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Keeping Wal-Mart at bay is always the best way

Letters to the Editor
Published January 2, 2006


Re: Activists in Tarpon Springs keep Wal-Mart site empty, story, Dec. 20.

This expatriated Clearwater native would like to commend and encourage the Wal-Mart opponents in Tarpon Springs.

Wal-Mart changed our local political scene in Asheville, N.C. Hundreds of citizens attended council meetings. It was near-unanimous opposition.

Our city council elections occurred about then, and "pro-business element" contributions made it the most highly funded campaign ever. The pro-business money worked; the incoming council voted to give Wal-Mart three variances to get around our prized zoning ordinance on riverfront property and Super Wal-Mart was upon us.

Then, as one of its final actions, the same council (now soundly defeated in our last election) allowed even greater density on the same property so the partners with Wal-Mart could build apartments adjacent to the store.

So I encourage you to fight with everything you have. They will intervene in your local government. They will change your town forever ... and they do not care. They will not play fair, as all they see are profits. I wish you great success!


-- Ed Stein, Weaverville, N.C.

Facts in Wal-Mart debate are not clearly stated

Re: Wal-Mart plan would keep everyone happy, letter, Dec. 22.

I'd like to provide some factual information to Robert Prescott of Clearwater in response to his letter to the editor regarding various issues related to Wal-Mart's plans to build a store in Tarpon Springs.

First, the issue that was decided by the mayor and commissioners in Tarpon Springs was not whether or not they "want" a Wal-Mart. This is a private property issue between the property owner at that time and the buyer (Wal-Mart). The property is and was properly zoned for this type of retail establishment and it is not within the purview of the City Commission to dictate which business can locate there as long as it meets the existing zoning requirements.

Further, the writer suggests that Mayor Beverley Billiris "helped pass" a moratorium on new buildings at the Sponge Docks. If Mr. Prescott checks the record, the discussion on a possible moratorium concerned only one property on the Sponge Docks and ultimately, it was the consensus of the City Commission, including Mayor Billiris, not to impose a moratorium.

It is also a matter of record that the mayor never requested that there be any restriction upon the goods sold by Wal-Mart, including sponges. In fact, she specifically asked that any such restriction be deleted from the final development agreement.


-- John G. Hubbard, Tarpon Springs city attorney

Citi Wi-Fi agreement has a foul odor about it

Re: Wi-Fi plan will miss year-end deadline, story, Dec. 17.

The news that Citi Wi-Fi Networks wouldn't make its year-end deadline was surprising. It's hard to believe the company's due diligence did not reveal the basic fact that Dunedin does not own the light poles needed for the placement of transmitters for citywide Internet access. Without those, it's really wireless.

Seriously, if the due diligence did reveal that fact, why wasn't the process of approval that Progress Energy needed from the Public Service Commission and Federal Communications Commission examined carefully and a timeline established? It's been my experience that all of that is finished before a business plan is presented. Why a contract was signed is beyond me.

Mayor John Doglione was quoted as saying, "We're in a fix; how do we get out of it?" Well, you don't give them an extension, for Pete's sake.

Just as bad, apparently there was no cancellation clause. "Get out of it," by the way, sounds like, "I'm sorry we got into this in the first place." Didn't the city conduct due diligence on Citi Wi-Fi?

For me, this venture has always had a bad odor. Is the city allowed to act like an entrepreneur? If so, did the residents vote on it? Reportedly, the city will be getting a percentage of the revenue. Net revenue (profit)? That's an accounting nightmare.

If this arrangement is permissible, why not lease the poles to enjoy a controllable, predictable revenue stream? Was there competitive bidding from, say, Bright House or Verizon for the best deal?

But the worst smell, I've got to tell you, comes from the promise by this company that 100 city employees will get free wireless Internet.

Somebody, open a window.


-- Jack Bray, Dunedin

Harsher tone needed with selfish parties' thinking

Re: National health plan is answer to health-care woes, guest column by Dr. Marc J. Yacht, Dec. 27.

Thank you for the well-written column, Dr. Yacht, in which you very clearly present the need and justification for a national health plan. With apologies to you and the editors, I'd suggest that it should have appeared in the national section rather than the local one.

Though you correctly attribute the fault to the financial powers and the captive politicians who depend on them for support and survival, you are too gentle with them.

Unfortunately, deep-pocketed self-interest seems to control many more aspects of our public and private lives than health care alone. Will we ever be able to restore statesmanship, honesty, sincerity and justice to our democracy?


-- Seymour S. Bluestone, Largo

[Last modified January 2, 2006, 02:30:25]


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