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Letters to the Editors

Business owners backing referendum for personal gain

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 27, 2000

The June 12 letter Ask opponents about their downtown plans, in which the writer identifies himself as a member of "... those of us who own businesses... ," understandably pitched hard for taxpayer approval of the forthcoming Clearwater referendums.

If I were an owner of a downtown business I, too, might lobby hard if there were a Clearwater government as willing as the current one is to increase my personal net worth without my having to go deeper into my own pocket.

When I owned a small business on Long Island, I had to risk my own capital in an attempt to improve my business. I could choose to pump new (personal) capital into what I perceived as a good business opportunity, or fold an unprofitable business and seek greener pastures elsewhere. I suggest that the business owner and other pro-referendum lobbyists choose from the same entrepreneurial menu.

The second letter lobbying for referendum approval (Many residents working for a better Clearwater) once again dangles before the citizens' eyes the "library bait." Had I not been once burned with that empty promise in the original Penny for Pinellas pitch, I might have been vulnerable now, because I believe that a first-class city must have a first-class library. Once the money was at their disposal, the mayor and commissioners drastically downsized the mythical library and reallocated the money to projects like the infamous "roundabout," it appears.

With Clearwater government's proven track record of incompetence, double talk, deception and City Manager Mike Roberto, why would any reasonable person trust them now? They've exhausted their credibility.
-- Anthony J. Wickel, Clearwater

Whether yea or nay, vote on development project

Who is against progress? Who is against a better downtown Clearwater? What is the cost to attain these goals?

We must reflect on what we are to vote to approve July 11: to grant the developer a 99-year lease at $1 per year on a large area of Clearwater's most valuable property. Everything else is ideas and proposals to be negotiated after granting the lease.

Who is to negotiate and manage this development? Is it the building department, the code enforcement department, the city manager, the City Commission? Are these the people that couldn't build a proper traffic roundabout, that ran into major cost overruns on the Harborview Center? What do you think will happen to your taxes if this project is mishandled?

Do you remember the vote to reject the long-term lease to the Clearwater Country Club, and the sneaky end run the City Commission pulled to grant it?

You may not always vote for president or governor, but this is your city and every vote is important. So please take the time to vote, whether for or against the development project.
-- Frank Jones, Clearwater

City wasted $200,000 on project propaganda

I strongly object to the city of Clearwater spending $200,000 of taxpayer money for mailing slick brochures that are obviously slanted in favor of the proposed downtown development plan.

Voters seeking information can study the Times, which has presented both sides of this complicated matter.

The city wants us to trust them, and then they waste scarce taxpayer funds in ways like this, instead of finding ways to beef up our fire department.
-- Bill Schwob, Clearwater

Let conspiracy theory die, save city's downtown

My wife and I moved here with our two small children last year from a city in the Northeast with approximately the same population as Clearwater. We were immediately struck by all the amenities that were available and the bold plans that were being discussed for revitalization of the downtown area.

This was a sharp contrast to our former home, a city with no downtown, or one that had been allowed to die a slow death.

I would urge the citizens of Clearwater to take a bold step forward and vote yes on all three ballot items on July 11th. Let's stop looking for "the conspiracy" and work with our duly appointed and elected city officials toward creating a downtown that is vibrant, alive and full of possibility.
-- Jack Fahey, Clearwater

City advertising campaign exposes skewed priorities

According to the official minutes of the April 6 Clearwater City Commission meeting, "$200,000 for other expenses including the necessary referendum, surveys, market data reports, etc., was budgeted in addition to $500,000 for (city consultant) Charlie Siemon . . . funding is necessary to pay for the necessary referendum, surveys, design, technical assistance for land appraisals and market data, public meetings, public information materials, and reports."

The action agenda for the June 15 commission meeting states, "Re the 7/11/00 referendum, City Manager reported $200,000 was budgeted for support of the referendum, of which $120,000 will be spent on educational efforts using multiple media."

Perhaps I don't understand the situation correctly, but it seems to me that $200,000 was "budgeted" for a number of items related to getting the referendum ready for the voters, including the incidental item of "public information materials and reports" with no reference to advertising.

When the city manager requests $200,000 for readying the referendum but then spends $120,000 of it on "educational efforts using multiple media," our trust in city government takes a beating.

Did the voters ask for this? Do the voters want to spend that kind of money to promote a referendum? How much of a hook and ladder truck for the fire department would that $120,000 buy? Where are our priorities?
-- David Campbell, Clearwater

Largo should seek voters' input on police service

I read in disbelief the recent article where Largo City Manager Steve Stanton did not even want to consider Sheriff Everett Rice's suggestion that the Sheriff's Office and the Largo Police Department merge to provide better police services in Largo.

The voters in Largo should have input and vote after being informed of the amount the city could save by contracting with the Sheriff's Office. The elected officials of Largo do not speak for everyone.

The Pinellas County sheriff's deputies offer excellent protection and service. Sheriff Rice stated that Largo's officers would be hired by the Sheriff's Office if they contracted with them. I can't understand why the city manager didn't want to pursue this.

I live in the unincorporated area of Largo, and although they are aggressively annexing everything they can get, I for one will do everything in my power to stay out of Largo as long as its leaders refuse to explore this issue.
-- Claudia Patterson, Largo

Planned condo will create Gulf Boulevard problems

Why did Belleview Biltmore wait until now to decide to build a 13-story condo where the Old Cabana Club Restaurant was? Why was this kept so quiet? Could it be that a lot of people had gone north and the owners could have their cake and eat it, too?

We live in the Harbour Condominium. This is supposed to be our retirement home. The sunset on the water is breathtaking and very relaxing. How many more high-rises are going to be built on Gulf Boulevard? Do we want to look like New York City, with one skyscraper after another with just a few feet between them?

When you drive down Gulf Boulevard now, you can hardly see the waterways for the high-rises. Can you imagine how many more cars this will put on Gulf Boulevard? Are they worried about how we are to get off the island in case we have a hurricane?

We are not opposed to progress as long as it is helpful, but in this case, we do not think it is. This is a project for money and money alone.
-- Walter M. and Nancy R. Rowlette, Clearwater

Residents should show commission who's boss

There is no doubt in my mind that the water crisis is real. I am equally certain everyone knows the County Commission is responsible for this problem.

What I don't understand is why the concerned citizens do not form a coalition and inform the commissioners that they work for and are paid by us, and that they're not paid to work for themselves or wealthy builders.

A moratorium should have been placed on building long ago and low density restrictions per acre made law.

We now have politicians. What happened to the statesmen?
-- George Arthur, Largo

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