Sunday, May 20, 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


Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Friday's letters: Putnam and Publix, two P's lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17 A pleasure to shop elsewhere My family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye. F...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 18

Re: Pasco panel okays Tampa Electric solar farm after five-hour meeting | April 9 storySolar farm offers many positivesThere has been much publicity regarding the proposed TECO Mountain View solar project slated for 350 acres in East Pasco that was r...
Published: 05/14/18

Thursday’s letters: Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America

Autonomous vehicles in FloridaThe state for self-driving carsAlmost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America. In the last three months, Voyage, a self-driving taxi service, has begun service in the Villag...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: Florida’s Community Health Centers save $1.78 for every dollar spent

Florida’s Community Health CentersHealth centers are a great dealIf you gave someone a dollar and they gave you back $1.78, wouldn’t you consider that a fantastic deal? That’s the deal Florida’s Community Health Centers provide for the state’s citize...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/16/18

Monday’s letters: Good ideas to fix schools still require enough money

Another plan for faltering schools | May 9The right ideas, cash still neededThe administration of the Hillsborough County School District should be applauded for persistent efforts to find the right formula to improve educational results of stude...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Saturday’s letters: Short-sighted prison cuts hurt society

Call to rethink prison cuts | May 10Short-sighted prison cuts hurt societyThe Florida Department of Corrections is dismantling successful substance abuse and re-entry treatment programs to fix a $28 million shortfall. The short-sighted action wi...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/11/18