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Letters to the Editors

Two-way on MLK? Too much to pay

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001


Re: Two-way on MLK edging a bit closer, May 13.

I read with my jaw hanging down about St. Petersburg's considering spending between $2.4-million and $5.9-million on converting traffic on Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street between Ninth Avenues N and S to two-way traffic. I've traveled this section of road for many years since it was converted to one-way traffic. Other than the confusion where Ninth Avenue, Ninth Street and Eighth Street all come together, I have found it to be a great improvement from the way it used to be. Why the city would consider spending even one dollar, let alone millions, to change it back at the behest of a few businesses is beyond me.

The two businesses cited in the story were laughable at best. Mr. B's Pawnshop hardly sounds like the kind of business the city should be allowing to dictate policy and revenue allocation. The other business, Discount Auto Parts, if I am not mistaken, actually selected, bought and built at that location long after the conversion to one-way traffic had been made.

To add insult to injury, the city feels as if it has to seek the counsel of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on this matter. In the world of government folly, this is great stuff. Let's seek management advice from an organization that has demonstrated publicly a gross inability to manage a business in its own specialty.

In the same issue of the Neighborhood Times in which this story was published there were many examples of problems that, if the city spent $5-million on them, the general populace of the city would be better served.

In the areas of roads and infrastructure, the city should seek to serve the needs of schools instead of the walk-in traffic of a pawn shop in a crime-plagued section of town. We could start by setting a goal of ensuring that all public schools have easy vehicle access, sidewalks and proper stormwater drainage within a half-mile radius of the school building.
-- David Horning, St. Petersburg

We are a nation of fortunetellers

Re: Tougher ordinance to govern psychics, May 2.

The Pinellas Conty ordinance that requires criminal checks and licensing of fortunetellers does not go far enough! Why limit criminal checks to psychics, astrologers and tarot card readers (as if they were comparable)? What about the "futures" traders on Wall Street, the merchants who guarantee permanent weight loss with their products, the physicians who proclaim the expected life span of their patients, the "spin doctors" who foresee the outcome of elections and sports events, the evangelists who foresee Armageddon or eternal salvation for their followers, politicians who predict the outcome of bills, ordinances, tax cuts, diplomatic moves?

We are a nation of fortunetellers. The entire advertising industry is based on predictions of what is supposed to make us happy. The singling out of particular groups to be licensed as "fortunetellers" is ludicrous. In my 30-year career as licensed mental health counselor, I have seen at least as much harm perpetrated by licensed health care givers as by healers or seers using less conventional methods of counsel. It is "buyer beware" all the way around. No number of ordinances, licenses or criminal checks can take away our individual responsibility to choose to whom we entrust our present and future.
-- Lisa Raphael, St. Petersburg

McDonald's supports selective privacy

Re: Woman says burger has put her life on hold, story, May 13.

The call for the right of privacy is used selectively and often wrongly. McDonald's claims that its worker, because of his right to privacy, shouldn't have to submit to a blood test to let a person who could be infected by him know if he has certain communicable diseases.

But McDonald's would not feel it is invading a person's privacy to have him submit to a urine test to see if he had ingested certain substances.

The state encourages urine testing to prohibit hiring people who use certain substances on their own time, even though it does not affect their work performance. But the state would likely prohibit using a blood test to cull potential employees who have communicable diseases, such as AIDS and hepatitis, that could infect the customers.

Who has the greater right to privacy, someone whose actions affect no one but himself, or someone whose condition may be harmful to or threaten the life of others?

Which testing of employees makes more sense, one that is used to see what they do in their spare time, or one that identifies potential health threats to customers?

The answers are easy. McDonald's should test the employee for diseases to put Jackie Wollenberg's mind at ease, and it should use tests to prevent hiring workers who are a potential danger to the public. It should also quit testing its employees for drugs. It either really believes in privacy or it doesn't. Its actions prove that the company doesn't, or only does on a selective basis when it makes the least sense.
-- J.B. Pruitt Jr., Clearwater

Don't let apathy be your guide

I'm writing to let everyone know that the new Pinellas County Citizen's Guide has been distributed to all of the county libraries. You should be able to find them this week.

If you aren't familiar with the guide, it lists the names, addresses, phone numbers and party affiliations of the president, vice president and our U.S. senators and representatives. It lists our governor, lieutenant governor, Cabinet members and state senators and representatives.

You can find county commissioners, constitutional officers and School Board members, and a list of courts and judges.

It tells when all of their terms expire. You will also find a list of the 24 municipalities of the county. Be sure to check the back for general information, which is very important to voters.

The information is gathered in alternate years by the League of Women Voters of North Pinellas County and the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area. (The former gathered it this time.) It is published by the Supervisor of Elections Office. Our tax dollars pay for it, and that's why it is free.

If you can't get to a library, you may send a large No. 10 self-addressed, stamped envelope to the League of Women Voters, 210 S Ewing Ave., Clearwater, FL 33756.

If you belong to a group that fights for causes -- Common Cause, the Sierra Club, AARP, NOW, a PTA or homeowners group, etc. -- you will want a quantity of these. Call the league office at (797) 447-1564 and leave a message with your name and phone number only. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Please speak clearly and slowly.

I keep my guide next to my phone. I call the local offices of my national and state senators and representatives quite often. Sometimes I send e-mails and other times I use the U.S. Postal Service.

Make yourself heard. Let our elected officials know how you feel about issues. It can make a difference if you aren't indifferent. Make use of the guide.
-- Sonnie Kulaas, Clearwater

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