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Letters to the Editors

Many disabilities are not readily apparent

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2000

Re: With weak laws, anyone can get a handicapped parking permit, letter, Feb. 14.

Has the letter writer forgotten the phrase "But for the grace of God goes me"? I'm sure he has seen many infractions of the law during his career, and it is very upsetting to him.

But he should forget the past and re-evaluate the problem here in Florida, the land of the old, retired and (often) disabled. There is nothing obvious about a disabled person.

Unfortunately, in my family, we have four distinct and not so obvious handicaps. I have lupus, involving the heart, muscular ability, asthma and obesity due to cortisone therapy. I look like a fat, healthy person. My husband has hip degeneration and cardiomyopathy. He looks like a person merely with an irregular gait. My 40-year-old son-in-law, crippled with polio, wears a full leg brace. He looks like a young man with a slight limp.

You should see the looks directed at my 6-foot, 180-pound son when he parks in a handicapped spot. The glances subside when he picks up his blind, multiple-disability 8-year-old daughter and puts her in the wheelchair. I'm sure there are some who say a healthy person should push the wheelchair from a regular parking spot.

Let's try to find the answers in positive ways. Our local Albertsons has added some spots that say "reserved for senior citizens." Most problems can be solved with a bit of love.
-- Gloria Long, Palm Harbor

Pinellas should start half-penny for U.S. 19 tax

For years we have read about and seen the Penny for Pinellas at work. In the span of all these years, cities have been snapping up the tax revenue for their own personal needs.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the county runs the much-maligned, much-detested U.S. 19, a road recently overlooked by the governor and his cronies when he handed out cash to improve transit systems throughout Florida. Where does that leave us? With the worst 30-mile stretch of roadway in the state (and possibly the country) and with no immediate plans to help fix the problems.

I hereby recommend that Pinellas County start a half-cent sales tax used specifically to repair and improve the U.S. 19 corridor. This money would not be used for beautification purposes or for individual cities' desires.

So many problems plague U.S. 19, and there are so many solutions. All we need is the money to get the ball rolling. We, the people need to step up to solve our problems, seeing that state government has turned a blind eye once again.
-- John Fontana, Palm Harbor

Smokers' rights: At what point do they end?

Re: It's not about smoking, it's about equal rights, letter, Feb. 10.

I am totally amazed that smokers consider poisoning others a "right." If this is a valid concept, it might also be argued as a "right" to drive while under the influence of alcohol, which is presently known as a DUI offense.

With this totally self-centered attitude toward a major health hazard, is this person any less a menace than mothers who smoke in the home after hearing all the valid medical evidence that second-hand smoke is most injurious to their children?

I was a pack-a-day smoker until a particularly lethal virus swept the nation in 1976. After three months, three sets of antibiotics and three doctors, I quit cold turkey and never again craved this filth which turns the lungs black. The best of medical advice tells us that it takes about a year for the lungs to fully return to their natural pink color of health.

The smokers' rights end where the others' begin. I now have severe allergies and start to cough if anyone smokes near me, despite daily allergy medication. Does your "right" mean I may not go to this mobile home park rec room? I hope not, Ms. Smoker.
-- (Mary S.) Molly Gill, Largo

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