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St. Petersburg residents have little impact on charges

Your article about residents of St. Petersburg being asked to pay 75 cents extra on their water bills to cover the cost of repairing the ruptured pipeline made me laugh. Residents of St. Petersburg are told what they will do. I don't recall being asked to pay $4.50 extra on my water bill for a stormwater tax or whether I wanted fluoride added to my city water.

I can't help but wonder what happened to the city's emergency fund? Was it spent to balance the budget or to pay for Bay Plaza development?

I'm sure the council will go through the motions, debates and discussion about adding 75 cents to the water bill. But, in the end, residents of St. Petersburg will send the city an extra dollar in their water bills!

Scott Klein, St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is a great city

with clean streets, good people

Elijah Gosier's article City can't fight image is a lot of hot air.

This is a great city. There are a lot of people living in other areas of the United States who would like to know something more of St. Petersburg but they read only what they read and they know only what they know. My brother asked me when I was in Brooklyn, N. Y., recently, "Why St. Petersburg?" I told him.

I like the way the people smile. I like the idea of a town that is growing. I like a place where the people are not pushing and shoving me like a stampede. I like the clear air. I like you. I like me. I like the highway. I like the clean streets. I like that there is no graffiti. I like the way the people think of the police. I like The Pier. I like the weather, even though sometimes it gets uncomfortable. I like downtown especially because there are black and white people who want this town to grow. I like the idea that people see hope where death was on the way. I like people who are willing to have enough intestinal fortitude to try. I like people with guts. I like people who talk of a better tomorrow rather than retirement. I like people who want to grow regardless of their age. So you're 50? You may live to be 101. You haven't lived half of your life yet. And look at what you know. I like people who say "anything is possible" and are smart enough to ask that important question, "What are you willing to give?" Funny, how effort is more fun than results.

I like St. Petersburg. Why? Because I give something of me to it. In my own way, I have come here and purchased a home, and will purchase another one next year, and I will contribute to this place some measure of what I can for a positive constructive purpose. It's called growth. It's called effort to see that the future of St. Petersburg does not lie with the people who say "we can't change" but to the people who say "we can change" and are willing to give every measure of effort to try.

Art Fleming, St. Petersburg

Underground electric system more expensive than overhead

Re: Underground utility system could be a reality in Florida, Oct. 19.

As a snowbird who bought in Florida to eventually live here full time, I ask that you don't promote fallacious arguments, such as those contained in Mayor Ramona Updegraff's column, to change things.

I'm an electrical engineer who has been responsible for designing, building and operating electrical generation plants around the world. I must take exception to her statements. Underground electrical systems are not cheaper to install, operate and maintain, nor are they safer.

Installation costs will increase 8 to 10 times going from overhead to underground. Operating losses are higher underground. Maintenance costs will be 12 to 14 times higher. Not only must one consider the cable damage from soil erosion, vermin and insects, but recognize that it requires far more sophisticated and costly personnel and equipment to locate a line fault and repair underground.

As far as reporting transformer failures, one should appreciate that these, even in underground systems, are above ground.

Last, to show that statistics indicate there are more deaths and injuries on overhead lines, one should not ignore the fact that usually only low-voltage lines are run underground. The high-voltage lines are overhead. Of course, statistically speaking, one could make a convincing argument that the lowest, 110 volt, household system is most dangerous, since more people are killed in household electrocutions than lines workers in system repairs.

T. H. Gallos, South Pasadena

Council's bus shelter decision

ignores professional opinions

On Oct. 18, the City Council of St. Petersburg once again proved that politics is the only job where people are paid to make decisions on subjects about which they know absolutely nothing and which are against the wishes and the best interests of their employers. In this instance, council members rejected the professional opinion of their staff. The staff thought advertising bus shelters on a city right of way would see "traffic safety and visibility impaired . . . public safety hindered . . . increase clutter . . . in violation of existing sign ordinance, etc." and voted to continue pursuing the shelters at a later date.

