© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2002
Re: Annexation story was wrong, biased, letter, Oct. 16.
The letter from David P. Healey, executive director of the Pinellas Planning Council, about the bias of St. Petersburg Times reporter Anne Lindberg is the classic attempt to destroy the messenger who tells the truth. Not only was I at that meeting Mr. Healey seems to think was misrepresented by Ms. Lindberg, but so were the county administrator, two county attorneys and several others in the audience. It was clear to me what was being discussed. The meeting was held before an arbitrator in an attempt to come to an agreement, through mediation, to resolve a lawsuit. The suit was initiated by Kenneth City in response to the annexation boundary line movement to conform to the Lealman Fire District. Kenneth City sued for relief because the temporary line movement affected Kenneth City in a way that it did not affect Pinellas Park and Seminole. However, Largo, Pinellas Park and Seminole joined Kenneth City's suit as friends of Kenneth City.
County Commissioner Ken Welch and County Administrator Steve Spratt were attempting to do the right thing by recommending that the amended annexation lines around Kenneth City be restored to their original position.
The process for amending the temporary lines is the same as for moving them. First, present the amendment to the county commissioners. If the commission approves the amendment, it then goes to the Pinellas Planning Council for review and recommendation. It is then referred back to the commissioners sitting as the Countywide Planning Authority for final approval.
It is the reporting of what transpired at the county's presentation to the PPC that Mr. Healy seems to be taking issue with, but the article Ms. Lindberg wrote only reported what happened at the arbitration meeting.
During the arbitration meeting, which involved all the parties of the Kenneth City suit and representatives from the county, Jim Bennett, the county's attorney, indicated that he was not clear on Kenneth City's position. Apparently the county attempted to get the relief that Kenneth City wanted, but the issue was tabled by the PPC with Mayor Bill Smith agreeing to the tabling.
The attorney for Kenneth City made it clear that he wanted the line adjustment passed before Dec. 31. Why? Because if it wasn't amended back to the original lines before that date, the Farkas Bill would take effect. Any annexations within the Lealman Fire District after that date would be subject to the fire tax assessment of the Lealman Fire District for five years.
Apparently the other cities present did not sue on their own behalf. Their suits were tied to Kenneth City's suit. Pinellas Park's attorney wanted an all-or-nothing resolution. He wanted all the lines back in their original position. Kenneth City's attorney got in a shouting match with Pinellas Park's attorney, telling him that Pinellas Park should have sued on its own behalf and that they had no "muscle" in this suit. He also made the point that he read the mood of the commission and that it would be stupid to assume the commissioners would reverse themselves on this issue.
Mr. Healy's characterization of Ms. Lindberg's reporting as biased is ludicrous. The PPC by its very makeup is biased in favor of cities. Twelve of its 14 members are city representatives. Might this explain some of the distrust between the unincorporated areas of Pinellas and the cities?
The article Ms. Lindberg wrote more than fairly characterized what went on at the meeting I attended. I thank God for a reporter like Ms. Lindberg, who has the integrity to turn the searchlight of unbiased truth on the issues facing the voiceless, report the facts without offering opinion, and leave it to the readers to decide. That type of reporting is what makes for a better-informed community and what makes the St. Petersburg Times the great paper that it is.
-- Ray Neri, Lealman
Re: St Petersburg police patrols.
I wonder why the St. Petersburg Police Department cannot put more patrol cars in the higher crime areas looking for real crime. The department certainly has enough patrol cars to put eight to 10 of them, plus an unmarked car, on the Pinellas Bayway handing out speeding tickets on Fridays. Perhaps this is less dangerous, and easier.
I was not stopped and I don't speed, but seeing it gave doubts about what the priorities are.
-- J. Kilroy, Tierra Verde
A somewhat embarrassing incident a few days ago made me realize how fortunate we are to have the dedicated services of the men and women who man our emergency response telephones.
I attempted to phone a friend whose telephone number began with the digits 3-9-1-1. Inadvertently, I failed to press the "3" key hard enough, with the result that the emergency number 9-1-1 was rung.
The operator came on immediately, asking what my emergency was. I explained my error and apologized, then hung up. Less than a minute later, my phone rang. It was the Sheriff's Office, inquiring if all was well. Again, I explained and apologized profusely. I thought that would end their interest, but five minutes later, a uniformed officer showed up at my door to make sure I was all right and that I was not answering under duress.
It seemed to me performance well beyond the duty called for, and I am deeply grateful that this area is so well served.
-- Siegmund W. Smith, Madeira Beach
Re: Pavilion indeed is a waste of money and Ask taxpayers if grants are "free," letters, Oct. 9.
Neither letter writer has any idea what goes on in South Pasadena. We are a small community (approximately 1 mile square) of mostly retired citizens who are proud of our town. They talk of "free" things like we invented them. If our commissioners apply for a grant and it is given with taxpayers' dollars, why shouldn't taxpayers take advantage of the same?
As for the opinions of our own Dan Calabria, if he doesn't suggest it, it can't be good for the citizens. Ever since he has been turned down twice for election, he submits negative responses to whatever our commissioners recommend. If the town commissioners feel the senior citizens would benefit from having a gazebo installed in Galatea Gardens Park, so be it. They would be able to enjoy the park without suffering the harsh rays of sunshine.
As to his latest negative response to the commissioners, I don't think he has an eye for beauty or for promotion for our town. The new tiled mural now being completed on Pasadena Avenue is a thing of beauty and is worthy of the expense to install it. At least, that's my opinion.
-- Chuck Wilson, South Pasadena