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Owners could do better by park residents

Published July 8, 2006

Re: Would you call them greedy? July 4.

Though I believe that judging the actions of others is arrogant and unwise, the question posed by your headline regarding the Travis family's huge windfall by virtue of inheriting property now worth $65-million if they will only displace their tenants seems to require an answer.

I agree with Chris Travis, who says that 95 percent of people would sell the land and sell out the tenants. His desire for justification for his actions, however, is more than his family deserves.

The family could easily accommodate the needs of their tenants and set themselves up forever if they so desired, but their intent is clearly to rake off as much profit as possible from their ventures.

Travis seems to be asking the age-old question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The answer, Mr. Travis, to that rhetorical question, should you need such instruction, is "yes."

Jude Michael Ryan, San Antonio


Throwing mobile homeowners overboard

Re: Would you call them greedy?

Would I call them greedy? Yes!

Mobile home park owners should not have the absolute right to sell property out from under mobile home owners. It's like halting a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and telling everyone to get off.

They operate a land-lease community akin to a public utility. The residents should not have to pay the price for the state failing to enact responsible regulations for leasing land to build housing on.

The park owners will reap a windfall profit of $65-million. The least they can do is pay their tenants fair market value for their homes, plus 40, 60 or 80 percent of that value for 0-5, 6-10 or 11-15, etc., years the homeowner has lived in the park.

This was the law in Florida (s723.061) through 2000, so it shouldn't be a shock to voluntarily pay what they were supposed to before the mobile home park owners' association had the law overturned.

Robert Perkis, Margate


Pay residents market value for homes

Re: Would you call them greedy?

If Chris Travis was "trying to do the right thing," he would pay the each the value of the home. Recent sales could determine the price. Of course this may mean the $3-million buyout could increase to $12-million. The four brothers would end up splitting $53-million.

I realize that a 37-year-old may find it difficult to survive on $12-million-plus. Another example of "free market ideology" trumping "humanity."

Bob Seel, St. Petersburg


U.S. losing its moral ground

Re: An American shame, letter, July 4.

The letter writer speaks for me and I am sure many other like-minded people. Professional politicians have sold out to the highest bidder, and we are all losers.

America is still the greatest country in the world, but how long can we carry on like this and be a moral force in a changing world?

D.G. Murray, New Port Richey


It's the park owner's property

Re: Would you call them greedy?

I'm getting tired of hearing about the mobile home dwellers and others whining about losing their parks to development and progress, and I doubt I am the only one to feel this way.

They are the ones who chose to place the mobile home on land they didn't own. They are the ones who sunk great deals of money into improving their trailer and the land it sits on that they knew belonged to someone else from the beginning.

Even with the government giving them a handout to help with the moving expenses, they have the gall to still want more money and laws to cover their lack of self-reliance and miscalculation that the world would stand still for them.

It is too bad that some renters had no foresight or just chose not to plan better and are now in a tight spot. For their "all about me" attitude I'm seeing, I have little sympathy for them as they call the legal, longtime owners greedy for wanting to finally sell or build nice homes on their property.

Phil Ruppel, St. Petersburg


No way to celebrate independence

As I lay in my bed on the Fourth of July, listening to rockets bursting over the roof of my house that I worked to finally have paid for at 65, I think of the burning cardboard landing on my roof that might burn down my finally-paid-for home or my boat behind my home and all of my neighbors' boats and homes. I wonder why fireworks that can be bought on any street corner by the truckload - and can do the same thing as a bomb placed under or near any of our churches, schools or public buildings - are being sold all over the state of Florida freely when we are supposed to be protected by Homeland Security.

Men and women are dying to protect us every day and we allow explosives to be sold freely on our streets.

If we spent the money on our troops instead of on fireworks, we could be saving lives every day.

Wake up, America. Blowing off explosives in your neighbor's back yard, scaring his animals and risking burning down his home is not what the Fourth of July is about.

God bless America.

