Editor: There are two sides to every story! A flier was distributed to Madeira Beach residents’ doorsteps on Nov. 9 It was titled “Madeira Beach in Turmoil” and was blaming City Commissioner Elaine Poe for the turmoil in our city. Whoever composed the flier didn’t even have the courage to take responsibility and put their name on the flier.
Our city is in turmoil, but Elaine Poe is not the cause of the turmoil in our city.
The flier says that Commissioner Poe was the lone vote in opposition when the Board of Commissioners approved two development projects. This fact is true. However, that implies that it is a bad thing for a commissioner to vote differently from the other commissioners. All votes are not always unanimous. Commissioner Poe was one out of five who voted against the projects and is entitled to her opinion and voted accordingly. She believed that she was listening to the voice of the people and the way her district would have wanted her to vote.
The flier also said that there were some who objected to the decision by the BOC regarding the developments. It isn’t just “some” who object, it is a lot who object.
Editor: Well, folks, we have completed our recent election cycle, and it was unprecedented for Seminole. Thanks to all who participated. Historic numbers. We engaged in a wonderful election process.
Seems most electors came out to vote an angry, old guy off the City Council, and they were very nearly successful.
What we witnessed was a complete repudiation of this sad case. As evidenced by his hate laced responses to the election results. He is representative of no one in the city but himself.
The folks have had enough. They were going to replace him if they could. We all have had enough of his lies, deceit, and generally hateful words. Every time he opens his mouth he brings the city down with his constant negativity. In typical disingenuous fashion, he attempts to lay the blame elsewhere. It was his failure to demonstrate he was running in tandem with the other guy he claims.
Editor: The decision by the Treasure Island commissioners to hire a consulting firm for $308,990 to formulate a financial plan for the Treasure Island Causeway seems like an exorbitant waste of funds.
According to previous estimates of traffic of 17,000 vehicles a day or 6.205 million trips a year, to cover the annual operating costs of about $700,000 would require a toll of 12 cents. To cover additional maintenance of $3.2 million over the next five years (or $640,000 a year) would require another 11 cents. So it seems to me that a toll of 25 cents would cover the next five years. The 20-year rehab of $4 million would be covered for another 3 cents. There, I think this analysis could have just saved Treasure Island residents $308,990.
Editor: How do you absolve, pardon or forgive such a diabolical criminal like Fidel Castro, a wrathful psychopath who enslaved and destroyed a whole nation and who has inflicted so much pain and suffering upon the Cuban people?
If history teaches us anything, it is that hell has a special place for wicked villains like him, Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Hussein.
According to the Cuba Archive, which has documented the deaths of each person killed by Cuba’s rulers since 1952, Batista was responsible for approximately 3,000 deaths. Castro’s toll has been far higher. So far the archive has documented more than 8,000 specific victims of the Castro regime - including 5,775 firing squad executions, 1,231 extrajudicial assassinations, and 984 deaths in prison. When fully documented, the body count is expected to reach 17,000 - plus the tens of thousands of Cubans who lost their lives at sea while fleeing Castro’s Caribbean nightmare and the thousands more imprisoned or the more than 2 million Cubans in exile. However, it seems no one wants to talk or even acknowledge the Cuban Holocaust, the “Cuban Trail of Tears.”
“Condemn me, it doesn’t matter,” Castro once said. “History will absolve me.”
Re: "Mad Beach critics have 'keyboard courage''' letter, Oct. 27. Editor: Keyboard Courage ... no wonder ... who wants to face the city manager who bullies and threatens residents who have opposing opinions or an opinion not complimentary to the city plans? Who wants to be the victim of that backdraft? Even when it is fair to speak your mind, you resist using your keyboard because of the city manager's threats to residents.
In rebuttal to the letter from Mr. Merritt to the Beach Beacon, the city manager describes the "madness method" of borrowing money so current residents can use and pay for what the city deems beneficial. That is akin to living on a credit card. Budgeting for future purchases, then saving for it, works in our family budgets, why not in our city budget? It is not surprising that the "buy now pay later" philosophy is held by this group of city leaders in contrast to most residents' conservative thinking. It explodes the most enduring rule of good economics.
