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Ironman event hassles outweigh benefits

Ironman World Championship 70.3 held Saturday in Pinellas

Hassles trump benefits

I understand it only comes once a year, but what are the benefits to us locals? At least last year, the cops who ran traffic detail would wait for a break in the race to let people drive through. Not this year. An eight-minute journey took us 45 minutes and another 20 miles out of the way.

And here is what I didn't understand: The bike route crossed 66th Street at 82nd Avenue, yet they had the entire southbound lanes closed from Bryan Dairy Road south all the way to 82nd. Why? It's like a 2-mile stretch. I can understand extra safety measures for, oh, the pope, but an Ironman competition?

And I really do not want to hear the answer that businesses benefit. All along the route, the police wouldn't let anyone turn into the plazas that were blocked off. How does that benefit anyone?

I know we live in a great area that people love to visit. I get it. The price you pay for paradise, I suppose. But when was the last time you heard of a diehard triathlete taking a vacation? Those I have known (six at last count) train 52 weeks per year. So they won't be back to visit. Is it really worth it to the tourism folks to get that extra night's stay at Clearwater Beach?

And according to the news, the Ironman generated $5-million for the greater Pinellas area. While that's great, what about the businesses along the roads that were closed down all day? They sure didn't see a triathlete come in for a cup of coffee along their bike route, or anyone else for that matter.

While that really irks me, it's not as bothersome as being told repeatedly by the Pinellas Park Police Department that they only have four police officers on duty at any given time. And while they would like to help control the speeders that leave rubber patches on the road in front of my house, they just aren't able to spare any officers for neighborhood patrol. But they can have 50 or more police officers blocking the road all stinking day for this event. It's so infuriating.

I am all for being civic-minded, but this year was ridiculous. And even with all of Pinellas County's finest on duty, people were making illegal turns, cutting people off, racing past red lights to make up for lost time. Yep, real beneficial. More unsafe, hurried and frantic drivers so athletes none of us have ever heard of can swim, bike and run.

Let someplace else have a turn.

George Roe, Largo

The price of smaller classes | story, Oct. 28

Changes were needed

This article discusses the state class size amendment. Pinellas School Board member Jane Gallucci is quoted as saying, "To me, it's like the $3,000 coffeepot at the Pentagon." She wants Pinellas and other large counties to band together to defy the mandate, daring the state to assess a fine.

As I recall, the amendment requires the state, not the school districts, to fund the cost of meeting the requirements of the class size amendment. The quote from former Gov. Jeb Bush that the cost would "block out the sun" was referring to the state budget, not the school districts' budgets.

Gov. Bush and the Legislatures since then have refused to fund the cost of the amendment, if any of that cost is what board member Gallucci is referring to in this article. She also states that voters would not have passed the amendment if they had known the cost.

We should be frank on this issue. We know voters really don't want to fund any level of government, including schools. We have to be proud of Pinellas County voters for voting for the small increase in salaries of our teachers for an additional four years.

Cheers to Belleair Elementary principal Robert C. Ovalle, who is appreciative of both the intent and the result of the amendment.

Paul C. Blatt, Dunedin

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Ironman event hassles outweigh benefits 11/11/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 9:07pm]
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