker created a team atmosphere where the objective was to do what was in the best interest of the city of St. Petersburg. He prioritized fiscal responsibility, communication with council, incorporated council's input, and worked diligently to ensure matters were vetted fully before requesting council's vote. Disagreements occurred but never prevented us from working together on future issues.

Regrettably, Kriseman's approach is entirely different. Kriseman has surrounded himself with "his team" of advisers and spokesmen, which has isolated him from council. Some of his actions have been vindictive and designed to divide. Mayor Kriseman has removed council members from boards, blocked our ability to dialogue with city staff and cancelled meetings on unrelated topics because of past disagreements on other policy issues.

He is so uninterested in working with elected City Council members that he surprised us with his plan for spending BP money — with zero dollars to repair our sewer system — at a news conference the day before a council meeting on the issue. He has been absent from council's biweekly sewer meetings. In December 2016, Kriseman proposed a consultant's contract of over $2 million, which was not preapproved by the city attorney's office.

Although I am a Democrat, I believe it is important for the city to maintain its nonpartisan election process. I do not agree with Baker on all issues. Regardless of party affiliation, I am supporting Rick Baker for mayor because I know he will work with all council members and all citizens for the best interest of the city of St. Petersburg.

James R. "Jim" Kennedy Jr., City Council representative, District 2, 2007-17

McCain's lessons | July 25, commentary

Definition of a hero

Sen. John McCain being in the news reminded me of when Donald Trump said he didn't think McCain was a hero for being shot down in Vietnam. I agree. I don't think you become a hero because of something that happens to you.

But he is a hero for two other reasons. First, he put himself in harm's way serving his country. Second, being the son of an admiral, he was given the opportunity to leave the horrific life of a POW, but he said he would leave only if all the other captives in the camp could leave too. He wound up being confined 5 ½ years. Now that's a hero.

Chris Lewis, St. Petersburg

Take away the vote permanently | July 20, letter

Amendment is limited

If the letter writer had taken the time to read the petition, he would have known that murderers and people convicted of sexual offenses are specifically excluded from this restoration of rights amendment.

Eileen Tisdale, Hudson

I was raped, and here's why Title IX matters July 19, commentary

Crime is a police matter

Was anyone else who read this column about being raped in college puzzled by a certain word that was missing? That word is "police." Sexual assault is a serious crime. Victims should turn to those who are paid and trained to handle serious crime instead of to college bureaucrats.

Being accused of sexual assault is a serious situation. College bureaucrats are not obliged to follow the constitutional protections that anyone accused of a crime has in our justice system. And false accusations of rape do happen. When any felony happens on campus, the campus administration should fully cooperate with the police in their investigation and, if necessary, beef up security and offer counseling for the victim.

This commonsense approach is all Betsy DeVos is trying to reintroduce back into Title IX.

Eric Greenbaum, Tampa