Capt. Henry D. Alwardt Jr., Hudson


It's the protest, stupid

Re: The flag.

My observations lead me to believe that many of supporters of an amendment to the Constitution to outlaw the burning of the American flag as part of a protest are nothing but hypocrites. Many of the same "patriots" think nothing of flying a flag on their automobile. A cloth flag is not made to withstand 70 or 80 mph winds.

Every day you can drive in any city and see flags that have been turned into rags. Recently I pointed out the tattered condition of a flag to a driver in a parking lot. The driver's answer was that she only uses it to help her find her car. You can also often see the flag on the seat of shorts. The frequency of such displays seem not to be noticed by the same people that are so concerned about the failure of the amendment.

This leads me believe that their concern is not the flag but the protest. Would it be more acceptable if the protester dipped the flag in a bucket of acid, attached it to a centrifuge until it became a rag, put it in a leaf shredder or maybe just burned a large picture of a flag? Is it acceptable to show disrespect for the flag in any way except during a protest against some government action?

If businesses can fly a giant flag to attract attention and sales, a protester should have a right to attract attention to his position. And I have a right not to listen to his protest. There are many problems that should be addressed Congress, but burning the flag is not one of them.

George E. Whitley, Hudson


More people should fly the flag

Re: Is pride in Old Glory fading? July 3.

Driving home from work Monday, I stopped and purchased an American flag to replace the old, worn-out one I had.

On Tuesday morning, I put my new flag outside to display it to my neighbors and anyone else driving or walking by my home.

Later I went to the grocery store, and as I was driving I noticed no other house for blocks had a flag flying. Flying the American flag is not a show of one's politics; it is a show of respect for our great country, and of pride that we are Americans.

Hopefully, in the future, my neighbors and others will remember what our flag stands for and will proudly display it as I do.

William Dewey, Tampa


Demeaning our war dead

According to the July 4 story, Attention to detail, when a U.S. soldier dies, one of the rituals that takes place is that the soldier's spouse, or surviving family members, receive a folded flag from the Honor Guard conducting the funeral. According to the ritual, the flag is folded 12 times. Each fold of the flag means something.

"The first fold 'symbolizes life.' The fourth 'represents our weaker nature.' The sixth 'is for where our hearts lie.' The eighth 'is a tribute to the one who entered into the shadow of the valley of death.' "

All this means that when you burn the American flag, you demean our heroic war dead.

Does it pay to fight and die for a country that makes it constitutionally okay to burn the American flag?

Herbert Coleman, Sun City Center


Seek another form of protest

The U.S. Senate again failed to pass an amendment to protect the American flag from desecration in the interest of free speech.

The majority of the population and 38 states support the concept of protecting the flag, so why doesn't it happen?

Most of us take pride when we view the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima by the U.S. Marines and whenever the flag passes in parade. It is a symbol of our great country and deserves respect from all. To those of you who feel compelled to make a "free speech" statement, please seek another object to enforce your position.

Bill Thiron, Clearwater


Don't put alligators to death

Re: Trappers snag gator at park, June 28.

I was disturbed by the fate of the alligator that devoured the Shih Tzu. Although it may be the usual protocol to kill gators when they attack pets, the alligator was just doing what gators do - hunting for food.

Alligators are wild animals and must be respected. Caution must be taken while in their presence. I suppose I was naive to presume that all people living in Florida knew that. But because the owner of the dog put his pet in harm's way, the alligator had to pay with his life for doing something instinctively. It's the nature of the beast.

Certainly this protocol can be changed. Why not transfer alligators to the Everglades after such an occurrence so they may prey on other wild animals? Is killing them necessary? I don't consider myself an animal activist, but surely there should be a kinder way of handling these unfortunate situations than just putting the gators to death.

Consider this a lesson learned: Domestic and wild beings don't mix.

Nancy Milwid, Hudson and Woodstown, N.J.


A misunderstood disorder

Re: Stolen Hummer crashes cop cars, June 29.

