Editor: After reading the Times article about the 40-foot stack of files accumulated by the Clearwater police on the Church of Scientology, all I can think of is the incredible misuse of public funds, not to mention the "public be damned" attitude displayed by Police Chief Sid Klein and the city administration.
It appears that the city has embarked on a 13-year vendetta against an organization that even the Internal Revenue Service says is operating within the law.
All I can say is that the people I have seen coming and going to that building appear to be clean, quiet, courteous, law-abiding citizens and I have been working within a block of that building for about two years and observe them daily.
I've got to believe that if the same amount of time and money were spent tracking down drug dealers, repeat offenders and criminals, the chief would really have accomplished something of value and worth bragging about. As things now stand, the chief and the administration seem intent on continuing their harassment of the Scientologists.
Tell me, Sid, how many times have you had to arrest a Scientologist for drunken driving, disorderly conduct, breaking and entering, robbery, rape, prostitution or selling drugs?
Why not get real and get your priorities straight? Remember, Sid, if things get too quiet, you can always quickly grab more headlines by arresting bikini-clad hot dog vendors!
M. Lee Carlson
Editor: It seems the St. Petersburg Times has lost two of its major attack points with regard to the Church of Scientology due to its recognition as a religion by the Internal Revenue Service and the local property tax case with the city of Clearwater now settled.
I have lived in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. I have lived in Clearwater for almost three years. In all those cities I have never encountered a more biased, opinionated newspaper editorial staff than at the Times.
Over the years, the Times has written or printed hundreds of attack-oriented articles on the Church of Scientology. As far as I am aware, there has never been an article showing even a remote possibility that there is anything positive at all about Scientology extant.
I took journalism classes in high school in Pennsylvania. Although I never pursued this as a career, one of the first lessons my teacher emphasized was how important it was to do fair, unbiased reporting. None of her examples of biased reporting and editing, as outrageous as they were, could hold a stick to the Times' crusade against Scientology.
The real sad part of this irresponsible reporting is that these individuals on the Times staff actually believe that the majority of their readers accept their misrepresentations of Scientology as fact. You truly underestimate the intelligence of your readership.
It's time for the Times to end its 17-year witch hunt against Scientology and get back to more productive and honest reporting.
William T. Johnson
Thomas is as bad as Napoleon
Editor: I am sick and tired of reading about Commissioner Fred Thomas' antics everytime I open the Times!
His most recent tirade about T-back bathing suits on Clearwater Beach and his verbal assault on the president of the Upper Pinellas Ministerial Association are indicative of his motto: My way or no way.
Clearwater now has its own Little Napoleon.
Proposed salary raise is too high
Editor: The exaggeration of the contribution of school administrators is endemic in the United States, all the way from kindergarten to the university graduate schools, and the proposal to increase Pinellas School Superintendent Howard Hinesley's salary to $125,000 is no exception.
This proposal is as unnecessary as it is absurd. The distorted salary differential between administrators and teachers is attributable in significant part to the misperception of school administrators as being analogous to executives in the world of commerce and industry.
If one looks carefully at the evidence, it will become clear that one who occupies the superintendent's chair is really not very important.
The fear that Mr. Hinesley's departure for another position would reduce the quality of education in Pinellas County is unwarranted. Should he leave, the board will experience no significant difficulty in finding a qualified replacement. It is highly important to keep in mind the demonstrable fact that Mr. Hinesley's departure would be less disruptive to the educational system than the absence of a single effective teacher.
On the more than a dozen college and university campuses _ large and small, public and private _ with which I have been intimately connected, I have watched presidents, provosts and deans come and go with no visible effect on the quality of education in those schools. Where is the evidence that the situation is significantly different in the elementary, middle and high schools?
In addition to the fact that the disproportionately large share of the school budgets spent on administrative salaries could be better spent directly on the educational processes, there is one other cost of these princely salaries for the officials. When they look at the size of their paychecks, they are wont to subscribe to the illusion that they are, indeed, worth what they are paid.
A first step, certainly not a cure-all, toward the correction of the disproportionately high salaries for administrators is to establish a fixed ratio between the average salaries of teachers and others directly involved in, and critical to, the educational process on the one hand, and the salaries of administrators on the other.
Richard S. Dewey, Dunedin
Clearwater needs free fishing
Editor: A couple of months ago I read an article in the Times about the city not allowing the public to fish on Clearwater Pass Bridge. I was angered to think the city would take away one of the last public places here to fish.
Could the reason they are considering this have anything to do with the fact they are building a $2-million pier on Clearwater Beach that someone has to pay for?
It seems to me they are trying to force people to go to the pier if they want to go fishing. Some people just don't have the money to spend on an outing at a pay pier.
We need more public places to fish that do not require admission. What's wrong with a catwalk? John's Pass has one, Gandy has oneand St. Pete has three piers. Why can't we have the same?
Do something for the kids.