County leaders lack foresight
Last October, when the Pinellas County administrator and the County Commission decided to drastically cut county services and staff, we were told that it was necessary to prevent having to cut further during the next couple of years.
Well, so much for that idea. Obviously, the can that wasn't supposed to get kicked down the road fell into a sinkhole caused by the sudden release of hot air that used to fill the gap instead of concrete solutions.
Rather than choose to invest in ways that could aid in the maintenance of quality services and staff, such as admission fees to parks, or seriously work on more efficient consolidation of services and elimination of top-heavy bureaucracies, the county administrator and the majority of commissioners relied on sacrificing the front lines while securing a large bunker to take cover in, in hopes the economic blitzkrieg would go away.
It is understandable how many of the leaders could not have predicted the initial downturn and were left scrambling to figure some way, any way, out of the mess. However, with leadership comes responsibility and accountability. To now say, "Oops, sorry, didn't know it was going to get worse," and think that the same slash and burn method is going to get different results, is a disservice to hard-working men and women who expect more from the folks elected and hired to keep an eye on current and future growth, quality of life and services in Pinellas County.
More can be done with less, but just having less does not make more happen. As a retired county employee, I would like to see the commissioners consider more innovative and proactive approaches to digging the county out of the bunker. Retreating to the past and relying on ineffective administrative leadership may buy some time, but Pinellas needs to shine.
Get out of that bunker and find some success models that are helping other regions of the country recover. Get frontline employees involved in developing effective intradepartmental work teams; streamline departments; review and eliminate ineffective management; plan, develop and nurture better partnerships with municipal governments and the private sector. Get the spark going that makes people love living here and entices others to want to visit, stay, start a business and buy homes.
Dust off your "Vision Plan."
Take the sheriff out for a cup of coffee. Bring sugar.
Tracy Spikes, Clearwater
Re: Tarpon Springs anti-panhandling law
Find way to stop panhandling
While I support the extreme efforts of the Tarpon Springs Police Department to protect our security with regards to the panhandling problems, I do not think it is fair to place the burden on the Shepherd Center for preventing habitual panhandling violators from receiving necessary food, clothing and shelter that the Shepherd Center offers.
According to the St. Petersburg Times article, the police are going to assist in helping "those arrested get services such as housing and drug and alcohol treatment." This is quite admirable and worthy of funding. But I see no mention of the police going to establishments that serve alcohol to the habitual offenders and seeking to prevent them from serving abusers. Establishments that serve alcohol have the right to refuse habitual abusers. That should be the first line of attack and education.
America has always prided itself on helping those who need help without strings attached. Without question, we have helped feed people throughout the world and we welcome people with open arms to this country. To say we are going to register hungry people and refuse them service if they are habitual problems is just not what we should be doing.
It is unfortunate that a few people are going to make things difficult for the rest of those in need. Having served on the board of homeless-related agencies in the past, I fully understand the problems the police are confronting and how difficult the issues are to resolve. We are fortunate that our police department is aggressively attacking the issue, but we need to find another way to stop the problem.
Tim Keffalas, Tarpon Springs
Re: Bus driver needs to put kids first | letter, Feb. 28
Students must be at stop on time
The bus stop at Holly Hill Road and Woodlands Boulevard in the East Lake Woodlands residential area has been reviewed by our safety team. An additional stop was added on Woodlands Drive to avoid students crossing Woodlands Boulevard.
Students were told on numerous occasions by the driver and assistant principal at Carwise Middle School to be at their stop on time.
The students have finally realized that they can no longer sit in the hut up the road on Holly Hill waiting for a bus that does not travel there.
Always concerned for the safety of the students I transport, I am the driver of this route with 25 years' experience.
Carol Morin, Safety Harbor
Massing of Colors a joy to beholder
It was a wonderful, patriotic Massing of the Colors Sunday at Espiritu Santos Church in Safety Harbor, with many units joining in to make it such a memorable massing. Many thanks to all who came from near and far (even those on active duty) to participate.
This was our 29th massing and it was well worth it. A job swell done. And for those who missed this great performance, I feel you will have to wait until next year to enjoy such wonderful patriotic emotions.
God bless America.
Geale H. Miller, Dunedin