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Letters to the Editors

Sheriff's offer has benefits

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2000

Consider the following scenario:

You are a shareholder in a multimillion-dollar company. You have just learned that your company's directors received a bid for merger with another million-dollar company that would increase your net worth by millions annually and increase the safety of your investments. You have also learned that your company's directors have turned the offer down without even speaking with you.

If you are a resident of the city of Largo, you are experiencing a scenario just like this. Pinellas County Sheriff Everett Rice has offered to save Largo taxpayers 40 percent of an $11.2-million police budget annually.

At the same time, law enforcement service in and around Largo would benefit greatly. No longer would residents wonder who to call. For that matter, no longer would officers and deputies wonder who to call. All of the strengths and weaknesses of both agencies would be combined to provide a more secure environment for those who depend on them.

Largo residents should force their commissioners to consider this proposal. To flatly reject it is a dereliction of duty.

Largo residents need to know that their police department already contracts for some essential services and depends on the Sheriff's Office frequently to provide fundamental police support.

Some in city government try to make things sound as if sheriff's deputies would be distant and cold. Fact is, the Sheriff's Office has a wonderful community-based policing section. Proof of its efforts can be seen in neighborhoods all over Pinellas County.

As in other scenarios where departments have been absorbed, I'm sure that many current Largo officers would keep on policing in the city after any potential merger. It is true that the sheriff is ultimately responsible to police Largo with or without a contract. But it is that very contract that would help Largo maintain control over how Largo is policed and at what cost.

Largo commissioners should swallow some of their pride and do right by their constituents and provide them with the facts. The Sheriff's Office is not a group of outsiders, but a full-service law enforcement agency already providing them with protective services.

The Largo Police Department is about to experience its third chief in as many years and the police Explorer scandal is still an issue. Consolidation is an idea whose time has come for the city of Largo.

If you currently live on a street in Largo that lacks pavement or sidewalks and have been told that there is no money at the present time for those projects, consider support for Sheriff Rice's offer.

Change usually comes slowly in government and it takes commissioners with courage and vision to make it happen. I wonder who in Largo city government has those qualities?
-- Lynn Betron, Largo

McMullen property would be asset

Re: In deal for gulf land, owner holds cards, May 21.

Pinellas County already has more residents than its infrastructure can handle. Our water supplies don't begin to meet our needs. It would be wonderful if some way might be found to come closer to the offers for the land that Daniel McMullen has received from developers.

It sounds as if he really would like to see the property developed as a park rather than as a subdivision, but that, since he is accountable to other family members, he can't accept an offer that is many millions lower than that offered by developers. It would be a shame for such a beautiful site to be lost to the present and future generations of Pinellas citizens.

We don't have the answer to the question of how the McMullen property could be purchased for the use of the public and/or preserved. Perhaps additional funds could be obtained from a non-governmental source. It would be an advantage to all parties if they could concentrate on a win-win situation.
-- Dana Kerstein, Clearwater, president, Clearwater Audubon Society

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