The St. Pete Times: “A Fair and Balanced” Look at Dual Referendum

Read today’s Letters to the Editor in the St. Petersburg Times, then please consider what a recent Google search revealed:

Author #1: Robert Prescott (Tarpon Springs) has a long history of writing letters to the Times, which the Times seems happy to publish because he pisses enough people off that they respond. Although he talks about how the County won’t take over and limit cities, this community activist has advocated consolidating police forces under the PCSD. So although he cries impartial and simply outraged at the City’s actions, seems like he has an agenda. Which, since they printed the other stuff I just mentioned, it seems the Times knows.

Author #2: Jim Harpham (Palm Harbor) sat on Pinellas County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2005 Citizen’s Advisory Committee. He, too, seems to be repeat letter writer to the Times and gets the same response as Prescott.

Author#3: Larry Weglarz (Tarpon Springs) A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Detective. Gee, he doesn’t mention that in his letter. He works for the County? Hmmmm.

Author #4: Ray Neri, (“Lealman”) is the head of Lealman’s Community Association. Going back to my tenure with the County, he attended and participated in a ton of public meetings. He’s a citizen’s advocate for Lealman, and the County has “worked” with him on many task forces, committees, and projects. This man knows the Commissioners better than their wives and husbands do.

My point is that with the POSSIBLE exception of Prescott, these are not ordinary citizens like you and I expressing their beliefs in print. They are all tied to the County, although only one of them gets a paycheck proper from the County (of course, the deputy doesn’t get a Board of County Commissioners paycheck)

Of course, I would never suggest that the County has asked them to write these letters. And I certainly would not suggest that the Times’ reporting and selection of letters to the editor embodies anything other than the stellar reporting we have all come to expect from the St. Petersburg Times. In fact, it’s exactly what I expect from them.

But ask yourself… with all the public input opposing eliminating the dual referendum at recent meetings, isn’t it odd that not one of those vocal advocates has had a letter printed in the Times? Now, I’m not suggesting that the Times has chosen not to print them. I’m sure it’s just that those against eliminating the dual referendum merely realize the folly of expressing their opinions to the Times.

Yeah, that must be it.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.