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Baker plays cards too close to vest

He leads with low profile June 29, story

Baker plays cards too close to vest

In describing St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, this article uses such phrases as "private wheeling and dealing" and "political maneuvering" to illustrate the mayor's political profile. This is an altogether disquieting analysis of a mayor who plays his cards close to the vest. That's fine if you're sitting in a Texas hold'em game, but government isn't supposed to be a game. It's truly upsetting to read such an article concerning this person's mayoral tactics, which seem to include a disregard for government in the sunshine.

Perhaps the next time the mayor chooses to work behind the scenes, especially when it may appear to some that he's shilling for a private enterprise, he will be more publicly forthcoming. When millions of taxpayer dollars and our waterfront are gambling chips on the political table, I want the "game" played in the cold light of public view and not in the well-known smoke-filled room.

Gary West, St. Petersburg

County, city offer millions to Jabil | July 3

Council negligence

St. Petersburg City Council members vote to give away millions to a private company without even reading what they voted for? What are they there for?

It may or may not be a good deal to take my tax dollars and give them to a private company to keep them here, but that is not the point. The point is some members voted to do so without even reading or understanding what they were voting for!

Why do we need representation in the first place? Save the money and get rid of the council. In the future the mayor can just draw straws, pick yes or no from a hat, throw darts or whatever. That is if he is not on the other side of the planet, "fact finding" in Japan, as far away from this lack of leadership as he can get.

Jim Shanklin, St. Petersburg

New trail extension already popular | June 18, story

Path to greatness

I was happy to read about a growing number of bicyclists using the recently installed Pinellas Trail extension into downtown St. Petersburg. I applaud our city planners for providing an addition to our city that not only recognizes the bicycle as a viable alternative form of transportation but recognizes the bicyclist as someone deserving of respect.

This extension enhances the scope of the Pinellas Trail's reach and also opens new and exciting possibilities for the downtown "neighborhood." Bicycling in downtown St. Petersburg no longer requires extraordinary nerves of steel. The bike path raises awareness of bicyclists' rights and increases their sense of empowerment.

First Avenue S now has fewer traffic lanes into downtown, resulting in a slower flow of traffic. With fewer lanes to navigate, the urge to speed up and pass the PSTA buses must be tempered.

I sympathize with residents and workers who must alter habits to accommodate the bike trail. But I believe the good it will bring to the city will outweigh their objections in the long run. The trail is inspiring a change in attitude about what this city is and what it can become. Acceptance by the general public will take time and require evolving expectations. Ultimately, I believe the new traffic rhythms and attitudes the bike path engenders might well help this city take the evolutionary leap it's been on the verge of for so very long.

Eleanor L. Bailey, St. Petersburg

Trolley runs on July 4 | June 29, Dr. Delay column

A leg up on driving

It's great that Lorrie Lykins is telling people about the trolley.

In addition, it's a good time to put the bug in people's ears that a lot of people have stopped driving to big downtown events like the fireworks show.

Instead, people within bicycling or walking distance bike or walk downtown. I've heard of people who bike as much as 4 miles to get downtown. One couple said they drove 0from Clearwater, parked about 5 miles from downtown, got their bicycles off the car, and bicycled the rest of the way to downtown. Some cyclists come pulling pajama-clad children in bike trailers.

The city has installed the good kind of bike racks, not the wheel-bender racks, in a lot of places.

After a downtown event, motorists are often trapped in their cars, sitting on the roads or waiting at downtown restaurants. The bicyclists and walkers clear out first, with the children sleeping in bike trailers and without hindrance.

A few years ago, we'd read letters to the editor after major events. Motorists would write to say how horrid the traffic jam was and that they were never coming to another downtown event. Those letters have stopped since people have started bicycling and walking instead of driving.

Besides, bicycling 5 miles to get downtown saves wear on the car and $3 to $4 in gas for some people. The dollars add up. People can save the money or use it to buy food while downtown.

Kimberly Cooper, St. Petersburg

Fourth of July

Boring fireworks

St. Petersburg offered a lackluster fireworks display on July Fourth reminiscent of some of the more extravagant suburban community fireworks displays.

Thousands of people spent almost $4 a gallon to drive downtown in anticipation of a display to rival those of years past.

Unfortunately those people were sorely disappointed when the display started, dotted with two- and three-second pauses between star-bursts until the final 30-second display, which was over at 9:20, only 20 minutes after it had started.

If St. Petersburg decided to cut its budget for this year, it can be sure to lose three times that much next year from the parking revenue and downtown businesses as people go elsewhere to see a display more fitting of Independence Day.

Greg Smith, Tampa

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Baker plays cards too close to vest 07/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:09pm]
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