Re: Pinellas school board fires superintendent Julie Janssen | story, Aug. 23
School Board is dysfunctional
Congratulations! Mission accomplished! Your constant negative attacks against the superintendent were successful. Yes, she made mistakes (loyalty, not enough communication) but her goal and focus was always what was good for the students of Pinellas County.
When people in leadership roles make decisions, there will always be a group (teachers, parents, students) that does not agree with it. Decisions are and should be based on what is best for the system as a whole and not for a small group. It is not up to the School Board to take up the mantle for every group that disagrees.
Why don't you look deeper into what really is wrong with the school system? A dysfunctional School Board with people who have their own agendas that supersede what is good for the schools.
Five of the current members were the ones who voted to give Janssen an extension after one year.
One member was serving when the board voted to give the previous superintendent a huge buyout that cost the system almost $800,000. Why? In retaliation for the discussion by a previous board (about possibly) not renewing his contract?
Maybe you should start to dig deeper as to what ails the school system that cannot be repaired by removing a superintendent whose goals were laudable but could not meet the demands of a bunch of incompetent whiners!
Peter Serbanos, Clearwater
School Board needs replacing
The School Board has now run off two superintendents in just a few years. Is it the superintendents that are ineffective or the board? I vote for the latter.
The article said the board voted 7-0 to dismiss Julie Janssen. It also said that board members Carol Cook and Peggy O'Shea were Janssen supporters. Why, then, did they vote against her? With support like that you don't need any enemies.
The board then commits another error in voting 5-2 to negotiate a contract with a retiree for interim superintendent rather than someone who is in the Pinellas County system. The board is telling all in the system that they are of no value, while also telling the world that interim choice John Stewart may well be "wired" for permanent replacement of Ms. Janssen.
I rarely agree with board member Linda Lerner, but this time she and Terry Krassner got it absolutely right. This should be an open search.
The candidate, Mr. Stewart, is 67 and has 30-plus years of experience. I suggest that most of his experience is not relative to today's environment. The past was luxury days for the school systems, with almost unlimited money and little visibility or scrutiny. Mr. Stewart, though not necessarily at fault, was present during the continuous decline in education.
Ms. Janssen received a lot of criticism for her attempts at new initiatives to try to keep education standards high and save money. Many of these issues were painful to the public and when they all ganged up on the board and cried, the board caved. They were satisfying their re-election needs, not necessarily the school system.
Ms. Janssen received a lot of criticism for her communication or lack thereof. How much of this is the board's fault? The board grossly micromanages the superintendent, which causes a huge workload on providing information. Why are they reviewing and approving job descriptions? Course offerings? Disciplinary action of students and employees? The superintendent is the CEO, not a gofer for the board.
I suggest that the public replace, at the first opportunity, the board members who were part of the cabal that forced Clayton Wilcox to leave and forced Ms. Janssen out.
I suggest the next hire be a 40-ish person and from out of the state. Do some due diligence and find candidates in school systems that have shown continuous improvement over the last few years with declining budgets.
Frederick Savalli, Clearwater
Re: Safety Harbor to chickens: Get out story, Aug. 13
Ban on chickens is pure nonsense
The bird-brained arguments put forth by Safety Harbor's city leaders to support their opposition to backyard chickens suggest that their actions were guided by personal phobias and prejudices, plus simple ignorance of the facts.
A minimal amount of research would have revealed that their arguments are full of feathers.
"Having either the odor or the clucking … I could not … be in favor of this," said City Commissioner Mary Lynda Williams. Roosters are very noisy, hens are not. They are less distracting than the average mourning dove or blue jay and far quieter than a small cockatiel or a macaw. Hens are only noisy when threatened and immediately after laying an egg. The rest of the time they produce a soothing, low, "chuckling" sound. Unlike dogs, they are silent after dark.
As for odors, four to six hens produce approximately the same amount of waste as a medium-size dog. Unlike a dog, however, their waste makes an excellent fertilizer and lacks the offensive smell. I know a woman who keeps between 20 and 30 fancy-breed chickens in her yard and I have never once noticed an unpleasant odor when visiting her home.
As for Mayor Andy Steingold's foolish comment, "What next? Cows?" that silly argument is nearly on a par with the anti-gay marriage crowd who argue, "What's next? Marrying farm animals?"
I'd rather have 10 chickens next door than one schnauzer. Or one 3-year old for that matter.
Safety Harbor's leaders owe it to their citizens to cast their votes based on the fowl facts, not folly.
Duane Bitter, Dunedin
Re: Scientology fined $413K, story, Aug. 25
Scientologists get what's deserved
God has blessed the city of Clearwater, at least partly, for its loss when these Scientologists slowly bought up half of Pinellas County, built the "super power" building and refused to pay their dues.
Scientology is based on a book written by L. Ron Hubbard, who mesmerized people into believing, trusting and praising him. Then they built temples in his honor so that people can learn how to delete the true "super power" and cheat the county out of millions of dollars in taxes each year.
These people, members and associates, are ruining the entire city by buying up everything, utilizing all for offices, and keeping downtown Clearwater from ever growing. What goes around, comes around.
Dee Jackson, Palm Harbor
Re: Largo tries a revamped approach to business story, Aug. 14
Largo is no place to run a business
Largo is not a good place to have a business. This city charges 16 percent taxes and franchise fees on business owners' electric bills. (County businesses pay zero).
This is the same city that gouges businesses for license fees. (County businesses pay zero).
Largo's sky-high taxes and fees have caused businesses to close, costing thousands of workers their jobs.
I think it is time to close the municipal corporation of Largo. The county could provide the same services for half the price. Example: Palm Harbor.
Bob Snow, Clearwater