Re: Respect for war dead lacking
letter, May 28
Our six-year disaster
Memorial Day is to remember the dead who have positively affected our lives: family, friends, those who served causes honorably and those innocent of their own deaths.
It is true that some of the dead of Iraq and Afghanistan were our enemies, but they weren't enemies before "shock and awe" and all that has followed because of the right-wing warmongers with whom our ignorance twice saddled us. A man who dies defending his country from an unprovoked invasion and occupation by foreigners is, by definition, morally superior to the invaders. So are the many innocent children and other noncombatants liquidated in our horrific six-year disaster.
I value the honorable lives we have uselessly thrown away in a dishonorable cause — more, apparently, than do the Cheney/Bush crowd. There weren't enough of us lefties to change the game, but happily, our ranks are growing.
Bud Tritschler, Clearwater
Re: Hotel's rebirth to be arduous column, May 25
It wasn't a criminal trial
In responding to Diane Steinle's overall excellent summary of the Belleair town meeting on the Belleview Biltmore Hotel development plan May 21 and into May 22, I did want to comment on her observations about the "quasijudicial" nature of the hearing and the handling of the meeting by Mayor Gary Katica and City Attorney David Ottinger.
It is important to realize that the nature of the meeting, and its legal character, were covered well in advance of the meeting. The notices posted and distributed covered those points, and the mayor and attorney did cover that aspect of the meeting at the beginning.
True, they could have banged the gavel more at times, but the attorneys and "experts" for the opposing side — the Belleair County Club and Fred Thomas — seemed to be given ample time to cover all their points and questions. Objections or questions of "witnesses" were enforced.
What did upset me and most of the nearly 200 attendees was that the two attorneys handled their questions of the witnesses more like a criminal trial, not a quasijudicial hearing. People who were simply doing their jobs were hammered by these two high-priced lawyers.
Frankly, I was embarrassed for the club. I can't imagine good guys like James MacArthur wanting these guys to be acting like cross-examiners on television's CSI or Law and Order.
In summary, things did end well. The country club and developer Legg Mason did agree on the annex building height. If my calculations are right, the 23 rooms given up by the hotel because of the adjustment will cost them about $2.5-million in annual revenue. That means the state loses about $175,000 annually, and the town about $50,000. For a poor country boy like me, that's a lot of compromise.
Bill Hutton, Belleair
What took so long?
The residents of the town of Belleair owe our commissioners a thank-you for sorting through a complicated application for numerous variances requested by Legg Mason in preparation for restoring the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. The commissioners were able to ignore the propaganda and make an informed decision.
A special thanks to Commissioner Stephanie Oddo, who after 7 1/2 hours of grueling testimony and cross-examination, adroitly asked the attorney representing the Belleair Country Club and Legg Mason if they could agree on a height for the proposed annex. Both sides agreed to compromise, and the variances were granted. It's unfortunate that both parties could not sit down before the dog-and-pony show at the commission meeting and come to this agreement. All of us could have avoided sleep deprivation.
Lil Cromer, Belleair