Manhattan Casino bids rejected | April 14
A renovation lacking in history
I've been following the Manhattan Casino's troubles for several years. There are two problems, but only one is being addressed: the tenant. The correct tenant is certainly important. Equally important, however, is the building's character.
This building has a rich and important history in St. Petersburg. In its heyday it was the venue for such notable performers as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Little Richard, Ray Charles and Nat King Cole. As an architect, I'm struck by the renovated building's sterile feeling, as there has been no attempt to preserve any of its original character. The downstairs restaurant had a pleasant but institutional feeling. Most people who go to a restaurant in an historic building are looking not only for good food but also for the atmosphere. It's a shame, but I think it will be difficult for anyone to create a successful business in this uninspiring vanilla building.
Sanford Goldman, St. Petersburg
Make America great again?
Return to our America
Let's make America, America again. We don't need to make America great again. We need to make America what it was and still is — America. We are a one-of-a-kind nation, a one-for-all and all-for-one nation. But we have become a nation of division, hate, discrimination and one-party rule. If we look back in history we will see how Germany and Japan thought they would rule the world. Problem? America. In the Cold War, the Soviet Union thought it would destroy democracy. Problem? America. Time and time again we proved who and what we are: America. Now, we let eight years of progress slip away, for no other reason than the president was black. Does color change our Constitution? Does color change how we govern? Let's learn from our past and our mistakes. Let's make America, America again. We have crawled too far up the mountain to be dragged back down.
Richard Gentile, Tampa
Pride, grief as show ends | April 17
An older man's inner child
After this year's run, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is closing for good. Although I am 82, my inner child grabbed me by the hand — "The last time I'll ever see it," he cried. He has been going to this, the Greatest Show On Earth, since he was about 3 years old, not every year, but many times. He remembers roustabouts erecting a huge tent in a large vacant field. Groups of men, sometimes with elephants, heaved mightily on giant ropes as if in a tug of war with the heavy canvas to raise it from the earth.
In later years the circus performed in the Bayfront Arena, and I, now grown but still harboring my inner child, took my own children. And so we went this year, my inner child and I, to experience the circus one last time. To the adult in me this circus was not the magical spectacle of earlier times. But my inner child was enthralled. How wonderful to be a child again.
Thomas Zurflieh, St. Petersburg
Get moving on a transit bill | April 13, editorial
For transit, think of future
I have read for many years the various articles and letters to the editor regarding mass transit in the Tampa Bay area, and believe that the transportation issues will never be solved as long as we think of ourselves as individual counties instead of one metropolitan area. Imagine someone who wants to live in Dade City but has a job offer at St. Petersburg College — and can take a 30-minute high-speed rail to get there. This is doable and I suggest that the Washington, D.C., area is a prime example of a unified system that crosses not only county, but state lines. Our elected leadership is not thinking on a regional basis but county by county; and are trying to sell an immediate solution rather than a system that may take years to fully implement. Imagine that one could take a train from New Port Richey to a new Rays stadium in the Gateway area, or any place else in 30 minutes. We need to start thinking regionally. I urge our policy makers to travel to Washington to see what has been done. Would it take some time? Yes. Would there be problems? Yes. But our current system does not serve our current needs nor will it serve us in the future.
Dudley Clapp, St. Petersburg
The noblest Gator of all | April 15
The passing of a great man
I read with great sadness Gary Mormino's tribute to Michael Gannon. My acquaintanceship with Dr. Gannon began in 2003, when, as a member of the Hillsborough County Historic Resources Review Board, I noticed that the Florida Heritage Trail series did not include a Florida Catholic Heritage Trail. To correct this historic oversight, I founded the Florida Catholic Heritage Trail corporation to raise research and printing capital. My good friend Dr. D. Michael McCarron, executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference, suggested University of Florida's professor Michael Gannon as my research editor, since I am a European historian. I was greeted at the private Gannon residence by his gracious wife, Geneviève, our meeting was mutually short and successful, and Michael agreed to be my editor for the Florida Catholic Heritage Trail, which was published in 2004. Thus, a missing mosaic stone in the history of the great state of Florida was put into place.
James J Harkins IV, Sun City Center
U.S. uses "mother of all bombs" | April 14
Bombs need an objective
Whatever you think about the missile strike in Syria or the MOAB in Afghanistan, it is important not to think that a military victory is possible, except in a limited tactical situation. Military action can take territory, but then it requires continued military effort to hold it.
Our overall objective in the Mideast and strategy to achieve it remains unclear. It needs to be realistic. The West misread the Arab Spring as a desire for freedom. But freedom from what and for what? From their current regimes, but not for Western-style democracy. They have no experience with democracy, and little if any knowledge of it.
Joe Crites, Clearwater