Editor: Now that the cleanup is in full force, we need to remember the good and the bad to avoid making the same mistakes next time a hurricane targets our area. A little girl I know dug three $1bills out of her piggy bank to give to her father’s mentee because he had to evacuate versus those who selfishly looted and robbed. Compassionate people who took in their friends and neighbors versus those self-indulgent people who cut in the sandbag, gas, bottled water, and ice lines. Kind folks who gave food away to first responders versus the reckless drivers who treated streets with dark traffic signals as their personal speedway. Generous volunteers who donated their time wherever needed versus those selfish people who called to complain that generators were too noisy and that their trash was not picked up.
But most of all, going forward, we must remember it is our personal responsibility to keep our trees trimmed, pruned, and culled out. Duke Power told me most of the outages were caused by trees wrestling with power lines. Duke Power’s responsibility is to keep branches over the power lines trimmed. Several residents called months ago to have these branches trimmed; Duke ignored the requests.
Duke Power also has a responsibility to replace antique poles and to update their equipment. It’s a fact that monopolies typically make customer service a low priority. I’d like to suggest that, going forward, whenever you see tree branches over power lines, you make a call, several if necessary, to Duke until they come out and trim. We don’t need a repeat of last week.
We don’t realize how much we depend on electricity until we don’t have any.
Editor: I would like to address the erroneous comments made by Mr. Bob Lasher in his letter published in the Sept. 14, 2017, in the Seminole Beacon.
First, the Confederate leaders did not take up arms against United States as traitors. During the ratification process of the Constitution, all states were considered to be on equal footing. No state could claim to have a power or privilege other states did not have.
New York state in its ratification notes “That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness; that every power, jurisdiction, and right remains to the people.” Virginia’s ratification noted “powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression .”
Both ratifications were accepted by the convention; therefore, all states had the right of succession by the equal footing doctrine and Lincoln, as a lawyer, was well aware of this right. It is clear that Lincoln and the northern states were the ones who committed treason against their own Constitution.
Editor: I’ve seen a lot in the press lately about Confederate statues and monuments and it continues to amaze me how those who champion such things refuse to acknowledge that the Confederate leaders and troops were taking up arms against the United States of America.
No matter how you slice it, that constitutes treason - just as George Washington was considered a traitor to the British Crown. That’s why you don’t find statues of Washington and the Revolutionary generals dotting the English countryside.
Not only were the Confederates taking up arms against the U.S., they were doing so to preserve slavery. (Isn’t it ironic that it’s mostly Republicans who are now defending the Confederate monuments, when it was their hero and figurehead, Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery).
Also, don’t relate Confederate soldiers to those who fought in Vietnam. Those who fought in Vietnam did so FOR their country, NOT against it. What’s more, it doesn’t matter how many good things the Confederate generals did before or after the war, they still took up arms against the U.S.
Editor: The Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District is in a self-inflicted budgeting quagmire this year. Their EMS cost structure is the highest in Pinellas County and runs about 30 percent above average. An ambitious 10-year capital plan in last year’s budget aims to spend over 9 million dollars between 2018 and 2020. And a partial budget released by the district for 2017/2018 aims to increase spending by over 30 percent over last year. How will the PSFRD pay for this spending? And should they?
Voters in November narrowly passed a fire district referendum that changed the district tax structure. Many taxpayers still don’t understand what they voted for. The affirmative passage ushered in two sweeping changes: 1) the addition of a new ad valorem tax and 2) a new authority granted to the fire district’s commissioners to be able to raise the millage rate to up to 2 mills in future years. The ballot language used in the referendum is under a legal challenge, so it is currently unknown if the referendum will stand. If it does not, the PSFRD will have to reconsider its long-term spending plans. With the possibility of a new tax dangling in the air, there has been no willingness by the commission to discuss a possible plan B should the referendum be repealed.
The district’s plans include building a new fire station at the far southern end of the district in Indian Shores. Plans also include a complete rebuild of the Oakhurst station. Both stations would be located near the edge of the fire district, causing undesirable coverage overlaps with the Seminole and Madeira fire departments.
The fire commissioners have been unwilling to discuss any options to partner with neighboring fire departments or get contract services from them. Both these options are allowed in the district’s charter and would be much more cost effective than building duplicative stations.
