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    Letters to the Editors

    Newspaper should get the story straight

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish list, Nov. 5 story.

    So Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst helped the area of town he lives in get a few long overdue projects going. Who cares?

    Instead of trying to stir up controversy, or more importantly, attempting to divide our city, you should be praising Mayor Aungst's demonstrated leadership abilities. If it weren't for his efforts on behalf of all of the citizens of Clearwater, this city would be making little or no progress.

    Not only does your article try to slant the facts, it is downright inaccurate. Anyone who has ever glanced at the Penny for Pinellas list knows that the $500,000 you mention for Countryside has been in the budget for this year since the mid 1990s. Is it too much to ask that the Times research an article before it is printed?

    The mayor didn't work behind the scenes to budget this money. He attended public meetings and discussed with area leaders how they wanted the city to utilize the already budgeted funds.

    As the mayor stated, he has been a champion for causes across the city. He personally found the money for our Sand Key fire station that saved a crucial, yet at the time all but abandoned, project for my community. He has led the way on multiple occasions supporting beach and downtown redevelopment projects. He personally led the effort to stop the new cell phone tower on Gulf-to-Bay last year, until a court ruling forced the city's hand. He also was very supportive of proceeding with a new downtown library.

    Our mayor has done more for the Fire Department and Sand Key than any mayor in the last 20 years. He truly is a mayor of all the people.
    -- Joe Calio, Clearwater

    Mayor supports projects throughout Clearwater

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish list, Nov. 5 story.

    This is the most recent and an excellent example of the Times' journalism that has (a) convinced a lot of us who are interested in and concerned about Clearwater that the last thing we would do in our lives is be or even try to be a city commissioner, and (b) convinced a lot of others (who I don't seem to see at commission meetings or town meetings) that they cannot trust or have confidence in their local government.

    The headline suggests that the folks of Countryside have been favored with special treatment during the mayor's tenure, and the text itself cites a few Countryside projects supported by the mayor. The article does not list hundreds of other projects throughout the city of Clearwater supported by the mayor.

    Without context, some readers will infer that the mayor supports projects for Countryside to the exclusion of other parts of the city. The article doesn't say that; it simply allows readers to come to that conclusion. And that conclusion is wrong.

    I don't know whether the article was a warning to the mayor or a warning to candidates for the upcoming election or just the latest of a long line of negative Clearwater stories. In any event, I don't believe it was news or newsworthy.
    -- John Doran, Clearwater

    Story about mayor was "utter fantasy'

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish list, Nov. 5 story.

    Where to begin to criticize this story?

    The headline was misleading and the first sentences, with a picture of Mayor Brian Aungst, painted the idea that pork-barrel politics is happening in Clearwater and our mayor is the chief culprit. This is utter fantasy. The idea behind the story could only be to intentionally try to create controversy where none exists.

    As former residents of the Countryside area, and now residents of Sand Key, we understand the challenges that face a city that is spread out geographically and appreciate the need for "one city, one future." Mayor Aungst and interim City Manager Bill Horne, also unfairly accused in the article, are fine public servants who we have observed at countless commission meetings to labor for the good of all the citizens of Clearwater.

    We especially appreciate Mayor Aungst because he has championed the concept of this city being fiscally responsible and economically realistic in making choices, unlike many politicians.

    The challenges this city faces demand a newspaper that takes seriously its responsibility to educate and inform. This article did neither.
    -- Duane and Jill Rommel, Clearwater

    Ignoring Countryside's needs would be wrong

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish list, Nov. 5 story.

    I'm sure his neighbors would think it very strange if Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst ignored his own area while in office because others would say he's playing favorites. They would assume he should stick his neck out once in a while to help his own area.

    And what city doesn't rejoice when one of their own is elected to a position of authority? They say, "Now maybe some of our local problems will finally get some attention." And in some instances, they get no extra help, due to the fact that the person they elected doesn't want to be criticized for his actions.

    However, since Countryside Library has the most registered patrons and also the highest circulation, it seems it would be the best library to keep open on Sunday if that's the need as well as the wishes of the local people, even if Mayor Aungst and Interim City Manager Bill Horne didn't live in that area.

    It seems we will all benefit from them helping their own area. I know my husband is a patron of the local libraries and would love to be able to research something on Sunday afternoons.
    -- Fran Glaros, Clearwater

    Put Phillies stadium in mayor's neighborhood

    Re: Mayor helps fill area's wish list, Nov. 5 story.

    Now we see that Mayor Aungst has several projects and will find the budget (behind the scenes as usual) to help his neighborhood.

    Why not put the new Phillies stadium right in the middle of Countryside, instead of College Hill? Surely the mayor wouldn't mind the increased traffic with attendant danger to the children, late-night noise and light pollution, and, oh, a big hit on his property value.

    Let's hear it for pork.
    -- Sylvia Franklin, Clearwater

    Curtail development until water is available

    Never wrote to a newspaper before -- I am in the majority.

    Simply, I wanted to say that newspapers, TV and radio news and our politicians fail us all when no one seems to recognize that widespread, accelerated and out-of-control development destroys our quality of living and costs us all immeasurably. Soon, even the developers will be unable to go somewhere to escape.

    My second point relates to the first: Not one more house, condo or apartment should be built before adequate water and sewage treatment can be provided at reasonable cost and supply to all without ecological damage.

    Print this or not -- it's your decision. But do not fail the public in your endeavor.
    -- Dick Fagley, Clearwater

    Band competition creates electrifying atmosphere

    Re: Band directors can only watch, cheer, Nov. 6 story.

    I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with the Palm Harbor University High School Category 5 Marching Band for the last four years. This is, sadly, my last year.

    I was at the Florida Bandmasters Association competition at Clearwater High School on Saturday. It was a great day. The hard work and dedication of the band participants really showed. At times the crowd was on its feet cheering and the atmosphere seemed electrified.

    When people ask what's right in this world, all you have to do is look around at these kids. The picture on the front page of this morning's Times local section says it all.
    -- Claudia McCabe, Palm Harbor

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