In support of his spending, the city manager cites our little town as a "full service" city with the lowest millage rate. The Florida League of Cities states in an article that no two cities are alike. "A common practice of Chambers of Commerce and other promotional agencies is to label city and county governments as 'full service.' This is an unfortunate label because it is hard to define." Each city offers those services necessary for their town. So lowest millage rate for a "full service" city is counter-descriptive and misleading since effectively we are ALL full service cities.
Then the city manager addresses the raise in salaries of our Board of Commissioners as warranted. But the compensation funded by the taxpayers is a painful reminder that we are paying for no representation. Could it be that there are residents who would like to preserve the peace and lifestyle we enjoy in the "neighborhoods" off of Gulf Boulevard. And maybe there are neighbors living in condominiums who have a differing vision of future city improvements. This does not include more beer on the beach, or unsafe vehicles carrying partying groups from one drinking hole to the next or terrifying towers shadowing our homes. Maybe there are folks who prefer to protect our little beach community from "tourism experiments" or from becoming a spring break destination. For some reason, our leaders are focused on making Madeira Beach a party town, encroaching on the sanctity and peace we so espouse.
Re: 'Tempers Flare in Redington,' Oct. 27. Editor: After reading the account of the Oct. 19 Redington Beach town meeting, I have a few observations. I was not at the meeting, and I have not met either the mayor or the town attorney.
First, the mayor does not appear to have responded appropriately or in a professional manner to the concerns of the residents who asked questions and contributed with their presence and their concerns. Did the mayor really shout, "That's enough!" to one of our residents - one of his constituents? If so, that was out of line and not what we should expect from our mayor. An elected official should never speak that way to a constituent, under any circumstances, as it is his job to listen and to act on behalf of the townspeople.
Second, the town's attorney's position on ordinances is puzzling. On one hand, he stated that our ordinance is grandfathered, enforceable, and has stood up in court. On the other hand, he said that the town is better off not enforcing the statute, since the state will eventually "do the right thing and do something about" the 2011 state law (prohibiting communities from regulating short term rentals). So apparently our attorney feels that we should allow people to do whatever they want, even though the town has valid regulations in place. I hope the dog walkers continue to pick up after their pooches, even though our attorney would not favor enforcing the town statute! Are our zoning regulations and ordinances of any value at all? Why isn't our attorney working for us? I read this morning that residents of Bradenton Beach are facing the same issue, and they are acting vigorously to put an end to what they call "party houses." Why not us?
It sounds like the meeting ended in chaos, with the mayor welcoming a recall and the attorney begging to be fired. It's disappointing that neither one appears to want to work for Redington Beach. But there should be no recall - the mayor should either serve or resign, and end this nonsense. As for the attorney, we should grant his wish and fire him today. The last time I looked there was no shortage of lawyers in Pinellas County, and we can certainly find one with a better attitude who will show respect and professionalism to the residents of Redington Beach.
Re: 'Tempers flare in Redington' article, Oct. 20. Editor: Those of you who have the good fortune to live in the community of Redington Beach should focus on what you're grateful for versus what is not perfect yet. I've known Nick Simons for over 60 years.
Redington Beach residents should be very grateful you have a mayor with such integrity and someone who truly has residents' best interest at heart.
Editor: It is unfortunate Commissioner Elaine Poe was not present at the Board meeting in Madeira Beach Oct. 19 to witness the unparalleled support City Manager Shane Crawford received from the citizens. It was Poe who recently filed an ethics complaint against Crawford with the International City/County Management Association, an organization whose members belong on a purely voluntary basis and one who has no legal standing, yet one whose rulings can besmirch the reputations of its members.
As a result of Poe’s complaint, Crawford was censured and expelled by the organization because his relationship with his executive assistant (to whom he is engaged) was deemed by them to constitute unethical behavior. For those not familiar with the incident, city officials had been notified of the circumstances and had approved of the arrangement after it was determined it did not violate either city or state law.
