New bus routes strand many | Oct. 7
Service going from bad to worse
HART is going from a bad bus system to a dismal bus system, and I fear this will negatively affect the working poor, elderly and disabled people who depend on the bus every day. If you drive down major bus routes like Route 2 on Nebraska Avenue, Route 9 on 15th Street north of Hillsborough Avenue, and Route 19 on S Dale Mabry Highway, you'll see red bags covering the bus stop signs on dozens of stops. If you take the time to look and see what's written on the bags, you'll see that those stops are going away permanently.
HART claims that the biggest impact of the new system (known by the misnomer "Mission MAX") will be on suburban routes that are underused. However, a look at the new map shows how many routes are cut out of the urban core.
David Bryant, Tampa
Help in rebuilding business
Small businesses across the country and around the Gulf Coast — including those in our own Tampa Bay area — represent the heartbeat of our communities. We have the power to help kick-start the sluggish U.S. economy and begin the rebuilding after a natural disaster.
In 2013 we started our company, 3 Daughters Brewing, now one of the fastest-growing breweries in Florida. During Hurricane Irma, we offered our brewery as a shelter for friends and neighbors who were under mandatory evacuation orders. We housed 55 people, 12 dogs and six cats at the brewery. And while we were extremely fortunate, we know there were many to the south of us who were hit much harder.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly 40 percent of small businesses never recover and don't reopen after a natural disaster. That has a ripple effect across the community and local economy, as small businesses account for nearly two-thirds of new jobs and half of our country's economic output.
The Small Business Series event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday in Tampa is our chance to do just that. This event will bring together some of the most inspiring, innovative and successful entrepreneurs and business leaders from around the country to share their experiences and advice on starting, running, growing and rebuilding a business.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is offering complimentary registration to all attendees in recognition of the recent hardships Floridians have faced with Hurricane Irma.
Leigh and Mike Harting, St. Petersburg
The writers are the owners of 3 Daughters Brewing.
Historic vote limits political donors | Oct. 6
Limit who can contribute
The recent action by the St. Petersburg City Council to restrict political action committee donations is a step in the right direction but doesn't address the core issue. Elections should be decided by the eligible voters and not through the influence of political action committees, business entities, unions or the thousands of other legal fictions we now grant a voice. The last time I looked, none of these creations has the right to cast a vote. Why then do we allow them to have such a large influence and voice in the process?
Creating an artificial limit on specific donations won't correct this problem. In addition, this sort of restriction opens the door to a series of complex free speech and other questions.
Let's enact a simple, commonsense rule for political contributions: If you are a human being and eligible to vote in a specific election, you can donate and advocate without restriction. Legal fictions like businesses, political action committees and people living out of state or out of town can talk all they like, but shouldn't be able to donate unless they can vote.
The last time I checked, the majority of the money in all of our elections — state, county and local — seems to come not from eligible voters within the jurisdictions themselves, but from people and businesses without a vote. Isn't it time to stop lamenting all the money and put a simple commonsense plan in place to stop these outside influences from overwhelming the voters once and for all?
Alan Arnold, St. Petersburg
Las Vegas massacre
Ammunition limits needed
Control ammo — it's the easiest of the three (guns, ammo, lunatics) because there aren't many manufacturers. There's a pending bill in California to require background checks to buy ammunition. The Swiss limit ammunition sales, and their gun culture is about national defense and sport shooting, not self-protection. Why make the tools of mass murder more easily available?
Charles Matthews, Tampa
Fans' anger burns | Oct. 2
Kneeling is mild, respectful
Kneeling has got to be the mildest, most respectful expression of protest imaginable. Kneeling traditionally is a form of respect, homage and humility. Rarely have protests been so carefully nuanced in order to avoid offending. To kneel instead of stand when the national anthem is played is like praying to leaders and fellow citizens for change. Nevertheless, many fans, believing some horrible lack of reverence has revealed itself, object.
And what does the president do? He leaps into the fray, exacerbates it, and establishes himself as the major antagonist of those making this appeal. As a result the division escalates and those who at first knelt reverently, or stood with linked arms, are beginning to adopt ways of expressing themselves that are more openly angry and less ambiguous.
Is there any conflict or catastrophe that Donald Trump does not exacerbate and seem to thrive on?
Silvio Gaggi, Tampa
Nothing to see … move along
I am puzzled by all this fuss over football players taking a knee during the national anthem. Football players take a knee when another player is hurt. This gesture simply shows empathy for our fellow Americans who are hurting. That's it. Nothing else. Nothing unpatriotic about it. We have enough problems. We don't need to invent them. Let it go.
Sandy Ericson, Clearwater