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    Letters to the Editors

    Run to the polls as if your life depends on it

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 27, 2000


    Re: The empty campaign 2000, by Andrew Kohut, Oct. 23.

    Mr. Kohut articulates that this upcoming presidential race is "not about anything much."

    How absurdly wrong he is. America is now in the midst of its Golden Age. This upcoming election and the opposing ideologies of the candidates will ultimately decide which direction we as a society will go.

    Will we put our individual freedoms and rights into the hands of an ultra-conservative Supreme Court under President George W. Bush? (A reversal of Roe vs. Wade and a woman's right to choose.) Or will we choose to maintain a status quo for a woman's right to choice, with Al Gore at the helm?

    Will America continue to embark on a global economic policy (which has flourished under Bill Clinton) or back off into lackadaisical isolationism? And finally, will we continue to allow the elite portion of the electorate to deny American's the right to quality health care and access through the courts, to right wrongs committed by bottom-line HMOs and insurance companies?

    No, we musn't amble in a new direction, as Mr. Kohut suggests we will, but instead get to the polls as if our very lives depend on it. This great civilization is at an important crossroad.
    -- Frank B. Parillo, Tampa

    Hybrid vehicles ease fossil fuel use

    Not only are we paying for bad government policies on oil and gas but also on global warming due to the excessive use of fossil fuels. Our Congress and our president-to-be must take a stand on conserving those resources by giving the incentive to the auto makers to follow the path of seriously reducing the demand. The Japanese Honda and Toyota have indeed started by development of Hybrid vehicles, the technology of which began in the United States.

    These new power plants make use of the combination of the electric motor, which is most efficient for accelerations, while using a small fuel engine to maintain a charge on the battery. In other words, store at a slow rate, and use the battery for surges of power requirement. Fifty miles per gallon or better is achieved. Also some of the normal braking energy, which now goes up in wasted heat, can be used to charge the battery.

    If the cars and trucks as well as buses are set up with these engine combinations, we would achieve about a 30-percent reduction of the fuels that create global warming. Wake up America, and let your congressmen and senators, as well as our local representatives, be informed as to your wishes on this achievable goal.
    -- Irwin "Ike" Rosenberg, Spring Hill

    Airport threatens Everglades

    I read with much interest Glades restoration passes House (Oct. 20). This ambitious plan will eventually cost $7.8-billion, shared by Florida taxpayers and the U.S. government. This plan is basically a water-supply plan for additional growth, as I see it.

    It is imperative that the Florida taxpayers be advised of the Natural Resources Defense Council's recent newsletter. In the next 90 days, President Clinton will likely decide the fate of a destructive, mega-project that threatens to pollute and despoil one of America's most beloved and world-famous natural treasures: the Everglades.

    A group of developers is planning to build a major commercial airport on the banks of Biscayne National Park and just 10 miles from Everglades National Park. With one flight every few minutes, the airport and its surrounding development will choke the two parks with 7 tons of toxic air pollutants every day, flush lead and other hazardous chemicals directly into Biscayne National Park, fill both parks with jet noise and destroy open space between the parks with industrial sprawl.

    If the Homestead airport is built, this marine paradise -- home to a wide variety of rare wildlife such as the American alligator, the endangered manatee and the Florida panther, plus all of the beautiful wading birds -- will be ruined forever.
    -- Doris Landsman, Clearwater

    True Democracy affords choice

    The majority of people in this country believe in a woman's right to choose what is right for her physically and morally.

    The Supreme Court also believes in this. This mandate is clearly represented of the people, by the people, for the people -- true democracy.

    Anyone who wants to change this sounds to me like a potential dictator.
    -- Lewis J. Fisher, St. Petersburg

    Gays contribute good to society

    For the past 50 years, my wife and I have been the proud parents of a daughter and, for 45 years, a son. For the past 18 years, we have known he is gay.

    Shortly after he informed us of his preference, my wife and I attended a "Parents of Gays" seminar at a large university, after which we read many of the books and publications addressing the issue. We also attended parents' support groups and came to the conclusion that one's sexual preference is a biological phenomenon rather than a matter of choice.

    Very simply, who, as a matter of choice, would subject themselves to the possible scorn and potential threats by hate groups and self-righteous heterosexuals? How many heterosexuals feel they chose to be heterosexual?

