A retiring Marino: 'I guess I did it my way'
Outgoing town attorney Paul Marino used his farewell speech to praise himself, the mayor and the police chief and to chastise a "vocal minority" of residents.
Marino's speech followed an announcement at Wednesday's council meeting by Mayor Muriel Whitman that he was leaving. Some members of the audience applauded and one or two said, "Whoo-hoo!"
Marino, who is retiring to play golf, travel and "do fun things" with his wife, promised, however, that he would be "here for you" if Kenneth City council members should ever call on him.
Marino said he had done a good job representing the town and keeping it out of legal trouble. He also praised Whitman, who is facing a re-election challenge from former council member Teresa Zemaitis. Whitman, he said, is a good mayor, and Doug Pasley is a good police chief, he said.
Marino was less enthusiastic about the news coverage the town has received, especially over a so-called neatness ordinance that, in its original form, would have allowed town officials to enter homes if they thought the inside was not being kept up to snuff. If the owner had refused entry, the town could have gone to court for permission to go into the house.
The "misleading stories," he said, cause a "vocal minority of persons to overreact."
That vocal minority, he said, displayed poor behavior during debates.
"I have never (in 40 years serving in local government) experienced a level of rudeness and wilful disrespect" as happened during meetings discussing that proposal, he said.
Despite the rudeness and disrespect, he said, "I've enjoyed it. That's all I have to say."
But Marino continued, acknowledging that many did not like him.
"I guess, as Frank Sinatra would say, I did it my way," he concluded.
Talk is on separation of church and state
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, will hold a discourse, "Will the New Administration in Washington Save Separation of Church and State?" at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Good Samaritan Church, 6085 Park Blvd. For information, visit americansunitedspinellas.org or call (727) 517-9257.
Church Mardi Gras party includes dinner
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 738 Pinellas Point Drive S, will hold a Mardi Gras and Silent Auction Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. Enjoy dinner, live music and fun. Proceeds will benefit St. Francis Christian School in Leogane, Haiti. $10 per person. Call (727) 866-2187.
Enthusiastic volunteers needed at hospital
Northside Hospital and Tampa Bay Heart Institute, 6000 49th St. N, needs ambitious, enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers to assist in the gift shop, front desk, surgical waiting room and patient care. Call (727) 521-4823 or stop by the front desk at the main entrance to pick up an application.
SPCA offering 100 free spay/neuter surgeries
The SPCA will offer free spaying and neutering Feb. 24 through March 3 to pets of the first 100 qualified applicants with limited income. The service includes vaccinations and rabies shots. Pet owners must apply in person with a recent 1040 form, Tuesday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the SPCA, 9099 130th Ave N. The SPCA offers free neutering of pit bull and pit bull mixes year round. For information, call (727) 586-3591 or visit spcatampabay.org.
Enter cute pet photos for the SPOT calendar
Is your pet a star? SPOT is looking for 100 cats and dogs for its fourth annual calendar. Photos entered will be posted on the SPOT Web site. The top 24 cats and dogs will win prizes and be highlighted as calendar stars of the month. The other 76 cats and dogs will be included throughout the calendar and in the 2010 marketing campaign. Enter your pet photos online at spotusa.org or call (727) 545-3463 to get an entry form and more details. Deadline is April 30.
Charity collects prom dresses and accessories
A local group, "The Gathering of Women," is collecting dresses suitable for proms for high school seniors whose families are facing financial difficulties. It is also collecting purses, shoes and costume jewelry. To donate, call (727) 433-1352 or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Get Rescued' event features adoptable pets
"Get Rescued" is seeking local sponsors and vendors for the fifth annual event Feb. 28 along Beach Boulevard. The event will feature adoptable pets, arts and crafts, food vendors and live music. Proceeds benefit the animal rescue groups that attend. For information, call (727) 322-5217 or check online at getrescuedingulfport.com.
Vendors needed for Mardi Gras Weekend
The Kiwanis Club of Gulf Beaches is seeking local sponsors and vendors for its Treasure Island Mardi Gras Weekend on Feb. 21 and 22. The event will feature art, crafts and food. Proceeds benefit the Miracle League and Pinellas Village. For information, call (727) 322-5217 or see kiwanismardigrasweekend.org.
Kids need volunteers to speak for them in court
More than 1,200 abused, abandoned or neglected children and teens in Pinellas County need a volunteer guardian ad litem to advocate for them in court and the child welfare system. The average time needed is four to six hours a month. Guardians visit the child monthly, become familiar with the case and make recommendations to the court to help ensure the child has a safe, stable environment. They are trained and backed by a professional staff and lawyers. The next class starts Tuesday and meets from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays for five weeks at the Criminal Justice Center, 14250 49th St. N, Clearwater. Call (727) 464-6528 or visit guardianadlitem6.org.
