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Fort De Soto Park should remain a good deal

One of the coolest things about our Fort De Soto Park is its accessibility.

Sunbathers, campers, tourists, dogs, birders, bikers, kayakers, wind-surfers, woods-walkers — if you don't mind me going all Chamber of Commerce here, it doesn't get better than this. We didn't need TripAdvisor to know our beach is the best in the country, though it's always nice to get your props.

And fishing. Guys with rods and fancy equipment the cost of my mortgage payment, or folks with a couple of poles, some sandwiches and a bait bucket — Fort De Soto welcomes them equally.

For 50 cents, you can travel the route to and from St. Pete Beach on the way to the park. Turn south and it's a mere 35 cents more to get there — a lovely perk of living here that is beyond a bargain.

For now.

State officials say the rates need to go up to $3.75 a trip to pay to replace aging bridges.

Residents are not happy. And how about folks who can't shell out the cost of taking a carful of kids to the aquarium or the zoo, for whom Fort De Soto is the best deal on the planet?

Ouch, too, for those who travel to and from Pinellas beaches to work low-wage jobs, especially given the price of gas.

We have to pay for our pleasures, particularly in tough economic times. Slow, steady increases, sure. But this kind of hike feels like a pop in the chops.

Seems free (or close to free) stuff that makes this a nice place to live — parks, libraries, beaches — ought to stay that way. Sad when this becomes a way of thinking we can no longer afford.

• • •

Now here's an odd thought on the serious brouhaha brewing over at the Hillsborough County Jail.

Since that first jarring video of a deputy dumping a disabled inmate from his wheelchair made news, we have heard from several more people who say they too were manhandled by jail personnel. Allegations range from a broken arm to a video-recorded pummeling. An investigation by an outside panel is under way.

Not that we're looking for roses in a briar patch here, but should we take as some odd sign of progress that not one of the people claiming police brutality this time around is black?

• • •

Looks like Lee Drury De Cesare, feared gadfly, grammar storm trooper and frequent acerbic critic of how the Hillsborough County School Board does business, is putting down her poison — wait, what's the Internet equivalent of a poison pen?

Most recently, De Cesare tussled with School Board chairwoman Jennifer Faliero, who had her escorted from the meeting and later referred to De Cesare as "Ms. De Vil,"

Which, if it were a deliberate reference to well-dressed 101 Dalmatians villainess Cruella De Vil and not an innocent slip of the lip, De Cesare later seemed to find delicious.

Anyway, De Cesare has since announced she has tired of haranguing the School Board and is giving up her scathing and controversial blog. Let someone else take up the charge, she says.

Her Sunday offering, which naturally included references to "colluders " and "crooks," started out with "Last post, I promise." Are those champagne corks popping over at the School Board?

Fort De Soto Park should remain a good deal 03/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 11:27am]
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