Editor: I would like to publicly thank everyone who responded to the accident on June 24 on Seminole Boulevard that involved the Seminole Recreation bus and two other vehicles.
I was a passenger on the bus and was extremely impressed with the kind-spirited professionalism showed by all who were there. Our driver was in no way at fault, and his quick reflexes and calm demeanor prevented serious injuries from occurring and kept the accident from being a major catastrophe.
He had instructed everyone aboard to buckle up before starting the bus when we were leaving our event to come back to the Seminole Recreation Center, which is why we had very few people with bumps and bruises. He was really the only one who suffered an injury, and yet he paid no attention to that at all until he knew all of his passengers were OK.
So thank you to him for that. The director of the Recreation Center, Becky Gunter, came as soon as she heard of the incident. She got all of us inside Beach Pizza, where we could sit in the air conditioning, while she made all the arrangements to get us safely back to our cars. Thank you so much for coming so quickly and Thank you Beach Pizza for allowing us to sit in a safe, cool environment.
Re: “Treasure Island attorney resigns,” posted online Aug. 19 Editor: On Aug. 19, your fine publication reported that Treasure Island City Attorney Maura Kiefer resigned. In that same article, Ms. Kiefer claimed that I had set certain conditions for settling my lawsuit against the city.
Ms. Kiefer’s characterization of my offer to settle is simply incorrect. Anyone can verify who is telling the truth by simply reading my offer to settle. That offer, sent to Ms. Kiefer and all city commissioners, is in the public record and dated April 23.
One of Ms. Kiefer’s specific claims is that I demanded that the city “give up the appeal” in the unrelated so-called “beach lawsuit” involving three hotels. Further evidence of the inaccuracy of Ms. Kiefer’s claim can be found in my court filing of May 15. In that filing, I specifically said that should I prevail in my lawsuit, I did not believe it ended the city’s appeal in the beach lawsuit.
One of the meetings I had challenged on Sunshine Law grounds was the closed-door city commission meeting held on Nov. 7, 2014. That meeting was about the beach lawsuit. Voiding the results of that meeting does not mean that the appeal is dead; it just means that the city has to cure the Sunshine Law violation. City Attorney Kiefer surely knows this.
Editor: As the owner of Allen Sports Center in Florida for 40 years, I would like to encourage U.S. Rep. David Jolly to stand up for local businesses like mine by joining fellow Florida representatives Ander Crenshaw, Carlos Curbelo, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Dennis Ross and Thomas Rooney as a co-sponsor of the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015.
If passed, the RTPA would restore free-market principles to the marketplace by leveling the playing field for all small businesses in our communities. Congress has considered e-fairness legislation for more than a decade, and it’s about time for the sales tax loophole for online sellers to come to an end.
Today, our local retailers are suffering from a severe disadvantage that is threatening their ability to compete in today’s marketplace. Our current sales tax laws are strictly enforced on brick-and-mortar small businesses like mine while online-only sellers - often selling the same products to the same consumers - are not required to collect sales tax at point of purchase.
Although the sales tax burden falls on the consumer to remit his or her sales tax directly to the state if the retailer doesn’t collect it, this rarely happens, giving the impression that online shopping is tax free when it’s really not.
Re: ‘The voting bloc that no one counts,’ Driver column, Aug. 19 Editor: Let’s see if I got this right, Bob Driver. You say, “Today I guess I’m neither a believer nor a full-fledged atheist. I’m simply fed up with the question of whether or not God exists.”
Well sir, since you brought up the question yourself, the guessing is over. You most certainly must be a full-fledged idiot!
Re: “Madeira Beach increases parking rate to $2 per hour,” Aug. 5 Editor: As a former tourist and six-year resident of Pinellas County, I was first disappointed by the proposed increase in parking fees and then offended by Vice Mayor Elaine Poe’s condescending comment “If they can’t afford to pay $2 for parking, they can’t afford to come.”
The proposed fee increase totally disregards other residents of Pinellas County who enjoy patronizing the beaches and businesses in Madeira Beach and sends a message to tourists that only those who have a certain amount of income are welcome.