Editor If we’re going to tear down statues and monuments let's at least be consistent.
Let’s start with Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, who is immortalized with a stone monument in the Smithsonian.
Sanger believed in exterminating lesser human beings, inferior races and the handicapped through abortion. Her legacy is the lifeless bodies of tiny innocent infants thrown out in garbage bags. And why are there no riots and protests to remove Charles Darwin from our textbooks and the statues and exhibits we finance in his honor. Darwin believed and wrote in “The Descent of Man” that “dark skinned Africans were more inferior and closer to the apes than Caucasians.”
And, of course, there is Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd. There are multiple statues of this man who said, “I shall never fight with a negro by my side. Rather, I should die a thousand times and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never again to rise again than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
Editor: We Floridians love our food. And why not? We boast one of the world’s most exciting cuisines, founded on Spanish and Native American fare and mixing in Jewish, Cuban, and American Southern influences, as well as Central American, Asian, and African along the way.
Our restaurants embody our diverse culture, and represent a $41.7 billion economic asset. But most establishments operate on a razor-thin margin, where little things can determine failure or success.
That makes the confusing status of joint employer rules particularly worrisome for the nearly 40,000, mostly small, restaurant establishments and more than 1 million foodservice employees across Florida.
The joint employer definition governs which employees legally “belong” to a given company. The question comes up in various business relationships, like subcontracting. It’s also an issue for franchises, where there is an umbrella brand under which multiple independent establishments operate.
Editor: Many people, including Republicans, are saying we can’t tear down Confederate statues because it erases history. When I hear that argument, I interpret it as the statues are historical, and something so old shouldn’t be destroyed because it offends a handful of people. However, most people who are using this “history” argument are saying the statues should remain as a reminder to never go back to slavery. I find the later argument about as ridiculous as removing Confederate statues for the same reason. This is because statues of retiring soldiers aren’t erected to remind people about the history of a war. It’s to honor, respect and remember the people who fought in the war. These statues depicting Confederate soldiers are simply honoring those who answered the call from their state. It would be like people who opposed the Vietnam War saying we should tear down the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The people in these wars should still be respected for serving their state and country even if you disagree with what the country was doing at the time.
What continues to blow my mind is the constant war against paintings, statues and schools honoring Robert E. Lee. Gen. Lee was more than a Confederate general. He was first offered to lead the Union Army, but felt he could not fight against his home state. If Virginia hadn’t seceded there’s no telling what he might have done. Before the war, he had fought in the Mexican-American War and had already made a name for himself in the U.S. Army. After the Civil War, he pledged allegiance to the United States Constitution, said he was “now American” and became president of Washington University (now Washington and Lee University). So on top of being a war veteran, Lee was a popular educator. To say this man should be compared to Adolf Hitler is just denying basic history. Adolf Hitler fought until he couldn’t fight anymore, then sent out the elderly to fight. He was a psychopathic, god-playing dictator who committed suicide rather than admit defeat. Robert E. Lee surrendered because he thought enough people had died, and was happy to see slavery abolished after the war. There’s a striking difference between someone who fought a war out of duty, and someone who fought a war for themselves.
As for the average soldier or other generals, I feel like they should still be respected. Many of them believed the Confederacy was fighting for independence rather than slavery. They also fought simply because the South was their home. Near the end of the war when the Union was burning down southern cities, do you really think Confederates were thinking about slavery as they tried to repel Union attacks? The Civil War was America’s bloodiest war and I don’t think some self-righteous people 150 years later should get to determine the value of those who died in that war. Maybe if we were building new monuments to the Confederacy they might have a reason to protest, but to take down veterans’ memorials that range from half a century to over a century old should be opposed by every American, north or south. Sadly, we live in times where people rarely think, let alone ponder about what an honorable course of action could be. While I’m against this false narrative of history spread by racists on both sides, I would gladly see these monuments appreciated on private property opposed to vandalized in cities that do not appreciate or defend them. It just seems like most liberals are resilient to even make such a compromise, or do so with respect to the statue in mind. Many simply want the statues eradicated, and I can find very little respect for such a one-sided opinion. Hopefully, this article will help open some people’s eyes to a less divisive debate over these statues. Letting Black Lives Matter and the KKK battle over these monuments isn’t going to let any real reason to be heard, because they both work purely on a race-based agenda. I think we should all agree growing racism in order to solve political problems will never unify this country.
