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The purpose of this site is to encourage comments by Sun readers on topics of the day, especially those affecting Anna Maria Island. We welcome any and all viewpoints and hope to stimulate intelligent discussions. Personal attacks, name-calling and abusive or vulgar language, however, will not be tolerated. Such comments will be determined by Sun management, then pulled from the site and the posters may be blocked from further use. Comments posted here may also appear in the print edition of The Sun.

Name: Rick Catlin
Date: 2015-05-07 17:33:01
Subject: Memorial Day Farewell
Comments: To the residents of Anna Maria Island, Cortez, Palma Sola and Longboat Key. After 14 years writing about the island, I have retired. To all veterans of the U.S. armed forces and its allies, celebrate Memorial Day. I'll see you at the last revile formation. I know you won't be AWOL.
Rick Catlin

Name: Cyndi
Date: 2015-05-07 08:29:42
Subject: Thank You
Comments: My husband and I were visiting Anna Maria Island for the day. The battery in our car died while we were on the beach and once again on the bridge. We would like to thank all of the people who helped and offered to help us. What
a beautiful place to live with so many kind caring people around. Thanks again for your assistance.

Name: Jj
Date: 2015-05-06 17:08:23
Subject: @ROLLOFF to ohio
Comments: @ROLL OFF. Keep your nose in Ohio where you are homesteaded Take a clue from your name you 3 month intruder. Sorry don't live in Illinois and I am not a man

Name: Dale Schmitdz
Date: 2015-05-06 12:46:52
Subject: Tourist Parking
Comments: I went to the City of Pittsburg PA Parking Authority Site. Low and behold I found the following violation:
0A 3354A 3354A Facing Wrong Way a Facing Wrong Way .00 .50 X 04

So it is against the city codes in Pittsburgh to park the wrong way. You pull out & you are running head long into traffic that is going the opposite direction. The page long diatribe and the " I don't know's" don't hold water. I am quite sure if the TOURIST ran into someone after pulling out and traveling the wrong way; he would probably use the same logic with the MAYBERRY RFD COP. Same laws are in both states. Once again you don't need signs to warn people "not to litter" or "no glass on the beach", "no sex on the beach" ; its just common sense. JJ is once again right.

Name: John Roelof
Date: 2015-05-06 12:07:27
Subject: The Ryan's vs. Jj
Comments: Tim don't take this personal JJ is mental case that thinks he should be the shot caller for Anna Maria Island.He is the
owner of a lot that you could spit across
and is know better any 1/4 Lot land owner in Chicago.You can't follow the laws if there not posted.

Name: John Roelof
Date: 2015-05-06 12:07:27
Subject: The Ryan's vs. Jj
Comments: Tim don't take this personal JJ is mental case that thinks he should be the shot caller for Anna Maria Island.He is the
owner of a lot that you could spit across
and is know better any 1/4 Lot land owner in Chicago.You can't follow the laws if there not posted.

Name: Dale Schmitdz
Date: 2015-05-05 11:38:07
Subject: Tourists
Comments: I have to agree with JJ. If you come to the island abide by the rules. You can go to St. Pete Beach or Treasure Island an pay two dollars to cross the bridge and six dollars to park near the beach. We can't even go to the store when the season starts. In addition tourists bring less than twenty percent of the revenue to any island city. Pull their budgets up. Most of the money for the roads, police, and fire services are paid by PROPERTY TAXES and long term rental taxes. A few people make money off of tourists and some tourists are nice and respectful of our rules; others don't care. When Sgt Dangler was on the police department he, Chief Kenney and Lt. Damato wrote hundreds of parking tickets each day the tourists came to town. Look at it this way your tickets was a cheap day at the beach.

Name: Jj
Date: 2015-05-04 17:46:36
Subject: The Ryans
Comments: @ryans. Sorry for your dilemma but we locals who can't park in front of our own homes or in our driveways due to the HUGE influx of in state and out of state cars parked illegally on our tiny one lane in one way out island Beg to differ. If you find Anna maria difficult, backwoods, backwards may I suggest for your next visit to Florida Marco island, Miami Tampa bay.

