Traffic stop brings letter of reprimand | story, April 30
Motorcycle chase raises questions
I don't have an opinion about this incident but questions about it based on what the police, and only the police, have said about it.
The officer was driving east when he observed speeding motorcyclists driving west. The officer turned on his lights and siren and changed direction to follow the motorcycles.
The officer turned off his lights and siren but increased his car speed in pursuit of the motorcycles. While still in pursuit of the motorcycles at speeds registered as high as 145 mph, the officer turned back on his lights and siren.
The officer shut his dashboard camera off 500 feet before the accident because he decided to end the chase.
It is a violation of Clearwater police policy to engage in a high-speed pursuit except in cases involving a violent felony such as homicide.
Clearwater police officials stated that the officer was not chasing the motorcyclists.
Did the officer know that the motorcyclists had committed a violent felony?
If the officer turned off his dashboard camera in ending the chase, how could he have not previously been in a pursuit?
How could department officials state that the officer was not chasing the motorcyclists when the officer stated that he had decided to end the chase?
What are the actual on-the-job effects of a letter of discipline and is this the first disciplinary action this officer has received in his police career?
Given the facts of this case as presented by the Clearwater Police Department, how is this officer not guilty of engaging in an illegal high-speed chase and are the department officials who denied the chase to the media guilty of anything?
Jim Ahearn, Clearwater
Video shows chase police deny | story, April 27
Fault lies with driver who fled
It is tragic that this young man lost his life and severely injured his passenger, but I fail to see how this is the fault of Officer Nicholas Giordano.
The young man was arrested in 2006 on a felony fleeing and eluding charge. His father acknowledged his son "sometimes rode his motorcycle too fast" yet blames the officer for pushing "things a little too far."
It seems to me this motorcycle rider didn't learn anything from his prior arrests, all relating to excessive speed, nor did he ever learn respect for the men and women who dedicate their lives to our protection.
Whose fault it that?
Laurie Thompson, St. Petersburg
Pinellas pushes class time story, April 21
Special programs aid kids' learning
As an educator I am pleased that our county is taking the step to offer Summer Bridge and Promise Time. However as a former instructional support teacher, reading specialist and elementary principal, I have learned there is more than adding time to learning to improve results. We also need to change the paradigm.
In addition to the hands-on science program mentioned in the article, specialized programs in reading and math which tailor to a multisensory approach to learning (seeing, hearing, touching) are very effective in addressing the needs of children who are having difficulty with the core curriculum in place.
I have seen great success with reading programs such as Preventing Academic Failure for young children and the Wilson Reading System for older students. Another program which is beneficial is the Linda Mood-Bell program, which incorporates a visual approach to reading, comprehension and math.
While teacher training is an essential component for these programs to be effective, multisensory programs can be implemented right in the classroom. The investment we make in selecting programs that work will make a significant difference in children's achievement in school and in their lives.
Gwen Douse, Clearwater
County puts off drainage work
We live in Pinellas County. When the rainy season comes, it comes with deep dread for us. We flood constantly — our yard, pool and lanai. We have purchased several sump pumps to keep water out of our home as it comes within 1/2 inch of doing so. Our backyard and pool become a smelly, disgusting, filthy mosquito-invested and unusable place.
We have been trying to get help from Pinellas County for over three years now and all we get is lip service. We've contacted so many government officials, the engineering department and maintenance department. We have been friendly and patient.
I recently contacted the engineering department for a status update and have been told it is still in the works and if funding is available maybe they can fix drainage issues after October 2015. The thought of two more years and thousands of dollars more in cleanup cost literally sickens us. The area is all septic tanks, so I am concerned over the health issues it can cause.
I am ashamed to live in a county that allows this to go on year after year. Why vote these officials in office on their promises to help, when they are merely empty promises? I regret voting for them and will not do so again. They should all be ashamed of themselves.
Bill Ashcraft, Clearwater
Clearwater's Arbor Day tree giveaway
Kudos for Arbor Day giveaway
When one is offered something of value at no cost, who can resist? So, when I read in the Times of Clearwater's free tree and shrub giveaway on April 27 in honor of Arbor Day, I took advantage of this fine program. The volunteers who handled things at the city nursery did an excellent job directing traffic and distributing trees and shrubs to residents. The appearance of my yard has now been enhanced by the addition of two lovely white crape myrtle bushes, and, once again, I'm pleased that I chose Clearwater for my retirement home.
Bill Schwob, Clearwater