Subject: Honda Grand Prix mess
Race disrupts city life
In advance of the Honda Grand Prix our city is once again starting to look like a construction zone. Setting ugly concrete barriers, closing sidewalks, streets and bike paths along our beautiful waterfront a month in advance and a month after the race is unacceptable and indicates a lack of concern for city residents.
Every other event in the city is installed and removed with the least possible disruption of city life except for the Honda race.
I call upon city officials to shorten the eight-week duration of the mess before people refuse to allow the race to continue.
Bruce Mattern, St. Petersburg
Subject: Lighter side of power
Race boats, not cars
If we are to give up our waterfront for several months, instead of the car race, could we initiate a sailing race to Cuba again? We wouldn't be slathered in concrete at our prettiest time of year or be forced to close our windows to make a phone call. It would be cultural, and an opportunity for everyone to see the beautiful vistas up and down our Tampa Bay coastline. We could include annual cultural exchanges, learn science around sailing in schools, hold themed fundraisers based on the event for local charities, showcase all the best in our city rather than making a beautiful section of our city inaccessible. We could welcome people from all over the country and world to our city at our most beautiful time of the year during the weeks before the race rather than swim in concrete and rubber tires. And isn't the sound of sails luffing in the wind delightful?
Gail Eggeman, St. Petersburg
Subject: Driving test
Pay attention to lines
I drive on Interstate 275 every day to work and each day I am dumbfounded by how many people ignore the road pavement markings. No one seems to know what any of the lines on the interstate mean. I have had people pass me from behind, go into an exit lane, drive across the solid white lines going 80, just to get a couple of car lengths ahead. If you asked 20 people what the solid white lines indicate they wouldn't know. Perhaps it is time to start having drivers tested again every four years.
Lynn Wood, Tierra Verde
Subject: Gadsden article on noise
It's obvious what's loud
This statement from Mark Winn: "Our issue is, the standard that we have in our ordinance isn't enforceable. We have a separate standard based on loud and raucous that's a little more subjective. … It's not really as standardized. It takes into account other issues" is not accurate. According to the courts, plainly audible is subjective and loud and raucous is not. Which is why loud and raucous has withstood court tests since 1949 and why we as a city badly need to start enforcing it. The county is enforcing it; why can't we?
It goes without saying that loud noise after 11 p.m. is a bad idea, and if the bars and nightclubs downtown want to raise hell after 11, they should be required to contain their noise within their walls and doors, and insulate their premises so that those above and adjacent to them don't suffer. The sad fact is that this city has a terrible record when it comes to containing noise, and I know personally how far behind we are from working with Pinellas, Sarasota, Orange and Hillsborough counties, along with countless other cities. We could do a lot better; why we choose not to is a mystery.
Judy Ellis, St. Petersburg
Subject: Coverage of Pinellas school choice process
More info, please
I was disappointed in the lack of coverage of the Pinellas County School Board process for student assignment under the choice system. In previous years, the Times has provided detailed application figures not readily available through PCSB, as well as articles highlighting key dates and processes. In fact, I saved and used last year's articles to help make critical decisions for my fifth-grader's middle school application. This year, I've been scouring the paper looking for information, only to come away empty-handed. I hope you will provide adequate attention to this important topic in the future.
Jennifer Bernhart, St. Petersburg
A recruiting nightmare
I applaud the Times editorial position that the search for a new school superintendent for Pinellas County needs to be done on a national basis. Unfortunately, even hiring the most professional search firm will not assure that the next candidate is any more qualified than the book salesman hired the last time they conducted a national search. You must understand that no professional educator with the appropriate resume would apply for the job. I am very familiar with the national search firm last hired and would suggest that you call them and ask why they were unable to find anyone with the background experience necessary for the job. They might tell you some of the problems that made their job of recruiting qualified candidates impossible.
I am a retired school administrator from Illinois, home base of the last search firm. I have been retired for 15 years and have a pension that is larger than the current superintendent's salary. Our district's student population never exceeded 3,000 students. The average salary of a teacher was $78,000 per year. Board members set policy and did not meddle in operational issues. Per student funding was over $13,000 per year and $18,000 at the secondary level. No governor appointed School Board members. School Board members served out of a commitment to children, without a salary, and did not occupy offices in a building that resembles the home of Hulk Hogan. In fact, they came together twice a month to set policy, not play politics with the lives of children. I hope you get the picture.
John Mason, Clearwater
Kids stand no chance
After reading the paper this weekend, and listening to a program on NPR, it occurred to me that we have some serious issues with the treatment of the youth in our communities. I read about the failure of third-grade students in reading in our poor areas of town and the complaints and demands of the ministers and leaders. It becomes very clear to me that those third-graders don't have a chance in this failed federal education experiment that has been ongoing for 40 years. In a few years some of those same children will be out of school roaming the streets committing criminal acts.
I suspect this problem will get worse before it gets better, but I believe we seriously need to try to start solving it by totally dismantling the public education system and prevent the failure from starting at the third grade level.
Jerry Tetro, Seminole
Subject: Pinellas Clerk of Court Ken Burke warnings
Pray for a veto
With the severe budget cuts to the clerk's budget this year, we had better be prepared for longer waits to conduct our business.
The budget cuts to the clerk's offices this year amount to $31 million statewide. This comes after severe cuts already. On the other hand, the budget includes $35 million to build a "road to nowhere" right down the middle of the state, which just happens to be on property owned by JD Alexander. This bill profits only one person, whereas the money to the clerks would have benefited all of us.
JD Alexander has been trying to pass this bill since (Jeb) Bush was governor. We can only pray that (Gov. Rick Scott) will veto the bill. What a waste of our tax dollars.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater