© St. Petersburg Times, published December 9, 2001
For those of us who occasionally lose faith in the human spirit, I would like to say that it's alive and well in St. Petersburg. I need to thank so many people who helped me find my 3-year-old son the other night. He wandered off from his brother's soccer practice and went to a BMX track next to the Azalea soccer fields. That's no small trek for a 3-year-old. In my panic, one mother came forward after she heard me call my son's name, Nolan. That was her 1-year-old son's name, too. I think in that moment we clicked.
She took charge of the situation and started yelling for all the parents to start looking. Perfect strangers did and said everything they could possibly think of to help me through my crisis.
Forty-five minutes later, Nolan was found. This exemplifies the true meaning of selflessness and the drive for Americans to do what is right for each other.
I know in my heart that not one of them expects anything in return for their deeds, but I feel strongly that I must tell them all how thankful I am, especially Nolan's mom. I never got her name, but she certainly made all the difference in the world that night.
-- Brooke E. Griffis and family, St. Petersburg
A Nov. 28 article (County's health costs run deficit) reported that Pinellas County's general fund is being "squeezed by declining revenues and other expenses" and that the county "is struggling to trim expenses . . ." Apparently this financial crisis has been brought about primarily by "reduced tourism revenue since the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks."
A day later comes word in the Times that the Pinellas County coffers were likely to take another hit, one from the state Legislature which -- in an effort to cut the state budget -- was considering reducing the flow of money to the county level.
In expressing concern about the Legislature's contemplated cuts, the chairman of the Pinellas County Commission was quoted as saying, "Somebody has got to take care of the kids, of the elderly, of people who are in need. The state is leaving it up to us."
However, if indeed the county is seriously concerned about rising expenditures in the face of declining revenues, should not the commissioners revisit their choice of the relatively expensive touch-screen technology for the county's new voting equipment?
In the 2000 general election, only 2.1 percent of Pinellas County voters had trouble with the "unfriendly" punch cards. When one considers the small percentage of all county residents who stand to realize tangible benefits from the touch-screen system, the $10-million above the cost of the less sophisticated but equally reliable precinct-based optical scanner system seems to be -- in today's economic environment -- an extravagance.
Why siphon $10-million out of the county economy? Why not keep that money at home to assure that care can be provided to those who are too young, too old or too ill to take care of themselves?
-- A.E. Roberts, St. Petersburg
Re: Another monotube eyesore, letter, Nov. 25.
The letter writer is mistaken about actions by the Isla del Sol Owners Association and the Isla del Sol Yacht and Country Club to stop, or at least delay, the monopole on the site of the Florida Power substation. Both organizations wrote letters opposing it.
As the IDSOA representative, I testified and argued against it at the city's Environmental Development Commission hearing that (1) there had been inadequate opportunity for our community's input and review of the EDC staff report issued that day, and (2) the project should not proceed until alternatives, e.g., lower aerials, had been studied.
At the June 6 hearing, EDC staff (who recommended approval) explained that FCC licensing requirements limit the discretion of the EDC in telecommunications matters. Cellular carriers are forced to erect sufficient towers to carry their signals. Commissioners also cited EDC requirements for all towers to be of sufficient height to accommodate antennae from multiple carriers in order to reduce the proliferation of towers throughout the city. So, all neighborhoods in the city have been forced to share the pain of these towers.
Commissioners asked the Florida Power and Sprint representatives about a delay. They responded that it would hurt their permitting process. The EDC immediately voted to approve. Our council member, James Bennett, sat through the hearing with us and afterward offered to discuss the appeal process with both IDSOA and the country club. But IDSOA could not alert its out-of-town membership in a timely fashion, and the club chose not to appeal.
We found the process lacking in opportunity for citizen input. Florida Power filed this application at a time when it must have known from the drop in its demand curve for Isla that many residents were away for the summer, although their year-round property taxes remain at work.
I would urge all who want to preserve Isla del Sol's quality of life to become involved while changes are still in the planning stage. The major eyesores on the island remain Florida Power's excessively tall poles, festooned with poorly spaced wires. All interested readers can help by:
Persuading Florida Power to lower the poles.
Ensuring that Florida Power complies with all landscaping requirements for both cell towers and substations.
Monitoring the monopole, and all other poles, to make sure no prohibited microwave devices are attached to them.
-- Jan Frazer-Smith, neighborhood services chair, Isla del Sol Owners Association, St. Petersburg
Re: One kind of terrorism never ceases, letter, Nov. 28.
I think the people of the United States are loath to compare anything with the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. But the letter writer has managed to belittle the plight of those who were murdered en masse unexpectedly by people they will never know.
Terrorism can be used in many different contexts. The letter writer has taken it out of context in making an analogy between "domestic terrorism" (domestic violence) and international terrorists attacking those who do not know them. This is both a disservice to CASA and the victims of Sept. 11.
Let me make an analogy. If the people of the Prostate Cancer Research Fund wrote an article talking about how the pain is "more real" for the victims of prostate cancer than the victims of breast cancer, and stated that the victims of prostate cancer don't benefit from all of the publicity the victims of breast cancer enjoy, and then went on to refer to the victims of prostate cancer as the "true innocents," would the letter writer find that offensive?
His display of "sour grapes" about the outpouring of love of the people of the United States is disheartening. Yes, local charities are suffering because of recent events. I am a supporter of CASA and the much-needed service it provides to this community. And yes, the victims of domestic violence are victims too. Local charities like CASA need our support now more than ever. It is just that in this analogy, the letter writer actually tries to compare the pain of one disease with another. It benefits no one, and will always demean instead of enlighten.
-- Mark T. Moore, St. Petersburg