Editor's note: The first four letters are in response to 2 cats are one too many for home in Shangri-La, story, Aug. 5.
People who live in deed-restricted communities know that they have to live by the rules. Being a cat lover, I must admit that I feel sorry for Vera West; however, she did break Rule No. 18 of her documents.
I was elected to a position on the board of directors in my deed-restricted community. As a board member, it is my duty and responsibility to see that rules are adhered to. Sure, it's tough to tell a neighbor that he has to get rid of his excess dogs or cats because a rule is being broken. Sure, it's tough to tell parents that their children cannot swim unattended because they are under 14. But when you are a board member, this is part of your job.
Board members are often thought of as being evil people with flames shooting from their mouths. Not so. We are homeowners who want to make our communities the best they can be.
"Mickey" Weber, Palm Harbor
tired of being bullied
My sincere thanks for the Times' coverage of Vera West's problems with having two cats in Shangri-La. Dr. Quigley is not the only one who wrote a letter on behalf of Mrs. West. I personally delivered letters to the board from 47 residents asking them to change the rules to allow more than one indoor cat. Neither Dr. Quigley's letter nor any of the 47 was acknowledged in the board minutes. I can only assume that someone decided they were not important.
It is common board mentality to assume "a rule is a rule" and "if we allow two cats, someone else will want a dog." Using that logic, they never have to relax any rules, just make more new ones. A few other privileges enjoyed by most Largo residents that we do not enjoy: No men without shirts, no alcohol outside the home, no outdoor barbecue, and there has been some talk about banning music at our pool.
Florida law requires homeowner associations such as ours to hold annual meetings of the members for the purpose of conducting association business, electing officers and passing budgets. Our board has never allowed such a meeting to be held.
As a direct result of our board's failure to recognize basic wants and needs of our residents, a large group of us is forming the Get A Life Club. We have assumed that most residents moved to Shangri-La to live, not to die. Our club will be social/political and will take an active part in the Shangri-La community life.
It is our intention to hire suitable legal counsel and challenge some of the board's practices and rules. We will always operate within the law, and we require the same of our board.
I usually look forward to returning to Florida every year; this year I am most eager to return. It is said that the only way a bully can succeed at bullying is for everyone else to do nothing. The Get A Life Club has no intention of allowing any more bullying this year.
Joseph L. Hahn, Largo, and Bath, Maine
hurt more than help
Housing community rules are presumably made to protect the peace, safety, comfort and property of all the residents. So, how are indoor kitties Andy and Amie threatening the people at Shangri-La? Are they meowing or purring too loudly? Is the sight of one extra kitty face in the window causing mental or physical discomfort? I don't think so.
Vera West, on the other hand, is being seriously hurt by the rigid enforcement of Rule No. 18. If board president Birt Poff and his fellow martinets can find no humanity in their hearts, then they should at least have the decency to change the name of their community. Shangri-La it's not!
Jan Buessem, Palm Harbor
a potential tenant
I can't believe the heartless board of directors at Shangri-La. I just found out about the article in your paper. Why would they not make a variance for an 80-year-old person, and exactly what harm was being done to the community from this lady having two cats even though the rule says one?
Well, it sure doesn't sound like Shangri-La to me. Sounds like Shangri-Blah! I was in Largo looking for retirement locations; I have no pets but I will not be considering this place.
Brooke Schneider, Stratford, Ontario
As one community,
we want all the news
When is the St. Petersburg Times going to give us all the news all the time? Pinellas-Pasco is a cosmopolitan area; people live in one area, work in another and shop everywhere. However, the regional sections of the newspaper make it impossible to know what is happening a mile away. Combine these regional sections and give us all the news.
We need to discard this provincial, small-town way of thinking and recognize we are one community. Even the advertisers are not getting full exposure.
Having been a subscriber 17 years, I have seen this area grow, but not the newspaper.
Doreen Looney, Palm Harbor
Column on teachers
told incomplete story
Re: Parents must parent before teachers can teach, column, Aug. 4.
I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know that you had some very valid points in this column. As a volunteer in the Pinellas County school system, I have had the privilege of working with some wonderful teachers who definitely deserve more respect, higher pay and gratitude for their efforts. They have a tough job. Unfortunately, you referred to the July 27 Times article Band director burnout.
There are two sides to every story, and your reporter, Shelby Oppel, chose to report only one. Seminole High has an incredible music program made up of wonderful staff, students and parents. There will always be "problem" parents, as any teacher will tell you. Yes, administration should support its teachers but, in reality, it's a lot more complicated than that.
Seminole High Band director John Davis told the booster organization and his students that he wanted to further his education and was looking for an opportunity such as the one he was given. He told us about the problems he had had with some parents but assured us that it was not the reason he was leaving.
The article did not mention that the band boosters paid Davis more than $10,000 last year (including benefits) for the extra time he spent doing marching band and after-school rehearsals for wind ensemble. Boosters also covered all his travel expenses.
I could go on, but the damage may have already been done by your paper's poor job of reporting the facts. My only hope is that the students don't suffer as a result.
Lori Hempfling, Largo
Editor's note: The following two letters are in response to County library won't admit error, user says, letter, Aug. 5.
For results, deal with
Please understand, there is no "county library." Each public library in Pinellas County is individual, each operated by the city or district to which it belongs. The letter writer contacted us and we forwarded her letter to the library about which she was complaining. That library will work directly with her to clear up the problem.
As most readers in Pinellas County know, the cooperative offers a variety of services in support of our member libraries, enabling them to offer enhanced services. We provide daily courier service between and among our libraries; we provide cost-effective purchasing of library cards and application forms; our Answer Center librarian takes on difficult or time-consuming reference queries and, most important, we provide the Talking Book Services for people with visual or physical disabilities. This service is truly the only "county library."
Users who have problems with overdue materials, fine notices or other charges are urged to contact their individual library. Each library has its own records and staff available to assist.
Bernadette Storck, administrator, Pinellas
Public Library Cooperative, Largo
It's best to return
tapes to human hands
Clearwater's main library also has a tape check-in problem. On two different occasions, I returned tapes during regular business hours and within the specified time of one week. I put the tapes in the bin marked for tape returns.
When I next tried to check out tapes, I was told that I had tapes out with fines due on them. Not possible, I said. The checkout person looked on the shelves and there they were. What if the tapes were not filed properly on the shelves?
I now always check tapes in with a person at the desk. Since starting this precaution, I have not had any check-in system errors.
Richard Bauersachs, Clearwater
cut down on noise
Why do motorcycle riders get away with so much noise? Car owners have to have emissions tested. Cars have to have quiet mufflers. Cars mean high insurance rates. Cars mean high taxes and license fees. Why do motorcycles owners get away with so much and yet pay so little?
The biggest problem is they are loud, and cars have to have quiet mufflers. Also, about 30 percent of motorcyclists drive recklessly, cutting in and out of traffic. Some of them are a danger on the road because they can't be seen in the blind spots on cars.
I agree that about 70 percent are very responsible drivers, but they still get away with a lot of unnecessary noise. The worst abusers are these riders who like to goose their bikes while riding through mobile home parks.
Roy J. McCutcheon, Dunedin