Re: "This Party's Dying" by Eric Snider (March 12-18) and subsequent letters.

Sara Romeo's self-serving letter indicates she thinks she was part of the burgeoning arts community in Ybor in the early 1990s. She actually worked hard, and successfully, to drive the arts out of Ybor.

I owned an arts-related business in Ybor from 1992-96. We sold music that was unavailable anywhere else, aimed at the serious audiophile. We held nationally recognized poetry readings and slams. We showed independent films and held art exhibits.

As president of the Ybor Entertainment and Arts Association, Romeo made concerted efforts to drive us away. When we had to move the store, every landlord we spoke to had received calls from YEAA warning them not to rent to us. We finally found a property owner who knew Romeo well enough to ignore her slanderous comments. But the space was much larger and more expensive than we needed. We never recovered financially.

Romeo often went to the city council to complain about "gang activity" around my store. She fabricated incidents of gang violence — beatings, carjackings and the like. There were never police reports of these incidents, never any witnesses, and Romeo refused to say where she got her information. The stories made the papers anyway.

Romeo never wanted the arts in Ybor, and she especially didn't want artists. She wanted people with lots of money and no taste to buy her garish, overpriced furniture. That left out most artists and many arts-oriented businesses. (By the way, Sara, your business was NOT an arts-oriented business. It was a furniture store.)

An even more egregious indication of Romeo's disdain for art in Ybor was her antagonism toward the Florida Dance Festival. The festival brought some of the best dance companies in the country to Tampa every year. The Florida Dance Association, which organized the festival, wanted to have an annual outdoor dance event at Centennial Park, with local and national companies performing for free. Sara Romeo fought them, and fought them hard, every step of the way. The association fortunately persevered, and Ybor had one spectacular free outdoor dance concert. But because of Romeo's obnoxious behavior, the association never even tried to reprise the Ybor event. And the experience with Romeo contributed significantly to the association's decision to move the entire Florida Dance Festival out of Tampa forever. It was a major arts event that brought a week of excellent performances, dozens of dance companies and hundreds of dancers to Tampa every year, and Romeo drove it away.

Sara Romeo tries to portray herself as a champion for the arts. She is precisely the opposite. Quite possibly, no single person has done so much damage to the arts in Tampa. And definitely, no one is more responsible for the end of the arts era in Ybor. If Romeo was hurt by the way Ybor changed, her wounds were largely self-inflicted.

—Marty Clear, Tampa

Re: "Propaganda Is a Tool of War" by John Sugg (March 26-April 1) and subsequent letters.

David Pilver decries Sugg's charge of the Bush Administration's "hidden agenda of initiating a long series of conflicts" and that Iraq is the "first of many conflicts to ensure our global dominance over resources" as an "absurd" and "pathetic conspiracy theory." I respectfully suggest that every American taxpayer visit www.newamericancentury.org and read the policy statement — signed by our own Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, among others — which clearly outlines the enthusiasm these men share for initiating a series of "preventative wars" with any nation that might stand in the way of the "interests of the United States."

Mr. Pilver goes on to claim that "To posit that the conflict is an effort to deflect attention is ignorant to the point of moronic." Really? Why then did the Bush Administration choose last Thursday to push through the House its horrific Energy Policy Act of 2003 (H.R.6)? The bill approves drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while thwarting amendments to make any meaningful improvement in the fuel economy of cars and light trucks; it repeals electricity regulations designed to protect consumers, and it mandates the funding (your tax dollars at work) of research, construction and insurance subsidies for NEW nuclear power plants under the Nuclear Power 2010 program. (See www.citizen.org — the 4/10 and 4/11 press releases — for more information.)

—Karen Rokos, Gulfport

I find it amusing that Mr. Pilver uses the same tactics to discredit Mr. Sugg that he seems to find so onerous when Mr. Sugg uses them.

Sugg challenged his worldview that President Bush is anything but an all-knowing, all-wise and merciful leader, and all Mr. Pilver can come up with is half-substantiated vitriol. Pots do call the kettles black. The main difference is that unlike hosing down the mudflaps on his pickup truck, Mr. Sugg apparently did some moderate amounts of research to find out a few unsavory facts.

That "conspiracy" theory Mr. Sugg alluded to when discussing the planned projection of American dominance is called the Project for a New American Century, of which our current Vice President, Secretary of Defense and other administration members were signatories.

Here's a challenge for Mr. Pilver: try some research of your own (use Google for starters) and look some of this up. It takes less effort than going around denying the Holocaust happened or pretending that our "elected" officials always have our best interests in mind. If you believe that, then you deserve every bit of government repression you have coming to you, which if you read the contents of the Patriot Act would be painfully obvious. Get a brain or get in line for the Gulag, buddy.

—Ali Sugerman, Tampa

Re: "The Rock Doesn't Stop" by Eric Snider (April 9-15)

Thank you. Thank you a million times! After all the shit Eddie Vedder (and all of Pearl Jam) has had to endure over the past two weeks, thank you for your wonderful account of Pearl Jam's long-lived legacy in rock music; it was truly refreshing.

They are, indeed, an immensely talented band that has managed to stay true to themselves throughout the ever-changing face of popular music. They speak their minds, intelligently, and write songs that matter, reminding us to exercise our own rights.

I was in the crowd (third row) in Denver for their opening show, and I can't tell you how tired I am of reading reviews of their shows written by people who just don't have a clue. It's nice that there are still PJ fans to be found among the journalistic crowd. Their shows are pure magic, so I thank you for reminding everyone what a truly important band they are.

—Lisa Reeh, Boulder, Colo.

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