© St. Petersburg Times, published March 20, 2002
Re: I chose to be homeless, as do many, letter, March 13.
The letter from a former homeless person will undoubtedly elicit many responses. Unfortunately, it will also probably reinforce the impression of many that all homeless people choose to be so, are addicted to alcohol and drugs, and take advantage of charitable people. In fact, many of the homeless in America (which include women and children) have quickly tumbled from a position of respectability after a series of disasters: fires, loss of jobs, business failures, illness, etc. With many having only enough savings for a month, it could happen to anyone.
I was homeless for three days after moving from Canada to San Francisco and discovering that the bank to which I had sent my entire account had held my draft for 10 days. On leaving the bank I found that a contractor for the city had towed my car, with everything I owned, both before the spot became illegal and before it had been ticketed by the police. Suddenly, I was homeless without either money or possessions. I spent the first night on the streets and two more in a Salvation Army shelter. It was only three days of homelessness, but it seemed like a lifetime.
-- John Royse, St. Petersburg
I absolutely must respond to the opinion piece you ran by Deborah Clark, Pinellas County supervisor of elections (With one touch, voting gets easier, March 10).
The statements Ms. Clark made about the electronic machines seizing public interest and getting more of the public to vote are almost ludicrous. Knowing she meant well, I'm not going to berate her here, but "it just ain't gonna happen."
The voting system is set up for one group of our nation's populace, and one group only: The elderly semiretired or fully retired. Why else the particularly discriminatory day, locations and times? Voting day is on a Tuesday -- wonderful! Good thing every younger working couple has off every Tuesday! Oh, hey, just vote during lunch hour. Sure, if you work right next door to your precinct. Hey, just vote after work. Sure! Right after picking up the kids, attempting to feed them some decent dinner, getting them to their additional school activities or making sure that your babysitter even shows so you can go vote, and all of this after your required overtime now that one-third of your company's work force has been laid off.
Face it, folks. No section of your government wants the younger working class to vote, neither locally or nationally. If they did, there would have been changes long ago.
Wouldn't the voting be on a Saturday or Sunday, with a few more locations and the ability to vote outside your precinct when you are working miles and miles away?
The real proof: We can already file our yearly taxes electronically. Think about this. This money we pay, the same money without which this country could not operate for one single day, we can file and pay electronically, any day of the week, and at a convenient time. But you can't vote that way.
-- Clint B. Fowler, Clearwater
Re: Traffic planning at a crossroads, March 4.
How can you be losing "$15-million a year" that you do not have? County Administrator Steve Spratt says this is what Pinellas County is losing every year because it is not charging an additional 5 cents a gallon that the state says it can.
There is something wrong with that statement. It seems to me that Pinellas has some of the highest gas prices in the state. Do you want to price the fuel in this county out of the reach of the average person? A lot of people in this county live from pay day to pay day. My husband and I go to Hillsborough County to fuel up our vehicles because it is so much cheaper.
The traffic lights in this county have been out of synch for years and no one has done anything about it. If they really want to help traffic, stop the building boom or at least slow it down until the contractors have put in the needed roads for the buildings and subdivisions.
-- Laurel B. Henderson, Clearwater
Re: Traffic planning at a crossroads.
Keep senior citizens off the roads during rush hour. There is no reason retirees need to be out in the busy morning hours when people are trying to get kids to school and get to work.
All too often, I've seen the senior citizens in the "fast" lane on Park Boulevard or Ulmerton Road at 8 in the morning, traveling at a ridiculously slow speed and tying up traffic.
Retirees should have consideration for working people and stay off the roads until after 9 a.m. It's hard enough raising a family these days, with mothers having to work in order to make ends meet.
Now parents have to pay staggering day care expenses, and we have the County Commission considering raising the gas tax. Hopefully, county Administrator Steve Spratt has enough sense not to let that happen.
-- Cheryl Finnerty, Seminole
Re: Traffic planning at a crossroads.
The reason we have a traffic problem in North Pinellas is simple: lack of overpasses. If you go to any other major city, you can see hundreds of overpasses that keep the traffic moving. In North Pinellas you can count the number of overpasses on one hand.
Of our few valued overpasses, the one at U.S. 19 and Gulf-to-Bay is only four lanes. You could say that it was built years ago and times were different, but look just east of there at the Bayside overpass that crosses Gulf-to-Bay. Again this is four lanes. Now look north at Keystone and McMullen Booth, where the county spent a lot of time and money taking out fill and grading the area, where this site was already perfectly set up to put in an overpass from the natural lay of the land. Where is the foresight?
-- Scott McKown, Palm Harbor
Re: Nip couch potato trend in the bud, guest column, Feb. 20.
Wonderful idea! Reduce/eliminate school busing, and the kids will be healthier from walking to school. They will be more attentive in class, having worked their wiggles out while outside, and will have greater confidence in themselves for being out of adult range for a short time and being put in decisionmaking positions at an early age.
We don't suddenly become wise at age 20. Kids have to have some uncomfortable experiences as they go through school. This strengthens them both physically and emotionally.
Is it a scarier world now? That is somewhat true, but sheltering kids will not teach them how to deal with the real world. Oh, yes! And letting them walk will save lots of transportation money and the frustrations of scheduling.
-- Barbara Purtee, Gulfport