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Matters of Note
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Plans for soccer fields at McMullen Booth Elementary put on hold
CLEARWATER – Paul Cozzie, Pinellas County’s director of culture, education and leisure, has withdrawn his request that the county’s Board of Adjustment at its Sept. 7 meeting consider a special exception application that would let the county and the city of Clearwater jointly build three multipurpose athletic fields behind McMullen Booth Elementary School in Clearwater.

“The reason for this request (to withdraw the application) is that Pinellas County and the city of Clearwater are reviewing a similar project, to be constructed on city property, and would prefer to complete that due diligence before proceeding any further with plans for the McMullen Booth property,” Cozzie said in an Aug. 25 open letter to the citizenry. The city-owned property to which he refers is the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex on Drew Street.

“The McMullen Booth plan isn’t dead; it’s just on hiatus,” Kevin Dunbar, Clearwater’s parks and recreation director, added in a recent telephone interview. “We’re just looking into whether this (Joe DiMaggio plan) will get us there sooner.”

Neighbors of McMullen Booth Elementary had vehemently opposed the fields, which would be used mostly for soccer practice, saying they would cause traffic, noise and light pollution at night. But soccer moms and dads were equally vociferous in their support of the fields, saying their kids need someplace to play.

Cozzie’s letter said that, if the city and county decide to reinstate the McMullen Booth plan, they will resubmit the special exception application and notify the neighbors that they are doing so.

EEOC dismisses fired paramedics’ claim of racial discrimination
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that Trevor Murray and Mike Jones, the two Clearwater paramedics fired for failing to respond to the 911 call of a woman who claimed in May 2005 that she had been raped but had a history of making false emergency calls, failed to prove their contention that they were fired because they are black, and white paramedics would have received less severe punishment for the same offense. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the matter is over.

“The charging parties received a right-to-sue notice and they each have 90 days (until about Nov. 16, 2006) from their receipt of the notice to file a lawsuit in state or federal court,” Clearwater spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said in an e-mailed press release. “The EEOC has dismissed and closed both Jones’ and Murray’s charges of discrimination.”

The two men are currently in arbitration with the city, trying to get their jobs back. Meanwhile, city officials are waiting to see if they will sue before the deadline.

Changes under way at Humane Society
Stung by news reports of the sudden and mysterious departure of its longtime director, Rick Chaboudy, personnel turnover and the efforts of Hurricane Katrina victims to get back their dogs that were adopted out to Tampa Bay residents who won’t give them back, the Clearwater-based Humane Society of Pinellas is reassuring its supporters that it is undergoing a series of changes that will leave it stronger than ever.

The local chapter has invited the Humane Society of the United States to conduct a full-scale review of its operations and make suggestions for improvements. An independent financial auditor has also been invited to conduct annual audits of the chapter’s finances.

An animal behavioral specialist has been hired, and a nationwide search is under way to find a new director and fill other key posts. A building steering committee has been created to inspect the buildings and grounds and create a master plan for the campus. Kennel stimulation programs and new medical protocols are being instituted, and “key success indicators” are being established to measure the progress.

“If this all sounds very business-like – it is,” read an Aug. 24 letter from the society’s directors to its donors. “We are in the business of caring for animals. The better we do at running our shelter, the better job we can do for the animals in our care. That is the end goal.”
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9911 Seminole Blvd.,
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Fax: (727) 397-5900
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