Name: Timothy and Jodi Ryan
Date: 2015-05-03 12:07:25
Subject: Comments from a Tourist to your Town that Received a Parking Ticket
Comments: My family came to your beach yesterday, May 2nd, early in the morning when it was just getting light. We wanted to spend most of the day on the beach due to the beautiful weather. Not knowing where to park, we found a public beach entrance and, after reading the posted sign (photo #1), parallel parked our vehicle in the direction in which we were driving since it was a two way street. We were the first car to park in the area so we gave ourselves plenty of room to get out and ensured that we were safely parked so that we would not impede the flow of traffic on the street. When we returned to our vehicle, there was a ticket on our windshield for “Facing Wrong Direction.” We were baffled because we did not know what the right or wrong direction would be considering it was a two way street and we parked in the direction in which we entered.
We immediately called the police department to ask what we did wrong, not understanding the “wrong direction” charge, and were told that we violated a state law by parking against the flow of traffic on the road, despite the fact that we – and all of the cars parked near us – had no issues coming or going and we were not causing any problems with traffic on the street (as you can see in the attached photo noted above.) As a tourist to your town, which I am assuming you want to continue to encourage, here are some unsolicited suggestions:
1) Post signs – I am not from Florida and was not given a pamphlet of state laws when I crossed the border into your state so I had no idea that I was breaking a state law by parking in the wrong direction. I am not a psychic, clairvoyant or Bran Stark from Game of Thrones so if you want me to park a certain direction, just post a sign saying “Park Facing this Direction” and I would be happy to do it. You posted a sign that said “Parallel Parking Only” and I made sure to parallel park. You posted a sign showing your Beach Regulations (see photo #2) and I followed all of those guidelines, but those were the only signs posted in the area where I parked so if you would like me to follow other directions, please let those directions be known. I saw huge signs in Florida saying, “Don’t Text and Drive” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and I chose to follow those directions so, as a Veteran, I am able to read and follow many orders but I need to know what those orders are so I can abide by them. Consider posting additional signs with regulations listed if you want tourists to follow them.

2) Parking Tickets for Tourists – Considering the state of the Florida economy, the horrendous reputation of the Florida Law Enforcement community due to cities like Lawtey, Waldo, Starke and Hampton and the fact that most cities these days are coming up with ways to connect with their constituents and tourists by being creative in their parking habits in order to encourage people to come to their cities and stay there (see links below), I would suggest that you come up with some new and fun ways to educate your tourist population on parking violations.
If you would have run my tag, you would have seen that I have never had a violation of any kind in your state and that I am not a repeat offender. You could have left a fun note on my windshield saying, “thanks for parallel parking – you nailed it – but next time you need to turn your car around and face the other direction so you don’t get a ticket. This is your friendly warning. Thanks for coming to our town!” If you do this with your tourist population, don’t you think you would be getting positive comments, positive press and happy residents and visitors who want to come back? Unless you are paying for your police department with .00 parking tickets – and I pray you are not – then having an upbeat approach to educating the tourists that visit your town would be a much better solution than what you are currently offering. If I was a repeat offender then another approach might be necessary but, honestly, it takes two seconds for someone to turn their car in the opposite direction. If I would have known, why wouldn’t I have done it?

3) Other more pressing issues – I don’t want to be the person who says, “there are other more pressing issues that need to be dealt with in your town instead of parking tickets” BUT as I was pulling away from my parking spot in your city, I saw this – photo #3. I am assuming it is also a state law not to have two teenagers sitting on top of each other in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle going over the speed limit. I may be wrong here, but it seems like a much more important matter to deal with the safety of people who are illegally moving around in vehicles, putting lives at risk, than to worry about a car that is parked in a legal location, not blocking traffic or impeding anyone else from parking and not causing any harm or safety concerns in any way. Is using your limited police staff to ticket people parked in the wrong direction the best use of your staff’s time, especially when clearly there are biggest issues occurring in your jurisdiction?