Re: “Why would a woman vote for Trump?” Bob Driver’s column, Oct. 20. Editor: Mr. Driver: I’m shocked at your arrogance in speaking for women, about women, insulting not only me, my gender but those of my parents. Wow!
You have no idea what went on in our homes. You have no idea who my parents were and what they believed in, what they said or did not say. What gives you the right to judge any woman or their thinking process as if we women are simply the puppets of those masters, who ever they are, whatever agenda they have.
I believe that you acted in a bullying manner that is extremely disrespectful. Who I choose to vote for will be based on my personal research, not sound bits, not those that hold the microphone or the pen and act as authority figures, wiser than others. No, I will in fact check and I will make a decision based on what I deem important - that is what my parents taught me.
Editor: Treasure Island voters will go to the polls next week, not only to elect a new president, but to decide the future of Treasure Island’s commercial district and the planned development issue offered by the city, to hopefully aid the redevelopment of the older tourist properties in a limited area at the Gator’s property, and on the west side of Gulf Boulevard to 104th (by Publix).
The city has provided many facts and estimates, from the county, state, and even a study on the financial benefits of redevelopment by USF. There have been public forums, civic association meetings, vision workshops and many publications dealing with the many details of this redevelopment issue, all of which are verifiable and fact-based.
Yet, with all this truthful information, the No Tall Buildings group continues to rebut this information with printed lies, distortions and threats. They go to such ends because people simply believe their lies and have not taken the time to see if they are really valid.
They rely on fear tactics to convince voters that suddenly, tall buildings are going to begin to show up in our residential neighborhoods all over the community.
Editor: Over the past several weeks, I have read comments and letters to the editor regarding the upcoming referendum for funding changes to the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District. While I am not a resident of the district, I did serve PSFRD for 18 years, and am moved to share a few thoughts regarding this issue.
In 1995, I became chaplain to the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District and continued in that role until my retirement in 2013. During that time, I was privileged, as well, to serve as a volunteer fireman. PSFRD was the sole remaining fire department in Pinellas County with an active volunteer association. We volunteers did our 24-hour shift each month and saved the district many thousands of dollars each year. Like all other volunteer members, I lived outside the district. The volunteers were disbanded several years ago, primarily due to the fact that new certification requirements established by the state of Florida made it nearly impossible for volunteers to gain the required training hours for firefighters. This change was and is part of a nationwide effort to decrease the number of line-of-duty injuries and deaths, which have been a fact of life within the Fire Service. This has been a successful endeavor but it has also been an expensive one.
Improved firefighter protective clothing, breathing apparatus, helmets, communications, and all aspects of firefighting equipment have undergone vast improvement over the past several decades. However, as a result, the cost of maintaining and equipping a fire department has risen significantly and continues to rise each year. The days of minimal training and outdated equipment are over and the results have been a blessing. However, for PSFRD, this has presented a major obstacle. I’ve personally seen the need for additional funding and the lengths to which PSFRD Board of Fire Commissioners have gone to pinch pennies and still deliver outstanding service. I know our equipment is out of date and in need of replacement. In fact, I blessed one of our current fire engines back in 1999!
I see this as a moral issue. The people we call our heroes, our first responders, deserve adequate resources to do the job of keeping people safe, and they deserve adequate protection for themselves while they do that job. Breathing apparatus, protective gear and working equipment all cost money. And yet, every few years, this fire department and its chief are forced to play catch-up and spend time trying to convince voters to enable our professional firefighters to do the job they have been called to do. It has been the same for decades and each time, we hear voices raised against whoever the current fire chief is in opposition to increased funding. I’ve watched this for 20 years. The language of the referendum may change, but the opposition remains the same. And something else remains the same, as well: every fire chief and fire commissioner has eventually come to the same conclusion, which is that this district needs a stable source of funding. A proposal has been placed on the ballot that will, if passed by the people of the district, at long last provide that stable source within a fair and equitable framework. The language is perfectly clear and the time is long overdue. Now, it is up to the voters to decide.
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