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Council should stick to its business

St. Petersburg citizens have been told we face a budget shortfall, which will require additional taxation if we are to maintain essential services such as police and fire protection. Yet, a Feb. 3 article in the St. Petersburg Times stated that in most coming years, projections show the money spent on subsidies and debt payments for the Bayfront Center, The Pier and the Florida Suncoast Dome would more than balance the budget. The article also stated that these subsidies come from money the city would otherwise use for other operating costs, including police and fire protection, park maintenance and libraries. This looks like budgetary sleight of hand. Let's tell it like it is: Taxes are going up because of these three buildings. If taxes are not increased, police and fire

protection will be decreased because of these three buildings.

My burning question is what is a municipality doing in what is more properly the domain of private enterprise? Do all our City Council members have master's degrees in business administration that qualify them to build, renovate and run multi-million-dollar businesses? Would any thinking person invest money in a group of people to enter a field in which they are unskilled? That's exactly what the taxpayers are doing. Doesn't anyone remember the lesson taught when the city took over the Edgewater Beach Inn and Restaurant? Here was a facility run profitably by private enterprise that the city fathers turned into a financial disaster. Apparently the only lesson learned was that failure on a comparatively smaller scale provides the knowledge and experience to fail on a grander scale.

There are two seemingly obvious solutions: Either turn these three

buildings over to private enterprise, or elect only those with an MBA degree to council, if council must continue in the errant role of the taxpayers' real estate investors.

Could a person, or persons, with the entrepreneurial talents of a Trump or an Iacocca make these structures profitable? Such a person couldn't fail. The potential must be there, or our council wouldn't have embarked on these projects. Now council should realize it is over its head, swallow its pride and do everything it can to cut our losses.

Council members, I implore you to get out of the private enterprise sector and apply your talents solely to the job you were elected to perform, that of providing necessary services to your constituents within budgetary guidelines.

Carl R. Regenhardt, St. Petersburg Locksmith objects to labeling

My father, a citizen of St. Petersburg, recently sent me an article

concerning a burglar who was labeled "an unemployed locksmith" in prominent print (Guests slept through thefts, Jan. 11).

Since I am a locksmith in Connecticut, I read the article with interest, but nowhere did it indicate that the alleged burglar employed any of the skills that a trained locksmith would have. It seemed grossly unfair to identify this person with this label, since it did not seem pertinent to the case and it plants a little suspicion in the minds of the public about the integrity of locksmiths.

I know a couple of locksmiths in Florida and several in Connecticut and these people are, like me, bonded and insured.

The ethics of locksmithing are high and demanding: The majority of us are well aware of the trust that is placed in us by the public.

Certainly, there may be a small segment of any group that is dishonest but I resent the inadvertent labeling of locksmiths as untrustworthy in a story such as this.

D. A. Gillis, Madison, Conn. Officer should get a medal

Re: Off-duty officer lauded for action, Feb. 7.

Officer Napoleon Wimberly deserves a medal.

Sam Pannill, St. Petersburg Diplomacy lessons needed

Re: Public schools do their best to teach traditional values, Feb. 1.

Doug Tuthill is to be highly commended for his excellent defense and support of our public schools. It seems to me that Bishop (John) Favalora would do well to become an understudy of Bishop (Thomas) Larkin in the area of public relations and diplomacy.

Russell C. Archer, Pinellas Park

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