4) Training for your employees – As mentioned earlier, I called your police department after receiving my ticket since I did not understand the meaning of the violation that I was charged with. The person who answered seemed like a lovely person but was absolutely unhelpful in giving me information about the violation. She did inform me that I violated a state law and when I asked her how I was supposed to know that, she said the word “yeah” twice and nothing else. She did suggest that I could wait on the phone for a Sargent - which I did, but after a ten minute wait she told me that he was handling another issue in the lobby and I could wait longer or call back. She also informed me that I could come into the police station and talk to someone personally. Realistically, I had been at the beach all day so I doubt they really wanted me in their station, but also this is not 1960 in Mayberry where people drop by police stations for some seasoned wisdom from a father figure and his trusty sidekick. In 2015, people use websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other social media outlets to convey information. I later saw on your website that you have an area devoted to how to handle your parking tickets. If she would have referred me to that site or said something like, “I am sure receiving a parking ticket on a Saturday morning while you were having a fun beach day with your family was a major bummer but your options are listed in the following location…” then at least it would have been helpful. Saying, “come on by and talk to someone” and “you have broken a state law” (which sounds very daunting and serious) frankly does not help me in any way or provide any sort of added value to the conversation. Also it needs to be noted that the only way to contest a parking ticket in your city is to go to court for a hearing. NO tourist is ever going to drive back to your city to protest a .00 parking ticket. I am assuming you know this and do this purposefully so people will shut up and pay the fee. Good job, it works, but is that really justice? If I am a tourist from Pittsburgh, do you think I am going to spend hundreds of dollars and hours of my time to return to a location I visited hundreds of miles away to fight a parking ticket that I feel I wrongfully received? You guys are better than that. Come up with a way for people to contest their parking violations through online sources so they have a real chance to tell their side of the story, then justice will legitimately be served.
I just wrote a check to pay my .00 parking ticket so please understand that this email has nothing to do with my inability to pay the fine. This is not an issue of poverty but about how you want people who visit your city to think about your city, talk about your city and walk away from their interactions with your residents and police department. With the onslaught of social media and other electronic communications, the world is now very small. It used to be that someone could have a bad experience in a town and they would tell 10 people. Now it is 10,000 or 100,000. My advice is that you think about how you want people talking about your city and how it handles its tourists - which I believe is your #1 source of revenue for your restaurants, shops, hotels and bars. Do you want people talking about your beautiful beaches, great food and unique stores or do you want them talking about a .00 parking ticket they received for parking the wrong way. The choice is yours but know that we are only one voice with, likely, 100,000 of them standing in unity behind us.

Name: scott moore
Date: 2015-04-29 13:17:16
Subject: chief andy price

Name: janice bergbom
Date: 2015-04-29 13:04:31
Subject: OUR Center
Comments: Some of you who will read this will remember that our Center, in the 80's and 90's was the YOUTH Center. A place with an open screen door A place for kids to meet and play with friends. It was open all day and until about 10pm daily. The place where families met for pot luck dinners and fund raising events to support the place and it's programs like Little League, Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, etc.
Now we have a dilemma, because many families have left the island and we have an overbuilt and underutilized building. We need to attract families again. Not just resident families but vacationing families.
As I see it the one thing this island really could use to regenerate the community atmosphere would be to put an Olympic size pool on the old little league field, and use the rest for parking.
You can use your imagination to see all of the ways a pool could benefit the community, from swimming lessons to senior aerobics.
I hope that the future of that property remains a benefit to the community and youth who are here. I sincerely hope that the "center" property is not doomed to become the mirror image of the Cagnina property up the street on Magnolia.

Janice Bergbom

Name: Jane Green
Date: 2015-04-26 07:22:56
Subject: Censorship
Comments: If you read the comments in the island papers for long enough you will see the pattern of censorship. When they are censoring the truth (and yes the truth hurts but it is non the less the truth!) then the papers themselves must hold themselves responsible/accountable for the island we now have. If they had been brave enough to print the truth over the last few years then the island life we all loved may have been preserved. But then again I suppose reality is that if they had printed the truth they would no longer still be in business and the people running the island would have ensured they were shut down.

Name: Barbara Truemper-Green
Date: 2015-04-22 12:10:24
Subject: A sad state of affairs on our island
Comments: We have live in HB for 5 years, and love it.
Last Tuesday evening we walked home from the White Av beach after sunset. We are halfway into the street on the crosswalk, since the south-bound car had stopped for us. A north-bound car was far enough away to be able to stop, but we watched out for him anyway. The driver - of an out-of-state car - steps on the gas and yells through the open car window: "Get out of the f***g street" and speeds through the crosswalk, nearly side-swiping us. I am still stunned...

Name: Drew Hyman
Date: 2015-04-22 09:39:20
Subject: Gulf and Magnolia stop signs.
Comments: I walk to Ginny's frequently, and take advantage of programs at the Community Center. I find the stop signs to be both unnecessary for safety and a barrier to smooth traffic flow. When crossing the street there I have never had to wait for more than one or two cars to pass before traffic stops to allow pedestrian crossing. The same is true when I am driving out from Magnolia on to Gulf. Since the signs were erected, however, I note that lines of cars must stop and go, stop and go, etc. until their turn--even when there are no pedestrians or emerging traffic. The resulting congestion also makes it more difficult for bikers on Gulf. Let's call it an experiment that didn't work and remove the stop signs on Gulf for the benefit of all. Thanks.

