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AN APOLOGY FROM TARPON SPRINGS

Re: Mayor's diplomacy assailed - story, Sept. 3

As mayor of Tarpon Springs, I would like to apologize for the negative, racist and prejudiced comments toward anyone of Asian heritage that were spoken at the Sept. 1 Tarpon Springs City Commission meeting and restated in the article. I am appalled and embarrassed by the comments made there about a possible upcoming visit to Tarpon Springs by delegates from China.

A couple of months ago, Vice Mayor Robin Saenger and I were invited to speak at a tourism conference in Tunxi, China. Upon our arrival we were treated with respect and dignity. We had the opportunity to share all the wonderful attributes of our community in hopes of stirring more tourism in Pinellas County. Apparently, they were impressed with the materials we left behind and have asked to visit our community to further interests in an art and cultural exchange.

During my tenure as mayor, I have had visitors to Tarpon Springs from almost every country in the world. Today, we cannot afford to refuse anyone to visit our communities. Our local art museum, the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College, is anxious to develop an art exchange with Tunxi. What an opportunity for our community! The fact that China is a communist country should not mean a visit from them will change my views or their political views, but we can still learn about each other's culture.

Please accept my personal invitation to visit our city. We are a diverse and beautiful community.

Beverley Billiris, mayor of Tarpon Springs

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Re: Exam exempt policy in peril - story, Sept. 7

Exam exemption offers incentive

Recently the topic of the exam exemption policy has come to the attention of the Pinellas County School Board. To prevent students from coming to school sick, they considered dropping the attendance requirement and requiring only good grades to exempt exams. Some board members supported this temporary change, but others now want to get rid of the policy completely.

I would like to ask those board members who are against the exemption policy to put themselves in our shoes - the high school students' shoes. From a student's point of view, the exam exemption policy is the best thing in the world, being able to take all of your exams first semester and exempting second semester exams at the end of the school year.

One board member says that all students should take their exams to see if they really learned anything in the class. Currently, the exemption policy does not let anybody and everybody exempt their exams; you must maintain an A or B average, which involves taking and passing tests on the material in class. Essentially, only the hardworking, dedicated students are able to exempt, and I feel it should continue to be that way.

I ask the School Board members to reconsider their feelings on this issue and keep in mind that most of the current high school students will be old enough to vote in the next election.

Matthew Philbin, Tarpon Springs

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What next? Eiffel on Cleveland St.?

I would love to know who the genius is who designed the Cleveland Street mess in Clearwater - not limited to downtown, but all the way to Main Street (near Belcher Road) - maybe farther, but I was at last lucky enough to turn off at that point. I would also like to know the cost of same.

They can rest assured they won't have to worry about traffic there, as anyone who drove it once will never drive it again. The huge "bowling balls" and the roundabouts will probably qualify for eighth wonder of the world.

This city must have enough money to build an Eiffel Tower, and if there is any space left on Cleveland Street, I look for that next.

Pat Terpack, Clearwater

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Re: Truth, not fear, is key to health reform - Jan Glidewell column, Sept. 6

Voice of sanity in a troubled world

More than a "letter to the editor," this is really a thank-you note to a voice rarely heard these days - that of Jan Glidewell. I always looked forward to reading your columns, Jan, since they were always so informative, instructive and interesting. I miss not being able to pick up the newspaper and read your latest "take" on one issue or another.

Once again, you have illuminated one deep concern that has been bantered about recently, the fear of a "death committee," with the honesty and integrity for which you have long been known.

As a teacher, I have always tried in the classroom to relate a concept to my students by way of an example. Often, the kids thought they were getting me off the track when they would encourage my stories about aviation or where I had flown that weekend. Little did they know that my algebra lesson formed the basis of physics, or "applied algebra," as I call it.

Is it any wonder that, as adults, three of my former students have become flight instructors and a fourth, who was a member of our sailing club, is now working on his instructor's license?

Please let us hear from you more frequently. Particularly in this troubled world, the voice of sanity needs to be heard. Yours has been an excellent example of such a voice.

Cindy Gamblin, Dunedin

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