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    Letters to the Editors

    Teachers need raises even if it means raising property taxes

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 30, 2003

    Re: Teachers union wants poll on tax, story, March 19.

    As a property tax payer and a parent of an A student who attends a D-rated school, I have to support the teachers union in wanting a poll to gauge whether Pinellas County voters would support a property tax for teacher salary increases. The salary increases are desperately needed and we cannot count on state government to do anything about it.

    My son's school, Pinellas Central Elementary, has had the good fortune to have been selected for a partnership program with Progress Energy that is intended to raise the D rating to an A over the next three years. This is great for Pinellas Central, but what about all the other low-rated schools?

    I believe the property tax increase is a no-brainer, but any new funds raised cannot be used to reduce what the district schools already receive, especially considering the number of new teachers our state needs to meet the class size reduction situation. Parents and property owners, please support the efforts of our teachers in seeking well-deserved salary increases. Teachers, we will expect a commitment and accountability from you as well. This would be a win-win situation for everyone concerned.
    -- Michelle Bentley, Pinellas Park

    Largo commission provides understanding on issue

    The Largo City Commission proved at a recent meeting it is serious about informing the public and making clear the intent of its actions. As they worked through the agenda, commissioners would slow staff down, ask them to repeat unclear statements, and elaborate on the meaning and import of otherwise murky agenda items. The crucial item on the agenda was No. 21, addressing mobile home park redevelopment.

    Misunderstanding about this item had swept through the city as the result of fliers decrying the commission and accusing them of wanting to destroy mobile home parks in the redevelopment districts. As the commission painstakingly explained, the goal of the commission was to strengthen the protections of mobile home park residents. The city will provide incentives for developers to give mobile home park residents time to relocate and compensate them for the loss of their homes -- requirements that go beyond what the state requires. The commissioners made clear that at no time did they consider bulldozing people's homes.

    The mayor also mentioned that the delay caused by the furor caused by the fliers might jeopardize the redevelopment plan. These fliers were spread anonymously by individuals whose apparent motive was to disrupt/embarrass the commission.

    Clearly, these individuals have frightened residents needlessly and acted contrary to the interest of Largo's citizens.

    The only good to come out their campaign is that the commission is working harder than ever to get out the truth. Voters, however, cannot rely solely on the commission's efforts to inform them. Pro-active, informed voters need to check things out for themselves.

    They can do this several ways. The city's Web page has meeting agendas, city manager reports and information about agenda items. Voters without computers can get reports from the city clerk's office. Voters can attend commission meetings or watch them on TV Channel 15. Voters can and should contact city officials to clarify matters and to voice their opinions.
    -- Philipp Michel Reichold, Largo

    Plane traffic at airport good, but not at 5 a.m.

    Recently, large aircraft have been arriving daily at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. The airport manager deserves credit for increasing business but should be admonished for approving the schedule of these planes.

    For the last several days, I've counted five heavy jets arriving between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. I live in Safety Harbor, miles from the airport, but each of these early morning flights wakes me up -- five times in one hour.

    This is a new problem. It used to be there were one or two UPS arrivals, but now it's more than doubled. The timing is poor. Hundreds of people far from the airport are being affected. These flight arrivals should be scheduled later in the morning.
    -- Bill Nielsen, Safety Harbor

    Beach development plans good for city, business

    Re: Beach condo plans submitted, story, March 20.

    We strongly support the new development plans in Clearwater. A proposed project for the north end of Clearwater Beach will do much for the community and business growth for the city.

    Let's take this next step forward. Now is the time for using vision and demonstrating leadership.
    -- Tom and Janet Webster, Belleair

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