    Our son is a very successful real estate broker and developer of residential properties. His life partner is an engineer and construction manager. We have met and continue to enjoy our associations with a diverse and accomplished group of their friends, whose careers cover an impressive array of fields; they are your neighbors, lawyers, doctors, accountants, software designers, etc. As you may (or may not) be aware, there exists an enormous group of gay and lesbian citizens who dress and act without distinction of sexual preference and who contribute handsomely to the registers of influential institutions, general commerce, and to the state and federal governments through the payment of sales, income, property and school taxes.

    My wife and I have long felt that those who have a bigoted and prejudiced attitude against gays and lesbians would benefit by gaining the confidence and insight offered by a gay or lesbian person. You will find a most genuine, caring and loving individual, who will do everything possible to enrich your life. They are upright, honest citizens working for the good of humanity and our country. Therefore, they should be recipients of federal and civil rights and protection from hate groups, as do any heterosexuals.

    The time is long past due for our elected officials to address gay and lesbian issues with a positive and constructive attitude.

    You parents with a gay or lesbian child should do everything possible to nurture your relationship with that child, as any child. You will be much happier and fulfilled than shunning your child who "isn't what you expected."

    We love our gay son.
    -- John and Alice Kralik, Sun City Center

    Stereotype of North Pinellas is wrong

    Re: The white, suburban specter of choice, by Howard Troxler, Oct. 20.

    Howard Troxler's article was cute. Unfortunately, if he was trying to be funny he missed the mark. We live in north Pinellas County and do not play tennis, have a minivan or wear loafers. In fact, as I write this, my husband is in the driveway with half his car's engine in our garage because he's rebuilding it. For the time being he's driving a rent-a-heap. He sometimes works three jobs so we can live comfortably. When I say comfortably, I don't mean a membership to a country club or buying designer clothes.

    Don't get me wrong, we're happy, or at least we were until the threat of busing our daughter away from her school was thrown at us. The article was particularly disturbing because many people think every family in north Pinellas County is like the Brady Bunch.

    We moved 14 times in 11 years before settling here over 10 years ago, each time for job advancement for my husband. We made our "choice" when we found a good school district where there was no busing. Our two older daughters were in first and fourth grades at the time. We checked out schools before we checked out houses. Now we have a daughter in kindergarten and I'll be darned if she'll ever get on a bus!

    I think it's pretty obvious that Mr. Troxler doesn't have any children in our situation or he wouldn't try so hard to make light of it.
    -- Tish Prestage, Clearwater

    Times minimizes, confuses real issue

    Re: St. Petersburg rejects curfew for juveniles, Oct. 22, and Council rejects juvenile curfew, Oct. 20.

    My neighbor brought to my attention that I was quoted in the St. Petersburg Times. He watched the open forum on the city's cable channel and was surprised how the Times took my quote out of context. As an avid reader of the Times, I was not surprised -- only amused.

    The reporter was very good at getting the quotes right, yet missing the point. My first question to the City Council was: "Are parents responsible for the damage that their children cause?" Someone in the audience answered, "No." The city attorney did not know; he is supposed to research the issue.

    I believe if we make the parents 100-percent responsible, they will implement their own curfew. Parents may not always know the location of their children or what they are doing, but they always know the location of their wallet. Let's tie them together. The pet laws do this.

    The current laws making owners responsible for their pets are what brought civility to a pet problem. Remember the days when the dogs in the neighborhood used to chase anything, bite anyone and defecate everywhere? I do.

    I also tried to emphasize (but obviously failed) that police officers generally enforce minor ordinances like leash laws and curfews when they are forced to do so -- and I stress "forced." When pets become a nuisance, the city and the police responded. When children become a nuisance... well, you do the math.

    It is unfortunate, yet typical of the Times, to minimize and confuse the real issue here. The curfew law, proposed by council member Jay Lasita, was intended to help children and help society. His concern for the children and this city was sincere and heartfelt. His opponents' comments were also sincere and valid -- all of which could have been reported objectively without turning this important issue into a dogfight.
    -- Paul Dickens, St. Petersburg

    Boat owners should protect manatees

    Gov. Jeb Bush wants to save the few remaining manatees, but he doesn't want to charge a $10 boat-user fee to help pay for the program. Instead, he'll use general tax revenue which everyone contributes to.

    Why not ask the boat owners to pay to protect the manatees? After all, they're the people who are killing these beautiful, endangered animals. If they can afford a boat, they can afford $10 to help the manatees. I bought the manatee license plate for years, and my car never hit a manatee. Boat owners enjoy the sea, but they also have the responsibility of protecting what they endanger.
    -- Roger W. Gambert, Palm Harbor

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    They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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