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Birthday boy gets an earful

No doubt about it. Clearwater city commissioners had a painful meeting Thursday night.

Not only did they publicly criticize City Manager Mike Roberto again, they listened to dozens of frustrated residents complain about proposed budget cuts.

But leave it to resident Dan Moran to start the evening on a light note.

Moran, the first resident to walk up to the microphone during the resident-to-be-heard portion, sang Happy Birthday to Commissioner Ed Hooper.

Hooper, who celebrated his 52nd birthday Thursday, may have had an idea the serenade was coming though. He was there two years ago when Moran did the same thing for Commissioner J.B. Johnson.

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SPEAKING OF 52nd BIRTHDAYS: Pinellas County School Superintendent Howard Hinesley got a true dressing-down for his 52nd birthday Thursday.

His colleagues at the district administration building cited him for wearing a black, short-sleeved mock turtleneck shirt in violation of the "casual Thursday" dress code. The mock citation, written by School Board attorney John Bowen, was a poke at the recently adopted dress code created by the Business Casual Dress Cross-Functional Team (and approved by Hinesley).

Building administrator Robert Hosack presented the citation, which ordered Hinesley to "report home to your mother, remove the offending garment (and) don appropriate attire as designated in the business casual attire pilot program."

It bore the (fake) signature of Polk County School Superintendent Glenn Reynolds, the man behind Polk's new mandatory school uniform policy.

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DRIVE AT YOUR OWN RISK: Want to improve U.S. 19? Get rid of the median cuts and synchronize the traffic lights better.

That's what the majority of people who wrote County Commission Chairwoman Sallie Parks suggested last week.

Parks wrote a guest column in the St. Petersburg Times soliciting ways to improve U.S. 19.

She asked for it. She got it. Parks got more response than for just about any other issue in the past two years, except for bingo. As of the end of the week, she had received more than three dozen e-mails and another two dozen letters via the old-fashioned way.

A look at her first 30 e-mail responses shows that the No. 1 suggestion is for the county do something about its traffic signal system. Thirteen people want the lights timed better to cut down on the stop-and-go traffic. The second most common refrain _ a suggestion included in 10 of the first 30 e-mails _ is for the state to eliminate the median cuts along U.S. 19 and force traffic to make U-turns at intersections.

The third most common request was for the county to improve signs on U.S. 19. Make the signs bigger and better lit, seven people suggested. Right behind was a plea for police to do a better job of cracking down on reckless drivers and speeders.

_ Staff writers Shelby Oppel, Joe Newman and Anita Kumar contributed to this report.