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Letters to the Editors

Credit the Rays for 'cool' season, too

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2000

Re: Summer tourist season is "hot," letter, March 8.

It is interesting to note that Richard L. Vaughn, vice president, public relations at Tropicana Field, is quick to accept kudos for the Devil Rays' favorable impact on the spring/summer tourist season in Pinellas County.

What he failed to mention is that the Devil Rays are also responsible for some of the drop in local tourism during the traditional winter/spring high season.

The fact that the Rays hold their spring training right here in St. Petersburg is the reason for the change.

For decades, fans from all over the United States flocked here to watch the home-based Cardinals, Mets or Orioles in spring training. In their annual ritual, they stayed for a few weeks -- eating at local restaurants, staying at local hotels/motels and spending money in local shops. The town was full every February and March.

Now, there is a great difference. Witness the mostly mediocre attendance at Florida Power Park and the John F. Kennedy exhibit. We local Devil Rays followers have negatively affected the spring training tourists' need to eat out and have a place to stay.

Don't take me wrong. I'm a rabid fan and a season ticket holder. I'm glad that the Rays are in St. Petersburg. However, if they are going to take credit for the "hot" summer tourist season, they should also explain the reasons for a "cool" winter season.
-- Robert S. Bernhardt, St. Petersburg

PSTA story didn't paint whole picture

Re: PSTA is lacking hiring initiative, Feb. 18.

The feature revealing that the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority was again under review by the federal government about its hiring of women and minorities was hardly surprising. There has hardly been a time when it was not being investigated for something. However, two points in the situation should be examined:

1. While Rosie the Riveter may hold a cherished place in American history, it really would be difficult to find women mechanics, especially in a garage full of men.

2. On the other hand, director Roger Sweeney told the Times that this problem was partly due to low turnover. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. One sees many new bus drivers for weeks on end. And, as for mechanics and fueler-cleaners, Sweeney has tried hiring from PARC, then overtime bus operators at up to an additional $300 per month and now, "temps."

Maintenance is still inadequate, according to some bus operators. And, of course, when he mentioned full employment as a cause, he should have added that starting wages at the agency are not competitive with what is being offered elsewhere.
-- John Royse, St. Petersburg

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