St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

Today's letters: Senior citizens are not invisible

Published March 31, 2007


I have suspected from the time I was 65ish, or a "sexagenarian" (rooted from my newly coined word "genarian," and that can be "septuagenarian," "octogenarian," etc.) that I was beginning to become transparent.

People would look over my head whenever I asked a question, or they would direct the answer to someone younger I happened to be with, or they might just ignore my question under the pretense of temporary deafness to my words or questions.

I find this ignoring of an older person, and perhaps their presumption that one is no longer capable of understanding the language or their sales pitch because they sport a few wrinkles or prefer white or gray or even blue hair, that they have no right to ask a question. I gently remind them that the checkbook and pen are in my hands and that they should direct their answers and explanations to me, as I am the one who will make the ultimate decision.

Sometimes it is also necessary to point out to these slightly incompetent and grossly impolite clerks that having several college degrees goes a long way toward my competency and understanding of the English language and logical decisionmaking skills, as to how to spend my money and what I will or will not buy in that store.

I just hate people making decisions for me when I have not asked them to. It just seems to strip me of my intelligence and free will.

Don't think this overtaking of one's personal existence is relegated only to clerks and store personnel. Would you believe that your own children sometimes behave as if you weren't even there? They make decisions for you without your consent or input, and you are right there! They treat your possessions as if they are already theirs.

There it is again. You are there, but they look askance as if you are not. They usurp your space and purloin your goods and look right through you as they are doing these dastardly deeds, all the while stripping you of your dignity and right to make decisions as to what you want to do with your possessions, or where you want to go (and still able to go under your own steam, of course).

Please do not erase me from my space in the world. You and I count equally.

Or do I need a flag to wave so you can see me and not treat me as a transparent genarian?

Rose M. Campbell, Beverly Hills

Don't neglect coverage of Citrus

The coverage of issues relating to the manatees has been covered in the Citrus Times by Barbara Behrendt for years. She is passionate about the animals and has done an excellent job of reporting the problems they face.

Citrus County is recognized worldwide because of these animals, and Barbara is an advocate the manatees and Citrus County cannot afford to lose. A newspaper that reports news about Florida shouldn't neglect the state animal and the county it's most often associated with.

Tracy Colson, Crystal River

Developers can't intimidate town

In recent weeks, three cases have been dismissed against Yankeetown and one of its officials. Developers Izaak Walton Investors, the plaintiff in all three cases, failed to prove sufficient grounds for the suits and confused the issue even further in the courts by amending a case they had no part in and then misfiling their suit.

In May 2006, Izaak Walton Investors filed suit against Debra Stines, Yankeetown's town clerk for 17 years. The charge was for not filling public record requests in a timely manner. An amended suit was filed in January 2007 for allowing unauthorized access to their submitted plans. On March 9, 2007, the Circuit Court dismissed all charges against Ms. Stines, citing failure by Izaak Walton Investors to prove any allegations of wrongdoing. It's very sad that Yankeetown has had to spend time and effort defending against frivolous suits such as these.

These rulings have come on the heels of another suit filed by Izaak Walton Investors against Yankeetown in an attempt to prevent a temporary building moratorium. This suit was also dismissed, and the moratorium is now in place. This gives the Yankeetown government time to complete its Comprehensive Plan update, something desperately needed and not done since 1989.

In 2006 Yankeetown voters went to the polls and elected, by a landslide, a council they felt would represent their best interests, including the public outcry for responsible growth. All candidates knew when taking the oath of office that the battle would be long and difficult and even so they chose to sacrifice, without pay, at least two years of their lives for the cause. For the past few months all have worked tirelessly to put back in order all of the things left undone by past administrations and are moving ahead with plans for the future. However, legal roadblocks by developers continue to be placed before them.

The Town Council, some members of the Planning Commission and even a few town residents have received even more lawsuits from Izaak Walton Developers in an attempt to permit projects through intimidation. The goal is to try to convince people that litigation isn't worth the cost.

With insurance paying for all legal defense of town officials and volunteers, pro bono work by local attorneys and a legal defense fund established by a citizen group to help anyone not covered under town insurance, Yankeetown is in a very good position to hold its ground. Yankeetown needs to stand together in the face of this adversity. What little it costs us now is but a fraction of what it will cost later to put into place the infrastructure needed to support the dream of a few men from Ohio.

Genie Sturtevant, Inglis

People, manatees can share water

I have been fortunate enough to boat and fish in Citrus County waters for a decade now and have had ample contact with manatees. Anyone with a similar experience should know that some manatees are very "user friendly," i.e., welcome contact with humans, whereas others are very shy and try to avoid them (this could even be the same creature depending on circumstances such as protecting an infant).

The only way abuse of manatees will stop is to get people out of the water with them. Commercial interests can still make their profit by taking visitors among the gentle creatures and observing them.

The solution is simple: Let the manatee make the choice regarding contact. I have had some put their head above water at the back of the boat and "beg" to be caressed. I was even able to bring other passengers to the back to pet them. Once while anchored fishing, one rested his head on top of my propeller blade. I petted him a couple of times. He remained so long that when I wanted to move, I had to gently push him away with my paddle so as not to injure him.

Especially at the wildlife park, so many boats with divers clog up the confined area outside the markers that park observers have difficulty seeing them from the covered area. Swimmers, especially some who are not carefully monitored, are hazardous to some manatees and at risk from boat propellers when traffic gets heavy.

The water can be shared with these gentle creatures in a way that significantly reduces the risk of abuse, while still allowing tourists and admiring residents the opportunity to appreciate their existence.

Bill Ackerman, Homosassa

[Last modified March 30, 2007, 20:11:54]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters