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  1. Letters to the Editor

Monday's letters: Clearwater must stand firm in negotiations with Scientology

Scientology is on a retail mission | March 7

City officials must stand firm

"The Church of Scientology is maneuvering to control all downtown real estate to create a master retail district that will operate under its management and oversight." That is a scary and troubling statement, especially when city manager Bill Horne and city officials seem ready to abdicate their responsibility to control the economic and business development of Clearwater's downtown.

When church leader David Miscavige finds it necessary and worth his time to get personally involved in the discussion, I say be wary, very wary. As Times business writer Robert Trigaux rightly points out, if city officials empower an already influential and controversial church to become an economic decisionmaker for the city core, abdicating control of downtown development, such action will certainly raise suspicions across the Tampa Bay area. The economic effect will be depressing at best.

Now is the time for the mayor, city manager and city council to stand firm against any further erosion of their authority and powers. Any negotiations must be totally open and transparent — not something the Church of Scientology is noted for.

John Hayner, Clearwater

Church's negative impact

As a resident of the Clearwater area since the '60s, I was there when Scientology came to town. They bought up land and buildings before Clearwater officials knew what hit them, and to this day they are still doing that.

The city has tried for 20 years to revitalize downtown, which before Scientology arrived was a wonderful place to shop. They have not been successful because the average citizen wants nothing to do with Scientology.

I agree that David Miscavige should make a presentation at the next council meeting, to include all members and the public.

Sally White, Palm Harbor

GOP plan is just a repackaged ACA March 9, commentary

Market hasn't worked

George LeMieux's critique of the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans' replacement falls apart the moment he hinges his criteria on "market-driven reforms." We know what market-based health care looks like, because it is precisely what kept millions of Americans from having any heath care before the ACA.

We need to face the fact that, without government support, some people will not be able to afford prices set by an industry that is more concerned with making money than with treating people. The problem with the proposed replacement — and some of its critics — is the Republican-sponsored drive to return us to that same condition, since they don't want to pay a dime to improve other people's lives.

The bigger betrayal is from Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of affordable health care for "everybody" through a "spectacular" new plan. The speed at which he endorsed the new plan as "wonderful" convinces me that he hasn't even read it.

Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg