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 Letter to the 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: Community shelters needed for homeless

Published October 14, 2007


What would a moral society do? Oct. 10, guest column by Richard T. Shireman

I concur 100 percent with the commentary of Richard Shireman. As he says, "There should be a minimum level of shelter and services to provide people with a safe and sanitary place to sleep." For all our manifold merits as an American society, many well-to-do folks who reside in their happy cocoon of affluence are indifferent to those who descend into a morass of misery. The indigent have little clout or societal sponsorship and, thus, tend to wallow in their wretchedness. Also, the vast increase of homeless females on the street, if unresolved, will increase rape statistics dramatically. Such women are especially vulnerable. In America, any deficiency can be remedied, especially if it is triggered by goodwill toward our fellow humans.

Personally, I think that community centers should exist permanently in societies as a fallback for the homeless and hurting citizens who need emergency help. Until we acknowledge human worth and develop societal strike forces to eradicate homelessness, its presence will be permanent.

Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

The death of Charles L. Cummings

Homeless, not worthless

I want to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mr. Charles L. Cummings. Sometime between Friday evening, Sept. 14, and early Saturday morning, this helpless and unfortunate man was savagely beaten to death in the streets. This has affected me deeply. I am saddened, but more outraged about this. This was a homeless person whom I have noticed on several occasions. He never bothered anyone for anything. Even when he was offered something, he politely refused. Many of us are praying that the authorities find the "evil, ruthless, cowards" responsible for this senseless, barbaric crime.

We as a community need to be reminded that becoming homeless could happen to anyone at any given time. Because we have a roof over our heads does not make us better than others less fortunate.

And last a message to Charles: Your life did matter and did not go unnoticed. You will be missed.

Yvonne Vitrano, St. Petersburg

An exercise in futility?

I had left on vacation to Spain with the hope that when I returned the homeless convention last month at the Coliseum would have relieved downtown St. Petersburg and Williams Park of most of the homeless folks. To my surprise I had two homeless drunks in front of my shop on a recent Monday morning, and the short wall in Williams Park had homeless folks all around it. Scores of homeless people were nesting in the park as well. The short wall has become the new place for the daily drunk fest.

From what I understand, the event organizers shuttled these folks to downtown. Shouldn't they be shuttling these folks out of downtown and back to where they came from? Or say Lakeland?

I do want to thank our city officials for inspiring me to exercise. I have found myself on many evenings sprinting to my car at night in fear of being mugged, and I never imagined I could hurdle over so many shopping carts and bodies in the process. All this exercise should counter the stress induced by the confrontational drunks and crack heads I have to chase off weekly.

Well, at least when the Republican candidates roll into town for their debate - not that it will matter much - the homeless will look sharp with their new haircuts as they wave to the motorcades driving by Williams Park. By then, I should be in great shape.

Well, it is quitting time ... gotta run!

Arthur Verrill, St. Petersburg

Beach businesses

Sandwiches fall to steak

As my family prepares for our annual trip to Treasure Island, I hopped on the Internet to see what is new in the area. To my great sadness, I learned of the closing of the Bamboo Beer Garden on Madeira Beach. Since I was a child, I thought the bar was "cool" and once I turned 21, I went there every time I was in the area (a couple of times a year) to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.

I have been coming down to Treasure Island for 35 years, and I know that things change, but what is happening to all of the "mom and pop" businesses that gave the area such a great flavor? Not everyone on vacation wants an upscale steak or seafood dinner, but maybe just a sandwich in an easy environment.

I also know that Florida has insane property taxes, and that does not help these small businesses. I have always called the area my second home, and I cross my fingers for the remaining businesses that I have grown up on to make it. They will always have my business when I am down.

Diane Current, Fort Wayne, Ind.

City, county at odds over placement of beach parking lot Oct. 10, story

Spots needed elsewhere

Your article on the controversy over the county's purchase of a Gulf Boulevard lot in Indian Rocks Beach to construct a parking lot for beach visitors was similar to an earlier one about beach tax dollars sent to the county not coming back to benefit the beaches.

Indian Rocks Beach has more beach access (free) parking than any town from Clearwater to St. Pete Beach. Try building more spaces in Madeira, Redington or Indian Shores. Better yet, try finding one public parking space in Belleair Beach or Belleair Shore. During tourist season, designated spaces for Indian Rocks residents with parking stickers are always filled with Michigan and New York cars. Give us a break!

Cora Ann Miller, Indian Rocks Beach

For purse, thank you

I recently left my purse in a cart in the parking lot after shopping at the Tyrone Boulevard Wal-Mart. Not until I was almost home did I realize it was missing. Driving back to the store, I expected the worst. To my surprise, someone had turned it in to the customer service desk with all its contents.

To the person who did this act of honesty and kindness: You have my undying gratitude. Bless you!

Jackie Benenati, St. Petersburg


We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by fax to (727) 893-8675 or through our Web site at: They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

[Last modified October 14, 2007, 01:54:27]

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