Emily Roach’s Sunday article “County ‘outgunned’ on selling tourism” gave a good and comprehensive overview to the “bed tax” and how it works (or doesn’t) in promoting tourism in Palm Beach County. Let me bring a few salient facts into sharper focus:
- Hotels are the only industry with this tax burden. How about extending it to car rentals, restaurants, etc.?
- After administration and other expenses, only about $3 million (11 percent) of the $28 million collected actually reaches the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s media budget. That’s where the promotion dollars’ “rubber” meets “the road.”
- After a decade of $1 million in annual operating losses, expansion of the convention center is clearly not needed. Why hold $12.3 million in reserve for its expansion? Give it to the CVB media budget and watch the immediate, direct spike of tourism.
The anticipated, additional sixth cent of tourist tax may prove to be counterproductive. A handful of upscale (and wonderful) hotels generate about 45 percent of tourist tax collections due to their high room rates in season. In our case, the total tax — Florida sales and the six-cent county tourist tax — would add $53 and more each day to the guests’ bills. That’s a real negative marketing effect that will turn some visitors away. Maybe to Naples?
Remember the children’s fable about killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?
ROGER J. EVERINGHAM
Editor’s note: Roger J. Everingham is manager of The Colony hotel.
Story highlights lack of progress on mental health
The most terrifying thing about Stacey Singer’s mental health story “Inside the locked unit” is that it might as well have been written in a medieval newspaper.
How is it possible that science and technology have managed to put a man on the moon but still have not learned how to cope with the problems of mental illness? Yes, the “looney bins” of yesteryear have virtually disappeared. Or so we’ve been told. But then we learn about the locked units at South County Mental Health Center, where few people are permitted entrance, and secrecy abounds.
Society is still terrified of learning more about mental illness, and ways to help those afflicted. Hopefully, with the promise of a look-see in the coming weeks into this ever-present, overwhelming problem, The Palm Beach Post will be able to help erase some of the barriers that have been holding society captive for so long, and help us make some progress in this extremely important issue.
West Palm Beach
Health care system has failed mentally ill
Regarding the debate about guns and mental illness: Why doesn’t our health care system allow equal compensation for care for mental illness as it does for physical illness? Why can one get better coverage for a common cold than for treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist?
If our insurance plans covered visits and treatments for mental illness, I believe the societal stigma would diminish and more people would seek treatments. We fight and argue about abortion and attempt to protect the unborn child, but what about the living child who needs mental assistance? The Affordable Care Act attempts, in part, to address this issue but those who attempt to address the inadequacies of the health insurance system are labeled socialists.
Think about the numerous fundraisers for physical illness and animal issues, but when is the last time we have read or heard about fundraising for mental illness?
North Palm Beach
Second Amendment ensures rights to all citizens
Regarding the article “Ban on assault weapons won’t be in Senate bill”: Please stop saying that sportsman and hunters do not need high-capacity clips and semi-automatic “assault rifles,” because this is an obvious and undisputed topic.
However, the Second Amendment does not exist to merely protect the rights of hunters and sportsmen. It is there to ensure citizens retain the right to arm themselves with contemporary small arms of the day for personal defense and as a deterrent against enemies of our country’s freedoms – both foreign and domestic.
Let gun owners convert high-capacity clips
Probably during my lifetime of competitive shooting, I have gained more experience with firearms than most citizens and I do support the right to keep and bear arms. However, I strongly feel that, with the exceptions of the military and the police, all assault weapons should be banned by federal law.
That having been said, the real problem is not the guns themselves. The real problem is the high-capacity clips. The clips could be replaced or permanently altered so that the weapons would not hold any more ammunition than an ordinary rifle. This would allow the owners to keep their weapons, but it would greatly reduce the threat of mass destruction.
Give citizens adequate time (like a year) to make the conversions, and then anybody caught with even one illegal clip would be guilty of a felony — two clips/two charges, etc. Each felony should carry a mandatory penalty with a very stiff fine
Means testing won’t affect wealthy
The commentary “Close Romney Loophole, cut deficit by $11 billion” refutes the suggestion of means testing in “Ask more of wealthy on entitlement programs.” Mitt Romney would release only one year of his tax returns, which revealed how his “earnings/income” are hidden from taxation. Billionaire Warren Buffett is more forthcoming with his remark “I pay less taxes than my secretary.”
Thus, to determine “lifetime earnings/income” is an impossibility under the cat-mouse game that is our tax code. Means testing would affect only people like Mr. Buffett’s secretary, not the wealthy.
JOSEPH R. COWEN
West Palm Beach
Santamaria entitled to opinion on golf coursee
Regarding a letter-writer’s rebuke of Palm Beach County Commissioner Jess Santamaria’s letter (“What’s behind rant
by commissioner?,”): The commissioner and 80 percent to 90 percent of Century Village residents are against the golf course zoning change. The developer bought a profitable golf course and allowed it to deteriorate so he could build on it, going against the law that states that the property must remain green forever. It is not a “derelict piece of property” except when he stops mowing it.
We do not live in a “declining area.” Commissioner Santamaria did not “host” a fundraiser for opponents of the project. Any nonprofit can ask for the use of this venue. Commissioner Santamaria is entitled to his opinion. The letter-writer should not distort facts to make her point.
West Palm Beach
Catholic groups generous to the poor
The Catholic hierarchy does not flaunt its lifestyle. I can only pray for people like the writer of the letter “Catholic hierarchy
should share wealth” who talks with bitterness.
Catholic organizations give the most to the poor and the disadvantaged. We Catholics live in this world, but the way of society today is not our way of living. As Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said so profoundly, the new pope and each one of us who wish to follow Christ faithfully is challenged to not change our faith, but to live it, and allow it to change us.
VINCENT V. STANKEY
West Palm Beach
Pope selection process lacked openness
During a presidential election, the media have an opportunity to examine the candidates, and the candidates debate. It’s a rather open process.
What happens in the Sistine Chapel? Do the cardinals have a period to ask the other cardinals their positions? Do they get a portfolio describing the backgrounds of the other cardinals? I wonder how many cardinals were aware of the new pope’s interaction with the junta in Argentina. Would they have voted differently?
West Palm Beach