Bus fare compromise was democracy at work

Letters to the Editor
Published September 12, 2006

Re: Bus fares increase to cover fuel costs, story, Aug. 28.

A college kid, an old lady, a mom, and an electrician - now that's a cross-section of opinions. Too bad, though, that a Times reporter was not at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority hearing a few days before. There, advocacy, service, charitable and other nonprofits appeared before the PSTA board.

One by one, representatives of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Pinellas Association for Retarded Citizens, the Department of Children and Families' Recovery and Resiliency Committee, Suncoast Center, Vincent House, and a dozen others pleaded their case that their members, clients and congregations were the least able to absorb a bus fare increase, no matter how small.

Each represented people who are poor because of low wages, limited retirement funds or severe disability. As primary bus riders, any fare increase hits them hardest and they can least afford it.

After all the statements were made, the board ruled that for most, a fare increase of about 20 percent stood. For those in need, the increase was 10 percent. Advocates, and those for whom they advocate, hailed this as a victory, of sorts.

The board, too, is a cross-section of the community, more or less, exhibiting typical tendencies. Some members were compassionate and empathetic, while others were rigid and determined.

For some, leveling the playing field meant helping those less fortunate; for others it meant that no matter what life brings to you, fair is fair. If their property taxes are going up, your bus fares are going up. It's only fair.

Most Americans realize that some people are so unfortunate as to suffer from severe and chronic illnesses while others do not. Our society assists those who cannot do for themselves - a good system. Perhaps not as generous as in some nations, but beneficial to recipients, nonetheless. A healthy working class helping the disabled and poor under-employed - not perfect; could be improved; not everyone agrees; some abuse; some success; but it must be maintained.

Those in attendance at the hearing got a snapshot of our democracy. Too bad more weren't there.

Donald Turnbaugh, past president, NAMI, Pinellas County

Clearwater residents are entitled to primo parking on the beach

I read that our elected city leaders of Clearwater had approved and will eliminate 500 parking slots to build a boardwalk from Pier 60 to the site of the former Adam's Mark hotel on Clearwater Beach.

I would like to know what is planned for the citizens of Clearwater and their accessibility to the beaches. As citizens we pay our taxes to the city and expect the city to take care of its citizens.

How is this city project helping the citizens of Clearwater and improving our access to the beaches? What we are really getting is relocated to the less desirable locations such as the Belleair and Clearwater causeways and the Gandy Bridge - certainly not the immaculate beaches we are paying for. They have pretty much told us citizens of Clearwater we are not worthy.

To add injury to insult, they have approved the sale of small mom and pop hotels/motels to large corporations and approved the building of numerous condos and luxury hotels that completely block the view of our Gulf Coast. Now they are planning to eliminate parking spots for us citizens.

They have systematically taken away our access to our beaches. Where are we, the citizens, supposed to park? They said private parking would be available. Who wants to lug chairs, coolers, umbrellas and other accessories to the beach from several blocks away?

I think it all boils down to privatization of our public beaches. Will we as taxpayers have to continue to fund the upkeep of the beaches?

The people of Clearwater need to wake up and let our city officials know that we want equitable access to our public beaches.

Why not issue every Clearwater resident a free parking permit to park at any available slot, at any hotel, if parking permits? I think as taxpayers, we deserve it.

Ed Russell, Clearwater

Policies aren't for public good; to politicians, it's all about power

Re: Bracing for a charter battle, story, Sept. 8.

This is in reference to the article about the cities suing over proposed county charter amendments.

Why can't people see that there is a concerted effort to turn this county into one megalopolis? There has been a drive on by the Sheriff's Office to be in total control and do away with local police departments for years.

Politicians have the desire to be eminent. They want to do nothing but be in control and suck taxes out of their constituents.

Once they are elected to the "seat of power," they know what is best for everyone and you lose your ability to reason and think for yourself, or so they would have us believe. Of course, they only have to look to the supreme example for the "One World Takeover," the Bush administration, and find authority to pursue their local dreams. I can't stand politicians, a.k.a. egocentrics.

Bud Trill, Palm Harbor

Firefighters say thank you for generous donations to MDA

As Clearwater firefighters we are faced with many challenges. One I find near and dear is one firefighters have faced for more than 50 years: the challenge of eliminating muscular dystrophy. Across the country, every year, the International Association of Firefighters hits the streets for Jerry's Kids, in a Muscular Dystrophy Association campaign called "Fill the Boot."

This year our union Local 1158 hit the streets staffing corners for a single weekend, asking the public to "fill the boot," and the response for that weekend far exceeded any expectations I've had for this event. You, the community which I serve, dug deep, even with today's economy. You helped us raise more than $8,000 for Jerry's Kids.

I am humbled by the response we received from the community we serve, and we all, as a local, thank you for your support and kind words. I also would like to thank the other agencies who helped us make this drive for Jerry's Kids a success. Your acts of kindness deserve thanks.

Last but certainly not least, I need to express my sincere gratitude to my brothers and sisters who took time out of their weekend, came out and made this boot drive a success. It is as a team we are successful, as witnessed here. Thanks to all who helped for such a noble cause.

Patrick M. Conrey, Spring Hill



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