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PINELLAS PARK INVITES ITS RESIDENTS TO AIR THEIR IDEAS

The city plans a town hall meeting sans TV cameras and formality.

Council members have scheduled a town hall meeting Tuesday to offer residents a chance to air their thoughts in an informal setting.

Whether anyone will take them up on the offer is unclear.

"We have no idea" how many people might show up, but at least the city is giving them an opportunity, Pinellas Park spokesman Tim Caddell said. Just in case a lot of people come, officials are holding the 7 p.m. meeting at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, at 4951 78th Ave. N, on the east side of City Hall. The center holds 500 people.

Speakers will be permitted five minutes each instead of the usual three-minute limit at council meetings. Light snacks will be provided.

"The purpose of the meeting is to receive input from residents regarding any city-related topic of interest," Caddell said. "Many folks are slightly intimidated by the whole formal structure of the council meetings and the fact that they are televised."

Caddell said council member Rick Butler originally suggested a town hall meeting. Then council member Sandra Bradbury pushed the idea after hearing how well it worked elsewhere.

Of course, that was before town hall meetings became a hotbed of anger and emotion over national health care issues.

"We should have called it something other than a town hall meeting"- maybe "All Night Kegger" hosted by the Pinellas Park City Council, Caddell joked. "People would show up then."

Pinellas Park residents can become incensed about issues but generally stay pretty peaceful. But just in case, Caddell joked, "They are putting the administrators on the front row ... so they'll have to go through us to get to (the council). Of course, I can pretty much assure that we'll get out of the way."

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

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