Editor: Let’s get real on this. Sentimentality and practicality seldom mix. How many taxpayers in Seminole have warm, wonderful memories of a water tower? Enough to be glad to see their taxes raised to maintain a rusting, non-functional money pit of metal?
The cost to acquire, restore, maintain, and yes, eventually tear down will be extensive! There is nothing historic or iconic about it. And few people will plan special trips to see it.
Let the county keep the blue elephant and our city put money into storm sewers, road repairs, parks and lakes. Things that will make new memories for the majority of people on a daily basis.
Editor: I am a 26-year retiree enjoying the past decade living in Seminole. When the matter of “saving” the tower or removing it was presented, I initially wondered what was the fuss?
But, as my thoughts over the past many years of seeing the structure but not really paying attention began to “jell,” I realized that this structure was one of the reasons I chose to live in the city of Seminole.
It is a beacon guiding us; more, it is a symbol of peace and calm from a past era at a time when some of us need just such a “crutch.” With so much changing in our lives today, help us have this simple but beautiful reminder of what was!
Editor: Make no mistake, I love baseball! Recently, I stood before the city commission and spoke about corporate welfare and the negative impact on the taxpayers of Florida. Just this past week the Florida House of Representatives voted 82-33 to approve a bill that would prohibit sports franchises from building or renovating stadiums on publicly owned land.
Taxpayer dollars for billionaire sport franchise owners is not a good investment. Chris Hudson, the Florida State Director of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, reported in the TBT in January of this year that “when it comes to sports stadiums financed through Florida’s Professional Sports Facilities Incentive program, according to the state’s own economists, for every dollar invested in sports renovation projects, the state sees only 30 cents returned in economic activity - a far cry from a sound investment.”
Dunedin is the winter home of the Blue Jays baseball team of Toronto, Canada. As we residents know, the team would like to expand its operations in Dunedin. Great! But at what cost? The Dunedin taxpayer portion is $5.8 million. However, there are a great number of additional costs.
The Blue Jays want to expand their facility on Solon Avenue by taking over the entire property that is currently used by other ball teams, including the high school. This would force those other teams to find a new facility.
Editor: As a snowbird to Treasure Island for the past 14 years, we enjoy the atmosphere of Treasure Island and the laid-back life style.
We are dismayed by the rampant, unchecked vegetation growth on the beach over the years.
We understand the concept of stopping beach erosion but don’t understand why the majority of unchecked vegetation is directed at the north end of the Beach Trail, starting at the new Treasure Island Resort up to the Marriot Residence Inn.
The structures in this area are mainly condo-hotels and timeshares. The owners of these units bring in significant revenue to Treasure Island through their extended stay clients. These owners and their renters are being discriminated against!
Editor: This new Congress is supposed to be focused on fiscal responsibility and working to protect taxpayer dollars, not wasting money on an issue the majority of Americans oppose.
According to polls, 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter. For the last 10 years, Congress has justifiably prevented wasting our money by regularly including language in the Agricultural Appropriations Bill prohibiting federal funding for inspection of horse slaughter facilities.
The Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget will include a 21 percent cut to the United States Department of Agriculture budget. Yet, there is currently money in that budget to fund the inspections of horse slaughter plants. If the money is not removed, these horrific operations could once again open after having been shut down since 2007.
Why would Americans want their tax dollars spent on inspecting meat they don’t even eat?
Editor: $3 billion for TBX where no viable public transportation exists. Make it harder for citizens to fight voting district changes. Eliminate privacy rights. Gut national parks system. Reduce environmental protections. Enable dirty coal, oil pipeline, fracking. Deny climate change reality. Reduce taxes for the mega-rich. Increase auto insurance costs. Freedom of “choice” in health care insurance. Choose bankruptcy for excessive healthcare costs? Gut bank regulations to enable repeat 2007 economic debacle. Fail to improve the Affordable Care Act. Oppose universal healthcare for over 100 years. What do all these issues have in common?
