Evaluate building codes
After all the pictures of the hole in the slab left by the sinkhole that took the life of Jeff Bush, I couldn't tell whether there was any wire mesh in the slab. The new building codes don't require it anymore; to save money, the codes were changed to allow concrete with fiber glass to be used instead.
I have 40-plus years of construction experience. If wire mesh is installed correctly, it seems it would have held the slab together, and Mr. Bush would still be with us. The homebuilder I used to work for used to claim that the homes they built had reinforced steel in their slabs. I reminded them in one of our weekly meetings that they were setting themselves up for a lawsuit because they didn't use concrete with fiberglass fibers in it.
Looking back, maybe the building codes should be re-examined to see if the wire mesh that used to be installed in concrete slabs should be reinstated.
What took so long?
Former Army Specialist Robert French was recently awarded the Bronze Star Military Medal. The Bronze Star is the fourth-highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States.
Specialist French's brave action occurred in 1967 during the Vietnam War. His bravery was not honored and recognized until nearly five decades later. The reason: His nomination was misplaced. How can this be possible? Who is keeping the records?
French was willing to die for our freedom, within seconds, but waited 46 years to be honored for his act of courage.
All patriotic Americans are proud of French and the entire military community, who are the wind beneath the wings of freedom.
Presidents and war
Ron Dakin ("Wrong choices," Your Views, March 2) states that Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are wrong choices as our secretaries of state and defense, respectively. Dakin asks, "Why can't Obama nominate some of those who served valiantly and did not go on to demean America?" The tremendous loss of thousands of our gallant young Americans and millions of dollars in a lose-lose situation in Vietnam demeaned America to many.
Two of my 20 years as an Air Force medic were spent in the surgical suite at the Clark Air Base hospital in the Philippines during the height of the Vietnam War. More than 90 percent of our patient load was young soldiers, Marines and ROKs. The daily limb amputations, bodies riddled with numerous bullet holes, etc., are visions that vividly stay with you forever. At that time, I, as many others, were stoically convinced that we were doing the right thing. Years later, I realized how wrong we were in engaging in a no-win war. I strongly disagree with Dakin that our Vietnam veterans made it a better place to live.
Dakin wonders if President Obama's lack of military service drove him to "unwise" decisions. Other than Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and George H.W. Bush, which other president in recent history can boast front-line wartime experience? Should military service become a requirement on the resume of one who seeks the office of president of the United States? Perhaps a president who served on the front lines could very well keep us out of senseless, unnecessary wars. In our most recent memory, Texas Air National Guard Lt. George W. Bush, who never reported to his base in Alabama — nobody ever stepped forward to claim he was stationed with the president in Alabama — and Dick Cheney, who obtained five deferments during the Vietnam War, plunged us into a lengthy, senseless, unprovoked war in Iraq, and what could have been a short campaign to destroy al-Qaida training bases and kill Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan also turned into a decade-long quagmire.
Like Dakin, I, too, wonder what happened to the national pride involved with serving our country. I strongly believe that the only way to restore that patriotism is to reinstate the military draft.
A great destination
I have been fortunate to serve the Tampa Bay area as CEO of an award-winning restaurant and event company — Mise en Place — for 27 years. I have witnessed and participated in Tampa's quest for identity and economic growth.
We love our local clients — the foundation of our business. With them and because of them, Tampa's culinary scene has evolved. With them, we have celebrated births to departures, and everything in between. Because of them, we have a business.
Then there are our visitors. Visitors who pay our sales tax, and spend like only visitors can, teach us more about our destination than we can learn without them and, sometimes, because of their visits, become locals themselves. Boy, do we love them!
Tourism remains the No. 1 industry in Florida. Travel and tourism, America's sixth-largest employer, supports one in eight American jobs, with 53 percent of the industry earning a middle-class living or greater. It's a great industry in which to learn and grow. It's full of entrepreneurs deeply invested, financially and emotionally, in our community.
We need more entrepreneurial spirit in the Tampa Bay area, and we have found a responsible and responsive version of it in Joe Lopano, director of Tampa International Airport. As a past chair of the Tampa chamber's Airport Caucus, a past chair of Tampa Bay and Company, a board member of Visit Florida, U.S. Travel and the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and a lifelong entrepreneur, I have witnessed the emergence of Tampa International Airport as a bonafide economic engine of our region. I attribute that phenomenon to the outstanding efforts of Lopano and the stellar team he has assembled.
We are a great destination. Lopano understands that, and the role a great airport plays in creating economic value. Such economic growth has been happening all over the U.S.A. Now it's happening here. Thank you, Joe Lopano.
It's our turn Tampa Bay region. Let's take it.
St. Pete Beach