Hey connie, it is our money
In response to Connie Staudt's letter, "Hands off DeVos," one of her complaints was that people who feel that DeVos should pony up a bit more dough for his baby are "always mentioning taxpayers' money; it is not, it's hotel taxes!"
We are fully aware that the money comes from taxes paid by visitors. That does not make it any less our money. It's for us to use in our community, hence, it's our money. The point that many are trying to make is this: That money could go wherever we need it! Violent crime is at an all-time high. We should be using that money for more police. Our schools rank as some of the worst in the nation. We should be using that money for education. Get my drift?
We need to go to our local and state politicians and demand that the law regarding the use of hotel taxes be changed so that we can put it to good use. I am all for this project, especially the performing arts center, but DeVos can afford to cover his fair share of the arena. Can we afford to continue to ignore the problems this city faces? Personally, I don't think so.
Jeanna Ceballos, Orlando
Hummers aren't cool
Thanks for the article about LYNX `"Take the keys," April 19`. I've lived here in Orlando most of my life and driven my car in bumper-to-bumper traffic every day down here, but I decided to change it all recently. I lived up in Toronto during all of 2006, and I can definitely see major differences in public transportation in lots of aspects — public support, public funding and public attitude. I only wish that Orlando would come close to it, maybe in 20 or 30 years. Given, Toronto is about as big as Chicago, but it's had public transportation in the form of trains and streetcars for over a hundred years. I can definitely see a lot of differences in attitudes about people who take the bus around here as compared to big cities.
I recently took the LYNX bus from the Orlando airport to Waterford Lakes. I told my friend, who is African-American, and he responded in shock: "You rode the bus?" And although there was a mix of different races on the bus, there were white people of all different backgrounds too. In Toronto (or Chicago, New York, San Fran, etc.), everyone rides `mass transit` and the city is extremely culturally diverse, so there really wasn't any type of stigma for using public transportation.
Also, with respect to public funding, in Toronto, the taxes are much higher than they are down here. As a consequence, you have a great public transport system, great public parks, universal health care, etc. People down here seem a lot more stubborn about not supporting tax raises for anything. Maybe some of the tourist-related taxes could help.
But I do agree, it takes a while to get around on the LYNX. It took me two and a half hours to get from the airport to UCF, and it was noon on a Tuesday! Rail systems definitely help out a lot. They're not bullet trains, but since they're not stopping every other block, you still get there faster. And trust me, even if the amount of time you spend on a train is the same amount of time you would spend sitting in a car, the trade-off is much better. Less gas consumption, less pollution, less frustration of gas-brake-gas-brake-horn-finger, less dealing with stupid drivers. Every morning I showed up at work in 2006, I was relaxed because I spent the last 40 minutes reading a book, listening to my iPod or writing something on my laptop.
But none of this matters if people aren't willing to change their attitudes about public transportation. If no one is willing to support it, you'll have an empty, little-used system like Atlanta's. How do you get people to use a bus if they still think driving a Hummer or any gas guzzler is "cool"? We'll find out — probably in about 10 or 20 years, if taxpayers haven't voted it down by then.
Todd Zadow, via the Internet
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
The May 10 story "Blog against the machine" mistakenly referred to Ray Kockentiet as an "unemployed county worker." Kockentiet was never a county employee.
Also, due to an editing error, a sentence in our May 10 review of Gargamel's Fields of Happy CD read incorrectly. It should have read that the group's singer said the disc was "nothing new."firstname.lastname@example.org