Name: Barbara Pasuit
Date: 2015-04-18 09:52:14
Subject: For Rent Signs
Comments: The topic of this letter, as far as I know, has never been discussed and yet it affects all of us to some degree that have homes on this island. Since the realty companies are big advertisers in our local papers, I can understand why it's a touchy subject, rental signs. My parents rented in the early sixties and then built a home in 1968 and lived here until they died. They found there seasonal rentals back then listed in the paper or through a real estate agent. In today’s age of cyberspace, homes are listed with information, pictures, and virtual tours online. Most renters have all that at their fingertips. My question is why then do we need large for rent signs placed in the front yard of every rental and remain year after year? Like highway billboards, they are trashing our island and only serve as advertisements for the realty company. When friends visit us, they think the whole island is for sale until I point out that they’re rental not for sale signs. In the one block I look down toward the gulf, all the homes and duplexes were homeowners or annual renters. Now, due to reasons such as death, health, or profit, only two remain out of nine without a large wooden rental sign. As a final note, these signs will become flying missiles if we are hit by a hurricane or strong no-name storm. We have a beautiful island so why don’t we start cleaning it up. Anyone agree?

Name: I'mALocal
Date: 2015-04-17 17:29:15
Subject: LBK traffic issues
Comments: Why don't the fine folks of LBK have a bridge on to their island, and releave some of the traffic nightmares felt by both of us? 8 out of 10 cars coming over the Cortez Bridge are turning left; going to either Coquina or LBK. If the folks on LBK didn't have to travel through our island and over our bridge, they wouldn't be stuck in as much traffic. Just one of many options for decreasing the congestion we all suffer during season.

Name: Dale Schmitdz
Date: 2015-04-16 15:52:25
Subject: Rental Regulations
Comments: Another code that will be unenforced and make no difference. Going to get a code officer to handle twenty or thirty drunks. Good luck with that.AM already has a noise ordinance with no tickets and a magistrate system that has never been used. Enforce the existing codes like Chief Kenney, Lt Damato and Sgt Dangler.

Name: Jj
Date: 2015-04-16 00:34:05
Subject: thanks vann TRASHER
Comments: All we REAL locals can place blame of the islands destruction on vann "TRASHER" you all bought into her so called "building up" and fell for her millions , now she sinks into the depths and disappears on the island. Tell me, why didn't she stay in England and build up parts there that are needed? No she comes here and ruins it for we who have lived here for generations. THE REAL LOCALS.

Name: Gary McMullen
Date: 2015-04-15 06:54:45
Subject: Fitness center
Comments: So let me get this straight; now our elected leaders and some of the community is now against the Community Center in its attempt to lessen the need for support from the governmental tit and become more independently sufficient? I am really sick of hearing we have to support businesses. The ELRA group has single-handedly destroyed Pine and the city commission is bending over backwards to keep them from having to comply with the new rental ordinance. Seriously? Three bedrooms is not the norm now in housing. Most houses have a minimum of four bedrooms and a den or office also. My 750 square foot house has three bedrooms. Only 8 people allowed in a house? For the last two weeks the large rental house next door to me had 17 people in it. The kids were loud in the pool but during the day. We had no noise or parking issues either. What happened to "Best Practices" and just enforcing the laws we presently have. I see more lawsuits on the horizon. The city of Anna Maria apparently has not learned from the Bert Harris lawsuits they had to settle. If businesses cannot survive with all the throngs of people coming here,they need to close. Free enterprise? Not in this city.

