© St. Petersburg Times, published January 2, 2002
Re: Dog park in Tarpon Springs should not get public money, letter, Dec. 14.
This letter to the Times urged Tarpon Springs leaders to "cancel the entire ridiculous notion of developing a dog park, even partially at public expense" because "it is imperative that government is reasonable and wise in the expenditure of the people's treasure."
In modern-day America, and especially in this part of Florida, local ordinances and deed-restricted communities control canine behavior with leash and pooper-scooper laws. Dogs in today's society are not allowed to run free or roam at will.
But dogs -- like humans -- are mammals, and many breeds -- especially the larger ones such as my Labrador retriever -- require exercise. Dogs also are social animals, and many of them need to spend time with other dogs. Under what circumstances did the letter writer believe this was supposed to happen? Unfortunately, he didn't offer any suggestions or alternatives to the creation of a dog park, which he opposes.
If the decision-makers in our cities, towns and subdivisions enact rules and regulations that restrict our pets' freedom, then they also have a duty to provide a safe haven where people can give their pets the exercise they need. The modern-day solution to this problem is that we create dog parks. These parks -- which are usually no more than fenced-in, grassy areas -- are the safe havens in which dogs can run and play and spend time with their canine friends.
An area for dogs to exercise and socialize is so basic to any active animal's needs and quality of life that it is hard for me to understand the letter writer's opposition. To keep an animal on a leash or any other kind of restricted physical activity for its entire life is cruel. To keep an animal isolated from its own kind is psychological torture. In our society, even people convicted of heinous crimes are not isolated or physically restricted in these ways. Indeed, our laws require us to treat the worst, most vile, contemptible criminals in ways that are not cruel.
How then can anyone suggest that we treat our beloved, innocent pets in ways that diminish their quality of life?
Even a government figure as great as Winston Churchill voiced his respect for animals. One of Sir Winston's many famous quotations is: "You can judge the greatness of a country by how it treats its animals."
I would like to think that we live in a county, state and city that values and appreciates the quality of life it affords, not just to its citizens, but also to the animals that live among us. I would like to think that we and the city of Tarpon Springs can afford a small plot of land, surrounded by a chain-link fence, with a little drinking water for dogs, who enhance the quality of our lives and even help us live longer.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, we Americans are renewing our appreciation of the emergency personnel across our country. We call them heroes. Let us remember all these heroes: the K-9 dogs that work with police and military personnel; the dogs who give themselves to help the elderly, infirm and handicapped; and the dogs who look for survivors in disasters. Many people owe their lives to these canine heroes.
When animals like dogs bring so much into our lives and perform so many services for us, can't we find it in our hearts to allow them a place to visit and play?
-- Sandra L. Blaker, Tarpon Springs
Regarding your Dec. 9 article Church loads up for one last fight, a complete picture of the litigation would have included an explanation for the delay in its resolution -- the repeated and consistent obstructive litigation tactics of Ken Dandar and his confederates.
While Dandar has continued to dish out baseless allegations, he has consistently defied court orders to disclose information concerning his relationship with his investor and his investor's employees; and they have refused to cooperate, as well.
As a result, 14 different sanction orders have been issued to date totaling more than $85,000, all awarded to the Church of Scientology for the cost of dealing with such bad-faith litigation. Four different contempt findings have been made by various courts. These are all against Ken Dandar or Robert Minton, or his company and supporters. Appeal after appeal has been filed by Dandar and his confederates on these issues; and, to date, none has resulted in reversal of the lower court orders.
Since the inception of their lawsuit, the real underlying facts have been obfuscated by lies, deception and disinterested parties inserting themselves in it for profit and to promote religious bigotry. When the truth is known, it will resolve; and that is what we intend to accomplish.
-- Ben Shaw, director Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Clearwater
Re: Cities should leave residents' signs alone, letter, Dec. 5.
The writer who complained that cities should leave residents' signs alone obviously does not like a clean environment. He evidently prefers trash signs. Substantially, all cities and the state have laws or ordinances that prohibit private signs on public property. Note the distinction: "private" and "public."
Instead of castigating city officials for removing private signs, the writer should applaud them. They are doing their duty.
We don't like it when people throw trash or paper out of the car on public roads. But it is even worse when a person, through private greed, deliberately defaces public property by putting a private sign on it.
Signs such as "garage sale," "for rent," "yard sale" (with arrows pointing from A, then to B, then to C) that are placed on public streets are simply litter. Worse yet, if private signs are not removed, they might lead others to emulate that improper activity and think that it is okay. That leads to a spreading disease of trash signs.
Please note: There is no prohibition against placing private signs on the person's own private property.
Cities that have ordinances against sign litter on public property are to be commended. They help preserve our precious environment.
-- Will Manning, Clearwater
This year I spent my first Veterans Day without actively participating in honoring our veterans. For more than 50 years, I did so at ceremonies at the VFW in Dunedin and at the Dunedin Cemetery, but this year I lay in a hospital bed at Morton Plant Hospital. I watched parades on television and listened to patriotic speakers honoring our boys who answer their country's call to service.
Some never came home -- among them, 10 from Dunedin. Six of those were my personal friends. Yes, Dunedin City Manager John Lawrence, they died for you, me, and for their city and country.
In 1952 the VFW found out there was a tract of land south of VFW Post 2550 composed of 753 feet on Douglas Avenue in Dunedin, with no record of ownership. Together, the VFW and the city divided the land. A piece of the land, 200 feet by 196 feet, was to go to the VFW and be maintained by them; the rest was to go to the city.
In the center of the VFW's share of the land, the post established a memorial park with playground equipment, tables and lights. The rest of the VFW's area was for parking -- which on request by the city's adjoining Senior Services Center could be used by the center for parking, except on Saturday nights when the VFW had bingo. Also, the Little Blue Jays could use the parking area for their games.
So now the veterans of Dunedin get another slap in the face by the city. While veterans all over the United States are being honored, those in Dunedin have had their Veterans Memorial Park divided by the placement of an asphalt drive through the park.
To our Dunedin city commissioners: Please honor our veterans as the rest of the United States honors veterans. Put our Memorial Park together with the playground where it was for so many years.
-- H.L. Pat Laursen, Dunedin