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Published Feb. 4, 2008

Election should bring new era of honesty - editorial, Jan. 25

It was obviously the weekend before an election in Safety Harbor. I could tell because when an election is imminent, more often than not my name seems to be invoked in some negative way by the St. Petersburg Times. I would normally let it pass as part of the price for having been an independent, conservative, elected woman, but this time I cannot.

I was warned when I first entered politics that President Truman was correct about the "kitchen heat." Small town or national stage, the assaults by those who disagree with you sometimes descend into the most mean and personal tactics, and the bigger the lie and lie-teller, the harder it is to defeat. I was also warned the first time I countered a Times story or editorial that the old saying about people who buy ink by the train car load was undeniably a fact.

I never allowed those harsh realities of politics to deter me from doing what I thought was best for my community, but your most recent attack on my character compels me to respond.

In the nearly 15 years I served the citizens of Safety Harbor, I learned firsthand how vile and mean-spirited some factions of this community can be. Whether it is simple verbal abuse or outright libel or slander, whether it is vicious rumor or petty vandalism, I have as much or more experience in the pain it causes than anyone in this city.

For you to insinuate that I am linked to that kind of abuse is an insult and one I cannot idly accept. I have never participated in, and I completely reject, the kind of political tactics used against me over the years. I spent my energies trying to make my community a better place, and I choose to let the record of progress made by Safety Harbor during my tenure define whether my efforts were worthy of the trust my fellow citizens placed in me.

Allegations of wrongdoing by elected officials are not uncommon, and the history of Safety Harbor politics certainly bears that out. When serious charges are raised, investigation by the proper authority is warranted. This process is supposed to be confidential until the facts have been verified and formal action taken so that politics does not interfere with the course of justice.

In the investigation of possible violation of election laws by City Commissioner Kathleen Earle, that process was followed and would have remained confidential if she had not chosen to reveal it from the dais last week. Unlike the investigation of the allegations against Ms. Earle, her complaint to the Florida Ethics Commission against me was leaked to and then published by the Times.

Neither investigation was found to warrant further action, yet in my case the leaked charges became the fodder for my opponent's harassing tactics. Your insinuation that somehow the investigation of Ms. Earle's residency was dirty politics is not supported by the facts.

When I resigned from the City Commission in 2006, I did so in the hope that it would end the negativity and accusatory atmosphere that had begun with the 2005 election. That was exactly the atmosphere around Safety Harbor among city commissioners when I first ran for office in 1992. I saw how ugly it was then and the negative effect it had on our city, and I wanted no part in its return.

Unfortunately, in the 18 months since I left office, the new city leaders have struggled with the reality of the demands that public office places on you and the result is a turnover that has left us with inexperience and friction. What we have discovered is that it's easy to be a critic, but governing is a wholly different reality.

In the end, I find one point of agreement with your editorial. I join in the hope that this election and those that follow will bring into office people who have the courage to stand up to the challenge, the commitment to expend the time and energy demanded, the integrity to focus on what is best for the community and not the pettiness that will attempt to distract them, and an open-minded approach that treats all sides of an issue fairly and with class.

Pam Corbino, Safety Harbor

Red light runner, cemetery can wait

To the person who ran the red light Friday morning, Jan. 25, at Enterprise Road and Countryside Boulevard: Slow down. We're all going to the same place. In case you don't know, it's called the cemetery. I'm not in that big of a hurry.

George Pappas, Clearwater


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