Fixing code enforcement
The problems of code enforcement in Tampa have been going on a lot longer than the Hoe Brown issue.
Just the fact that Tampa now has a municipal court to hear code violations is not going to do the job that it is intended to do without a change in attitude by the administration, supervisors and code officers. Many times I have talked to supervisors about repetitive violations on properties with the same owners for years. The same answer is heard every time: As long as they comply, there is nothing they can do about the problem.
One particular case has 17 pages of violations. Another address has two full pages of violations. Both addresses have received rental certifications from the city’s business tax division without any form of inspection. Business tax/rental certifications should not be issued until a full housing inspection is completed, either by a private company or city staff.
The fact that a rule states that only 5 percent of an owner’s rental properties will be inspected is another problem. What happens to the other 95 percent of rentals that do not meet needed requirements?
The other problem is the lack of a funded diversion program that is needed for the low-income, poor and the physically handicapped who cannot comply with city codes. These are the people who need the help most. There is no reason why Solid Waste/Clean City cannot go onto these properties to help with minimal maintenance rather then citing and fining these people, who cannot afford the fines. These are property owners who need assistance. If the city cannot make a diversion program work transparently and effectively, it is the fault of the administration, not the people who need help.
Pete D. Johnson
Presidents’ vacation time
Paul Farley (“Obama and middle class,” Your Views, Aug. 17) writes “there have been numerous instances of the Obamas spending outrageous amounts of money on vacations.” Though it is not my responsibility to defend the president and his family, reporting must be “fair and balanced.” FactCheck.Org states that President Reagan and both Bush presidents spent more time on vacation during their first year than Obama. Presidents Carter and Clinton spent less time on vacation. Al Sharpton of MSNBC noted that Obama has taken 92 days of vacation compared to 367 for President George W. Bush. PolitiFact rated Sharpton’s statement mostly true.
For decades, Laura Bush and four female friends escaped together for a week every summer. In 2001, an entourage of 25, consisting of Secret Service agents, communications staff, various aides, etc., occupied 15 cabins.
No doubt the jet fuel expense for Obama’s vacations in Hawaii was much greater than that of President Bush’s to Texas or Maine, and President Reagan’s to California.
I, too, tire of hearing about these expensive trips, but I realize that presidents deserve vacation time, and I am fully aware that their office travels with them. Like you, I tire of hearing about expensive trips at taxpayer expense. Remember, the briefings and decision making do not stop just because the president is not in the Oval Office.
Controlling crime in Florida
The “stand your ground” law was overwhelmingly approved by the Florida Sheriffs Association, and that is a fact, despite the grumblings of a few sheriffs who never voted “yes” or “no” on the issue, and who have little genuine criticism of that law.
The law simply extends the “no duty to retreat” concept, which has always applied in one’s home under the “Castle Doctrine,” to any place a person has a legal right to be, in matters of self-defense.
If one believes in the natural and God-given right of self-defense, there are no issues in this section of the law. It is clear, concise and sensible. A form of it has been adopted by at least 21 other states, and it continues to enjoy strong support by the majority of Floridians.
Violent crime continues to fall while justifiable homicides continue to rise. All our self-defense laws, including “stand your ground,” together with the 1,137,510 citizens with concealed carry permits and other legal gun owners, have contributed greatly to controlling crime in Florida. Let’s keep that ball rolling.
Thank you, former Mayor Iorio, for your excellent essay on the history of the Plant Museum (“Minarets were a steal for Tampa,” Our Journey, Views, Aug. 18): Despite just moving to Tampa in 2004, my daughter and I have become regular visitors of their Christmas tree display (which is extra special, by the way). I’m amazed by how many residents don’t know about Tampa’s history, including the fact that Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders embarked for Cuba in the Spanish-American War from here.
For all those reasons and dozens more, I admonish people to see for themselves a piece of Tampa’s history. And I’d like to thank former Mayor Iorio once again for her essay since it makes me all the more excited to go to the Plant Museum Christmas tree display this year.
E. L. McNair