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Consolidate jobs, cut costs by turning Pinellas County into one city

Re: Preparing Pinellas for long haul | editorial, Jan. 27

Cut county costs: Merge into 1 city

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala says the county has no other way to survive the recession but to cut spending in the 2009-2010 budget by 15 to 20 percent. He mentions something about re-sizing the county government and re-evaluating the core mission.

As I see it, Pinellas has too many chiefs and not enough Indians. The county government is the least of the problems in Pinellas. The biggest problem is the multitude (24) of major and minor municipal governments, each with politicians and workers, all with their hand in the pockets of taxpayers.

Pinellas has almost 1 million residents and is the most densely populated county in Florida. It's about time that Pinellas thought about becoming one city and eliminating hundreds of positions in the 24 incorporated areas. It's a wonder that Gov. Charlie Crist has not considered this form of government.

Of course, New York and Miami-Dade are much bigger than Pinellas, but there is no logical reason not to consider the possibilities for a one-city Pinellas. It will be very expensive in the first year because of the massive loss of jobs and the severance payments that go with it, but it has been proven many times in business that duplication of services within one amalgamated company has to be eliminated, with corresponding reduction in costs.

This is a prime opportunity for Pinellas to re-evaluate its existence as a county and move ahead into the future as one city. Whatever laws or procedures have to be made to accomplish this, along with the advantages that go with it, should be looked into without delay.

Art Wilkins, Port Richey

Re: Now is time to build beach parking garage | editorial, Feb. 5

Garage will become reality

As the Realtor mentioned in this article, I need to correct you on a statement that was made. I brought the city of Clearwater 18 parcels to choose from (for a beach parking garage), 10 of which were a block or less from the beach south of the roundabout. That was my charge.

The number No. 1 site that I brought and recommended was the Lucca/iStar parcel at Fifth Street and Coronado Avenue (original parcel No. 7 as displayed in my presentation book to the city, "Mirage of the Past becomes the Oasis of the Future.") To me, it is the only place to put this garage. The site was tied up in litigation but is now free and clear for the city to purchase and I anticipate that they will do so should the Surf Style property owner not drop his price to match the city's number.

I know that this City Council, led by Mayor Frank Hibbard, will secure the best site and this garage will become a reality — finally!

Mark Searcy, Clearwater

Blame art snobs, promoters, critics

I, along with many other people, am mourning the loss of the Florida Gulf Coast Museum of Art. Unfortunately, they are partly responsible for their own demise.

When it first opened, I joined and signed up for classes. Over time, with different managements, the place deteriorated. Shows were uninspired and they stopped giving classes. I let my membership lapse. I believe that for a period of time, the people in management were merely draining the endowment while building little.

When the new management took over, things improved and I was hopeful that maybe, at last, it would reach its potential. But there was not enough advertising of classes and promotion for the facility so it slowly went downhill. I found myself becoming more and more disgusted with the way things were being run, or rather, not being run.

I never thought (former director) Ken Rollins knew very much about art, despite his background, but I will give him this: He was a great promoter and knew how to bring in money.

St. Petersburg Times art critic Lennie Bennett can take partial responsibility for the failure of the museum, too. If she had given it even half the publicity she gave it when it was due to close, maybe more people would have become aware of it.

For me, the final straw was when the Christopher Still exhibit came. I was looking forward to it and intended to attend the opening reception. Then I discovered that the opener was to be held on Saturday rather than Friday. When I asked why, I was told that they were having a reception on Friday but it was just for "VIPs and collectors." I sent an e-mail saying this is exactly the kind of elitism that afflicted the museum since it was in Belleair. It is a mystery to me why the art world attracts snobs, as there is probably not a less snobbish group of people on the planet than artists.

I sent letters to the County Commission and the Dunedin Fine Art Center suggesting that Dunedin open some sort of satellite center for classes there. No takers on that, but it is a tragedy that these Gulf Coast museum classrooms will remain empty. This is a top facility, roomy, bright and ideal for classes.

Everybody seems to think that art is a frivolous non-essential, but the world is a dreary place and we are poorer without it.

Constance R. Dawson, Largo

Re: What's up with the empty buses? | letter, Feb. 3

Good that choice busing will stop

Not only are school buses sweeping up and down the street or picking up a person in a church lot, but they are doing other things as well. For example, drivers are standing outside their buses smoking or talking to their bus aides, engines running and lights flashing, anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.

Numerous calls to the school transportation people and two to the School Board produced the response anticipated: nothing. A good thing choice busing will stop.

Oh, let's not forget the bus at Countryside Library at lunch time. Or the bus at Starbucks, or the bus at the post office picking up mail.

By the way, thank God the bus depot idea/boondoggle failed up here in Countryside. Had it not, the pollution from these behemoths would have choked us. So, public pressure prevailed.

Mrs. Harriet P. Sherwood, Clearwater

>>your voice counts

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Consolidate jobs, cut costs by turning Pinellas County into one city 02/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009 8:21pm]
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