Re: A run for office trumps secession | letter by Frank Dame, Nov. 29
Study finds where islands' taxes go
Mr. Dame, what are you and the city of Clearwater afraid of?
Frank Dame's letter to the editor regarding a presentation I made at the Island Estates Civic Association town hall meeting Nov. 12 as a volunteer representative for the Islands Independence Initiative takes great liberty with facts, makes false assumptions and rushes to judgment about the important question of self-governance being explored by III.
Six months ago, III announced that it was going to research why Sand Key, Clearwater Beach and Island Estates, with 10 percent of Clearwater's population, pay 40 percent of city property taxes and whether we would be better off if we were able to break free from Clearwater. III said its analysis would begin by investigating if it is legally possible and financially feasible for our three islands to form a new city, and when initial research was completed, that information would be shared at town hall-type meetings.
III now knows it is legally possible for the three islands to incorporate a new city. The Island Estates Civic Association did nothing more than provide a forum for this information to be shared with its island residents and for them to ask questions of III. The association did not take a position on the initiative and its smart leaders understand that it is premature for anyone to do so because all of the facts do not yet exist by which to make an informed decision.
An economic feasibility study is the next step in the investigation into self-governance and it will accomplish two things. First, it will allow island community residents to make an informed decision whether it makes economic sense to form our own city. Second, if the community decides it does make economic sense, then we will have a study that responds to the request from our Pinellas County legislative delegates for such a study to be submitted with a request for a special act required to form this new city.
As presented at the town hall meeting, on Sept. 21 III launched the goal of raising $30,000 from each of the three islands to share the economic study cost of $90,000. To gauge the interest of each island, it was requested that the donation amounts be $155 per household to require participation of approximately 200 households on each island. The fundraising deadline was established as Oct. 22 and then extended to Nov. 30 only after many residents expressed their concerns that not everyone had heard about the initiative and had the opportunity to discuss it.
Mr. Dame would have the reader believe his remarks are made only as a private resident of Island Estates, failing to disclose that he is employed by an organization that receives city funding and that he was appointed by the City Council and serves as a member of the Clearwater Community Development Board — the very board that unanimously made so many decisions that has helped fuel our island communities to ask if self-governance might be the best and most cost efficient solution.
Mr. Dame asks why III does not spend $90,000 in promoting a candidate to the City Council rather than an economic feasibility study. He answers his own question when he correctly states that three of the existing five council members are residents of the islands, and still we are not being heard.
Mr. Dame wants to know what the three islands will have after spending $90,000 on an economic feasibility study. The answer is that the island communities will have the facts. Ten percent of Clearwater's population will know where 40 percent of its city property taxes are being spent and what they are getting in return. The question III would ask you, Mr. Dame, is "Why are you afraid of the answer to that question?"
Cynthia Remley, Islands Independence Initiative Inc., Clearwater
Re: It's officially Shakey's shelter | story, Dec. 2
Help Shakey like he helps others
What a great story to run, especially at the Christmas season. Here's a man, James "Shakey" Burnett, doing what he's able and trusting God to provide for his needs. He does not complain about his lot in life, he just helps where and when he can, and who can ask for more?
So many times, we judge others when we have no idea how or why they became homeless or hungry.
I'm also glad you wrote the story while he's here to read it and know he's appreciated. So many times, we wait until the person is gone and tell the world what a wonderful person they were. Everyone needs a little encouragement. We have a couple of those helping men when we are at the Tarpon Springs soup kitchen on Fridays, and they are a godsend.
I just pray someone sees Shakey's story and gets that feeding tube removed from his stomach, and shame on the ones who didn't do it because he had no primary care doctor.
Fran Glaros-Sharp, Clearwater