Election turnout beat paper's expectations
On Nov. 8, a Times article predicted a turnout of 9.5 percent for the Nov. 9 off-year St. Petersburg election. On Nov. 10, an editorial began, "The 14.5 percent turnout for Tuesday's St. Petersburg municipal elections was underwhelming."
Of course it was. But 14.61 percent (the actual turnout) is 54 percent more voters than the Times had expected, as well as being dramatically more voters that could reasonably be expected in (1) an off-year in which (2) only four special districts ran candidates to vote for, along with (3) the most boring laundry list of amendments I've seen since I moved to Florida. Turnout in 2007, another boring off-year, was 9.8 percent.
It would have been unsurprising if this year's turnout had been lower than expected. It was dramatically higher. I would love to read an editorial with your speculations on why so many voters turned out.
Mary W. Matthews, St. Petersburg
Re: Smith wins testy Largo vote, Nov. 9
Voters congratulated for diverse choice
Incumbent Largo City Commissioner Mary Gray Black found out the hard way that it isn't nice to bad-mouth your opponent. I'm pleased to see that Largo voters are willing to give openly gay Michael Smith a chance and voted him in with 53.97 percent of the vote. Being that our culture is constantly changing along with the rest of the world, we need more diversity in our government — city, state and federal. Hurray for Largo for allowing change.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
Re: Largo considers settling lawsuit, story, Nov. 2
Clear out bad cops to make citizens safer
Excessive force and false arrests rarely get reported because of the pressure to plea down — that is not just, but it is less emotional and less costly for the victim of police abuse to be done with it.
If every event of police abuse were reported in the newspapers, there would be much less abuse of power. Of course, all law enforcement investigations routinely clear their own. It is the jury that gets to the truth.
Why aren't the police recording every single stop with a small audio/video device attached to their uniforms? How very little would law officers get away with in their version of their story spin?
A $65,000 settlement for Margaret Foltz is a pittance for what she has gone through since 2006. At least Largo police Officer Justin Martens moved out of Pinellas and no longer can cause abuse here. Now if Pinellas could just clear out all the others that routinely abuse their powers with the badge, it would be a safer place to live for the citizens.
I know — I am now living her story and suffer post-traumatic stress disorder from abuse at the hands of law enforcement during my first and last arrest at age 60. I was and still am a law-abiding citizen trashed by the law enforcers.
Frances Bonnie Hoelper, Largo
Re: Start small, think big with transit
Short-, long-term transit options exist
Yes, we do need to upgrade our regional transit system. Yes, we do need to get beyond buses and single-occupant cars. Yes, there is a way to start this transition that the powers that be do not address!
It was the money issue that was the cause of the tax referendum for light rail in Hillsborough, along with the quashing of the high-speed rail line to Orlando. In the midst of all that fighting, other regions used their stimulus funds to upgrade their existing Amtrak lines, thus enabling the present fleet to achieve 110 mph, at a fraction of the cost of a new rail line. Many regions are vying for potential streetcar grants today, a line that would serve Pinellas County and the region well by getting locals and visitors to the gulf beaches and back in true style. Water taxi systems in San Francisco and New York continue to prove that boats are a viable form of municipal transit.
Those are short-term projects that can be accomplished without tax increases. A long-term project should involve all of Central Florida with a high-speed monorail to whisk us all from the gulf to the Atlantic as the Chinese do with their highly successful maglev monorail in Shanghai.
At-grade trains are dangerous and expensive. The Times just printed a picture of a major train derailment near Chicago. Chicagoland is synonymous with trains so if major accidents happen there, I certainly don't want to support installing at-grade trains in an already congested Tampa Bay.
Rand Moorhead, St. Petersburg
Re: Taxpayers will pay for mayor's trip to Japan, story, Nov. 8
Story on mayor's travel wasn't fair
I was disappointed in this recent article in the paper. If your reporter had delved a little bit deeper into the subject matter, he would have discovered that all previous trips by our mayors out of the country (Ulrich, Fischer, Baker, etc.) were paid with city taxpayer dollars — to Japan, Russia, Canada and numerous conferences and conventions in the United States.
If their spouse wanted to attend too, the mayors personally paid for their travel expenses.
This has been the city's travel expense policy for years and years. Let's play fair and tell the whole story.
Bonnie Douglass, St. Petersburg
Re: School rezoning
Let students build portables at PTEC
More than 20 years ago when I was starting my teaching career with Pinellas County, I went on a required field trip that showed different types of schools in the area. One of the most interesting was PTEC, which had many wonderful programs.
When visiting the carpentry program, I saw the students making the portable classrooms for other schools in the district. I remember thinking how thrifty this was. The carpentry students got the experience, and the county saved money by having them built at the school.
I was surprised to read in the article on school zoning that the portables are now being rented at a price that seems very high. Why are the portables not being made at PTEC or other technical programs?
Mary Beth Gillingham, Clearwater