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Today's Letters: Street people need tough love, not reckless feeding

Published October 21, 2007


St. Petersburg's Williams Park and the homeless

I read the article last week about Lakeland (Magnet for homeless now repels them, Oct. 16). It pertains a great deal to St. Petersburg.

I am a lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, and I have seen the problem of the homeless or street people get worse each year. Further, I have seen Williams Park go from a park that all citizens of this city used to one that is now owned by the street people. I know many business owners near the park who I have talked to that tell me the only solution is to stop the reckless feeding of the street people.

These people do not lack for food. Further when offered shelter by many organizations they opt to live on the street because they can not drink or use drugs in these shelters.

Since my father was on the board of the Boley Centers mental health organization for decades, I know that 80 percent or more of the street people are either mentally ill, or chemical addicts. Many simply refuse to take medication. Many also travel back and forth from cities up north that will take them during the summer and move back to St. Petersburg during the winter.

In short, who owns this city and Williams Park? If it is the citizens, the city should stop encouraging street people to come to the city by allowing reckless feeding and by allowing them to sleep in tent cities. If St. Petersburg was known as a city not friendly to street people, they would move somewhere else. Helping someone who is an addict and who doesn't want help will never work.

I'm all for compassion and for helping street people, but my personal experience with chemical addiction tells me that "tough love" is the only thing that works. Not a reputation of allowing them to own Williams Park and downtown St. Petersburg.

Scott McIntyre, St. Petersburg

Community shelters needed for homeless Oct. 14, letter

Solution: Go to work

I would like to challenge the letter writer, who feels the answer to the homeless problem lies in erecting permanent shelters, to put his money where his mouth is.

Even if he isn't one of the "many well-to-do folks who reside in a happy cocoon of affluence," I would guess that he has a guest bedroom or perhaps a pull-out couch for some of the homeless to sleep on.

As the days, weeks and months turn into years, I am certain he would find that giving someone something for nothing only helps to perpetuate future expectations for more of the same. If we want to give more, like our neighbors in Lakeland, I have no doubt that we'll get more in return (homeless people, that is).

As another letter writer (Homeless, not worthless, Oct. 14) points out, homelessness could happen to anyone at any given time. But that cuts both ways. The homeless could have what most of us have, a roof over our heads and food on the table, if they would just do what most of us will do tomorrow, whether we want to or not: go to work!

Tom Sooy, St. Petersburg

The Florida Orchestra

Musicians deserve more

On a beautiful breezy evening, I sat with thousands of others at the Vinoy Park enjoying the symphonic brilliance of the Florida Orchestra. Whether performing a free concert for the community, or at area concert halls, these eminently talented musicians give it their all. They always give stellar performances!

So, why then, are these superbly talented individuals, who continue to uphold 40 years of cultural tradition for our community, being asked to accept less compensation than they deserve? Why should the Tampa Bay area risk losing the cultural richness these musicians provide? Why should our youth be denied access to the Florida Orchestra's educational programs? All these will most assuredly happen if the voices of the community are silent.

The Florida Orchestra is near the bottom of the pay scale nationally. These musicians are looking for fairness and equality.

As a concerned member of Citizens for the Advancement of a Professional Orchestra, I ask the Tampa Bay area community to join me in helping keep the Florida Orchestra intact and to ask for fair compensation of its musicians by voicing your concerns.

Connie Cuebas, Seminole

Fight over ducks will go more roundsOct. 14, story

Leave Muscovies alone

I have been residing in Kenneth City for the past 20 years with the Muscovy ducks. They have never caused a major problem that I know of, until now. They roam around looking for food, causing no harm to humans. And where they go to die is a mystery to me. Sure, they leave their droppings the same as any stray dogs and birds. I also have never seen them congregating in such numbers as "200" at one time as stated by City Council member Al Carrier or "40-50" as resident Billy de Busk suggested. Get a picture of this for me, guys!

I currently reside on lakefront property, and there are beautiful mallard ducks in it. I gave up trying to feed them in the lake because the seagulls get to the food first. Occasionally, the mallards will venture up to the house, and I feed them - but here come the Muscovies, now! How am I to tell these ducks that they are forbidden to eat because I may get arrested for violating the city ordinance?

Let the ordinance pass without any further delay. The Kenneth City Town Council members will definitely find out if they made the right choice come election time.

Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City

School by moonlight

Welcome to Florida, land of sunny beaches and moonlit schools. Yes, I said moonlit schools. This is Florida, where high school students run for school buses between 4:30 and 6 a.m. by moonlight, like Harry Potter braving the dangers of the forbidden forest. These students have no magic powers, just exhausted parents.

School then starts by moonlight at 7:05 a.m. We are near the equator and it does not get light till 7:30 in winter. The students then must sleep by daylight, like Dracula, in order to rise between 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. to once again get the bus. Any changes in school choice must include a reasonable start time for high school. The present system is unhealthy and detrimental to learning.

Sheila Nahmias, Clearwater


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 20, 2007, 23:05:05]

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