Residents of Madeira Beach are able to obtain permits to park in other locations at Madeira Beach. The more affluent tourists that Vice Mayor Poe desires will not mind paying the fees, but what about the regular people who live and work in Pinellas County who help support the businesses in Madeira Beach? What about the weekend visitors from surrounding counties who come over for the weekend? Who helped support the beach economy during the recession? Should we not bother to visit if we would rather spend our money eating at one of the restaurants instead of feeding the parking meters?
The businesses will be the big losers in the parking fee increase. Madeira Beach was always my favorite spot as a tourist, but this average person and her average friends who visit from out of town will spend time and money at surrounding beach towns that still welcome tourists, as well as residents of Pinellas County.
Editor: Having gone to many manatee zone meetings over the last year, I am amazed at how little the manatee is actually discussed. I have heard arguments for adopting the zones that include personal safety, less boat traffic, quieter neighborhoods but very little about protecting manatees.
In truth, that is because there are few manatees in the Indian Rocks areas that the FWC is proposing to close. Those areas are too deep for seagrass to grow, resulting in nothing for them to eat. The residents proposing to adopt these zones are just really promoting their own agenda - no more boats behind their house!
This view is shortsighted. Once the zones are adopted, the city gives up many rights to govern our waterways. We will be told what can and cannot happen. Dock construction will become a much more exhaustive process due to additional permits. Already have your big expansive dock? It may not survive the next storm; then chances are you will not be able to rebuild the current “grandfathered” footprint. When replacing our broken lift this spring we already had to have FWC certify no manatee or turtles (in the Intracoastal?) would be harmed or impacted before we were allowed to have a final permit - the whole process took three months.
The city of Indian Rocks Beach already has the right to declare areas “no wake” for safety issues. They have done just that on the Gulf side. If the residents think certain areas should be slowed down for SAFETY, bring it to the city commission. Let our local government decide, not Tallahassee or Washington. If on the other hand, you bought a house on a full wake zone, decide that now you don’t like it and are pushing to adopt these zones for your own personal agenda - shame on you!
Re: “Boaters protest state’s new manatee-protection zones,” 7/29/15Editor: I regret that I was out of town when this particular IRB City Commission meeting occurred and was so busy when I got back that I was unable to respond.
First of all, IRB Boat Club does not represent the majority of boat owners in Indian Rocks Beach nor residents who live on the Intracoastal waters and its bays. Somehow boaters have been led to believe (by remarks made by the Boat Club about the length of time that it takes a boat to get to Madeira Beach or local waterfront restaurants) they will be unable to go full speed on the Intracoastal Waterway through IRB. It only affects the residential areas and bays west of the waterway.
Furthermore, just because there haven’t been an outrageous number of manatee deaths doesn’t mean it’s okay to maim them (which they all are). It’s like saying, “don’t change the playground equipment, the kids aren’t dying, they’re only getting maimed.” Sorry for comparing innocent kids to innocent animals.
Safety, as it relates to passive water recreation, is another issue. In the past several years we are seeing more kayaks, core-boarding, small sailboats, etc. which do not mix with motorized boats zooming around blind corners or creating large wakes. Once again, Indian Rocks Beach is faced with what many of us like to call a “Vocal Minority” which tends to be more aggressive ... who tend to make threats instead of trying to deal with issues rationally.
Editor: As most of the residents of Indian Rocks Beach, I was just informed of [Fish and Wildlife Commission’s] and your request to implement no-wake zones in our waterways.
Every neighbor I have spoken to had no idea this was even in the works and are livid about the prospect. I cannot express my disappointment in your actions that you completely failed to defend our greatest asset, which is our water.
Not only did you not defend our greatest asset but you advanced your own personal agendas by requesting additional waterways be included. In this case, you have chosen to support your personal desires over the good of the community and you should be ashamed for taking that path. Cloaking your desires to no-wake the waters in front of your personal homes over the enjoyment and lifestyle that the Intracoastal waters afford, not only residents of Indian Rocks Beach but all of Pinellas County, under the guise of manatee protection is a shame.
As a group, your city council has now caused irreparable damage to our city and our lifestyle that again you should be deeply ashamed of.
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