Editor: Re: "Hopefuls differ on arts center vote," Feb. 28.
The editor's note on this story states that by far the most important issue to readers (who responded to a coupon asking what issue in the Largo election was most important to them) is the cultural arts center. It triggered my recollection of two previous editorials.
In one editorial you proclaimed that the Largo commissioners were elected to make the decision to build the center, that they are clearly given the power through the city charter approved by Largo residents, and that it is time to get off the fence and just do it.
The second editorial was about Clearwater Commissioner Fred Thomas and it was against making statements without adequate research. Your conclusion was that residents have every right to tell commissioners what they think of their behavior and that, for the city's sake, they should keep it up.
The Clearwater advice is not consistent with the Largo admonition. The voice of the Times is very influential, and in my estimation your Largo editorial had a chilling effect on any continuing groundswell of opposition.
My conclusion is that if we are electing commissioners to make all of our decisions without the right of referendum, then it is imperative that we pay more attention to the candidates and the election process. The election Tuesday is vital to the future of Largo, and it is my hope that the voter turnout will exceed expectations.
Carl J. Hermach
All are asked to fund frolic for few
Editor: In the January/February edition of Calliope, Clown of America International magazine, staff writer Irene Doll says: "In the United States, only about 6 percent of the people are drawn to the performing arts (theater, opera, dance and classical music)."
If this be true, then the Largo City Commission in its infinite wisdom has decided that every taxpayer shall be called upon to pay for an arts center for one out of every 16 of our residents to enjoy. Small wonder no referendum was approved.
In America this is called representative government or democracy in action. Congratulations, commissioners! Keep up the good work.
Stanley E. Butler
Does beach city need youth center?
Editor: There has been a concern by many of us in Indian Rocks Beach regarding the purchase of the Cottingham School property to be used as a youth center.
Indian Rocks Beach has, according to public school statistics, 258 schoolchildren from kindergarten to 12th grade and perhaps an additional 50 children in private schools.
Last year's disastrous budget forced the removal of more than $250,000 from the emergency reserve fund to be placed in the general fund, leaving us with only $100,000 in the emergency fund.
Previous surveys have shown little interest by residents regarding a youth program. Many schools have their own programs. Why are certain people in such a rush to buy this property when we haven't even had a trial program at our City Hall to see if there is any interest? The initial cost of Cottingham School is $500,000. Add repairs, extensive renovation, staffing and yearly maintenance, and we are beginning to talk about a lot of money.
I would liken this project to the disastrous ThunderDome in St. Pete on a much smaller scale. We haven't done any studies to prove a need for such an expensive undertaking. We should get our priorities straight, replenish our reserve funds, get essential infrastructure projects done and consider other alternatives before we arbitrarily spend, spend, spend.
Indian Rocks Beach
T-backs have forced family off beach
Editor: Re: T-back ban in Clearwater.
I am a 35-year-old mother of five. My husband and I work hard to instill the good, old-fashioned moral values in our children that we ourselves were taught.
We have been residents of Clearwater Beach for 10 years and stopped using our beautiful beach six years ago. At that time, my 5-year-old daughter had her first glimpse of a semi-nude male (T-back attire), and asked why such a bad man would be allowed on the beach showing his butt. I packed up my babies and have not returned.
I have never let my children watch programs containing nudity, yet as I drive down Gulfview Boulevard I feel it should have an R rating.
For the people who are pro-T-back and worried that these folks will no longer want to come to Clearwater Beach, think about all the families like myself that you've already lost.
Let's keep the T-backs in the strip joints and gay bars where they belong.
Editor: I am writing in support of Mayor Rita Garvey and the Clearwater commissioners regarding the ban on T-backs.
The one-piece bathing suit led to the modest two-piece suit, which led to the bikini, which led to the T-back, which led to _ who knows, but you get my drift. Where does it all end?
Well, it ends when communities like Clearwater and their commissioners have the moral convictions and the backbone and a clear, concise mental picture of what is right, to stand up and be counted.
