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Pinellas County Commission has improved accessibility, response to public

Is this the commission residents hoped for? column, May 24

Commission has steadily improved

St. Petersburg Times North Pinellas editor Diane Steinle poses the question, "Is the Pinellas County Commission more responsive, more accountable and better connected to the public it is supposed to serve?" My answer is an unqualified "yes."

As Ms. Steinle attests, the County Commission has steadily improved its connection with the citizens of Pinellas County in recent years. This improvement is due in part to better technology — Web sites, e-mail and on-demand streaming video of County Commission and other county meetings.

But more importantly, the commission also has worked hard to improve our accessibility to the community and our response to community priorities. In recent weeks, for example, the county held three public evening meetings at high schools in north, mid and south county in order to give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the historic reductions in the county budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Hundreds of citizens attended these meetings — the first such meetings held outside of the County Courthouse in my memory — and many expressed their thanks to the county for providing these new opportunities for public input.

Many county initiatives, including the county's affordable housing trust fund, countywide curbside recycling, homeless initiatives (including Pinellas Hope) and the county's designation as the first green local government (city or county) in Florida, are the direct result of the county listening to the priorities of the community and responding with innovative and collaborative programs. That is responsive and inclusive government.

No organization or elected body is perfect, and it is unwise to focus purely on areas of policy disagreement or on those areas where county government has fallen short, without also acknowledging the many successful programs and initiatives created and implemented by county government. The County Commission should be evaluated from a balanced perspective.

Ultimately, the commission is accountable to the voting public and will continue to be evaluated based on our individual and collective performance.

Kenneth T. Welch, Pinellas county commissioner

Is this the commission residents hoped for? column, May 24

The public's trust is being violated

Diane Steinle's excellent column poses the question that I and countless other citizens have been asking ourselves for years: "Is this the commission residents hoped for?" I think not. The Pinellas County Commission is a joke and commissioners violate the public trust every chance they get.

Why? Research who their friends are and how they vote. Follow the money and follow the paper trails.

The last straw was the Brooker Creek Preserve vote that opened the door to its demise. How could they and their lackies that are the so-called "staff" live with themselves? We need to vote these corrupt politicians out of office and start over.

Luckily, we have Commissioner Neil Brickfield, who is the only commissioner of the lot who really listens and respects what citizens are concerned about. The others are only bought and sold to the highest bidder. Remember this when each one comes up for re-election. We can't afford to be stupid again.

Karen Weibel Burton, Dunedin

You're no friends of Brooker Creek | letter, May 13

'Friends' left us disappointed, too

After reading Robert La Follette's letter concerning the letdown of the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve, we felt compelled to share our similar disappointment with this organization.

The Friends of Brooker Creek was instrumental in supporting the county's decision to purchase 871 acres of the Eldridge-Wilde well field property to add to the Brooker Creek Preserve. However, according to an inside source, they did so by striking a deal with the county to "sacrifice" 100 acres of this parcel to expand ballfields.

This ballfield expansion, according to preliminary plans we reviewed, will ultimately culminate in a sports complex comprised of paved parking lots, maintenance buildings, rest rooms, concession stands, retention ponds, etc. All of this will be constructed on property adjacent to and surrounded by the Brooker Creek Preserve and on land that, rightfully, should have been protected environmental land made part of the preserve.

Our "Friends" have permitted the county to construct a sports complex on sacrificial precious land, and they have supported the county erecting structures and paving on conservation land. Nice job! What's next? Gosh, with "Friends" like this, who needs enemies?

Brian and Sue DiLenge, Tarpon Springs

>>your voice counts

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Pinellas County Commission has improved accessibility, response to public 05/30/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 30, 2009 11:51am]
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