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For their own good
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Today's Letters: City must act now to oust thugs at BayWalk
Letters to the Editor
Published December 29, 2007
This is just the most recent episode in the continuing saga of "It's Another Great Day in St. Petersburg," also known lately as "Who's on First?"
Make no mistake, unless someone in this city displays some of the leadership skills that we must have seen when we elected them, this situation is only going to get worse. And how much worse can it get? Gunshots at BayWalk on Christmas!
Several years ago the citizens of this community opted for a strong mayor form of government. Where is our strong mayor? The only elected leader I see who is addressing the "controversial" issues without tiptoeing is Bill Foster.
These juveniles and thugs have congregated at BayWalk for some time. Get them out, now. BayWalk is not a youth center. It's not a public park. It's a place of business. Quit asking where their parents are, as they clearly don't care and are not going to be active or even willing participants in the solution.
It's reasonable to expect that someone who visits one of the BayWalk businesses might like to linger in the cozy courtyard and enjoy conversation over an ice cream cone before leaving. It is not reasonable for that space to be used as a meeting ground and hangout spot for unsupervised juveniles (or those over 18 for that matter). Either shop, eat, purchase a ticket for a movie - or get out!
Every time I have gone to BayWalk on the weekend or a holiday to see a movie, I have had the unpleasant experience of navigating through the restless, milling crowd in the courtyard to get to the ticket window. Once inside at the concession stand, I frequently have to get a manager to order my popcorn and drink since the kids behind the counter are too busy talking with each other and their peeps just hanging at the counter.
It gets worse. In the theater, it seems more like an out-of-control middle school gym than an "upscale" theater. After the movie starts, the noise continues. These unmannered kids continue to talk back and forth as if no one else is there. Cell phones ring. Conversations take place loud enough for everyone to hear. God forbid other people should suggest they turn their phone off, as profanity and threats are the routine response. After once asking someone near me be quiet I was told, "I paid for my ticket - I'll do what I want to!"
And now we have to worry that we might just be shot in the head for having the nerve to ask someone to be quiet during a movie.
I am calling for Mayor Baker and City Council members to enact a 9 p.m. curfew (seven days a week) for minors who are not accompanied by their parents or legal guardians, and strict enforcement of the curfew.
Chuck Lindeen, St. Petersburg
Doctor combats pull of drug reps Dec. 27, story
Ban drug ads from TV
It was heartening to read of doctors who are unwilling to be influenced or controlled by the pharmaceutical industry's quest for ever-increasing profits. My respect goes to these professionals who have held to the high road. Their integrity helps to ensure that patients will be prescribed those medications they actually need, rather than those whose manufacturer spent the most to schmooze the medical community and influence their prescribing patterns.
Now, when will Congress and the FCC ban the practice of prescription medications being marketed directly to consumers? The proliferation of prescription drug ads on TV is completely nuts. Only a medical doctor can prescribe these drugs, and presumably the list of reasons they spend all those years at medical school includes obtaining the education necessary to make the best drug choices for their patients. Where is the rationale for prescription drug ads on the TV, radio and magazines? How can anyone make the argument that consumers without medical training have the best judgment about these medications, most of which can have serious side effects?
They banned TV ads for cigarettes. It's about time to give the heave-ho to prescription drug ads.
Debra Bellmaine, Clearwater
Doctor combats pull of drug reps Dec. 27, story
Drug samples serve a need
As a former president of ours once said, "There you go again." Your front-page article is the second time within the year or so that you have attacked the drug industry and its marketing practices. Your portrait of drug reps seems to put them in a class with street peddlers of illicit drugs. You also do a disservice to the entire medical profession to imply that by talking to a drug rep and getting a free pen, ruler or lunch, a doctor is so easily swayed that he/she will prescribe that company's medication over generics or a competitive brand.
I personally do not want a doctor treating me who can be influenced with a cheap gift. Fortunately, most doctors welcome drug reps into their offices to bring them valuable information or product knowledge and receive sample medication to give their patients. These samples save patients money on drugs they would have to otherwise buy to try.
Finally, I'm sure your industry would never stoop as low as to influence your audience to use you product. Never would the newspaper industry offer free subscription trial offers, discount pricing, telephone solicitations, free calendars or other premiums given away at most fairs and events or even put your name on a major arena in downtown Tampa.