Also, those people who seem to suggest that our lifeguards are only one-dimensional have never talked to one. These lifeguards are hard-working and intelligent and do have the ability to do more than just watch the water. To those of you who suggest otherwise, you are simply out of touch.
It doesn't matter if it is Citizens Opposed to Pornography or the Moral Majority or just solid Christian citizens, we'll continue to be outspoken, we'll continue to sign petitions, and we'll continue to show up and voice what we believe in.
This country was founded on the Bible and Christian principles. When this country gets back to those principles and way of life, then everyone will benefit, crime will decrease, and morality will return, with neighbor loving neighbor.
When our founding fathers stepped off the boats and onto Plymouth Rock, they did so with Bibles in hand, not T-backs. Please understand, whatever it takes . . . the ban will stand.
David and Linda Johnston
Editor: Clearwater City Hall, I applaud you on your decision to ban those disgusting T-back bathing suits. Now if we can just get old, fat men in socks and sandals, old ladies in funny-looking hats, and those whining little kids off the beach too, it might be a pleasant place to go!
Editor: I am writing to express my congratulations to the City Commission of Clearwater for its brave action in approving the city ordinance regarding public nudity. I believe its action, controversial as it is, sends a message to everyone that Clearwater is interested in improving conditions within the city and setting a standard of decency for the future.
It may be true that T-backs will not be the downfall of the city, but I believe the line has to be drawn somewhere. As several of the opponents to the ordinance correctly pointed out, it used to be that a person had to wear a bathing suit from head to toe. Then it was the one-piece suit; then the bikini; then the thong-style suit. Point being, the proponents of nudity simply will not stop until they are allowed to roam the streets naked.
It is the decent citizens of the community who have made concession after concession, and now when we say, "Enough is enough," the butt-peddlers insist we are narrow-minded, self-righteous zealots who want to control other people's lives. The question is, who are the real zealots? Is not their insistence on baring their bodies in public an intrusion into my life?
John Adams, second president of the United States, said the Constitution of America was designed to govern a moral and religious people. It was, he said, wholly inadequate to govern any other type of people. While I do not cherish more government intrusion into my life or anyone else's, it becomes necessary when men and women refuse to govern themselves.
J. R. Carrel
Editor: I am a size 5, physically fit mother of two. I happen to own and wear a T-back (in my own back yard). Clearwater Beach is a public family beach. I would not bring my children to a nudey bar, so why would I bring them to the beach and see the same sort of dress? I have been to both, and there is no difference.
What is so hard about asking people to cover up just a little? No one said wear a turtleneck. Just cover your a--!
Editor: Couldn't help but notice that all the letters to the editor that bash the Clearwater city commissioners for their ban on T-backs were all signed by males who obviously use public beaches and basking buns to achieve sexual stimulation, who now cry like babies who have had their toys taken away.
I'm convinced . . . too many men are pigs!
Don't destroy Safety Harbor
Editor: One of the determining factors in my decision to move to Safety Harbor four years ago was the quaint purity of its downtown. Tired of generic restaurants and impersonal, mind-numbing strip malls, I, like many others, saw Main Street as a true alternative to such blandness. Here at last was a real, easily identifiable town, an authentic community, a place you could call home and feel as though that actually meant something.
I guess that's why I'm so dismayed by all the talk about "downtown redevelopment." Improve what already exists, yes; there's no harm in fixing something up. But let's not destroy (read "redevelop") one of our greatest strengths simply for the sake of change. As the saying goes, don't try to fix something that ain't broke.
Surely the City Commission can find better projects on which to spend our money.
D. J. Condon
A NOTE ABOUT RECOMMENDATIONS
This newspaper publishes recommendations to help readers become more knowledgeable voters. The job is not easy, nor is it one we take lightly.
Editors send candidates questionnaires about their backgrounds and positions on the issues. They compare these responses, examine campaign materials and study the candidates through an array of public records and sources. Editors also invite the candidates for private interviews, and they may call upon the insights of other people in the community to learn more about the candidates.
The goal is to provide readers with the newspaper's recommendation of who is best for the job and why. We hope these recommendations will entice readers to learn more about the candidates and vote for their choices on Election Day.