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Let man collect cans to earn a little money

The following three letters are in response to Taking cans can lead to trouble, story, April 26.

Police departments and government need to worry about other things than garbage. My opinion is that I would rather Robert Sprinkle collect cans than for me to pay for one more person on food stamps. He probably can collect more in food stamps per week than he gets in cans.

Is the government going to win Best Recycler of the Year awards while one family gets arrested for embarrassingly collecting a few cans to earn a paltry $35? Then how much does the city have to pay for an inmate on a daily basis? Mayor Feaster, where's the logic?

I will gladly bring my cans to Mr. Sprinkle's house if only I knew his address. Or does it mean I might be arrested because I live in Largo and my garbage is the city's property?

Nancy Salisbury, Largo

Mayor creating government waste

Mayor Thomas Feaster is a perfect example of a politician creating government waste. It will cost taxpayers more money in police time and salaries and court costs to prosecute Mr. Sprinkle and to give him food stamps than the money the city would make selling cans for the next 10 years!

Gary Costa, Largo

Can collector offers apology

On Monday morning, April 27, I visited Largo City Hall to make restitution for the aluminum cans I took from the city recycling bins. A representative for the city attorney informed me that they were not in a position to accept restitution because I had not been arrested or charged with any crime. I was asked to cease and desist from further stealing of aluminum cans from the bins, which I agreed to.

I am sure many of us have felt at one time or another that a law was senseless. Nonetheless, laws are laws and each of us must abide by them, regardless of social, economic or political position.

I was wrong to have stolen aluminum cans from the city of Largo and its citizens _ and for doing so, I apologize to each and all of you.

Robert M. Sprinkle, Largo

Clearwater magazine a waste of money

My mail carrier has just brought the second issue of Clearwater magazine (published by the city). Right down to the paper on which it is printed, it is better than the periodicals I receive from several non-profit organizations. It is, however, a costly and unnecessary luxury.

With no opportunity for a contrary viewpoint, it may provide unbalanced presentations. Gratuitously and conspicuously, it calls attention to the names of our civic leaders, most of whom will one day be competing for re-election. Other than those who create the publication, few names are seen of the deserving employees who conduct the featured programs and activities.

Does the magazine not duplicate information that is already available or that could be made available readily through the Times at no cost to the city? Besides, the Times also provides objective discussion and the cons, as well as the pros, of projects and programs. Further, results speak for themselves and are there for the public to form its own opinions, e.g., certain recent construction fiascos.

City Manager Mike Roberto has brought much innovation and pride to Clearwater, but I consider the magazine to be a waste of our money. Might we have itemized costs for personnel, paper, printing and postage? It would be especially timely in the wake of the disclosure that some promised projects have had to be canceled because their costs were "inadvertently" underestimated in apparent eagerness to have the Penny for Pinellas tax extended.

Seymour B. Bluestone, Clearwater

City manager offers meeting details

In light of the community interest, I would like to clarify my comments from the Times interview concerning the Church of Scientology and my meetings with church leaders.

As reported, I have met with David Miscavige and other senior Church of Scientology officials, as I have with the leadership of Calvary Baptist Church, Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church and other churches in Clearwater.

I want to assure our citizens that I will listen to the viewpoints of all those who share with me a vision of the greatness of our city and a commitment to take the steps necessary to achieve that vision. I am pleased that Mr. Miscavige committed his church to work with all the positive forces in the community to accomplish our major goals.

Officials of the church have expressed significant concern over what they believe is inequitable treatment by some in the community. I have committed myself and all city employees to treat everyone with justice, fairness and equity. We will expect the same from all in the community. This foundation must guide everyone's actions. The U.S. Constitution requires it. None of us in a free society can countenance any less.

A great deal of our conversation concerned possible property acquisition by the church. Our discussions have focused on the plans to build a new church center at Fort Harrison and Pierce. Church officials have stressed their concentration on that project in the near term. In fact, they have expressed a willingness to work with us to allay any concerns we might have. And I am hopeful they will work with us to achieve mutual goals as they formulate plans in the future.

I hope this amplification will explain more completely what has transpired.

Michael J. Roberto, city manager, Clearwater

Church's tax bill more than $210,000

Re: Meeting with Scientologist good for Clearwater, letter, April 24.

The letter writer asked about tax breaks for the Church of Scientology.

Our records indicate the Church of Scientology owns $32-million worth of property in the city of Clearwater; $9-million dollars of that is taxable, with a 1997 tax bill of over $210,000.

Regarding the planned 300,000-square-foot office building, when new properties are built or purchased, they will be evaluated for exemption if the church files an exemption application. The decision to grant or deny that or any future exemptions will be based upon the church's application and my office's evaluation of the usage of that property.

Jim Smith, CFA, property appraiser, Clearwater

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