Flags ditched to save money story, Aug. 1
Hands off our flags
I am disappointed in Clearwater Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunbar. When I read he planned to remove the flag from some of the city sites, I was astounded. The flag is one of the few things that we Americans still can hold dear and not be taken away from us.
First they took prayer out of schools. Teachers aren't allowed to discipline students and neither are parents. I am 79 years old, and believe me, I remember getting spanked when I did something wrong and thought twice before doing it again.
If the city budget has to be cut, quit sending five or six men out to mow the grass at one area when two could do it. I am sure there are other places where this method could be applied and still not lay anyone off.
Many American men and women have given their lives for America and the freedom of our country. This is what the flag stands for. Let's be proud to see Old Glory wave.
Margaret Jetton, Clearwater
Clearwater needs to rewrite sign ordinance | editorial, Aug. 2
Let's use common sense sign rules
The sign law does not need to be changed regarding murals if there is anyone left with any common sense in government.
The code states that the mural cannot depict what is sold inside the building. Sounds simple enough. The Complete Angler bait shop is not selling sailfish or any other fish that is depicted on the mural.
The Piramida restaurant was not selling hieroglyphics or reading/writing material, it was selling food.
Birges meat market, which started this so many years ago, had a mural depicting sausages and other cuts of meat. Yes, this violated the code, even though it was a pleasing "border mural."
The mural that is truly a sign (or was until the businesses died) is the one facing Garden Avenue downtown that shows an old Cleveland Street with "signs" stating "Jewelry Store" and "Baskets" — just exactly what the stores were. I don't recall any code enforcement on this.
Brenda Harris Nixon, Clearwater
Fire chief's firing a call to action
Wednesday evening, the Belleair Bluffs City Commission and mayor fired the Belleair Bluffs fire chief. His crime? Presenting a memo requesting more time for the citizens to review the facts behind the recent move to rapidly unravel the Fire Department.
During an earlier, well-attended meeting, citizens justifiably requested more information before voting on Sept. 1. They were assured they would get the information by Mayor Chris Arbutine. So far, no further information has been forthcoming.
The charge of "insubordination" against the fire chief brought a standing-room-only crowd of citizens together, firmly supporting the fire chief and his request. No citizen was permitted to speak and the vote was 3-2 to fire Chief Patrick Competelli.
Belleair Bluffs residents need to stand up and be heard by voting no on the referendum Sept. 1.
Carolyn Becker, Belleair Bluffs
Editor's note: Belleair Bluffs has scheduled a Sept. 1 referendum on whether the city's Fire Department should be disbanded and fire services turned over to Largo. The referendum will be conducted entirely by mail.
Chief's firing was justified
I would like to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding the recent firing of Belleair Bluffs fire Chief Patrick Competelli. Trouble started a month or so ago when the firefighter's union recanted its approval of the proposed fire services contract with Largo, saying that the planned merger had become a "takeover." The union then asked that our tax rate be raised in anticipation of the referendum's failure. He was told that state law prohibits such large assessments. The most it would allow would only generate an additional $100,000.
What had happened to all the goodwill? Well, Largo had refused to suspend its city employment practices when hiring the Belleair Bluffs firefighters. The union wants its members to be treated as if they have always worked for Largo. The union's real interest is in setting statewide labor precedents for these types of mergers. This is of paramount interest as city budgets get squeezed further.
Chief Competelli's memo was a purely political instrument. It was designed to derail an orderly and deliberative process, issued just as the ballots are about to be mailed and the day of a secret meeting held with a surprised official of the town of Belleair. His position advocated freezing all planning and spending our emergency reserves to buy more time for the union to negotiate better terms for its members with the city of Largo. After the reserves are gone, we just have to hope that property values increase.
This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with pay scale and probationary periods. His firing was completely justified.
Paul Kuykendall, Belleair Bluffs