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Thank Pinellas Park for services, official says

pinellas park Didn't say thank you? Lealman residents should, says one official.

Published October 18, 2006

PINELLAS PARK - Activists in Lealman, who have long fought Pinellas Park over annexation issues, have expressed many feelings about the city, but gratitude hasn't been one of them.

Yet that's what Lealman residents should feel, according to Pinellas Park council member Rick Butler.

Butler made his remarks toward the end of Thursday's Pinellas Park council meeting.

Members had taken the stage to lobby against the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee and bash the county for wasting tax money by encouraging voters to pass the seven charter amendments, which they believe undermine cities' power.

Pinellas Park council members and former Mayor Cecil Bradbury did not mention the money cities have spent to send out mailers encouraging voters to reject the amendments and in their lawsuit to get the issues off the ballot.

Bradbury opened the verbal barrage by waving the flier he'd received in the mail urging him to vote for the charter changes.

Then Butler turned on Lealman. Until Pinellas Park began annexing, he said, no one knew the area was there, the people had not organized and the county was ignoring them.

Since then, he said, the county has begun providing services. It's all thanks to Pinellas Park, he said.

Ray Neri, head of the Lealman Community Association, later said Butler got it wrong and right.

First, Neri said, the county came into Lealman in the late 1990s to create a revitalization area because then-county Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd had promised help to residents. As for annexation, Neri said, "the shot that woke us up was Seminole."

But, in a "crazy kind of way," Butler is right, Neri said.

When activists were first organizing, they approached Butler, who, "to give the devil his due, encouraged us to do something."

[Last modified October 17, 2006, 21:40:20]

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