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Sunday liquor sales toast church-state separation

Published July 28, 2003

Re: Sunday cocktail hour may come earlier, story, July 22.

At a time when the separation of church and state is being eroded on a large scale by school vouchers and the faith-based initiative, it is refreshing to see a small but significant step locally toward its restoration. St. Petersburg set the good example by reducing the restriction on the purchase of alcoholic beverages on Sunday. It is gratifying to learn that Clearwater and Dunedin are considering following suit.

Regulation of the sale and consumption of alcohol dates to the 17th century, when the Puritans of the theocratic New Haven Colony enacted laws to control people's behavior, especially on Sunday.

Influenced by the ignorance and superstition of the times, the laws spread from Connecticut across the country, refreshed by the temperance movement of the late 19th century. Those archaic, so-called "blue laws" included penalties for failure to attend church and for playing cards or shuffleboard on Sunday. Punishment of violators included fines, whipping, time in the stocks, cutting off the ears, burning the tongue and even death.

The origin of the term "blue laws" is obscure. They have gradually been repealed and the penalties have become more civilized. Yet vestiges of the laws remain, principally in the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday - only on Sunday, not on any other day of the week.

These unjust infringements on personal rights and privileges were originated and are perpetuated by certain church leaders, who seem to fear deterioration in either the morality of their parishioners or their Sunday attendance. Whatever their reasons, the churches are unconscionably and unconstitutionally intruding into the public arena and should be ignored by our lawmakers.

-- Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater

Clearwater needs Sunday liquor sales

On July 1, the Board of Directors of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to request that Clearwater change the current Sunday liquor laws to mirror the new ones enacted by St. Petersburg. Doing so will enable Clearwater businesses to remain competitive.

-- Sheila Cole, executive director, Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce

Officers risk their lives for us every day

Re: In a fight for his life, the officer fires once, July 4.

By my inherent nature, I would make a good Friend (Quaker). I abhor violence of all kinds. My heroes in history are Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and now Largo police Officer Jeffrey Rogers. The tragedy of this situation is that Officer Rogers has to live with this incident the rest of his life.

Officer Rogers, what you did, you had to do. Please do not have any guilt over this incident. Conjecture after the fact is easy to draw. If you had passed out, David Chrysler would probably have killed you, other police officers and possibly innocent bystanders.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what the city pays you, but I do know that it is not enough.

Citizens of Largo, we are being asked by city leaders to permit them to raise our tax rate for the first time in several years. Remember officers like Jeffrey Rogers. I am glad no member of my family works for the Police Department. Every time officers go out on patrol, they face possible death.

The world we live in today is certainly different from the world I grew up in. There is no such thing as a free ride. If we want government services, then we must pay for them.

-- Billy O. Robertson, Largo

Too "Bushed' to support tax increases

Re: Largo property tax increase.

In this terrible economy, it's a bad time to raise taxes. Remember the Bush brothers' motto: Don't make the rich pay taxes; just cut spending.

George W. cut federal spending on states and communities. Jeb cut spending to the municipalities and expects us to live with less so the rich can wield more power.

Thus, we can't afford to raise taxes. We really don't need more big-city computers for our small-city Police Department. It's a luxury we can't afford, nor are there enough cases to show a need. Pensions are not growing for the workers in the private sector, and city workers should not get pensions unless they work for at least 20 years in Largo.

Frankly, having just been hit hard by the terrible Bush economy, directly caused by them, I cannot afford any increase in my taxes.

Note that we haven't raised taxes for 11 years. This proves that if we put another Clinton in office (who raised taxes only on the rich), our economy would be good again and we'd have the luxuries we used to have. We could again afford to have police computers and better pensions. I adamantly vote no to any increase in my property tax.

-- Richard Dimond, Largo

Stop changing names of neighborhoods

Re: It will always be South Greenwood to me, story, July 13.

I am tired of people trying to change the historic names of places and neighborhoods in Clearwater. Neighborhoods change from the inside out and not by switching names in hope a new image will somehow spring forth as a result.

