Today's Letters: Brave souls fight fires

Published May 23, 2007

As many of us awoke recently to an outdoor cloud of smoke generated by all the wild fires, I couldn't help thinking about the firefighters.

Who would purposely choose a career that places their life on the line at every fire fought, wearing heavy jackets and gear in Florida's temperatures, just looking around at all the smoke and thinking this is their "office"? Only the most brave, compassionate souls would choose this profession. Whenever any discussions arise regarding rewards or raises, there should be no doubt whatsoever that they deserve much more.

This also goes for our compassionate, knowledgeable paramedics and for our police officers who can lay their lives on the line for a routine traffic stop. They all deserve much more.

J. Briscoe, Clearwater

Re: Saving is a good idea, no matter whose it is editorial, May 11

Mayor suggests salary suspension

With all due respect to the St. Petersburg Times and its concern for savings, I would like to address the issues in your editorial rather than the personalities.

Cities across Florida are going into the budget review process. For the first time in history, the state will be cutting local budgets. We have no idea how dramatic the cuts will be.

Under these circumstances, a workshop on budgets for all city commissioners is certainly not a waste of our taxpayers' dollars. We need to look at innovative ways to cut taxes and still try to maintain the service levels and the quality of life that our residents enjoy.

At a recent City Commission meeting, Commissioner Peter Dalacos made the comment that this seminar was a vacation and some other derogatory remarks. The board took exception. I cannot express how critical it is for the entire commission to be well informed before we take on this daunting task.

The decision to attend was not taken lightly. We all have full-time jobs and responsibilities that we left behind. At some training workshops, one person can attend for the board and bring back information. However, handouts do not always provide the full impact of the information given, and in light of what the topic was, each commissioner wanted to attend to hear the information firsthand. I applaud any elected official who wants to improve his leadership skills for the betterment of his community.

Regarding the comments about what has been spent in the past, I have addressed this issue many times with actual calculations of what has been brought home in grant dollars and other funding over the years. The calculations used in the news article, Commissioner chastises colleagues for Arkansas trip, May 1, fail to show the high percentage of dollars gained versus what it costs to send a board member to learn the tools to do the job or to lobby on our behalf.

Most of my board did not get elected because of the wages paid. We ran for office to make a difference in our community. If traveling for education and lobbying for funding is an issue during this serious tax time, then I propose that the mayor and commissioners do this job for $1 per year with no city benefits. This would save the residents of Tarpon Springs $77, 000 per year for salaries and benefits.

The progress in our community demonstrates the value of the funding and concepts we have all brought home from education and lobbying.

Beverley Billiris,  mayor of Tarpon Springs

Re: Brooker Creek debate: old dairy land or useful habitat? story, May 20

On-site look-see is appreciated

Many thanks to the St. Petersburg Times staff for taking the time to walk the northern half of Brooker Creek Preserve to learn more and experience the ecological value of this "old dairy farm, " an expression used by county officials recently in an effort to devalue it.

J. Johnson, Tarpon Springs

Re: Brooker Creek Preserve

Keep preserve green, passive

Pinellas County is the most urbanized county in the state. We are now 98 percent urban sprawl. How did this happen? Developers gone wild? Planners and commissioners gone to lunch?

Enough already! As residents of Oldsmar, my family values having a spot of green in our urbanized county. Please, only passive use of Brooker Creek Preserve. Well fields and ball fields can go somewhere else.

Birds, bees, flowers and trees - there is nothing else like it. We are trusting in you, our elected county commissioners, to guard this wonderful place!

William Antozzi, Oldsmar

Re: Local government spending cuts

Education center wasting our taxes

With regard to the upcoming "Brooker Basics Workshops" (free to all), referred to in the Clearwater Times, are these the types of essential programs that will be cut due to real estate tax relief?

Furthermore, who funds the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center at 3940 Keystone Road? If the county is responsible for any funding of this project, it is another example of our local government wasting taxpayer dollars.

Stick to building roads and policing neighborhoods.

Robert Boyle, Clearwater

It's a condo! No, it's a breakwater

As I was reading about yet another monstrosity of a condo project ready to break ground at Clearwater Beach, I could think of no good reason why our mayor and City Council members keep approving these projects.

And then it hit me - they're building a huge breakwater! When the big hurricane hits, it will save my house and the houses of all the other middle-class and poor people in Clearwater!

Thanks, Mayor Frank Hibbard and council members. I knew you hadn't forgotten about us!

John Parcel, Clearwater

Re: Out of blue, dilemma over graduations solved story, May 16

Solving dilemma deserves thanks

A story like this is so welcome after all the crime and violence we see and read about in the media. I am happy that an acceptable solution was found for Brenda Nielsen and her children, Lloyd and Rebecca, regarding their graduation ceremonies.

I was not surprised to see the compassion that Clearwater High School Principal Keith Mastorides showed over the dilemma that Mrs. Nielsen found herself in: wanting to be at the graduation ceremonies of both of her children being held on the same day, at the same hour in different places miles apart.

She approached Keith with questions as to what could be done, but had no expectations of solutions to her problem and was sure she would have to make a difficult choice as to which ceremony to attend.

Keith managed to find people willing to help this situation to a happy ending, and Brenda Nielsen was able to see each of her children graduate.

I have known Keith for many years, long before he became Clearwater's principal, and knew him as a very conscientious young man. His mother, Sandy, and father, Mike, instilled in him integrity, compassion and the love of teaching. These qualifications will serve Keith and his students well in his capacity as Clearwater's principal.

Congratulations to Lloyd and Rebecca Nielsen for their graduations. Kudos to Keith for his caring, and to the helicopter pilot who took Brenda from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, the car driver who took her to Tropicana Field, city officials who approved takeoff and landing, and the Clearwater High and Palm Harbor University High officials who willingly made adjustments in their graduation lineups for Rebecca to get her diploma first and Lloyd to get his diploma last so that their mother can be there to see them. This kind of cooperation warms the heart.

Billie K Spirides, Tarpon Springs

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.