Vice Mayor Robert Stewart described the glass-walled shelters that frequently break, spraying shards of sharp glass across the entire sidewalk as "enhanc(ing) the security and safety of the bus rider," while Mayor Robert Ulrich ignored the fact that PSTA has two grants dating back two years to build 216 shelters of their own design and proclaimed there was "no other program" of bus shelters available for the community.

Council member Leslie Curran, who is one of the council's representatives to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and even manages to drop into some of the once-a-month meetings, tantalized the board with the prospect of payment to the city if members revised their current sign ordinance to permit the unsafe shelters, at the same time omitting to mention the shelters have only a few stools for seating in a community where 80-year-old women wait up to two hours for a bus.

John Royse, St. Petersburg

Black educators are needed

to help change the system

Re: Knowledge is solution to what ails the nation, guest column by Greg Hunt, Oct. 18.

As I read this man's article, the one thought I kept having was how badly education needs black educators. I agree that adding a curriculum involving all aspects of the African-American heritage would be wonderful! The sad part is a white female most likely would be the one to teach it; so once again a great idea is executed only half correctly.

I am seriously concerned about the points made in this man's article. Using the right to vote is an excellent way to change the system. An even better way is to become a part of the system. We need more black educators in Pinellas County, not only for our black children, but for all the children.

Jane Davis, teacher, St. Petersburg

Article on disabled called unfair,

incorrect, poorly researched

Re: A lesson learned at the stadium?, Oct. 9.

Your editorial would have the reader believe that the city of St. Petersburg is totally unresponsive to the needs of its disabled population. In fact, you even go on to say that we disdain them. This statement could not be further from the truth. I would like to inform you about some of the special needs of our residents, research you and your staff should have done.

On Dec. 21, 1972, the City Council established the Committee for the Assistance to the Physically Impaired (CAPI). This committee has been in operation for 18 years providing input on handicapped issues to city administration and to City Council. As an example of CAPI actions the city has instituted a special Handicapped Parking Enforcement Squad whose sole mission is to assist in the enforcement of parking violations in handicapped spaces in the city.

Our Leisure Services Department's Therapeutic Recreation Program has established several programs including Camp Redbird, a summer play camp for mentally challenged persons ages 6 to 25; Camp Falcon, a three-week summer camp begun in 1990 to serve emotionally disturbed persons in our community; classes in adaptive tennis, weight training, balloon volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and even a special social support group for the physically challenged adult. These programs served more than 400 mentally, physically and emotionally challenged individuals during September alone.

You also failed to mention the efforts of a recently formed committee whose task was to design adaptable playground equipment to be placed in our city parks for handicapped children. This committee, composed of eight persons including a doctor, a specialist from All Children's Hospital and a City Council member, has selected four easily accessible, high-use parks for the placement of this specialized equipment. This equipment will be placed alongside the existing playground equipment, not segregated to another area of the park. The parks selected for the equipment are Campbell, Fossil, Lake Vista and Walter Fuller. The equipment should be in place prior to the summer of 1991.

During the 1990 Florida legislative session, the City Council passed a resolution in support of proposed legislation that would establish regional resource and service centers for autistic children. I drove to Tallahassee with a resident of my district who is faced with the responsibility of rearing a 2-year-old who recently has been diagnosed as autistic and helped to lobby in support of the bill.

Lastly, you failed to mention the recruitment, currently under way, for a full-time disabled services coordinator whose job responsibilities will be to receive and process complaints or requests for service from the disabled population and for maintaining effective liaisons with city departments and organizations providing assistance to the disabled.

In summary, your editorial was not well researched and was demeaning to the efforts of our residents, City Council and to our city administrators.

As a parent of a handicapped child and as a member of the City Council, I feel I have the knowledge, as well as a responsibility, to speak out on this subject. You also have a responsibility to prepare yourself and your staff to thoroughly research a subject prior to publishing a lopsided story.

Leslie Curran, Council member, District 8

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