Re-election is the wrong motivator
I have attended many functions over the last few years in which a Pinellas County School Board member spoke concerning the lack of financial support from Tallahassee.
The typical rhetoric bemoans the fact that state government has turned much of the financial responsibility for education over to the local school districts. That is true, Tallahassee has done that.
Further rhetoric states that the primary reason is because the state is unwilling to raise taxes because career politicians at the state level are much more interested in re-election as opposed to properly funding education. The result has been a disaster for Pinellas County Schools for the past few years. Career politicians looking for re-election, on top of a poor economy, have left huge holes year after year in the Pinellas County Schools budget.
This letter is a request to each of the members of the Pinellas County School Board to never again blame Tallahassee for all of our financial problems. I reference the Sept. 11 Tampa Bay Times article, "Pinellas school board passes $1.2 billion budget." The article states that this budget included a "slightly lower tax rate."
The state isn't providing enough money, budgets are slashed to the bone, and this group decides it is a good time to include a tax rate cut so that their own re-election speeches can brag about lowering taxes.
My vote will go to those who have a bigger, better vision than their own re-election.
Randy McGonegal, Palm Harbor
Re: Pinellas County Commission term limits
Commissioners need to step down
Each of you on the County Commission over eight years should abdicate your seat per the citizens' mandate and will.
The citizens of Pinellas County legally voted in 1996 and won by 72 percent that the current term limits are two terms of four years each. Even if you haven't been in two elections, term limits are measured in years, not elections.
Each of you know and most of the citizens know you have taken advantage of the state Constitution, Pinellas County's election laws and possibly the county charter.
In every way that you look at it, your term limits have been completed. For your personal integrity and honor, each of you should step down.
Walter Gay, Dunedin
Bicyclists need common sense
After nearly running over a bicyclist who swerved into the path of my vehicle, I feel compelled to voice my frustration. Bicycle lanes, paid for by the taxpayers, are there to give the bicycles a safe place to ride. The regular traffic lanes are for cars. You know, those 4,000-pound hunks of steel?
Bicycles riding two or three abreast take part of the street and are flirting with disaster. Bicyclists will say it is legal to ride in the street. Legalities aside, common sense has to factor in at some point.
Ron Holzman, Clearwater
Re: One answer to a population boom story, Sept. 19
The spay-neuter solution is there
The well-written article about feral cats rightfully acknowledges that the perennial answer of euthanasia doesn't work.
All social reform we pride ourselves on had major resistance, and now we have the push-back from institutions dependent upon companion animals in the effort to make caretaking of feral cats illegal.
Resistance to our moral evolution is always profound but intrinsically doomed if there is a solution available, because enough of us cannot watch unforgivable suffering that could have been stopped.
When we have the solution (spay/neuter) to our murder rate of companion animals, the real crime is not using it.
Lana Boyce, Indian Shores
Re: One answer to a population boom story, Sept. 19
Learn to manage feral cat problem
To Dr. Caroline Thomas, Pinellas County's director of veterinary services, if you're going to ban trap-neuter-release of feral cats because of the risk involved, then you need to also ban skydiving, car racing, and a myriad of other activities as well.
That there is a feral cat problem, we all know. Here you have people volunteering to help solve that problem, and you're throwing roadblocks in their way? How shortsighted.
Try working with the volunteers. Hold workshops to teach them of the dangers and how to avoid them. Provide traps to help them. Enlist veterinarians to provide super-cheap spay/neuter services.
You have free help here. For heaven's sake, use it!
Lois Jolley, Pinellas Park
Re: Pinellas Hope funding secured | story, Sept. 19
Congratulations to Bob LaSala
It is rare indeed that I feel compelled to write a word of praise about our county government, but every dog has its day.
County Administrator Bob LaSala has made a very wise decision to grant permanent funding for this worthwhile project. Is this the best solution to our continuing homeless problem? No, but it is a giant step in the right direction. I just wish more municipal governments would step up and add their contribution to help the region's efforts to combat homelessness.
Kudos to Pinellas County government.
Robert Schultz, St. Petersburg
Re: Largo officials discuss domestic partners registry, story, Sept. 16
Older folks are also partners
In the article on this topic I noticed — either by design or lack of discussion — the omission of an important voter constituency: the senior retiree population. You know — the ones who vote!
Many of them have found late-in-life companionship with other retirees and, in the absence of family members, have entered into cohabitation relationships.
Regardless of whatever reason they choose not to marry — financial preservation, family pressures, etc. — they want to ensure each other's aid regarding emergency situations. The Domestic Partners Registry fulfills that need.
Dr. Wallace Witham, Belleair Bluffs
Re: Police: Student had gun in school | story, Sept. 19
A gun incident raises questions
Thank goodness the teenager at Clearwater High School was apprehended and no one was injured by the gun. I was surprised that the student's name was mentioned in the Tampa Bay Times, since he is a minor. Nevertheless, the question is not only where did he get the gun, but what is it about guns that seems to fascinate teenage boys?
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
They don't know their ABCs?
It recently came to my attention that in one Pinellas County kindergarten classroom, two out of 23 students knew their upper and lower letters of the alphabet. Two.
I wonder what the reason is for this. Do we not have voluntary prekindergarten available for children in order to get ready for kindergarten? Do parents not take advantage of this? Are children being read to at home to facilitate the learning of letters that become words? Or are we expecting too much out of 4- and 5-year-olds?
Children need to be able to be children. Given the right environment at preschool, where learning through play is encouraged, children will succeed and be successful in kindergarten. Emphasis on workbooks and ditto sheets at a young age is not developmentally appropriate.
It would be interesting to know how many of those 23 children went to VPK, private preschool, or had no prekindergarten schooling.
Heidi Fletcher, Clearwater