Volunteer attorney gives law help to elderly
Do you want advice about getting your personal and financial affairs in order or need help with other elder law issues? A volunteer attorney with the Community Law Program will be available from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. the third Friday of each month at the Gulfport Senior Center, 5501 27th Ave. S. To be eligible, applicants must be 60 or older, reside in southern Pinellas, and have a household income generally within 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Asset limits and citizenship or permanent residency status may apply. For more information, call (727) 582-7480 or (727) 893-2237.
Preschool raising money through recycling drive
First Baptist Preschool, 5495 Park Blvd., is collecting empty laser and ink jet printer cartridges as well as used cell phones for recycling. Money earned will help finance preschool programs. Drop off or mail items to the preschool. For more information, call Miss Tammy at (727) 544-9465.
Five-week clown school accepting applications
The St. Petersburg Festival of States is accepting applications for their Clown Alley Clown School starting Feb. 26 and running for five weeks. The program has been a tradition since 1972 and is sponsored by All Children's Hospital. Christine Davison, a graduate of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown School, teaches participants character definition, makeup, costuming and performance techniques. Both children and adults are welcome, and graduates will participate in the Festival of States Illuminated Night Parade and the Festival Day Parade. Classes are held at All Children's Hospital Education Conference Center, 710 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg from 6-7:15 p.m. $17 per person, $5 per additional family member. For applications, call (727) 821-9888, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.festivalofstates.com.
SPOT opens low-cost spay and neuter clinic
SPOT, or Stop Pet Overpopulation Together, will open its new low-cost spay and neuter clinic Thursday at 4403 62nd Ave N. SPOT also offers special pet care seminars and dog training classes at the new clinic. For more information and to request applications for spaying or neutering your pet, or to donate, call (727) 545-3463 or check the Web site at spotusa.org.
Donate your cell phone so seniors can dial 911
The Sunshine Center is collecting unwanted cell phones for seniors to dial 911 in an emergency. Phones can be dropped off from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Office on Aging, 330 Fifth St. N. For more information, call (727) 893-7102.
Get trained to help out a struggling family
The Parent Aide Program, an aspect of the Help a Child organization, is looking for volunteers to help struggling families balance their lives emotionally and financially. The Parent Aides work with one family at a time and serve as a role model for parents who desire to be more effective and successful. Aides are given training. Call (727) 544-3900, ext. 169.
Collecting donations to send to the troops
Items and cash for postage are being collected to send to the troops. Donations can be dropped off at the Army recruiting office in Seminole Mall; VFW Post 4256, John's Pass; VFW Post 9272, Seminole; and at Extra Storage Space on Duhme Road, Madeira Beach. Monetary donations to pay for shipping can be sent to "Postmaster" and mailed to Joe Tapp, P.O. Box 86223, Madeira Beach, FL 33738. Requested items include candy, cookies, microwave popcorn, peanut butter or cheese crackers, small canned fruits, canned meat, tuna and beef jerky, powdered drink mix, small microwave products, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, lip balm, sunscreen, bandanas, socks, resealable plastic bags and Q-tips. For information, call (727) 432-1057.
Candidates for two seats to attend forum
A candidates forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers at Seminole City Hall, 9199 113th St. N.
Candidate Leslie Waters will not be present, but the other candidates for the two available council seats in the March 10 election are expected to attend. They are incumbent Tom Barnhorn, third-time candidate Patricia Plantamura and first-timer James Quinn.
Council selects Elias as new town attorney
Council members unanimously chose John Elias as the new town attorney. Elias, who serves as attorney for Seminole and Belleair Shore, was recommended by outgoing town attorney Paul Marino.
Elias received his juris doctor in 1968 from the University of Kentucky College of Law. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third and Fifth Circuit. He is a member of the St. Petersburg and Clearwater bar associations, the Florida Bar, the American Bar Association, the Pinellas County Trial Lawyers and the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.
Every fiber of tidiness ordinance rechecked
Final adoption of the so-called neatness ordinance has been delayed yet again after residents questioned whether promised changes had been made.
Council members had agreed to remove a clause that allowed officials to enter homes if they thought there was a violation of the ordinance, which covers the upkeep and appearance of all property in the town. But at Wednesday's meeting, residents pointed out that the ordinance still had a reference to "right of entry."
Town attorney Paul Marino said that was merely part of the title of the rule. "Those titles don't mean anything," Marino said. Besides, he said, state law allows a right of entry so it is unnecessary to have that in the proposal.
Council members also tried to reassure residents that all the promised changes had been made. They agreed to table the ordinance to give council members a chance to go over it one more time to make sure parts that residents had found to be objectionable had been changed.