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St. Petersburg police Chief Harmon's hands are often tied

St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon

Harmon's hands are often tied

As one who has spent a professional lifetime in public safety, I am always amazed how police chiefs in St. Petersburg never seem to be able to provide police services to the satisfaction of elected officials and the public.

Chief Chuck Harmon is an excellent law enforcement administrator, but it is hard to be effective in St. Petersburg when the police chief has to contend with too much interference from City Hall. Chief Harmon knows where the crime is and how to attack it, but from what we hear, his hands are continually being tied by elements like Assistant Mayor Goliath Davis and certain special-interest community groups that interfere with the Police Department's getting to the heart of the crime problem, most of which is in south St. Petersburg.

Before council members and the Times criticize Chief Harmon for allegedly not doing an adequate job, bring in a consultant like Dr. James Sewell, retired chief of operations for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, to conduct a study of the department. Then, and only then, will the city administration find out what kind of job the chief is doing from another law enforcement professional.

Paul Marino, Belleair Beach

Leadership lacking | Feb. 6, editorial

Platitudes and stats

Based on news articles and editorials appearing in the Times, St. Petersburg and its citizens have a serious problem with leadership in our Police Department. Voters, elected officials, taxpayers and especially crime victims have looked to police Chief Chuck Harmon for assurance and guidance, only to receive platitudes, pie charts and statistics.

It's a laughable insult to all when Chief Harmon says that part of the reason convenience stores get robbed is that they open their doors to strangers and have cash on hand. That statement's a "duh" moment.

As we approach the autumn elections for a new mayor and council seats, could we not place on the ballot a "Vote of Confidence" question pertaining to the current chief of police? Example: "Do you support the work being done by the Chief of Police? Yes or No?"

While I'm sure this question would have little or no legal validity, it would give some direction to our new mayor and City Council members.

Gary West, St. Petersburg

Preparing Pinellas for long haul | editorial, Jan. 27

Create one big city

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala says the county has no other way to survive the recession but to cut spending in the 2009-2010 budget by 15 to 20 percent. He mentions something about resizing the county government and re-evaluating the core mission.

As I see it, Pinellas has too many chiefs and not enough Indians. The county government is the least of the problems in Pinellas. The biggest problem is the multitude (24) of major and minor municipal governments, each with politicians and workers, all with their hand in the pockets of taxpayers.

Pinellas has almost 1 million residents and is the most densely populated county in Florida. It's about time that Pinellas thought about becoming one city and eliminating hundreds of positions in the 24 incorporated areas. It's a wonder that Gov. Charlie Crist has not considered this form of government.

Of course, New York and Miami-Dade are much bigger than Pinellas, but there is no logical reason not to consider the possibilities for a one-city Pinellas. It will be very expensive in the first year because of the massive loss of jobs and the severance payments that go with it, but it has been proven many times in business that duplication of services within one amalgamated company has to be eliminated, with a corresponding reduction in costs.

This is a prime opportunity for Pinellas to re-evaluate its existence as a county and move ahead into the future as one city. Whatever laws or procedures have to be made to accomplish this, along with the advantages that go with it, should be looked into without delay.

Art Wilkins, Port Richey

Finances pull plug on gay festival | Feb. 6, story

Pride event is alive

Although we appreciate the interest your paper has shown toward the gay community, your article of Feb. 6 may have left some with the wrong impression.

Winter Pride, the gay pride event in Tampa, has been canceled this year, and we are hopeful that it will return next year. However, Winter Pride is not the largest pride event in the area. St. Pete Pride is not only the largest pride event in the area, it is the largest pride event in Florida.

Most important, St. Pete Pride has a firm financial footing and will be back in full force this year as big as ever. In fact vender space for the June event is almost sold out.

Pride, and the message it sends about acceptance and inclusion, is here to stay in the bay area, and we just wanted to set the record (pardon the pun) straight.

David Schauer, chair, St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg

Pedestrians given a false sense of safety | Feb. 11, letter

Take a cue from L.A.

The letter writer suggested removing signs warning traffic to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks unless there are manually activated red lights. The reason? The signs gives pedestrians a false sense of security.

For several years, I traveled to Los Angeles four times per year. Even after dark at poorly lit crosswalks on heavily traveled San Monica Boulevard, all I had to do was to step off the curb and all four to six lanes of traffic would screech to a halt.

The problem is lack of enforcement in St. Petersburg, where I walk daily. I have even been sworn at when crossing with a "walk" sign showing by a driver trying to make a right turn on red.

Powell Foster, St. Petersburg

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St. Petersburg police Chief Harmon's hands are often tied 02/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009 3:31am]
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