This is America, where we have a free enterprise system. You should be able to sell your product in any way the law and good business practices allow. That goes for the newspaper industry and, yes, the drug industry, which has increased all our quality of life far more than the Sunday comics.
William Reading, Lecanto
Recession insight history is dubious Dec. 26, story
Recession? It's here
Alan Greenspan thinks we have a 50 percent chance of heading into a recession. Has anyone looked at the economic indicators lately? Bankruptcies and foreclosures are at record highs. Home sales have all but died and retail sales have declined sharply in one short year.
I'm no economic forecaster, but I know what I observed this holiday shopping season: half- empty parking lots and half-empty stores. I did a bit of shopping on Christmas Eve expecting the usual crowds and parking difficulties. Instead, I chose a spot among the many available in the parking lot and breezed right through Target. And I noticed that many of the shoppers seemed to be doing their regular shopping instead of buying gifts.
Perhaps some people in this country have a 50 percent chance of heading into a recession, but the middle class have been in one for quite some time.
Cathie Chapman, Largo
Don Wright cartoon Dec. 25
Cartoon missed the mark
One thing is certain: Don Wright does not know his Bible or is knowingly distorting its message.
According to Scripture, Joseph and Mary were returning to their home area to register and pay taxes. Would that all illegal immigrants would do the same.
John Hungerford, Palm Harbor
Lost car at mall
Duties of mall security
Although not knowing the full story behind the actions of the Tyrone Mall security team, I feel that I must make a comment on the situation.
I was chief of security for two large malls in Pinellas County, and we gave special attention to patrons who "lost" their vehicles, which seemed to be a daily occurrence. It was common for people to go into one entrance and come out another and get confused. It is true that the act of looking into vehicles seems suspicious, but it is definitely not illegal. Suspicion arises when the car does not match the patron's car.
We are not "rent-a-cops" as portrayed by a lot of people. Our duty and mission is controlled by state regulations. As security officers in the state of Florida, we have no powers of arrest. Our job is to observe and report and let law enforcement agencies do the rest.
Bill Galloway, Clearwater
An avoidable tragedy Dec. 27, letter
Try personal responsibility
The writer speaks of the millions of Americans without medical insurance and points to the federal government as the culprit. When he speaks of "whatever happened to accountability," why not look in the mirror first?
I don't consider myself particularly blessed or lucky, but I have had medical coverage my entire life. My children and their children are also covered. We got that way by personal responsibility. We work and buy the things we need, among these things are home, auto, life and health insurance. Why not start with fending for ourselves and keeping Washington out of what should be considered personal responsibilities?
Don Niemann, Seminole
Enlist the power of the sun
A recent letter regarding the potential benefits of using solar power in Florida vs. the disadvantages of conventional and nuclear power plants was striking. This is particularly true when considering the negative aspects of building a new nuclear plant in Levy County. The wasting of 3,000 acres of land, creating another potential terrorist target, and the possibility of nuclear leaks or accidents are some very serious negative consequences. On the other hand, the reduction of pollution and oil dependency resulting from building fewer conventional coal, gas and oil power plants are huge incentives to go solar. The rationale and incentives to use safe, clean, renewable, stand-alone solar energy panels are so powerful that the time has come for the public to send a message to the power companies and lawmakers they can no longer ignore.
Just imagine the thousands of acres of commercial and condo building roofs in Florida that could be equipped with stand-alone solar panels that could be used to supplement the energy requirements of those buildings. This would reduce the need for new power plants and at the same time reduce our dependency and pollution problems. The technology is available. Sufficient financial incentives and public pressure to overcome vested interests have been lacking. Profits may have to be sacrificed for the greater good of the planet and the security of the nation, but now is the time. Let us use the power of the people to pressure the Legislature and the power companies to harness and use the power of the sun.
John Farnham, St. Petersburg
Look to hemp for fuel
The problems recently expressed about corn- based ethanol can help us better understand the characteristics of an ideal fuel crop. It would be a crop that could be grown in all 50 states, it would use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly, it could be used in rotation with (not replace) food crops, and it would have at least four times the biomass/cellulose potential of corn.
There is at least one crop that fits this description. Van Gogh painted on it, the Founding Fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence on it, and the USS Constitution is rigged with it. Ironically, our futile attempts to eradicate cannabis have insured that it will only be grown for its illicit buds. If hemp were legal it would be grown for a wide variety of other purposes.
