1. Archive

Key facts missing from MLK editorial

Re: Commission must grab ball on MLK, editorial, Nov. 3.

I was very disappointed that the Times wrote an editorial on such an important matter as recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. without having obtained or, if obtained, without having referred to three key and basic facts:

(1) By memorandum dated Oct. 20, a request was made "that a special City Commission meeting be scheduled in the next several weeks to deal with the recommendations of the Inclusion Committee." This memorandum further stated that it "is important that staff have sufficient lead time to prepare for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday."

(2) A special meeting was scheduled for Nov. 17. This special meeting has been scheduled for well over a week.

(3) One need only refer to Resolution 03-07, adopted by the City Commission on March 6, to know the original charge of the task force: "The primary duty of the task force shall be to review and investigate the inclusion of all the different elements of the community in full participation in community life, including consideration of appropriate recognition of the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. to American principles and values."

Julie Scales, Dunedin city commissioner

Taxpayers deserve information

about airport's bottom line

Re: St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

Let's talk dollars and sense: Is putting $223-million (over 20 years) into this airport fiscally responsible, and will it be profitable or a drain on the taxpayers? That should be the No. 1 question answered before the county goes any further.

Getting any meaningful figures on the airport's profit or loss in recent years has been unsuccessful. When I contacted the County Commission for figures, Commissioner Calvin Harris' office referred me to the county budgets (available over the Internet). They just showed outlays and no bottom line, so it is impossible for a mere taxpayer to get an answer.

And projecting 20 years ahead is iffy at best. How many projections by various government agencies have we seen way off the mark? There are too many variables to predict 20 years out. But then, survey experts will produce any figures that please those who pay their fees. $223-million is almost one-quarter of a billion dollars! Whether some of it comes from Washington (read taxpayers from the rest of the country, and here), it's still a pile of money _ or by another name, pork, thanks in large part to Congressman Bill Young.

The county needs money so badly for roads that it proposed a 6-cent gas tax increase, but we have all this money for an unproven, highly suspect project?

Addressing those who write that those of us living in the affected areas "knew there was an airport there when we bought, so if we don't like it, just move": In our case, yes, we knew the airport was there when we bought 18 years ago, but no one could foresee that the county would come up with a plan to make it a cargo hub and destination for planes from Europe that would require more fuel, hence a longer runway. Nor could we predict that the flight paths that had been mandated to be over the water would be disregarded.

We would never suggest that someone in areas not affected by this problem should "just move" if the county added or widened a road that they objected to near their property, just because the homeowner was not aware of the county's plans.

A.M. Haas, Safety Harbor

Two respected assistant fire

chiefs fired out of "jealousy'

This is in response to all of the letters written to the Times since the recent firing of two Clearwater Fire Department assistant chiefs. I am the wife of former Training Chief Gordon Yaudes. I am not a bitter or angry person, but I find it hard to forgive what the city of Clearwater has done to my husband and Assistant Chief Pete Huffman.

What provoked this action? My only conclusion is jealousy. The respect the firefighters hold for these individuals is truly and deeply seeded. Why would the city want to tear this apart? This is what makes or breaks a department. The bonds must be strong between these men and women; they rely on each other for their lives.

These two men were highly respected by the men and women who protect the citizens of Clearwater. Their association with the fire union is only by association with fellow firefighters. Are they not a team and a family anymore? They deal with these men and women day in and out to make sure they have all the knowledge, technical training and appropriate protective equipment needed to protect the citizens. They hear both the pros and cons of departmental issues and bond with them, hopefully helping them through difficult morale issues and keeping them focused on their jobs.

Firefighters have issues, as we all do. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day. These loyal people choose to protect and save lives, perhaps at their own demise. I find it hard to believe that City Manager Bill Horne and fire Chief Rowland Herald are not questioning their acts in this decision. Where is fire training going from here? What direction is the city heading in? After 26 years in the Fire Department and through many changes, how can someone say your services are no longer needed (because) we are heading in a different direction? How can you replace a person who has put their heart and soul in this job for 26 years?

I wonder if Chief Herald will show up at fires in the middle of the night as my husband did. I would find it hard to believe if you look at the track record.

My husband was bound by a signed contract as an "at will employee." We never feared for his job; he was in good standing and respected in all of the community. I feel the city of Clearwater truly has left a massive void for the citizens. I sincerely urge all to voice their opinions. Don't let Clearwater die.

Sharon Yaudes, Largo