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Today's Letters: Tragedy brews as cars whiz by school buses

Published November 21, 2007


On Nov. 13, while on my way home from work at 4:48 p.m., I witnessed cars passing a stopped school bus. This was on U.S. 19 southbound, just north of the Calvary Chapel (site of the old Wal-Mart) in Pinellas Park.

It's a daily occurrence. This time I counted no fewer than seven vehicles that passed the school bus in the same direction while it was completely stopped with its lights flashing and stop arm extended (traffic in my northbound lane was at a near-stop, so I was able to count this time).

I write about this for three reasons:

1. I am overwhelmingly curious as to the thought process of anyone who would pass a stopped school bus. Is there any good excuse? Were you not paying attention? Are you just a sociopath? Please, write this good paper back and tell us all why you do this.

2. When are our lawmakers going to put some real teeth into the fines for passing a stopped school bus? The current fine is $160.50. By comparison, parking in a handicapped spot, which causes no immediate danger of harm or death to anyone, costs $250. Let's raise the fines to $500, assess points and require community service - maybe scrubbing the buses one Saturday afternoon, or if a person has a clean background, devoting a day to riding a bus as a monitor. Let them look at the faces of the young people that they so flagrantly put in jeopardy by their carelessness.

3. Last,why in heaven's name is there a bus stop for elementary-age kids on busy U.S. 19? I thought that after the tragedies of the past few years, the Pinellas schools transportation department was taking steps to relocate bus stops to less dangerous areas. There is also a bus stop right in the middle of Keene Road northbound, near Sunset Point Road, that I pass every morning. Every day one or more vehicles blow by this bus as it is stopped. Yes, every day. Why does this bus stop there? Maybe someone from transportation would care to answer.

I laud the police departments that are trying to curtail these flagrant violations, but they can only do so much.

Change is needed - in the fines, in the designations of the stops, and yes, in the mentality of the people who commit this act - before another tragedy strikes. Please, do it for the children.

Nanette Angelone, Clearwater

Wild school bus rides

Parents who allow their children to take the bus to school may find that it could be compared with a roller coaster ride with no seat belt.

It is my observation that some Pinellas County school bus drivers are quite reckless and inattentive. Students use this form of transportation not by choice but as a necessity, and they count on the drivers to transport them in a safe manner.

It is my experience that these buses are not being operated safely. The drivers are inattentive, they do not yield the right of way to other drivers, and most important, they seem to drive too fast. Every morning while driving to Clearwater High School, an oncoming school bus accelerates and turns in front of me, violating my right of way. This puts not only me but the passengers of the bus in danger.

I suggest that the School Board take a look at the pickup and dropoff schedules of the buses. If the scheduling was changed, it would allow more time for the drivers to complete their routes in a less-hasty manner. This would ensure not only the passengers on the bus but the other drivers on the road the opportunity to have an accident-free, safe day.

Jayme-Jo TenBieg, Clearwater

20% tip rarely deserved Nov. 11, letter

Servers must divide tips

I have read several letters commenting on servers and their service. Guests visiting these restaurants tip according to the service they receive and also take into consideration the amount of their total bill. What they don't take into account is the fact that their servers are giving a percentage of their tips to each busser, bartender and host.

So the server does not make $48 per hour, as in the letter writer's example. The server gets only a percentage of that total, which also is claimed 100 percent on his or her taxes. Obviously, some of these letter writers have never been in the hospitality industry. Otherwise, they wouldn't have a problem tipping a well-deserved 20 percent of their total bill.

No, there isn't a "note" posted on the door about gratuity. But next time, check the bottom of your bill. A gratuity of 15 to 20 percent will automatically be tacked on for parties of five or more, depending on the establishment. If you feel service was excellent, feel free to toss a few extra bucks on the table to compliment your server's service.

Pam Mosher, Largo

Demand, supply unequal Nov. 14, story

Radio station has a heart

It comes as no surprise that conventional charities in Pinellas County are swamped with requests they cannot fulfill. Salaries haven't kept pace with the cost of living. Debt-laden people are everywhere. The pauperization of people is becoming more common, and bankruptcies are increasing.

We in Tampa Bay have a radio station with a heart as big as the Grand Canyon. It's 104.7 FM (Q-105). During the holiday season the station grants Christmas wishes to folks who need a helping hand. The good they do in the community for needy folk brings tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.

Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

Thanks for honest deed

On Nov. 8, around noon, I lost my wallet on Park Boulevard. I did not realize it until later in the day and at that time I became frantic. When I arrived home I had a call from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office saying someone had turned in my wallet.

I asked for the name of the person who had turned it in so I could reward him or her, but was told that the person preferred to leave no name.

So whoever that person was, I want to give my congratulations for honesty and give my sincere thanks. It is refreshing to know we still have trustworthy people in a world that seems to be spiraling downhill.

Ralph L. Payne, Largo


We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by fax to (727) 893-8675 or through our Web site at: They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

[Last modified November 20, 2007, 20:29:02]

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