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Today's Letters: Pinellas Village parents worried about change

Letters to the Editor
Published February 10, 2008


We want everyone to know about our home, Pinellas Village, a not-for-profit apartment community and self-sufficiency program for single parents.

Pinellas Village provides a support system of 100 other single parents who understand the strife we face daily, and on-site case managers who help us through hard times and cheer our victories.

Our home is not on "Easy Street," nor do we receive handouts - only hand ups. We pay our rent and bills, work or attend school full time, attend parenting and life skills classes, donate community service hours, and visit on-site case managers regularly. We came to Pinellas Village because of a life crisis and realized that we needed guidance in order to improve our families' lives. We love our home and want to be there to complete the five-year program.

But will Pinellas Village as we know it still be here to help make our dreams come true?

We are worried about the future of our home. A proposal has been presented by our major funder that would dramatically change our community. This proposal would eliminate the on-site case managers that are the core of our community. Instead, off-site case managers would visit us monthly and not be readily available for us during crises. We would lose many other benefits that the on-site case managers organize.

Our Pinellas Village family would disintegrate, just as many of our own families already have.

In the past 15 years, 320 residents have earned a certificate or degree, 164 have found full-time employment in their fields, 98 have continued their education and 84 have purchased homes. We invite you to learn more about Pinellas Village by visiting our community or our Web site at, We hope you believe in us as much as the Pinellas Village staff does so that we, too, can attain our dreams.

Angel DeLong, Largo

Responsibility for safety lies with everyone

Over the past several weeks, I have read several letters to the editor about pedestrian safety suggestions. All well and good, but first it's up to us to protect ourselves from an accident.

Even if the light is with us, we need to check traffic in every direction before moving. We have drivers on our roads who are intoxicated, on medication, on drugs, on a cell phone. Why, just the other day a driver drove through a red light and T-boned a vehicle. He said he was changing a compact disc and didn't notice the light had changed.

In combat when "all clear" is sounded, we move out carefully, zig zag and look for the glint of a rifle barrel in the trees. Because we want to get home safely. Pedestrians need to be keenly alert to survive Tampa Bay streets.

Charles Slater,Largo

Re: Shorter jail stay set for offender story, Jan. 31

Offender's statement is its own disgrace

What an absolute disgrace! How heartbreaking for the poor, helpless children involved in the pornographic pictures and videos.

What an absolute insult for that man to say, "Yes, I knew it was wrong," but "I did not recognize that (children) were exploited and most likely physically and emotionally harmed." What? This from a person retired from a job in finance with General Motors - someone who obviously had some intelligence. What incredible gall!

I can't find any sense to the leniency that is constantly given to these most vile offenders that harm our children. My only concern is for all the children in the world who are at the mercy of these monsters and what misery they must suffer.

How utterly disheartening.

Susan Juhl,Belleair

Feral cat problem in Tarpon Springs

Trap-and-return doesn't help cats

I applaud Pinellas County Animal Services and Welch Agnew, assistant director of veterinary services, for their courageous, humane and environmentally responsible approach to managing animals in Pinellas.

As a scientist who has studied this issue, I would like to provide some further information on Trap-Neuter-Re-abandon (TNR) programs for homeless cats, which are ineffective at cat population control, inhumane to cats and wildlife, and environmentally irresponsible.

Although cat advocates insist that neutering animals will reduce their numbers over time, there is no scientific evidence that this actually happens. This is partly because TNR sends the message to the public that it is okay to abandon cats. New cats are continually abandoned at feeding stations and because it is impossible to trap and neuter all of them under these circumstances, they also continue to breed.

TNR does not address the root of the problem of cat overpopulation, which stems from the fact that cat owners often fail to spay or neuter their animals and often abandon their cats outside, either on a daily basis while they own the animal, or permanently.

There are many possible solutions to the problem of pet overpopulation, including better public education, increased accessibility to spaying and neutering, and mandated licensing and/or neutering of animals.

Another problem with TNR is that it operates in an open system, continually taking in new animals with the capacity to breed, and often groups run out of money temporarily or permanently, such that they cannot alter all the animals in a colony.

Feeding animals enables them to better breed and hunt wildlife, and feeding stations feed not only cats but other area predators, such as raccoons, opossums and foxes, upsetting their natural population dynamics and encouraging predator population explosions. These animals also harbor disease they may spread to pet cats, such as rabies.

In my own back yard, I have found 26 feral and stray cats over the past two years. I began trapping and removing cats from my yard after I observed a single cat move into the yard and kill all the other animals there over a period of months, decapitating but often not eating them. The cat was a well-fed cat that turned out to belong to a neighbor.

Spurred by this incident, I started to do research on the effects of domestic cats on birds and what I have found is quite astounding. In North America, cats may be the single biggest direct cause of bird mortality, far outnumbering all other causes (including human hunters) put together!

The solution, of course, is not to demonize cats, who did not create this problem; it is to educate people to understand the effects of their actions on other animals, people and the environment, and to change their behavior in ways that are beneficial rather than destructive to all concerned.

Nico Dauphine, Athens, GA

Take-home cars may be cutstory, Feb. 6

Take-home cars have hidden costs

The numbers floated in the article don't even come close to revealing the true total cost of take-home cars to the city of Clearwater. It discussed only the $374,000 annual gas and mileage expenses.

There was no mention of the cost to purchase and systematically replace the 180 take-home vehicles. Neither was there mention of the cost to equip the necessary maintenance facility, nor the cost to the city of salaries and benefits of maintenance technicians and management Add it all together and we are talking many millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Take-home cars for employees at all levels of city and county government are an expensive, unnecessary boondoggle. They should be done away with.

Anthony J. Wickel,Clearwater

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, 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.

[Last modified February 9, 2008, 21:38:28]

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