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Hinesley has not earned a large pay raise

Re: Howard Hinesley's proposed pay raise to $125,000.

Not only do I believe Mr. Hinesley should not get a raise, he should be dismissed from his duties.

The School Board has become another mindless government bureaucracy, not meeting the needs of the people it serves. At board meetings, school officials continually condescend to the pleas of concerned parents and students over many issues. Their aloof manner has caused, for example, schools to be built at bad locations, environmental issues avoided (cutting down trees), endangering students (major traffic areas near schools). Some of these snafus could be avoided if they would use a modicum of gray matter between their ears _ ears that should be listening to the concerns of the public.

Mr. Benjamin has stated the need to raise Mr. Hinesley's salary to a level competitive with other districts. I challenge that thinking. A nationwide advertisement for superintendent at a salary level of $75,000 to $90,000 would bring hundreds of resumes from qualified administrators for this coveted position.

If Mr. Hinesley and the four board members who voted for the $11,432 raise feel they are undercompensated, I suggest they test the waters outside Pinellas County. Let's play poker with this gang and call their bluff. What can we lose?

Mark Messner, Indian Rocks Beach

Re: School superintendent pay raise.

The school superintendent is the chief executive officer of the largest business in Pinellas County. Yes, the school system is a business and should be operated as one. Its business is to teach students how to exist in the real world.

The head of any business is given pay increases, bonuses or greater benefits based on his performance. In the case of the salary increase for Superintendent Hinesley, the board stated that the increase was necessary in order for him to be paid at the same scale as the other county superintendents or else the perception might be that he is "not as good as they are." It said that he might even leave if he does not receive this increase.

What has Superintendent Hinesley done to deserve an increase? Has he been responsible for less crime in the schools? For increasing student college SAT scores? For decreasing school costs? For increasing the morale of students and staff? He has not significantly affected any of these areas.

School systems traditionally have protected themselves from outside criticism and have not been concerned with efficient operation. They operate in this way because if anyone questions their actions, they state that our children will suffer if they do not get their way. The increase that the board wishes to give to Superintendent Hinesley is based on only one parameter. They are paying the increase for ego, not for performance.

Hopefully, the members of the board will see the error of their ways and give the superintendent neither the increase nor the exorbitant benefit package.

Paul Schatz, Palm Harbor

Ardith Rutland treated unjustly

Re: Toy Shop leadership is at odds, Feb. 21.

Ardith Rutland should be honored for all her years of service and contribution to this wonderful cause. She should have been informed of everything that takes place. I think she was unjustly treated.

Mrs. Edward Wilson, St. Petersburg

Let's keep our local police force

Both Redington Beach and North Redington Beach will be voting soon on the issue of whether to continue our police force or to negotiate with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement.

Though the results of the vote are non-binding, it is important that the wishes of the residents are made known to our representatives.

At present, each town pays $230,000 per year for coverage. The proposed plan of the Sheriff's Office would cut the amount to $138,267.44 for each town. But the sheriff's plan would supply only three officers per 24-hour shift. Our present coverage provides a minimum of four officers per 24-hour shift. To get a fourth regularly from the Sheriff's Office, that figure would have to be increased. You might still save a few dollars in taxes, but not enough to make up for less protection than we have now.

We have our own local police station. The sheriff is several miles away. "A telephone call away" is not the same. We have the same officers day in and day out. They know us. They protect our homes when we are away as well as when we are here. The sheriff says he could try to keep the same men assigned here daily. That is much more difficult when your staff is so large. Look at the Brundage case in Largo _ the deputies didn't know this man was not a troublemaker. While the sheriff says he would hire our men, provided they meet his standards, they stand to lose a great deal in seniority, salary and accrued benefits.

When it comes to police protection, we must decide if saving a few dollars a year is worth giving up our excellent police force.

Let's keep this valuable asset.

Jean Dedi, Redington Beach

No need for ticket writing on trail

Re: Stop signs on Pinellas Trail.

Hooray for the police writing tickets to the dangerous criminals who didn't stop their bikes at stop signs ("stop" signs that should be "yield" signs _ at least most of them).

My family and friends have spent many hours riding on the beautiful Pinellas Trail _ a perfect way to get away from stress and enjoy smiling and friendly people. Never met anyone who was not considerate or happy being there.

Since they decided to have police patrols on the trail, we have not been back. We have been through that before _ bicycle tickets on a driver's license. Is that crazy or what? I hope those ticketed bike people decline to pay the fine and go to court, as we did. We won.

It's sad that people can't enjoy the trail without having to worry and look over their shoulder every minute. Police should be taking care of "real" problems.

Jacqueline Gross, Clearwater

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Direct your thoughts about issues in St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Kenneth City, Pinellas Park and the Gulf beaches to City Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or dictate your thoughts on our recorder, 893-8169. Because of space limitations, letters should be of reasonable length (250-300 words maximum as a rule).

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