Editor: The recent sequence of events involving the evaluation and resignation of the Dunedin city manager has raised questions regarding the process of presenting issues to come before the City Commission as well as the conduct of all participants at such meetings.
At the Jan. 21 commission meeting, a long-standing rule of procedure was arbitrarily reversed when comments from the floor were invited prior to conducting the city manager’s annual review by the City Commission. This resulted in public comments based on hearsay and speculation without the benefit of facts regarding job performance, which were later, presented in the commission’s evaluation and is now public record for all to see.
A periodic evaluation of the city manager’s job performance is to be done by the entire City Commission. A commissioner is expected to voice his or her opinion about the job performance of the city manager. This happens each year during the regular performance evaluation of the city manager but concerns regarding job performance can and should be made, when necessary, during the agendized commission comments portion of any scheduled meeting regardless of whether that meeting has been extended for other reasons.
For the process to be fair and equitable to all parties concerned, members of the commission each have an opportunity to state the facts as they see them and express their opinions in open meeting. Then informed citizens have the right to express their views on the performance of the city manager based on their own experience and facts presented by the commission. But at the last meeting, the roles were reversed and that reversal resulted in hostile and uninformed comments, which, in my opinion, were encouraged by a lack of information and sadly, misinformation.
Editor: I confidently recommend Tom Kurey and Tom Shelly for town of Belleair commissioners.
Tom Kurey is highly qualified and a man of integrity. He cares deeply about the town and has served on the town’s Finance Committee, as well as the Police Pension Board, since 2012. His extensive background in finance and sound judgment are just what Belleair needs going forward.
Editor: Your Jan. 14 edition included a story about a homeowner who ended up shooting the intruder, and it makes me want to share information that can help anyone in a similar situation have a better outcome.
While giving details of an incident to a county deputy regarding a person with a gun, I asked what my best options were to protect myself without shooting someone.
She said that a great option is wasp spray because it is non-lethal and it sprays about 18 feet. I later decided to obtain a concealed weapons permit, and the instructor provided some valuable info to consider when carrying a weapon. Don’t shoot someone for any reason other than to protect your or a loved one’s life (he said it costs between $50,000-$100,000 to defend yourself even if you were within your rights).
Now, even though I have a concealed weapon, my first option is to call law enforcement (Largo PD has been amazing in responding to several calls to my residence). Secondly, I keep a can of wasp spray in my vehicle and in my home (within easy reach). As a last resort I do have a pistol that I hope to never have to use.
Editor: Once again, on Jan. 21, our Dunedin City Commission embarrassed us with mostly petty, childish complaints regarding our City Manager, Rob DiSpirito.
The only adult at the table was our mayor. The other four commissioners have their own agendas, their own “visions.” Unfortunately, many times, their vision is exactly opposite of the residents visions. Small groups of special interests are heard; concerns of large groups of residents do not seem to matter. Mr. DiSpirito seems to be in a no-win position. If he tries to please the residents, he angers some commissioners. He may be the scapegoat for the parking debacle. It was obvious the general public did not want pay stations. The commission had an option to have signage with two or three-hour parking; violators will be fined. This would enhance turnover, which was the main concern of downtown merchants.
Less drastic than pay stations, a good start while we figure out how to build a parking structure. Many residents have ideas about paying for a parking garage. A revenue stream from pay stations should be a last resort. Residents also are very worried about over development. This past year the commission has rushed to approve big and little developments. We have asked them to slow down, look at how it affects our quaint community.
One positive result of the anger regarding Mr. DiSpirito’s termination is that we have many residents interested in running for city commissioner.
Editor: Together with the American Heart Association, I applaud the Florida Senate’s Committee on Agriculture for recognizing the issue of reliable accessibility to healthy foods for the 2.5 million Floridians who live in food deserts by unanimously passing the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, House Bill 153 and Senate Bill 760.
In the Tampa Bay area, 42 percent of residents in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties live in areas with little to no access to healthy foods. These people rely on corner stores where it is difficult or impossible to get fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, seafood, lean meats and other foods needed to maintain a healthy diet.
The legislation seeks a minimum of a $5 million nonrecurring appropriation from the state to create public-private partnerships that would provide the capital needed to renovate and expand existing stores, and lower the barriers for new stores to be created.
Florida ranks 10th in the nation for adult obesity, spending over $8 billion each year treating obesity-related diseases. Providing Floridians with greater access to nutritious, affordable food will help alleviate these public health concerns.
Editor: My husband and I were gratified to read Brian Goff’s piece about “Blue,” the injured heron at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. We’ve visited the sanctuary many times and are happy such a facility exists that dedicates itself to the care of injured birds.
The story also reaffirmed for us yet again, the inherent intelligence of animals and their ability to show emotion. Just the night before the Beacon came out, we watched a “Nature” program on the local PBS station that showed several examples of compassion and altruism demonstrated by various animal species. One of the animal behavior specialists continues to confirm that animals feel pain and exhibit the ability to express emotion.
And it was heartwarming, yet not unexpected, that Blue wisely knew to approach Ralph Heath. In addition, we are in awe of Chief Jim Billy Bird’s wisdom to credit the heron with recognizing Heath’s aura as belonging to one whom he could come for safety. Let’s just hope and pray Blue will continue to mend and resume a safer existence in the wild. Thank you for giving us an uplifting and inspiring moment in our day.
Editor: At last we are free of those handful of obstructionists who held the town hostage by filing ill-considered and absurd lawsuits. These people did not come to their beliefs through reason. Emotional commitments are usually not open to rational analysis. They never dealt in facts, merely illusion.
Town taxpayers might not be half as irate had the lawsuits been filed based on facts instead of conjecture and innuendo. These obstructionists must have read Mark Twain, who said, “Get the facts first then you can distort them as much as you please.” If the obstructionists cared about the town of Belleair, rather than their selfish interests, we could have saved in excess of $100,000 in legal fees.
It’s interesting to note that Rae Claire Johnson and Diane Hein once joined forces in an attempt to save the Biltmore but quickly parted company. Even they couldn’t agree on how to present their arguments.
It’s also interesting to note that these misguided folks never let the facts get in the way during their crusade. At a quasi-judicial hearing at town hall, expert witnesses supported the Certificate of Appropriateness by stating that the restoration of the hotel would cost in the neighborhood of $200 million and afterwards would have a market value of $48 million. Were the obstructionists listening? Nope, they were busy concocting another lawsuit!
Re: “Looking back at local projects,” Jan. 7 Editor: When I saw the price tag for this 800-square-foot bait house (roughly $780,000) my jaw almost hit the floor. That’s almost $1,000 a square foot!!!
It’s one room with no bathroom, no kitchen or appliances to speak of. While I am all in favor of a bait house, I believe that paying that price for this small building is unconscionable. This is a total abuse of the Penny for Pinellas funds. I can’t help but feel that there were some kickbacks here.
Am I suggesting that there may have been some illegal shenanigans in this deal...YES, if not illegal then totally incompetent. We need to see a public accounting of this expenditure...every single penny.
I have been here for more than 40 years and I have voted for the Penny for Pinellas fund, but I will never vote for it again. This is an abuse of the peoples trust.
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