I have recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As such, I am angered and discouraged at the statements Roland Jacobs made regarding his 15-year-old daughter's behavior.

For him to insinuate that his daughter's violence and irresponsibility is a product of bipolar disorder is outrageous. It is tantamount to saying an individual with diabetes is responsible for the same act.

As a parent of a bipolar adolescent, Jacobs is responsible for ensuring his daughter receives medical and mental health care. Research shows that the contribution of mental illness to society's overall level of violence is extremely small. When those of us who are mentally ill do become violent, we're far more likely to harm ourselves than to harm others.

Jacobs has done a great disservice to his daughter and the rest of us living with bipolar disorder. He has perpetuated the stigma that continues to plague people with mental illnesses. Sadly, this is one of the largest factors that prevent people from seeking treatment.

Jennifer Shields, St. Petersburg

Teen paydays are good practice

Re: Teens opt for paydays instead of play days, July 3.

It's true that teens who work miss out on one of youth's traditional pleasures: a summer of loafing. But they'd rather have just half a loaf - and a lot of bread.

Does all work and no play make Jack a dull boy? On the contrary, it sharpens him up, socially and mentally. These teens will learn early how to cope with people and how to accept responsibilities.

So maybe what they get out of working is infinitely more valuable than their paychecks. All too soon, they'll graduate from the minor leagues. Then, it'll be hardball on a regulation field, against stiff competition.

Their preseason training, on the sandlots of summer jobs, is bound to improve their batting average.

Lou A. Murphy, Kenneth City


Toll road deserves consideration

The forwarding-thinking concept of necessary infrastructure becoming part of a public-private partnership should be strongly considered. The developing area north of the city of Tampa certainly is in need of roadway improvements. And the idea of a "privately operated and publicly regulated toll road" deserves much consideration as a timely response to need.

However, public cynicism for these type of projects is rooted in the demonstrated inattention to detail by the public's representatives on whom we depend to control potential excesses of the private sector. If the administration of such a project is left to representatives who feel that taking a "free lunch" is not problematic and thereby demonstrate a lack of respect for the Sunshine Law, such things as project specification, budgets, expenditures and toll rates and increases must be monitored by a more respectful and responsible panel.

The Sunshine Law is a reaction to excesses and irresponsibility of the past. Those selected to administer future projects should remember that.

Ira Cohen, Tampa


Yankeetown in turmoil

Just as our forefathers couldn't have foreseen professional politicians, who could have imagined a political morass in a tiny little hamlet called Yankeetown?

Squashing the citizens' attempt to obtain self-determination through the recall process, a steel boot crashed down in a hair-splitting judge's decision that stated a mayor, even though having the power to veto and vote on motions, is not a member of the "governing body," and cannot be recalled. Ludicrous.

Worse, despite pleas from citizens, another boot fell from the governor's office via a letter supporting the mayor's single-minded determination to hand the town over to outside developers via appointed council members.

People are opposed not to development per se, but to overdevelopment and a private sewer plant in a coastal high hazard area. I submit that those opposed are the vast majority of residents, frustrated by having no voice in local government.

Townspeople beg simply for the right to have elected, not appointed, council members. They also want a voice via the ballot box to unseat the mayor, who ran unopposed because the former mayor and town council intentionally withheld vital information from the voters.

So, while one of the last quaint, peaceful and pristine places in Florida braces for the bulldozers, noise and jet-setters, what can we tell the young in this country? How can we encourage them to vote? How can we expect them to respect laws and politicians when self-indulgence, money and legalese rule - not the majority?

Folks, take a ride through Yankeetown, enjoy the trees, serenity, a ride on the beautiful Withlacoochee and maybe you will see the herd of manatees that cruises the river. You might remember in a few years how it used to be. You may wonder then: What a shame. Why couldn't it have been saved?

Edward Candela, Yankeetown

[Last modified July 8, 2006, 01:23:49]

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