Thursday, March 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Former Clearwater mayor supports pension referendum

Why to vote yes on pension item

I think we all know that the ballot this year is lengthy — almost as long as the campaign — but I have to ask Clearwater voters to make it to the end of the ballot and vote yes on Clearwater's question 1.

This item relates to employee pensions and helps the city keep our employee pension sound while reducing costs by $400 million over 30 years, and $4.5 million in year one alone.

If this question is defeated, that money will have to come from increased taxes or reduced levels of service.

It is important to know that these pension changes were all collectively bargained with our employees and approved by the unions with a vote of 687-166.

That being said, I want to thank Clearwater's employees because they will be contributing more to their pensions and in certain instances receiving less in benefits, but they have sacrificed to help the city and keep the plan financially sound.

Now it is up to you. Please exercise your right and privilege and vote yes on city of Clearwater referendum question 1 and all the issues and candidates Nov. 6th.

Frank Hibbard, former mayor of Clearwater

Re: Straight talk about gangs story, Oct. 28

Growth of gangs needs attention

Staff writer Curtis Krueger's article is a step in the right direction, sending the message about gang growth in the Tampa Bay area.

As former adviser to El Salvador's National Civil Police on gang suppression in 2004-2005, we dealt with the violence and civil terror created by the really bad guys: M-18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

In Pinellas County, where gang violence and growth is not yet taken quite as seriously, it's just a matter of time before gangs are placed on the front burner of law enforcement.

With the breakdown of family units, greater tolerance for juvenile criminal behavior, and disruption of our society due to a terrible economy, we can expect the growth of gangs to increase, providing wayward teens and even preteens a sense of family and belonging.

I would hope that community policing policies will move gang enforcement and suppression to the top of the list sooner than later.

Harvey A. Smith, Palm Harbor

Re: Removal of signs peeves candidates | story, Oct. 28

Many flout rules on political signs

I can't speak to the even-handedness of the removal of political signs, but I know the landscape is full of noncompliant signs. I drove the length of McMullen-Booth Road last Saturday. I gave up counting the number of signs in the median at traffic lights. I wonder, too, about the waste of candidates' campaign funds on posting signs illegally.

In Clearwater, Landmark Drive is littered with six signs in one yard for the same candidate. Otherwise law-abiding citizens think nothing of this offense. Clearwater's ordinance reads in part, "Political Signs — Section 3-1805.N.1. One temporary yard sign shall be allowed for each political candidate or issue for each frontage per parcel of land."

We are fortunate to live in a country that allows, even encourages, dissent. Signs regarding the firing of our commander in chief are legal — disrespectful, but legal. It is unfortunate that this political season has brought out the worst in a lot of normally good folk. The candidates that prevail will have a large divide to bridge.

Teddy O'Connell Buell, Clearwater

Re: Removal of signs peeves candidates | story, Oct. 28

Campaign litter distracts drivers

Driving each day on East Lake Road, and watching with concern all the campaign signs that kept my attention more to the proliferation of signs than to the road ahead, I applaud code enforcement director Todd Myers for enforcing sign removal policies.

I voted for you, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, so I am concerned that your wife doesn't recognize the distraction that these signs represented.

Susan Bachmann, Palm Harbor

Re: Removal of signs peeves candidates | story, Oct. 28

Improper signs deserve fines

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala and city governments could apply a fine of $50 on campaign signs improperly installed/placed and a $50 fine for signs that remain posted two weeks after the elections. This procedure will cost the county and cities nothing.

Maybe a little revenue for the county and cities.

Walter Gay, Dunedin

Another jazz fest just 'round corner

After reading letters to the editor complaining about the Clearwater Jazz Holiday turning into a more blues/rock and roll festival, there is something coming up that real jazz fans, like myself, won't want to miss. Do you know on Nov. 17-19 you have an opportunity to enjoy top national jazz musicians when they converge at both the Sheraton and Marriott hotels right here in Clearwater for the Suncoast Classic Jazz Festival?

Although this is the 22nd year the volunteer, nonprofit jazz organization has worked to keep this American tradition alive, it seems to be one of the best-kept secrets around Tampa Bay.

However, there is generous support from the city of Clearwater and the county, with free parking at Sand Key Park and shuttle buses to the venues. Young people from local high school jazz bands get a thrill when they perform on stage as part of the organization's mission to provide assistance and scholarships for young musicians to continue their advanced studies.

Come and join me for a weekend of real jazz! You will find more information at

Donna Ballard, Clearwater


Thursday’s letters: School safety requires funding

Constitution Revision CommissionSchool safety requires fundingThe Constitution Revision Commission should consider amending a proposal (45, 93 or 72) to allocate the necessary recurring funding for the new school safety mandates, separate from the ba...
Published: 03/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Let the teachers decide on guns

Trump touts arming staff as key in plan for school security | March 12It’s the teacher’s call on weaponsPlease, let’s try an alternate view about guns in the classroom. First, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the preponderance of letters about guns ...
Published: 03/20/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 23

Re: Residents object to solar farm | March 16, storyLakeland Electric has shown that residential customers can be incentivized to allow placement of utility-owned solar panels on their roofs. Likewise, business owners can be incentivized to allow...
Published: 03/19/18

Tuesday’s letters: It shouldn’t be this hard to fly

Tampa International AirportIt shouldn’t be this hard to flyI’ve given the train two tries now from economy parking at Tampa airport. It’s a lot of work. How silly to go down one bank of elevators, then take a good walk to the next set of elevators to...
Published: 03/19/18

Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18