While I can't speak to the dangers of marijuana, industrial hemp has only trace amounts of THC and is worthless as pot.
Putting irrational fears aside and relegalizing hemp could be the single most important environmental reform we could undertake.
Joe Hale, Sarasota
Worldwide kinship, if only for a momentDec. 25, editorial
Extend the season of giving
I share the writer's sense of mystery as to why the goodwill of this season "fades away as fast and silently as it came." It always seems that the "Christmas spirit" gets packed away with the tree ornaments and lights. It really doesn't have to be that way; it simply takes an individual's conscious decision to embrace the spirit year-round.
At my workplace, we committed to the annual Christmas bicycle fundraiser and we adopted two families in need. At a staff meeting where the results were read, I asked whether I was the only one who wondered why this benevolence only manifests itself for a few weeks in December. Looking around the room, I could see I wasn't. I then asked my co-workers to join me in extending the spirit beyond December by committing to bringing in one can of food per month for the needy. I was not surprised by their ready agreement nor the results since. It's only our first month's box, but it's quite evident that, as expected, most folks didn't take me literally and limit their contribution to one can.
In a world where we are constantly overwhelmed with famines and disasters that call out to us, it's easy - and understandable - to get hit with what they call "empathy fatigue," especially when we have our own needs getting harder to meet with each passing day. So I took a cue from something Mother Teresa said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed one."
Louis A. Claudio, Safety Harbor
A threat to our liberties
Every American who cherishes the freedoms he or she has left should start getting very familiar with the proposed Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 1955/S. 1959).
This bill sets the stage for further criminalization of protest. People who have liberal belief systems would have to be monitored before a criminal act might occur. This would amount to unlawful surveillance of individuals who are critical of the Bush administration.
This bill goes against everything our Constitution stands for.
Kathy Yonce, St. Petersburg
On evolution, case closed Dec. 22, editorial
Origins left unexplained
An alternate headline might be, "On evolution, minds closed."
Intelligent design is simply a justifiable scientific inference from the cause-and-effect structure that we observe everywhere around us.
When we see specified complexity, from a sand castle to a space shuttle, we rightly understand that it was purposefully made. And when we come across a beaver dam or a BMW, we know instinctively that it was intentionally produced. Then why do we insist on "breaking the rules" when it comes to biology?
Natural selection is limited in that it can only choose from pre-existing material, somewhat like dealing a hand from a deck of cards. But it offers no explanation for the origin of the deck of cards in the first place. It also has no power to "add to the deck," by making a princess of hearts or a fifteen of clubs.
Gary Ripple, St. Petersburg
On evolution, case closed Dec. 22, editorial
This editorial, while correct factually and logically, misses the point. The reason the creationists advance it as a subject to be taught in public schools is not because they believe it can withstand rational analysis, but so they can stir up the faithful with claims of persecution. To the religious faithful, natural selection is not an honest observation by scientists, but a plot by a secular humanist cult to deny the existence of God and destroy their religion.
Persecution, real, imagined or feigned, is an integral part of most religions. That is not surprising, because a threat to the group is an excellent way to encourage group cohesion, loyalty and giving.
Ed Bradley, Lithia
Tumult taints plaza's safety Dec. 27, story
I want my city back
The Christmas evening shootings at BayWalk are the last straw for me. I want my city back.
My son and his girlfriend were at BayWalk on that evening to see a movie, heard the gunshots and felt it necessary to take cover. The only reason they were there was because the Parkside theater had sold out of the show they wanted to see. Apparently no one makes the BayWalk movie theater their first choice because it is considered unsafe. Why is that? It appears it is "politically incorrect" to arrest residents for breaking laws such as congregating in large gangs after curfew, dealing and using illegal drugs in plain sight and taunting law-abiding citizens as they try to enjoy an evening out.
We want our police to be able to enforce the laws that exist for our protection and give us back our city.
Patty Nardozzi, St. Petersburg
Tumult taints plaza's safety Dec. 27, story
We should feel so embarrassed for our beautiful city. This is another reason to be against the Rays downtown stadium proposal: We can't even protect downtown from BayWalk spillover. How could the city be safe when thousands come spilling out into downtown after a game?
I'd call it a nightmare ready to happen, unless we say no.