Editor: The violence that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, has only served to alienate and divide Americans. There were peaceful and not so peaceful people protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Some members in both the protester and counter-protesting groups wore riot gear and were ready to battle, which they did. Over 242 years ago, our Founding Fathers fought for our freedoms, ultimately creating our U.S. Constitution, in spelling out our God-given right to assemble peacefully without intimidation. The First Amendment does not give us the right to harm others. Sadly, we are seeing the opposite. As Americans, we need to exchange ideas and not weaponry. Respecting one another’s point of view in and of itself without censorship ultimately promotes liberty for all. We cannot have liberty for all without the freedom to express our points of view without intimidation.
Editor: I’ve read several articles recently in the Beach Beacon about the town of Indian Shores posting new town signs, adding pole banners and generally dressing up the town. That’s all fine and good, I’m not against that. But is the town of Indian Shores ever going to address and fix their drainage problems on their stretch of Gulf Boulevard?
Several years ago between just north of the Park Boulevard bridge north to the Indian Rocks Beach city limit, Gulf Boulevard was widened, repaved and bicycle and pedestrian walkways were added. It looks nice and usable on a sunny day. But it doesn’t take much rain and Gulf Boulevard through Indian Shores is basically flooded out; bicycle and pedestrian lanes are unusable due to excessive flooding and standing water. The town of Indian Shores after a rain is a route I avoid; it’s a mess.
I have never seen any activity or articles that the town has ever considered fixing the drainage issue. I can only guess no one on the town board sees it as a safety issue during and post-rain events for pedestrians, bicycles and cars alike? If Gulf Boulevard is not the town’s responsibility, their mayor and commissioners are dropping the ball not going after the state to correct the problem.
Drive the length of Gulf Boulevard. The town of Indian Shores is the worst stretch for drainage for sure. As the town brags about improvements, I don’t see how fixing the drainage and flooding along Gulf Boulevard is apparently not a priority to them?
Editor: In a recent submission to this publication this resident suggested the Seminole City Council was seriously wasting time, energy, and resources on an issue that was not even within the incorporated city limits. As suggested then, the county would handle the removal of the water tower that was on county property. The bigger question was why that area of the city was not within the incorporated part of town, an area adjacent to old City Hall and our City Park. As suggested, our neighbors in Largo were developing an annexation policy to deal with areas of that city that were bounded by the city limits. This plan needs to be reviewed by our city to see if such a plan can be used to incorporate these areas.
Previously, when this same council proposed a building at the new Waterfront Park, this resident suggested that too was a poor choice for that tiny tract of unstable land. As suggested then, as now, with a sense of history, the park might be known as Jessie’s Landing. After all, wasn’t it Jessie Johnson who suggested the dam that is now known as Park Boulevard, then constructed a grand structure known as Jessie’s Landing on the site?
As for memorializing a recently passed mayor, we need to be cautious of knee-jerk reactions to the passing. Give it time. With the passage of time, you sometimes see things differently. If there is then a desire to memorialize, a better memorial might be to dedicate Johnson Boulevard, where he spent his last years, in recognition of the former mayor.
Editor: Dear Seminole: It is with sadness that I leave you. Having stood for over 60 years on a special little corner of Seminole, I believed there would be another 40 years for me. I dreamed of celebrating my 100th birthday - treasured by my community. But that was not to be.
I thank those of you who spoke for me, the school children, the working moms and dads, the retirees, the ordinary folks who make up our area and smiled when they saw me, understanding I stood for a piece of their history and represented home. These were not the people who bought into the fake news that I was nothing but a “rust bucket” ready to fall down. Perhaps that is why I was so speedily demolished, machinery even booming on Sundays, before anyone had the opportunity to actually see that my structure was sound.
A note to those community leaders and businesses who summarily bought into the lies and chose not to speak for me. The Friends of the Water Tower offered ways in which to help. Over 900 citizens signed an on-line petition pleading for my life with hundreds of others placing yard signs and sending post cards to our county commissioners, but to no avail. My fate was sealed and the deconstruction swiftly swept me away. Sadly, I will no longer be a beacon to welcome residents and visitors alike to our community.
And so, goodbye, Seminole. I know there will always be a place in your heart for me (the water tower).
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