Name: Randy Houlas
Date: 2015-04-14 17:03:43
Subject: Anna Maria Rental Ordinance
Comments: What a sad day for the city of Anna Maria. Once again our city leaders have thrown the “baby out with the bath water”, solved nothing and divided our town.
With full disclosure, I live in Anna Maria and have 1 rental property on the island – in Anna Maria. I agree, we have some rental related issues in Anna Maria that need to be addressed. I was present at the commission meeting when this ordinance passed.
In the process of attempting to solve our issues, the commission has created an atmosphere of animosity, divisiveness and distrust. I do not understand why, in a city of 1500, our government leaders, residents and business community cannot sit down and resolve this COMMUNITY issue together. Do our commissioners really think that passing the ordinance in the manner they chose is going to lead us back to the “old Anna Maria”? I think not. The lawsuits will soon be flying, if they haven’t already started. Sides will be taken and our city will be further fractured.
It perplexes me why the commission continually passes ordinances rather than addressing the root problem. We cannot seem to enforce our noise ordinance, yet a new ordinance that prohibits swimming (in rentals) before 8am and after 10pm solves the noise issue. Really?
This type of governing is typical of our commission. One need look no further than the “Sandwich Sign” issue. The city could not (or would not) enforce the rule of 1 sandwich sign per establishment. Their predictable answer – ban sandwich signs completely.
At the last commission meeting, and in defense of the new rental ordinance, Commissioner Yetter cited a few recent problem events. One example was a builder/developer allowing people to stay in a house without having obtained a Certificate of Occupancy. I’m not sure how she connects the dots that the new rental ordinance solves this problem. Don’t we have an ordinance regarding occupancy and CO’s? Again, inforce the laws we have. Perhaps an increase in fines and a suspension of construction/permits for builder/developer/owners that violate the code are in order.
Some of my families fondest memories are summer beach vacations. My mother-in-law would rent a house at the Jersey Shore for 2 weeks. Her 3 children, spouses and 5 grandchildren (11 of us) would have a delightful time at the shore. To this day, my kids, now in their 30’s, reminisce about those family vacations with fond memories. It’s a shame that Anna Maria has chosen not to welcome the creation of those family memories. Sorry – only 8 in a rental – as if that number itself magically solves ANYTHING. Apparently 8 non-swimming, partiers playing loud music isn’t considered a problem.
In my opinion, our first order of business should be to STIRCTLY enforce our existing laws.
We are headed in the completely wrong direction by not working together. This city will be so busy fighting amongst ourselves, we will solve nothing.
I highly encourage the mayor to step in, put a team together and solve these issues TOGETHER.

Randy Houlas
Anna Maria

Name: Joanne Fenton
Date: 2015-04-13 19:01:02
Subject: Salmon and Quantum???
Comments: Ana Maria, you are about to be the home of not one but two fine gentlemen, John Horne and Joseph Coury. They are two of the brightest, the greatest of friends and will be assets to your community as John Horne already is!

Name: Jim Brown
Date: 2015-04-08 11:23:34
Subject: Mayor Bill Shearon
Comments: I am not a resident of Bradenton Beach or Ana Maria Island but for the past 6 years I have been a commissioner of Longboat Key and the Mayor for the past 4 years. I have seen many commissioners come and go in the past 6 years and have worked with many of them through the Barrier Islands Elected Official group, the Council of Government, and the lLeague of Cities to name but a few groups where we work together. In my experience, Bill Shearon has been one of the easiest one of all to work with. He has always been engaging, pleasant, helpful, courteous, thoughtful and most of all positive about the island communities working together. I know that some of his fellow commissioners are not pleased with some of his results but it appears that none of what he is accused of reaches the level of being removed under the law. Could it be that what you have here is a conflict of personalities. Wouldn't it be better if the commission could sit down and work out their problems like they were elected to do and stop trying to make a major case out of some minor mistakes.
Longboat Key had some personality problems semerald years ago and it set the town back s feral years.

Name: Paulette
Date: 2015-04-08 07:02:07
Subject: Fixed Bridge
Comments: I found the results very interesting to last week's question. The most percentage being 35% against a bigger bridge because it will bring more cars. Really!! This response must be from people who were not here some 20 odd years ago when this same subject was brought up & the same response was received (percentage probably more). So where are we now? They still come, not caring if they have to sit in line for an hour because the bridge is up. There are people who are full time residents & we know nothing is going to improve the traffic, but feel a fixed bridge will help.

Name: Robert Docheerty
Date: 2015-04-01 15:52:27
Subject: Corps rejects mangrove removal
Comments: In response to your 4/1/15 article, I'm surprised how little is remembered concerning the hard fought agreement that was made before this complex was built. Not only did it involve a reduction in the proposed size (and with the more recent development there I wonder if this agreement has been broken), I thought that any and all mangrove intrusion was prohibited. Has this initial agreement been negated to the level that any request could possibly be considered (much less made)? It's bad enough that it appears that the tiny space between mangroves on north west side has somehow increased in size over the years. Maybe the Neal Preserve should be renamed the Neal Non-Preserve.

Name: janice bergbom
Date: 2015-04-01 15:33:32
Subject: traffic
Comments: Why are the police NOT monitoring the speeders on North Shore Drive between Coconut and the tip of the island? Tonight I was walking there and in both directions there were cars traveling in excess of 30 MPH! There is no reason to go that fast on this road, and I think that the fine should be doubled on our residential streets. MSD, please monitor this area before someone is hurt.

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