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Deputies setting a bad example with speeding on Tampa Road

Published April 19, 2004

I have lived right off Tampa Road in the Cloverplace subdivision since 1984. During the past 20 years I have watched as the traffic everywhere I drive in the county getting faster and faster. The speeding is just awful. The reason? It has been under the leadership of Sheriff Everett Rice that enforcement of our traffic laws has severely deteriorated.

What I've noticed most often is our own county deputies speeding, with no lights or sirens - just speeding. There was a time years ago that I took down the car numbers of these speeding deputies but was met with so much disdain in trying to report this that I just gave up trying to do anything about it. Twice I was told, "Well, you must have been speeding too to know how fast the officer was going."

The speed indicator machines are worthless because everybody knows they will be there for awhile, the police may or may not set up a speed trap, and once they are gone, everyone goes back to speeding. A clear example of this is the new extension of County Road 1/ Keene Road. The last time I used this beautiful new road I was going 55, the posted limit was 50 and other drivers were passing me like I was standing still!

We need rigid enforcement of our speed limits and we need our Sheriff's Office to set the example.

On the way to Honeymoon Island, after being passed by numerous speeders on Tampa Road, I got there and saw two deputies hanging out on the causeway. No lights, sirens or ticket writing going on, just sitting in their cars at the beach. Maybe they were patrolling for the dreaded T-backs and were protecting our county from bare buttocks!

It is partly Rice's own deputies speeding that sends the message that it is okay to speed in Pinellas County.

-- Ellen J. Pfau, Palm Harbor

Sheriff's Office apathy part of Tampa Road traffic trouble

Re: Signs signal change on Tampa Road, story, April 14.

As someone who travels on Tampa Road several times a day, I found the "answers" suggested in the article to be useless. I say this with all due respect to those who are working to resolve the problems involved.

The area in question can be made significantly safer with proper sheriff patrols, radar and yes, tickets. This strip of highway needs to gain a reputation like the cities of Waldo and Starke. We have all the sheriff's deputies who take county vehicles home each day/evening. Let's put those vehicles to use and unmarked cars as well.

I've observed drivers running the red light at Lake St. George Drive and Tampa Road and a deputy stopped at the red light. Did he/she pursue the violator? No! Even school buses speed through this area. A definite reluctance to enforce the laws against speeding, reckless driving, illegal lane changes, etc., exists on the part of the Sheriff's Office.

Pinellas County can increase the size of speed limit signs, decrease the size of lanes or whatever, but correction of the problem deals with enforcement. Until such time as the public servants in the Sheriff's Office do the job they are paid to do, the problem will continue to exist. There will be more accidents. More deaths.

-- Dr. Jim Soltis, Palm Harbor

Tampa Road pedestrians must take responsibility for safety

I travel on Tampa Road between East Lake Road and Lake St. George Drive almost every morning. I am very aware of the recent tragic deaths along this stretch of road and sense the grief and horror of those incidents.

This morning, I experienced a very frightening situation. Moments after I exited a parking lot to proceed east on Tampa Road, I was shocked to see a man walking slowly across the road directly in my path in the right lane. Thankfully, I was not even up to the speed limit and was able to avoid him by changing lanes. Glancing in the mirror, I watched him proceed to cross the road. I was shaking and thought, "I almost killed someone." I was cautious, law-abiding, driving responsibly. I was not on the telephone or smoking or eating. And yet, I almost hit a pedestrian.

Perhaps pedestrians as well as motorists should assume some responsibilities for themselves. I wonder if a marked crosswalk would help.

-- Kathy Wagner, Palm Harbor

Democracy means never having to hold back one's opinions

Re: Reporting, editorial were both off the mark, letter, April 14.

Jill Rommel of Oldsmar reached a new low in her diatribe against members of Save The Bayfront. She and Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst must have missed the same junior high civics class where the teacher pointed out that democracy is an excellent form of government which offers you an assortment of freedoms, but not the right to always have your own way. In a democracy, the majority rules, no matter how much you disagree.

It also gives you the right, up to a point, to say, in public, incredibly rude and nasty things about that same majority. (But name-calling usually reflects the character of the person doing the calling, not the callees.) It does not, however, give a citizen, mayor or not, private possession of City Hall so that he can ban from that public structure those who do not agree with him, as in the incident of the harmonica.

Ms. Rommel's view of progress seems to be to cover Clearwater with cement, from sea to shining sea, as long as it makes her some money to take home and spend in Oldsmar. As a member of Save The Bayfront, I respectfully disagree that her need to get rich is paramount to the need of the community to retain some of the amenities which make a community livable, as in parks, open space, waterfront views open to the public - not blocked off by parking garages which, in the end, would serve mostly the condominium dwellers.

I also firmly believe that, as a member of a democracy, I do not have the obligation to vote for an open-ended plan of uncertain development for one of our few remaining areas where we could have a truly beautiful park that serves all the people, not just the boaters and concert goers. The city officials' already-expressed desire to sell City Hall to condominium developers, thus blocking off one more public access to the waterfront, is not my idea of progress.

And, I'm sorry, but in a democracy, I have a right to have, hold and express my views, whether our Oldsmar neighbor likes it or not. I also have the right to vote, and Ms. Rommel can call me any name she wants, but I shall continue doing it.

Isn't it interesting how people without convincing arguments for their views frequently resort to name-calling as a substitute? What a shame. A true democratic discussion on the merits of what should happen on the bayfront would be so useful at this time.

-- Anne McKay Garris, Clearwater

The new ballpark is wonderful - except for flawed scoreboard

The new Phillies ballpark in Clearwater is great - except for the scoreboard numbers in red lights that are totally unreadable in bright sunlight and barely visible when it's cloudy.

In games in March, people sitting near me in various sections of the park often complained to each other about the problem. No one seemed to be able to read the scoreboard numbers. I hope the Phillies can straighten this out before next spring.

-- Gary Trollinger, Reading, Pa.
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