Re: Idea for in-house legal team is bad for Tarpon | editorial, Sept. 5
In-house lawyer plan merits study
The idea to consider an in-house legal team is good for Tarpon Springs because it has already resulted in a savings of $75,000 in legal expenses and further study might save even more.
The Tarpon Springs Board of Commissioners and the Budget Advisory Committee, concerned about rising legal expenses in the budget, began asking questions about nine months ago. Based on research provided by the city manager and articles by the St. Petersburg Times, concerns grew. Eventually, the Budget Advisory Committee requested first a study regarding the in-house attorney, and later recommended that the City Commission request a modified search for an in-house attorney.
The Times on June 10 unearthed the fact that Tarpon paid considerably more in legal expenses than comparable cities including Dunedin, which has the same legal team as Tarpon but pays more than $100,000 less.
According to the Sept. 1 Times, City Attorney Jim Yacavone sent a memo on July 13 that seems to advise his team to bill Tarpon Springs in such a way that the city will not realize it is being billed for internal phone calls and e-mails among the firm's attorneys.
The reduction of $75,000 this year and more for next year is related to the raising of the idea to consider an in-house attorney.
It would be useful to verify assumptions that there are no attorneys with comparable qualifications that could act as an in-house attorney and result in savings to the city. If so, the current model could be retained.
It is difficult to understand why a search is so vehemently resisted if the result would only reconfirm the predictions of those opposed.
Jeff Larsen, Tarpon Springs city commissioner
Human race fails safety program
I am probably one of the first to be affected by the new Pinellas County pedestrian-bicycle safety program. I was crossing a busy Clearwater intersection on my bicycle when I noticed no moving cars were within 100 yards of me. Anyone trying to cross Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard at Belcher Road knows that is a rare midday opportunity, so I took advantage of it.
I soon noticed a police officer following me into the nearby shopping center. He was polite and professional and explained he was stopping me for crossing against the light and was enforcing the pedestrian safety program. I explained to him the most safe time to cross that intersection was when I did and in the fashion I did. You can imagine who won that discussion.
Some time later the same day I came back that same direction to that same intersection and saw the same officer monitoring the same area. This time I waited on that corner for the walk signal he said was the safe way to cross. When the light changed and I had the right of way, an onslaught of speeding vehicles roared right into my path as if I wasn't even there, all of them trying to beat that light. This pattern repeated itself several times with me being unable to cross the intersection even though I had the right of way.
I gave up and went a distance down the road, fracturing another safety tenet by crossing in the center of the road, not at a intersection. I figured it safer to cross where cars were only coming from two directions, not four or six (imagine that).
I am 50 years old and have been a lifelong cyclist, deciding against car ownership, and I would not be lying if I were to say I would have been killed by following the guidelines. Any serious cyclists knows this. I have been hit three times following the rules of the road, once on purpose.
Some may argue that Pinellas has excellent trails, why not use them. I agree and do use them when possible, but as grateful as I am for them, they are limited. They don't go everywhere.
I am well aware that there are irresponsible cyclists. I cringe when I see them, but I cringe even more when I see an SUV with a driver on the phone bearing down on me, which happens every day. The only thing that saves me is my own awareness and acumen, not some safety program.
Which brings me to my point. The problem here isn't cyclists or motorists, but the human race. They don't practice the inherent skills of common sense (not so common anymore) and mindfulness. Until we learn to practice common sense, awareness and mindfulness, any safety program is meaningless.
Steven P. Harrison, Clearwater
Re: Entry fees would help restore parks | letter, Aug. 29
Entry fees would end visits to park
I want to comment on the letter regarding charging fees for some county parks. I am concerned about this, as I go to the beach at Fred Howard Park three or four times a week. I don't like the idea of paying $3 each time, as was originally suggested. I can't afford to pay $3 every time I go.
I made my comment to the county in regard to this and my suggestion is that residents of Tarpon Springs could buy a pass for the year at a reasonable amount. Then those who do not wish to do this would pay a fee such as $30 per visit.
If it gets to the point that I have to pay a fee of, let's just say, $3 per visit, I probably will not be able to enjoy the beach anymore, which would be sad. In today's economy I have already cut back on many things just like a lot of us have had to do. I don't want to give up one of my pleasures because I can't pay to get in.
Dale Piskie, Tarpon Springs