Today's Letters: Principal has dubious record

Published May 1, 2007

Re: Survey shows school concerns story, April 28

The parents of students at Palm Harbor University High School have cause for great concern. This crown jewel of the Pinellas School District is faltering significantly in the area of communication, an integral part of school life.

The new principal at the high school, Herman Allen, came from Gibbs High School, that bastion of student rule, vandalism and negative behavior. Gibbs High School became a battleground that, since his departure, required the personal intervention of the school district's superintendent and a team of behavior enforcers.

I do not understand why the Pinellas School Board would reassign a principal of an increasingly troubled school to one of its crown jewel schools.

Parents of Palm Harbor students, be vigilant, or the school will lose the shine from its jewels! Demand that communication once again becomes one of the trademarks of Palm Harbor University High School. Without it, quality education founders. Make the principal accountable. His track record is tenuous at best.

Walter J. Noble, Palm Harbor


Changes need time to take hold

Re: Survey shows school concerns story, April 28

As a teacher at Palm Harbor University High School, I urge all stakeholders to take the most recent approval survey with a big grain of salt.

I think teachers' low morale has more to do with the number of changes the school's administration has weathered over the past few years than it does with who is in charge at any given moment.

Within the past 2 1/2 years, we've had three principals. In addition, we lost two excellent assistant principals at the end of last year and took on two new ones, along with the new principal, at the start of this school year.

New administrators bring their proven processes with them, and teachers adapt over time to new ways of doing things. Nine months is not sufficient time for that adaptation to take place, however. Given time and a supportive climate, which the high school has always been known for, I believe teachers can and will adapt and morale will return to its former level.

Only then can we consider the approval survey a valid measure.

Lynn Lemmon, Dunedin


Wal-Mart digs a deeper hole

Re: Wal-Mart will go slow and ensure tortoises' safety guest column by Wal-Mart regional vice president Ronny Hayes, April 25

I was at the proposed Wal-Mart supercenter site in Tarpon Springs on March 23 and their misrepresentation of the facts is appalling.

First, Wal-Mart originally filed for a "take" permit to destroy the turtles. It was only after a barrage of letters and phone calls from concerned citizens that they amended it to a relocation permit.

It seems the time to "do the right thing" is when people are looking. Don't let them fool you; their concern is for their own image and not our "hard-shelled natives."

Second, I'm not sure what "non-harmful trap system" Wal-Mart is referring to. That day, there was a backhoe ripping up the entire lengths of the gopher tortoises' burrows and taking them from their homes.

Third, the notion that they stopped the relocation the "moment" its illegality was brought to their attention is purely false. For hours I and others there that day told the Wal-Mart representatives that what they were doing was illegal. They perpetuated the problem by arguing the legality of it to both a Tarpon Springs police officer and a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer.

They finally backed down when the Fish and Wildlife officer ordered the tortoises to be put back in starter burrows.

The relocating process is supposed to occur when all permits have been pulled and construction is eminent. This is to prevent eliminating threatened species from sites in the event that the sites never get developed.

Given that there are 191 stores built in Florida, Wal-Mart knows how the permitting procedure is to be followed. Unfortunately, they choose to make a mockery of our local, state and federal laws. When the laws don't fit with their business plan, they do what they want. It's easier to simply pay the fines.

I wish Wal-Mart would just admit they were caught red-handed, apologize and take their punishment instead of orchestrating this elaborate ruse that they are just a misunderstood hero "trying to do the right thing."

Wal-Mart, please stop your pattern of manipulative behaviors. Leave Tarpon Springs and our "hard-shelled natives" alone.

Dory Larsen, Tarpon Springs


Cement monster devours habitat

Regarding the guest column submitted by the regional vice president of Wal-Mart about the commitment to safely removing gopher tortoises from their habitat, I say, rethink what you are really doing. These wonderful creatures are just a big inconvenience and standing in the way of you destroying a beautiful area for them and other native habitat.

You want us all to think how environmentally concerned you are, but let's face it, you can't wait to get another cement monster building in place.

These and other native life of Florida are so wrongly being destroyed or disrupted. The beauty of Florida is being lost each day in so many ways. The jobs and low-cost savings promised cannot compare to the impact that the area will suffer and the sadness of nature again being disrupted for the sake of another Wal-Mart "on almost every corner."

Imagine if Wal-Mart gave up this project and left nature alone. Imagine the little guys - the tortoises - winning over a big corporation and restoring our confidence in a protected and beautiful saved Florida for all.

Terry Saccone, Palm Harbor


Why no movies for downtown?

Re: Clearwater downtown plans.

I am thrilled to live in a city whose leaders are forward thinking and want to best utilize the waterfront and Cleveland Street areas.

For the life of me, however, I cannot understand why all these plans do not include a multi-screen movie theater.

A theater on Cleveland somewhere between Fort Harrison and Myrtle avenues with easy parking would bring many people from the beaches and areas immediately surrounding downtown. Would it not boost restaurant business, both before and after the movies? Lunch, an afternoon matinee and shopping trip downtown could be a delightful option we now don't have.

Because there are a significant number of retired people and tourists in this area, surely a movie theater could do well all week long. It could be a great investment and not one that would take until 2009 to create.

Sandy Ericson, Clearwater


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