Editor: I did not intend to rebut the two women who wrote to the editor about the candidate’s forum on Feb.11, but their gross misrepresentation of facts and misinformation in their letters compel me to respond.
I did not participate in the Belleair Civic Association Candidate Forum for two primary reasons. First, I did not agree with the forum’s format. The BCA did not invite the League of Woman Voters to conduct the entire event as requested: to moderate, keep time, and most importantly, equitably distribute the citizen’s questions. Secondly, due to pending lawsuits, and the scheduled re-vote on Ordinance #499 on Feb. 17, there was potential risk to the town with having two sitting Commissioners speaking about the hotel. In fact, our town attorney agreed with Commissioner Wilkinson’s concern and his decision to have the candidates forum after the re-vote. In addition, why take the chance of another lawsuit or give ammunition for the current suits? Commissioner Wilkinson didn’t want to put the town at risk, nor did I. These two issues could have been addressed by the BCA, but they chose not to. Therefore, Commissioner Wilkinson and I did not participate.
It is unfortunate that some residents came to the forum not realizing I had declined to attend, especially since I notified the BCA 12 days prior to the event that I would not be participating. I also notified the Belleair Bee myself eight days before the event since the BCA failed to share that information with the newspaper.
I find it completely inappropriate that Karen Mathieson, Commissioner Tom Shelly’s wife, would submit a letter disparaging me. To suggest I might be unprepared or unwilling to do the homework and unwilling to answer questions from constituents is absurd. Anyone who knows me, or has spoken to me about the issues, knows that.
Editor: I am writing to clarify the issue of my absence at the Belleair Civic Association candidate’s forum held Feb. 11. As background, the town is now involved in two active lawsuits regarding our actions taken in finding a solution for the Belleview Biltmore property. After the Belleair Civic Association informed me of the date, I responded to them in writing with the following: “I think any forum should take place after the final vote on the Biltmore, which I believe is Feb. 17. Considering the lawsuits the town is now engaged in relating to the Biltmore and two of the candidates are sitting commissioners, it would be prudent, in my opinion, to hold off on any discussions until after the final vote.” Our town attorney and town manager both concurred with my opinion.
I have lived in Belleair for over 20 years, have served as commissioner since July 2010, and have attended every commission meeting during my tenure, so my record is well documented. My home phone number, cell number and email are all publicly accessible, as is my election website. I have always answered all emails and returned all phone calls from our residents and listened to their concerns, questions and opinions. If I have lost votes due to my absence at the forum but potentially saved the town from another lawsuit, I can live with that. In all my actions, I will continue to do what is right for Belleair.
Editor: Your Feb. 5 editorial cartoon is dangerously dishonest. Iran is not Nazi Germany or anything close.
Even Mossad and our own CIA’s analysts state that Iran does not have or apparently aspire to nuclear weapons. Nothing has changed since this was published in 2012 in Ha’aretz: “Mossad, CIA agree Iran has yet to decide to build nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s rulers have between 60 and 400 nuclear weapons on land-and sub-launched missiles (subs - U-boats - built in Germany and paid for in part with U.S. aid) and bombs, and have plans to destroy the whole area if the rulers are seriously threatened: the “Samson Option.”
Unlike Iran, they spurn the treaty most other nations have signed, “Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” Our own government is planning for and threatening nuclear war with Russia over a Ukraine crisis that it fomented.
Editor: Last evening, Feb. 11, I attended the meet the candidates forum at the Belleair Town Hall and was disappointed to see that Steve Fowler was the only candidate present.
This forum personifies grassroots democracy in its purest form.
For candidates Wilkinson and Rettstatt to boycott this opportunity to discuss their visions for the town and their positions on the current issues showed a lack of respect, and even disdain, for the residents of Belleair. I attended this meeting knowing I would vote for Steve Fowler and wanted only to hear from candidates Wilkinson and Rettstatt, whom I do not know, to decide on my second vote. Now, I will vote for neither.
Editor: It was a pleasure meeting two candidates who are running for commission seats in Belleair. Karla Rettstatt and Mike Wilkinson attended a meet and greet I hosted at my condo building recently. They came prepared and presented a professional overview of their qualifications. The answers they provided to questions asked by the residents were straightforward, professional and honest. They expressed concern over the impact the hotel property renovations would have on the RPD.
It was interesting to note that Karla knew a lot about the water issue facing the town and shared her research with us. Mike has been an active supporter of the recreation center and will continue to do so.
Rettstatt and Wilkinson are both interested in what is best for Belleair and its residents. I’m casting my vote for them and hope you will too.
Editor: I declare my full support and will vote for Karla Rettstatt for Belleair Town Commission on March 10. Karla seeks a return to the commission after serving two successful terms from 2006-2010. When a family member became ill, Karla did not seek re-election. Her dedication to family, and her drive to focus on the right priorities, is two of the many reasons I endorse Karla today.
While away from the commission, Karla maintained her commitment to Belleair and the local community. She established and continues to lead The Wonders Foundation and the Belleair Community Foundation. Both have had a profound impact on local families and the community at large. I personally appreciate her vision behind the transformation of Hunter Park into Hunter Memorial Park, dedicated to the U.S. Armed Forces.
My vote for Karla on March 10th is a vote that welcomes a familiar face with fresh ideas back to the commission. While I have gratitude and respect for those with a long-standing position on the commission, I look to Karla to provide the strong, progressive leadership we need to secure a bright future for the town of Belleair. Please join me in voting for Karla Rettstatt for Belleair Town Commission on March 10.
Editor: I have lived in Seminole since 1997 and find it a great place to live, especially with regard to its recreational facilities. We have public accommodations for tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer, boating and even a wonderful recreation center with a pool, all of which makes Seminole an accommodating community for sports-minded residents and especially for children who have a variety of athletic activities that helps to keep them busy during summer months, in good health and out of trouble!
Although Seminole has the above-mentioned activities available, there is no place in Seminole to play outdoor one-wall handball, racquetball or paddleball, all of which are played on the same court.
Now that a waterfront park is being created next to the Home Depot, I thought it would be a great opportunity to consider allocating a very small section of the park to accommodate Seminole’s outdoor athletes who play handball, paddleball and racquetball.
Allocating a 32-foot by 80-foot section of the proposed parks’ space would yield two courts and doubling this area would provide four courts that would be sufficient for United States Handball Association sanctioned tournaments.
Re: “Beach rule violations continue in Belleair Shore,” by Wayne Ayers, Jan. 29 Editor: Wayne Ayers’ informative piece about the snarky rules of Belleair Shore opened my eyes and pained my heart so deeply that I had to pick up my pen to voice my dissent.
As it turns out I am one of those ignorant violators who regularly bicycle up Indian Rocks Beach and continue on my merry way into the verboten zone of the Belleair Shore. But I had no idea until reading this article that I was breaking any rules.
Really? Sure, I understand the value of rules and I appreciate peace, quiet, and privacy as much as anybody, but c’mon people; we are talking about the beach!
I have lived near beaches all of my life, in California, Hawaii, and in Florida and beach life is an essential part of my sanity. After a long day of work (in acute care hospitals) I bike down to the beach to refresh my soul, clear my mind, and discover inspiration for my creative pursuits of poetry and prose in the fading light of day.
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