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Clearwater has sold its soul for concert cash

Re: Clearwater weighs cost of cleaning up concerts, story, Jan. 9.

As a resident of this area since 1986, I often enjoyed going to Coachman Park for concerts, usually classic rock or country groups. I recall many great times there, but I don't go anymore.

Believe me, I'm an old 56-year-old hippie who has been to Woodstock ('69) and followed bands like the Grateful Dead, the Doobie Brothers and Led Zeppelin, to name a few, so I'm no prude by any means.

I just think that the city of Clearwater should not prostitute itself for $194,000 from filth-filled events like Next Big Thing. Is there no other way to raise funds without stooping to this level? Why subject the public to this form of "entertainment," when it should be a private, indoor event?

Maybe the city managers should take ideas from the public on how to raise money for annual events. There's got to be a better way. Let's ask the residents of Island Estates. I'm sure they have plenty of ideas.

Richard T. Host, Palm Harbor

Concerts crimp "quality of life'

Re: Clearwater weighs cost of cleaning up concerts, story, Jan. 9.

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne says, "Diversity of concerts at Coachman is one of those things that is good for us. It adds to our quality of life."

Huh? Quality of life is a function of cultural standards. Look at the criteria used by those "best places to live" surveys: aesthetics, conveniences, safety, etc.

So please, Mr. Horne, tell us how the amplified vulgarity, not to mention the chaos and traffic disruption that accompanies these events benefit our quality of life.

I also regret to inform you that diversity does not mean anything goes, and "good for us" does not mean anything that puts a few extra bucks in the city's coffers. Please, it pains me when you torture logic by referencing concepts that you really just don't get.

David Spath, Palm Harbor

Uphill ride will surely tire cops on bikes

Re: Bike team opening substation, story, Dec. 24.

I should know by now to never be drinking anything as I read any article about the city of Clearwater in the Times. I will invariably choke, spit and ruin the newspaper. Last week's story about the new downtown Clearwater police substation for bicycle officers was certainly a classic case in point. Thankfully, I was able to buy a new, dry newspaper to finish my reading.

Now, I don't doubt that downtown Clearwater meeds a more visible police presence, and I think that bicycle-mounted police are, by far, the very best way to patrol an urban area such as this.

But to put their substation at the very bottom of the tallest hill in the downtown area is an insult to those fine officers. No matter which way they go, they have to go uphill first, and it's no small hill.

It is screamingly obvious that police Chief Sid Klein does not ride a bicycle. Maybe he should. Have him don the body armor and try pedaling a fully loaded police bike up that hill from the seawall to Osceola Avenue a few times and see if he still thinks that was the best place to put that bike patrol station. (And if he agrees to do this, call me. I want to be there to watch.)

I humbly suggest that the city of Clearwater revisit this plan and try a little harder to find a location for that much-needed substation that gives those fine officers a more visible operations center that doesn't require an uphill sprint at the start of every response. We can do better. They deserve better.

Chip Haynes, Clearwater

Prorated pay covers teachers in summer

The newspaper often receives letters of complaint that Pinellas County school teachers are not paid during the summer vacation. This is because they were paid a prorated vacation salary retroactively during the school year, which is never mentioned.

An extreme analogy would be to receive their entire annual salary the first day of school, then complain they didn't get paid the balance of the year.

Perhaps the present method of payment should be accepted as a bonus rather than a complaint.

John Stafford, Largo

Big Brothers Big Sisters, big difference

January is National Mentoring Month, a perfect time to make a New Year's resolution to call Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteer to mentor a child.

It's unfair that in this great community of ours, too many children, simply by virtue of their birth, do not have an equal chance in life. In Pinellas County more than 38 percent of our children live at or below the poverty level, many being raised by a single parent or grandparent trying to make ends meet. Our mission is to help these children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one mentor relationships. Not surprising is that the Big's life is enriched as a result of the mentor relationship.

The full meaning of the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters was highlighted nationwide in 2004, with the Centennial Celebration of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the country. Locally, the impact of our life-changing mission was demonstrated again and again in the stories of matches made years, even decades, ago, which created friendships that thrive today. Families came forward to recognize the Bigs that had made such a difference in the lives of their children, and Littles, who became Bigs themselves because of the impact a Big had on them.

The nation's oldest Little, 86-year-old Victor, resides in Pasco County. He recalls getting in trouble as a boy being raised by a frail mother and no father. A neighbor took the initiative to contact Big Brothers Big Sisters on his behalf. The rest of the story, told by this retired military officer, is how his life was changed forever by a volunteer Big Brother he'll never forget.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has been around for 100 years because our programs work. An independent study conducted by Public/Private Ventures confirms that our programs help children improve school performance and behavior, keep them off drugs and alcohol and out of the juvenile justice system. In the January 2004 edition of Forbes Magazine, Big Brothers Big Sisters was rated one of the top 10 organizations to invest your charitable contributions in. It's measurable, it's quantifiable and it's good for kids.

Right now there are more than 149 children waiting for a Big Brother, Big Sister or Big Couple to bring this kind of positive change as well as some magic to their lives. There is a serious fault line that has opened up and children are falling through; we must close the gap. This is Big Brothers Big Sisters; this is what we do every day with our dedicated professional staff. It's the reciprocal influences on one another that are artfully created through mentoring relationships. Mentoring a child is at the heart of American character _ a deep-seated commitment to extend beyond ourselves to make this community healthier by investing in its children.

Please call your local Big Brothers Big Sisters office today, or visit our Web site at www.bbbspc.org. Join us as we embark on our second century of service enriching the lives of children through one-to-one mentoring relationships.

Susan Rolston, CEO,

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas and Hernando

NOTE TO READERS

With local election campaigns under way in some North Pinellas cities, we remind our readers that the Times does not print letters to the editor that endorse or criticize announced candidates for city offices. However, the Times is happy to receive and print letters that focus on campaign issues in those cities.

Clearwater has sold its soul for concert cash

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