Editor: Near sunset Feb. 9 at Pass-A-Grill Beach a cool, cloudy day was being enjoyed by kite boarders and beachcombers alike
Suddenly, with the silent swiftness of the wind, a beach-walking woman was struck from behind by an errant kite boarder’s rig. Thrown 10 yards garroted by kite wires she was slammed hard to the ground, sustaining multiple cuts, abrasions, contusions, fractures to the right hand and serious shoulder damage.
As she lay bleeding, surrounded by shocked bystanders, the kite boarder fled the scene.
This man’s behavior is unacceptable and may call for kite boarder legislation and enforcement. His acts of maliciousness or incompetence were followed by cowardice or callousness. That cannot be tolerated.
Editor: On Dec. 11 a reader wrote a letter to the Tampa Bay Times saying that he was pleased that through the new Affordable Care Act his 26-year-old daughter was able to get medical insurance that also included some dental coverage. He lamented that at over $4,000 a year ($340 a month) it was quite expensive. She doesn’t qualify for any subsidy because her earnings of $30,000 put her over the threshold.
Is the cost too much? Let’s pretend the reader’s daughter is in Ontario, Canada, and earning the same $30,000 where the health care is free. Or is it free?
First, she would have to pay more in federal income tax. Her current rate of 11.08 percent would jump to 15 percent. Since Florida doesn’t have a state income tax and Ontario does, she would have to deduct another 5.05 percent for the Ontario provincial income tax.
Whenever she buys something from a retail store, instead of Florida’s low 6 or 7 percent retail sales tax she would be paying 13 percent. Over the course of a year, with everyday purchases, that adds up. If she bought a $30,000 automobile, tack on an extra $2,100 over and above what she’d be paying in Florida.
Editor: Those who have lived in Madeira Beach for any length of time may recall, albeit reluctantly, the dire straits we found ourselves in a few short years ago. Commission meetings often erupted into open warfare. Little was accomplished, and when something did manage to squeak through the cracks, it was always bitterly contested. One of the big questions asked by residents was who would be next in line to sue us. We were the laughing stock of Pinellas County and our every move subjected us to more ridicule.
Today, as a result of the stewardship of Mayor Schontz, followed seamlessly by Mayor Palladino, we have become one of the most respected communities on the west coast of Florida. Our board meetings are dignified and productive and the city is moving forward with several major projects.
Under construction are a Marriott hotel, a beach restaurant, significant private development, a new Publix, a new city hall and fire station and a revamped recreation center. In addition a new Walgreens is open and construction is set for a new CVS. Parks are being rebuilt and the Johns Pass and Boardwalk areas have been revitalized and are realizing unparalleled success.
On top of this the Leverock’s property is currently under consideration for redevelopment, the City Marina and public works complex changes are in full swing, many of our roads are scheduled for resurfacing and storm sewer and other infrastructure improvements are in the planning stages. Finally the long awaited undergrounding of utilities on Gulf Boulevard have actually begun. While the administration cannot take full credit for all of this, they can certainly take credit for having created a climate that encouraged the investment and development that made this possible.
Editor: My husband and I are seasonal residents from Chicago, who own a condo for the past eight years in Bayshore II, on the hotel property. Even though the new signage gives solo billing to the Belleair Country Club, it was the hotel that bequeathed the club, and gave the town its notoriety, and I will always consider it as such.
When deciding on a place to buy here, we searched up and down Pinellas County from Dunedin to Tierra Verde. We fell in love with our Belleair condo because of its small town feel. It was a lovely gated and gracefully mixed residential hidden gem.
It was such a pleasant contrast to most other properties we viewed, which were “cookie cutter condo clusters.” And then there was this grand hotel, center stage to this Rockwell setting. Despite showing her age, and sporting a funky Godzilla entrance, she oozed history and grander times
We were so excited in ’09 at its closing, that this Sleeping Beauty would awaken in ’12, to her restored glory. But people being people, could not let preservation architects proceed. Lingering law suits delaying the process, until the economy tanked.
Editor: Regarding discussion of emergency medical cuts, I agree that the fire chiefs have problems, but it begins with the fire chiefs.
About two months ago, a neighbor on the Mainlands of Tamarac had a minor fire, originating from her dishwasher.
I personally counted nine fire trucks responding to this minor fire. Is there any coordination between fire departments? Who determines which fire department is to respond?
Another incident but same problem: Another of my neighbors had an emergency call button and I would often see several EMS trucks at her home. On one occasion, I noticed a lady standing at this lady’s garage and I asked her why she was there and she stated that she was from the Florida Department of Children and Families Services and she was waiting for a policeman to come to accompany her into the home. Soon afterward, I noticed a policeman, a Sunstar truck and a fire truck arrive. This lady is senile and soon thereafter was placed in a secure facility. Unfortunately, it took several years for any action to be taken.
Editor: I was surprised by what I read in letters “Why marijuana should not be legalized” in the Feb. 13 issue. The writer should have used “I believe” or “I feel or think” rather than provide information as facts. I do not know where the writer obtained the sources for the information but not all corroborate the science of marijuana. Smoking marijuana can be a danger to health. I base my findings on information from the National Institute of Health website, but it says nothing about DNA changes. The site also says “when used heavily” some of the adverse effects occur.
Now to the other critique of the article. Does the writer differentiate recreational vs. medicinal use? There are certain people who would benefit from marijuana use especially those suffering from terminal illness and from chronic pain. The writer makes no mention of the benefits. It is my understanding that the present proposal that will be on the ballot is for medical use only. Possibly some cases would occur where people would abuse marijuana but for those, who suffer from the aforementioned conditions, marijuana should be a treatment.
Editor: The recent town hall meeting was as lively as ever when the subject was the Belleview Biltmore Hotel.
Since the Town Commission agreed to stay the zoning for another 6 months, the priority becomes to find a buyer who will restore the hotel. Restoration is possible, so let’s put that item on the shelf. What’s next?
Even some of the naysayers said they would be agreeable for restoration if the buyers had the money, and the credentials for marketing and managing the hotel after its restoration.
Until now, the town has passively waited for people to come forward with their ideas; hopes are raised and then dashed, because they can’t raise the money. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported the growth of boutique hotels (10 to 100 rooms). See article here.
Editor: Marijuana is very harmful and should not be approved for Floridians on the November ballot. It causes permanent brain damage. Smokers have difficulty concentrating. They suffer loss of memory, and all intellectual performance is impaired, especially in speech and math. Also their personality and emotions are abnormally affected, causing dullness, lethargy, loss of sense of time, hostile suspiciousness, and a false sense of euphoria. THC, a toxic chemical in this drug rests mainly in the fat cells of the body, particularly the brain.
Marijuana damages the lungs and respiratory system 10 times faster than nicotine cigarettes. It also damages DNA (genetic cells) and the reproductive system and can cause abnormal births, according to a study at Columbia University.
A second Columbia University study found that a control group smoking a single marijuana cigarette every other day for a year had a white blood cell count that was 39 percent lower than normal, thus damaging the immune system and making the user more susceptible to infection and sickness. Five marijuana cigarettes a week have the same cancer causing capacity as 112 conventional cigarettes.
One marijuana cigarette causes a 41 percent decrease in driving skills. Two cigarettes cause a 63 percent decrease. Often it is difficult to detect a person who is stoned, as opposed to being drunk with alcohol and having an obvious odor. And all too often marijuana and alcohol are consumed together, studies find.
Letters do not necessarily reflect the views of Tampa Bay Newspapers.
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