Editor: Logan Mosby wrote an article in the March 24 Clearwater Beacon in which she covered responses by some residents at last week’s City Council meeting - “Clearwater Council Defends Meetings with Church of Scientology” (online) and “Council Under Fire for Private Meetings” (print). The citizens’ concerns are being driven by the misinformation propagated in our area's daily paper.
First, let me address the Sunshine Law. The Sunshine Law does not interfere with a constituent’s democratic right to speak with his or her elected official as long as it is done with one official at a time. This is done all the time. What is prohibited by the Sunshine Law is for meetings to occur with more than one city official outside of the public forum or for city officials to meet with each other outside of a public forum.
Mr. Miscavige is the ecclesiastical leader of the Church of Scientology, a major stakeholder in downtown Clearwater and an organization with a portion of its membership consisting of thousands of Scientologists who live in Clearwater. He met with each of four city council persons last week to brief them on some of his ideas for downtown revitalization.
Secondly, the Church of Scientology has no plans to buy all of downtown or control and manage retail in downtown as has been written. What the church is trying to do is help the city in accordance with the recommendation by the Urban Land Institute whose experts were hired by the city in 2014 to tell them what strategy to implement for downtown revitalization.
Editor: Many reading this column never met the late Governor T. Leroy Collins nor admired his courageous leadership to bridge Florida’s deep racial divide at a crucial point in the state’s history. I leave it to those reading these words to discover the man and the state that Florida was in the 1950s and ’60s and unearth the reasons why we who are old enough to remember deeply respect the governor.
In 1988, three years before his passing, a column written by Collins appeared in the, then, St. Petersburg Times. His article “Our Greatest Presidents Serve as Models for Future Leaders” anticipated the 1988 presidential election. I believe his words are relevant and ideas indispensable today.
“The current presidential campaign brings to mind a dinner in Washington back in the 1960s at the apartment of Nelson and Henrietta Poynter. There were 10 or 12 guests and, as always at the Poynters, the food was excellent and the conversation even better. The guests included prominent people from the media, current and former public officials, and a history professor.
In after-dinner conversation Nelson always liked group engagement, and he would have questions to start people talking and expressing their views, often conflicting.
Editor: The time for change in the city of Madeira Beach arrived on Tuesday, March 14. The citizens trounced the incumbent mayor and disappointed two district seat contenders.
Despite the mayor’s constant declaration of his accomplishments, it rings hollow with a constituency that lost trust.
It’s history now, but in spring 2016, a poorly worded referendum attempted to dupe voters into giving up rights to city property. It was defeated once the voters recognized the catch. The voters never forgot the architects of such a deceitful scheme. Then the revelation that the city, for several years, courted developers and without fanfare, rezoned to allow large hotel developments.
The outraged citizens petitioned for the right to vote on rezoning. The city ignored the signers, defying the city charter which reads essentially with a petition on the table, no valid voting can move forward. That means no voting, no development agreement, no moving forward. But the petition that residents signed, utilizing their First Amendment right, was ignored. “Petition-gate” is what led to Palladeno’s staggering defeat.
Editor: The Seminole Water Tower is a symbol of the people - part of our heritage. Towns all over the country are making efforts to save their water towers.
Stockton, California, is an example, and Wes Swanson, chairman of the Cultural Heritage Board there, says: “It’s not about what’s pretty, it’s about what matters.” When they put the water towers up, they changed the way the water system worked and they changed people’s lives. That’s the important thing about heritage. They are important because they had impact.
Seminole has already lost a part of history from demolition: Two railway stations were razed, Seminole Depot and Bay Pines Depot, and two citrus warehouses. The Meares home at what is now Seminole Park was torn down in the mid-1970s, when the city bought that land.
It is necessary to keep our Seminole Water Tower. It is an icon - a portrait of beauty, art and culture - a landmark used by countless people to identify Seminole. Young and old alike are all in on saving this monument. The county is making plans to tear it down in May.
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