Editor: In defense of our city manager, Ron Rabun, and his staff: First I would like to thank the City Commission, which brought a young, progressive man to Clearwater to be our city manager. Rabun is doing a very good job for our city and has added many good directions for the progress of Clearwater.
In a recent letter to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times, Peter Caffentzis questioned Rabun's judgment and said he actively had involved himself in former City Commissioner Don Winner's campaign for re-election. In your editor's note printed right under Caffentzis' letter, you stated that Rabun did not publicly become involved.
So what is the judgment question here? It appears that to Caffentzis, when a person becomes city manager, he must give up the right to vote and support, if he chooses, the candidate of his choice. I think the question of judgment should take rest on Caffentzis' shoulders.
Next Caffentzis criticized Rabun's fiscal responsibility. The citizens and taxpayers of Clearwater publicly have requested that the City Commission and the city manager not raise taxes. We continue to ask they hold taxes and spending down. We do understand the city manager must have a staff, and frankly, we are happy with the administrative staff that Rabun directs. We are also happy with the city's service personnel and think they are working in fairer conditions and under better management than they have experienced in the past.
As far as Caffentzis' "administrative burden" comments are concerned, it does cost to hire qualified and efficient management people, it does cost a lot to provide good service to our city and it is not easy to do all this with no new taxes. However, if you will look closer at Rabun and his staff, you will find they are making good, progressive moves for Clearwater. They are providing efficient and responsive services for our city, which has grown tremendously in the past few years.
About the morale problem Caffentzis seems to have found, when unions are trying to get involved in any group of people, they create discontent.
I and many others think Rabun, his management team and the many service providers for Clearwater are doing a fine job. I defend their efforts and progress.
As a community activist, I have knowledge of the progressive work happening in our city. I know how hard Rabun and his entire staff work. I have seen the progress being made here in Clearwater and I applaud Rabun and his staff.
Joanne Faruggia, Clearwater
Airpark not to blame for plane crashes
Editor: My wife and I have been pilots (now inactive) for many years and have hundreds of hours of flying time. We have lived for 11 years directly in the flight path of the Clearwater Executive Airpark and have heard all the pros and cons pertaining to the safety of this facility.
It is beyond my comprehension how you can continue to blame the airpark for aircraft "accidents," two in particular. The one that crashed on N Keene Road a few years ago simply ran out of fuel. The pilot had flown by several airports where he could have refueled. Was Clearwater Airpark to blame? I hardly think so.
The pilot of the one that crashed into a home on Hercules Avenue was forewarned that his fuel system was contaminated. Again, how could the airpark be to blame?
Pilots, like automobile drivers and boat operators, sometimes take unnecessary chances. Very few small-airplane crashes can be attributed to failure of the aircraft or its components.
Whom do you blame when operators (drivers) of cars, boats or other motorized vehicles have accidents? Airports must not be blamed when pilots refuse or fail to use sound judgment.
Your editorial writer should cease this airpark bashing and address the root causes.
Some wise person once said: "Flying is like the sea. Neither is inherently dangerous. Both are totally unforgiving of human error."
Paul S. Huntley, Clearwater
Drug testing a step toward treatment
Editor: Re: Editorial, Tarpon Springs needs drug treatment, not testing, Oct. 14.
Give us a break! Your editorial gave me a jolt. Tarpons Springs has a vision. I was encouraged to be able to spend some quality time with the City Commission in unanimous agreement. We finalized goals and objectives.
I agree with all you had to say about the negatives inherent in drug testing. I am sorry no mention was made of our established Employee Assistance Program. This has been in effect for six months. We already have been testing new public safety employees. You mention the cost incurred in such a program. I think it is fair to say most of us are aware of the costs incurred with the effect drug use has on society, business, family life and the total socioeconomic fabric of our times.
I do not speak for my fellow commissioners, but I for one want to see our employees in a safe, drug-free work place as well as protect their inalienable rights.
Our commission is made up of a cross section of the community, and I feel it is truly representative. We disagree and differ in many ways, but we unanimously have agreed to set goals and objectives. We will continue working to improve the community.
Yes, treatment, rehabilitation and addressing the reasons people use drugs are lofty, altruistic goals. We are not such complex people that we fail to understand. We know to get a job done, one must start. The media has been good to us recently and perhaps that is because we have been good. We have done our best to mobilize, join hands and envision a new beginning.
Tarpon Springs city commissioner
Hiring process doesn't follow rules
Editor: It appears to me the commissioners of Safety Harbor are unable to follow the fundamental rules and procedures they elected to follow in the selection of a new city manager. After spending months in a bidding procedure, followed by a selection of 10 and then three, one would assume if No. 1 declined an offer, then No. 2 would be offered a proposal for the position.
Not so in Safety Harbor. The commissioners continue to operate in this process under the umbrella of hate and discontent generated last year by certain individuals, one of whom no longer lives in Florida but seems to continue contacts.
It is time to break the handle of this umbrella and let the wind carry the remains away.
It is my view that disqualifying contenders 2 and 3 after No. 1 turned down the job, and then going back into the original list for no other reason than No. 2 worked for the former city manager, which we all knew at the outset, is a sure sign of inability to adhere to the rules. Or is it immaturity?
No one ever, to my knowledge, has found fault with Wayne Logan's performance in the past or in the present as interim city manager. To disqualify a man because he worked for someone who resigned, even though he is fully capable, is a demonstration to me of total ineptitude.
If a promotion/selection list can be manipulated so readily by the commission, then I would think the rank and file should stand up and take notice of what the future can bring.
Wm. Leesemann Jr., Safety Harbor
County allowed to build new libraries
Editor: The Citizen's Action League had planned to survey all voting residents of the East Lake Tarpon Fire Control District, expecting to support the majority opinion, be it for joining the Palm Harbor Municipal Services Taxing Unit, establishing a separate taxing unit or just remaining members of the County Library Cooperative.
County Administrator Fred Marquis said April 12 he would provide mailing labels for the survey. However, we were told on April 24 that a survey would be meaningless because it was discovered we had no options.
We had been misinformed, we could not escape the county library tax, and joining Palm Harbor or establishing a separate library taxing unit could be an insurmountable undertaking involving up to five referendums. But we were told there was no legal problem placing a recreation referendum on the ballot.
We asked if we couldn't work with the county to encourage it to build a library or provide library services in our area. County Commissioner Charles Rainey said there is no provision in the cooperative for new construction.
Because of the advice of County Attorney Susan Churuti, Rainey and Marquis, we abandoned the planned survey even though we strongly felt it would have been a unifying influence for the community.
How can the commission "put it on a ballot, see if it passes and look at the legality of it afterward?"
Florida Senate bill No. 1272, chapter 86-350, authorizes the County Commission to create a taxing unit in the East Lake Tarpon Fire Control District and levy ad valorem taxes only to provide services and facilities not provided by Pinellas County in the other unincorporated areas of the county. The proposed library referendum does not meet that requirement. We do have county library cooperative services.
By the way, I did read the Library Interlocal Agreement and discovered a most important point! There is provision in the county cooperative for new construction. Eight percent of monies collected are put into a capital improvements fund to be used for additions to existing libraries, for building new libraries or for purchase of special improvements to service other participants.
Zora M. Swanson, East Lake