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Letters to the Editors

Prayer is no substitute for a water policy

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2001

Re: With state its driest ever, governor urges prayer, May 23.

Re: With state its driest ever, governor urges prayer, May 23.

We may as well pray for a governor who can actually do something policywise, other than to suggest that we all invoke some incantation in order to solve our drought. What's next, Jeb? Are you going to call a 900 psychic hot line to tell us when it's likely to rain?

When our so-called governor comes up with group prayer as a solution to this serious crisis that is beginning to adversely affect every Floridian, instead of adopting controls on further development, then it's high time to get him out and get someone in the office who actually has the vision and leadership necessary to run the fourth largest state in the union!

We can't afford to keep wasting time like this. We've been in drought conditions for a few years now with no end in sight. We can't keep building and growing when we don't have the resources to sustain it. The drinking water crisis that is looming over the heads of the nearly 16-million Floridians (that census figure doesn't include the seasonal residents and tourists) will make the power shortages and price gouging now facing Californians pale by comparison.

We need to take concrete action now, such as developing alternative resources like desalination, before the National Guard has to start trucking in our drinking water from Lake Erie.
-- Douglas Steel, Gulfport

A naive approach

Re: With state its driest ever, governor urges prayer.

Does our good governor really think praying for rain will make it happen. How naive can one be? Imagine the governor wishfully praying every morning for rain -- I wonder how long he's been doing that?

Well, I surely hope it helps as I look out the window at the sun shining down on my plants. I hope you pray loudly enough, Guv, so Mother Nature hears you.
-- J.M. Stevens, Clearwater

Let's have a contest

Re: With state its driest ever, governor urges prayer.

Sorry, Gov. Bush, prayer will not help because we have all sinned at one time or another.

I have a better idea. Let us have a contest. The household that uses the least water from now until the end of the drought will get a million dollars.

How is that for incentive?
-- Alexandra Peterson, St. Petersburg

Zero tolerance puts children at risk

I read with great interest the story of Lindsay Brown, an Estero High School senior, arrested and most likely barred from graduation after officials found a knife in her car. Her logical explanation, her school academic and behavior record, her participation in school activities, all counted for absolutely nothing in the face of the school district's zero-tolerance policy.

I recently retired after spending nearly 30 years as an elementary and middle school principal. During most of that time, I was given the opportunity to use common sense in dealing with the young people placed in my care. Children make mistakes, but it is their mistakes that help give direction and purpose to their learning. I fear that the heavy-handed treatment of young children by the schools is putting all the children in this state at risk. Children learn from what they observe the adults doing to them and for them. In this state, I believe they understand that they are under attack and that past history, academic excellence and full participation in the activities of their schools count for absolutely nothing.

The purpose of schools in Florida appears to be centered on passing tests, culling undesirables and creating an environment in which common sense is replaced by mindless adherence to the letter of the law. I believe that schools in Florida will continue to generate the kind of anger in its youth that leads to the violence they seek to prevent. A vicious cycle is being created and I urge our Legislature and school boards to take a critical look at their own behavior.
-- John H. Mason, Clearwater

Question this kind of law enforcement

Re: Kitchen knife may cost girl memories, May 23.

Law enforcement officials can't control the bad kids so they break the spirit of the good ones. And sheriff's officials make dishonest statements like "the young lady made a bad choice." Anyone who knows criminal law will tell you that there is a world of difference between knowing and unknowing possession. How could she have made any choice if she didn't know the knife was there? There was no need to immediately arrest this young lady and put her in jail under such a high bond.

The matter could have been referred to the State Attorney where, hopefully, cooler heads would have recognized there was no criminal case. To compare her to students who carry weapons into school on their persons indicates a serious need to rethink this approach that gives young people like Lindsey Brown a felony arrest record. It is time for citizens to question these types of actions!
-- Chris Cole, Dade City

Mideast realities

Since it is now 53 years since the birth of Israel, I think it is time to put things in their proper perspective.

In all that time, only two Arab countries have made peace with Israel -- Egypt and Jordan. The others have shown nothing but venom and hatred. Four different times, they tried to destroy Israel but failed. They seem to have learned nothing from their miserable mission.

Today their lineup consists mainly of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Sudan. Many of these are the world's leaders in terrorism. They all hate America as well. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have aligned themselves with this group, especially Iraq.

It is pretty obvious that they desire not only a homeland but all of Israel. They chose an intifada, and they are paying for it.
-- Marvin Katz, Oldsmar

The teaching of hate must end

Re: Suicide attack leads to airstrikes, May 19.

This front-page story of yet another obscene mall bombing by a Palestinian suicide bomber brings to mind an upbeat story of a Tampa Islamic girls' school, Education and Islam: Ten years strong, and growing. The story by Times reporter Babita Persaud was a fine focus on our diversity and the growing Islamic presence in our community.

There is, however, a more disturbing aspect involved, one that may provide a clue to understanding what kind of mind-set motivates suicide bombers. The same girls of the Tampa Islamic school attended one of the fine educational programs at Ruth Eckerd, I Never Saw a Butterfly, which featured a reading of the sensitive poetry of Holocaust children.

The response of the young Islamic girls was indicative of the underlying problem. An invited guest, herself a Holocaust survivor as a "hidden child," reported that at the close of the program, the Islamic teacher intruded, saying "One of my students has a question."

The student then blurted out the question, "Don't you think what the Jews are doing to the Palestinians is the same as what was done in the Holocaust?"

It was the feeling of the deeply offended Holocaust survivor that the question had been prepared in advance.

It is obvious that as long as Palestinian schools continue to teach hatred of Israelis and Jews, coupled with play-acting by children posing as suicide bombers, the cycle of violence will have no end. For its part, Israel has modified its curricula to include a humane view of Palestinians.

On a more encouraging note, a thoughtful Sun City resident, a non-Jew, recently sent me a unique "peace plan" that he proposed for peace in the Middle East. What must be a major ingredient of peace is a true effort to eliminate the teaching of hate. Palestinian children must not be taught to become suicide bombers with "a cold look in the eyes" of the bomber in Netanya.
-- Norman N. Gross, president, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting; chairperson, Great Florida B'nai B'rith Anti Hate Committee, Palm Harbor

Surviving a highway horror

My husband is one of few who survived a rollover in his Ford Explorer. His accident was Dec. 14, 2000, on the I-4 corridor heading west from Orlando. His tires had just been replaced from Firestone; they were his second set.

Your recent articles were among the best I have read on the subject. We have not yet settled with Ford or Firestone, but no amount could compensate our family for the stress and despair we have all been through over the last five months.

And what future does my husband hope for? Has Ford done tests on the life expectancy for a 200-pound man who was blown through a windshield at 70 miles per hour, 200 feet in the air, only to land on his head?

When I tell people who own Ford Explorers to take the keys back to the dealer and leave the vehicle, they look at me funny. I only hope none of them will become a statistic on your Florida map.
-- Corinne Fogarty Steinhardt, Palm Harbor

Hurt by interest rate cuts

When Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan sees fit to take more interest from our hard-earned life savings in order to spur on the economy, I wonder why he cannot understand that we spend the money in order to survive during this time of inflated prices.

What he has done is to provide more money for Wall Street to gamble with. I have never felt like risking my paltry income, and would thank him not to do it for me. I do, in fact, feel as though he is a thief preying on elderly American citizens.
-- Franklin Reid, Tampa

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