North as well as South Greenwood avenues have a long, rich history in Clearwater. Representative of this is the Greenwood House at Heritage Village, which dates to the 1880s and is used as the headquarters of the Pinellas County Historical Society.

Ross Norton was president of the Chamber of Commerce for more than 10 years, initiating many early improvements in Clearwater, and there is good reason Ross Norton Park is named after him.

Ed C. Wright was a self-made millionaire who at one time owned thousands of Pinellas County acres, including the beautiful little park which he donated and which bears his name at Lakeview Road and Greenwood Avenue.

If South Greenwood wants to emphasize a name, call it what it was: Belmont. Belmont was a well-publicized 1920s development in the area which spawned businesses, a ball park, a church and a residential neighborhood which exists today.

The South Greenwood/Belmont community is undergoing an increase in property values as homes are rehabilitated and the exciting new Ross Norton Complex that is planned is one more reason its residents can call upon their deep roots in this area as they look to future improvements.

-- Mike Sanders, Clearwater

- Editor's note: Mike Sanders is a local historian and author of a book on Clearwater's history.

Lifeguard contest coverage disappointing

Re: A surf battle, story, July 18. I am very disappointed with the coverage given by the St. Petersburg Times concerning the U.S. Lifesaving Association's Southeast Regional Lifeguard Competition held on Clearwater Beach July 16 and 17. Whatever happened to support for the home team? There was no text or photos covering the accomplishments of the great crew we have right here in Clearwater. Second place (and a very close second at that) out of 17 teams is quite a feat.

We should be very proud of Joe Lain and the great team he has watching over the beaches in Clearwater, even if the local papers don't seem that interested.

-- Teresa Baker, Clearwater

Annexation should be voluntary

Re: Largo annexation vote will have to be sure bet, July 14. As much as I favor annexation, I believe it should be voluntary. A referendum sounds like the American way until you remember the large number of people who are forced to annex/not annex, depending on the election's outcome. Individuals should be free to annex or not, regardless of how their neighbors feel.

The individual petition process is unwieldy, time-consuming and inefficient. An annexation referendum is quick and efficient, and tramples on the rights of the people whose side loses.

Pinellas County should stop fighting annexation. Pinellas County should especially stop fighting annexation by indenture. If someone has signed an agreement with a city to annex once the city's borders reach them, they should join. Pinellas County should expedite, not impede, this process.

The Pinellas County commissioners pride themselves on serving the interests of unincorporated residents. They should remember the other 700,000 of us whom they are supposed to represent.

Annexation should be a voluntary process. It is inefficient but protects the rights of individuals to annex or not. Pinellas County should stop worrying about the tax it levies as municipal services tax units (2.3560 mil) and stop worrying about serving all who pay countywide taxes (6.1410 mil). It can do this by not fighting with the cities over annexation.

-- Philipp Michel Reichold, Largo

Older drivers should prove they're safe

The score is: elderly drivers - 4; motorcyclists - 1. Four motorcyclists have been killed since March 2003. One has survived. Each time, the accident has been caused by an elderly person who either didn't see the motorcycle, or saw it but thought that it was "some distance away."

When is the state of Florida going to do something about these drivers? Please make them take new driving tests and vision tests, preferably from age 70 on. Isn't it obvious that their abilities diminish considerably as they grow older?

The one survivor, my husband, was hit March 14 and is still going to physical therapy three times a week. We sure would like to find the older lady who hit him and left him lying bleeding on the highway.

-- Janet Drew, Oldsmar

Charity a better memorial than billboard

Re: Owner's deep affection for late dog is easy to spot, story, July 14. I am horrified at $6,000 spent for a billboard when that money could have been sent to a charity or a senior for medicine or to any needy fund.

I have nothing against animals - in fact my husband and children and I had four dogs, one cat, one bird and one tarantula, not all at the same time.

While many people love their animals more than life, I personally think it's such a waste of money to put up a billboard such as this. Why doesn't this gentleman match this amount of money to the needy or set up a fund in the name of Clifford?

-- Lorrie Oliver, Port Richey [Last modified July 28, 2003, 08:48:22]

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