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Published Aug. 2, 2007

St. Petersburg

We see snipe signs on every corner, and these low and illegal signs just keep coming. Lawn services are blowing every bit of trash and debris out into our city streets in plain view of everyone and sometimes all over everyone.

Car stereos are blasting at dangerous levels, placing motorists and emergency response personnel in danger. These are all instances reflecting blatant disregard for the city codes. If no one is willing to stand up and say no, to say "enough is enough," it will only grow worse.

St. Petersburg is quickly becoming not a very nice place to live. We cannot place all the blame on our leadership nor can we place all the responsibility for fixing the problems on our Police Department and codes enforcement department, although we certainly need their help by giving our laws some teeth.

But let's start with each of us and start today. Find a snipe sign and destroy it. Tell your lawn service to pick up the mess, not blow it in the gutter for some miracle to make it all go away.

Take responsibility, St. Petersburg, and I assure you, we can make an immediate positive difference in our quality of life.

Heidi Hagedorn Sumner, St. Petersburg

Litterbugs have low class

I take daily walks down 38th Avenue N in St. Petersburg and am astounded by the cigarette butts, broken glass, cans, etc., in front of properties I walk past. Some of these homes literally have hundreds of cigarette butts in front of them that people have tossed out of cars or flipped onto properties when they walk past.

Recently, I witnessed a driver toss a beer bottle out of the window onto the pavement. It broke and shards of glass remain there yet. It's bad enough that these folks who own property so close to a main street have to contend with hearing loud traffic 24 hours a day, but they also have to put up with litterbugs who constantly fling debris onto their properties.

People should be more considerate and not make a pig sty out of properties that they don't own. Littering is unlawful and low class.

Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

Black-on-black violence

Melting pot's turf silence

I grieve for the family of Amuel Murph and all others who have suffered from irrational acts. I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the '40s and '50s, and the "melting pot" was not as uniform as one may think.

Neighborhood turf for Catholics, Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, blacks and others, were ghettoes of silence. One did not snitch on one's own kind no matter how severe the crime for fear of a life-scaring injury, exile or death. This is a maddening phenomenon for law-abiding citizens, but conscious "apathy" is not new, or a trait of one segment of our diverse nation.

I wish I had a resolution rather than an observation. Perhaps time and more attention to prevention are the answers.

Sheldon Schwartz, St. Petersburg

St. Pete Beach

Decay eats at small town

Well, the elections are well past and all of us roughly 10,000 permanent residents of St. Pete Beach have been watching to see what our newly elected officials will (or won't) do.

It only takes a few moments to drive down Gulf Boulevard to see how bad it looks: the small shops that aren't kept up, the myriad of bars, and the lamentable lack of any sort of "world-class" facilities.

This area has such potential. It's geographically beautiful and convenient to millions of potential visitors.

Unfortunately, CRG (Citizens For Responsible Growth) has managed to scare the daylights out of a good portion of the area's elderly residents and is in the process of stifling all growth.

Who in their right mind would vote down the Dolphin Village redevelopment project? My neighbor, who once stood in his driveway and screamed, "I don't want anything to change," typifies this attitude.

The reality, however, is that change is going to happen whether we like it or not. We can either vote for progressive change and manage it, or the change will happen as it is now - which is called decay.

I hope the residents of St. Pete Beach will wake up and start an impeachment of Commissioners Harry Metz, Ed Ruttencutter and Linda Chaney before this area decays past the point of no return.

As for me, once the housing market rebounds, I'll be heading somewhere where the development is progressive and property values climb accordingly. It's too bad. I guess that means the newly elected officials who are mired in the 1950s will get their way after all: a decaying small town with nothing to offer.

Mark Kanak, St. Pete Beach

School closings

Shut doors as last resort

I am always amazed at the inner workings of the school system when it comes to budgetary matters. The recent preliminary list of schools being considered for closing is perplexing.

When the system is looking to end the "choice plan" and move to community schools in 2008-09, does closing neighborhood schools make sense?

Surely, savings from the maze of busing trails that currently accommodate the choice plan will help to recoup tax dollars.

If a building needs to be closed, try the main school administrative building.

Put some of those lush offices in portables that seem so readily routed to school campuses this time of year.

Those individuals need to be on school campuses anyway to really know how their programs are being implemented.

Schools routinely absorb reading, math, and technology curriculum programs that are costly and often change within a few years.

Let's examine the real need for these programs in the light of budget cuts.

Closing schools that are an integral part of the community should be the last measure if the goal is to merely save money.

Students, parents, teachers and support staff, and communities will be dramatically impacted by such a directive. Let's look for other solutions to this matter.

Gary Curtis, North Redington Beach


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