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Letters to the Editors

Who decides which one is the thief?

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 20, 2000


Re: Two kinds of homeless people, Dec. 13.

As a Korean veteran, I would like to make a couple of observations about homeless people. Take the issue of the veterans taking turns pushing each other in a wheelchair, as noted by the letter writer.

I agree that there is a percentage (unknown) that preys on the vulnerable, myself being in that category. I recently heard about a person on a street corner with a sign that said, "Hungry. Will work for food." When offered a job, he replied, "How much an hour?" And when he was told that it was $8 an hour, he said, "I make more than that standing here with this sign."

So it isn't that I am naive, it's just that I don't count the whole bushel of apples bad because of one rotten one. There are some real, hurting, honest, sick and forgotten individuals who truly need our help and compassion.

Now how do we distinguish those who really need help from those who don't? If each of us were to encounter 100 of these people in a lifetime, (make your own approximate count to date), giving each one a few bucks (say $5), your cost would be $500 over a lifetime. (Claiming to encounter more than that in this area is an exaggeration.)

It seems to me that this would give a person the true feeling and spirit of helping one's fellow man, or loving your neighbor as you would love yourself. Sound familiar? Who am I to decide which one is the thief and which one really needs help? See the Living Bible, Hebrews 13:2. "Don't forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing." So, come on, writer, lighten up, have a nice Christmas. And to those of you who are living as though there is not a God: You had better be right!
-- Dick Himes, Pinellas Park

We must help the homeless

The letter writer of Two kinds of homeless people (Dec. 13) seems to be very misinformed about several things. First of all, homeless people have the right to "actually" demonstrate for their rights and express their opinions. These are not rights just given to those residing in more affluent areas, e.g., Redington Beach and Tierra Verde.

I, too, have worked hard my entire life; yet for a short period of time, I was homeless. I was grateful for all those God sent my way to help me, and my belief is that we must do everything humanly possibly to help the homeless get their lives back in order.

Last, the letter writer seems to think being homeless is fun and games, and she even jokes about it. I pray that the writer never loses her Redington Beach home and finds out what it's like to live in a shelter. Bet she'd soon be whistlin' another tune!
-- Linda S. Johnson, St. Petersburg

At the time, Fischer was right for job

Re: Mayor to retire, Dec. 13.

At the time, David Fischer was the right man for the job. He guided the city through the transition from a "city manager" to "strong mayor" form of government, providing the trust this city needed. Mayor Fischer's steady hand dealt with resurrecting the city's image after Bay Plaza failed. He was a conciliatory influence during this city's worst racial uprising, and successfully, through patience, brought Major League Baseball to St. Petersburg. A debt of gratitude will always be owed to him for these most notable accomplishments.

One can only wonder if Mayor Fischer had been that true "strong" mayor whether the City Council would be characterized as it has been: "dysfunctional," "impossible" and "sniping." Would there be that disdain that continually is played out in the St. Petersburg Times for a council that tried to do its job under the kind of leadership David Fischer provided?
-- Evan R. Jones, St. Petersburg

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