Scattershooting on an early Saturday morning...
--- Some seniors around Lakeland are quite unhappy over changes in the plans made for President Bush's campaign visit to the city today. The rally was originally scheduled for Joker Marchant Stadium, which is the spring training home for the Detroit Tigers, but officials moved it to Ty Cobb Field --- a practice field behind the main stadium --- to accommodiate the president's helicopter. Those poor folks who had expected to get there early (ticket holders were told to arrive between 8:00 and 10:00 AM, with Bush to speak around noon) and enjoy a nice, comfy seat for the long wait with likely now have to stand for several hours...folding chairs are a definate no-no, and bleachers which the parks staff had hastily constructed will be primarily for party officials, volunteers, contributors, and select guests.
The Lakeland Ledger reportedly received several complaints from senior citizens who had planned to attend but now having second thoughts because of the changed situation being simply too much for them physically. Needless to say, the local Bush-Cheney campaign leadership simply pooh-poohed the concerns, with manager Marilyn Paul telling the newspaper, "It's not a comfort thing."
Let Ms. Paul say that when she reaches her 60s or 70s and is not able to get around or stand for three or four hours at a time as most of the attendees at this event will now be expected to do.
BTW: A few of us will be near the stadium to show our support for the Kerry/Edwards ticket. It will feature a "Pants On Fire" inflatable Bush similar to this.
--- I was saddened to learn that former 12th District Democratic congressional candidate Jeffrey Siemer has left the Polk County area. He and his domestic partner have a place in Satellite Beach which they are making their permanent home. Their Lakeland residence suffered damage from the hurricanes, while the Sattelite Beach home escaped OK. Jeff is a fine individual with some good ideas, and as I have mentioned in this blog previously it is my hope and prayer that his experience did not scare him away from possibly running for elective office again in the future. I also hope that the good people in that area will treat Jeff well and consider him as much of a friend as many of us do.
--- Speaking of the 12th District congressional race, it's interesting that Democratic candidate Bob Hagenmaier seems to finally be getting at least some footing against Putnam. He called out the Republican incumbant during the Haines City Chamber of Commerce Pig Roast/Political Rally Friday.
On a seperate note, it actually brought a small smile to see it did'nt do quite as well as expected. It had to be postponed twice due to the hurricanes and related damage. The Haines City Chamber should seriously consider making the event more accessible to the community at large, instead of charging $50 a head as was the case this year. These events used to be fun, informational times for people throughout the community to meet and greet candidates for public office while enjoying good food and music, but now the HCCofC has raised the price significantly in recent years, and has actually moved the event from Haines City...last year it was held in Polk City; this year at the Greenlefe Resort. It's now more of a fundraiser for the Chamber, and more of a Republican-skewed event.
--- The Ledger endorsed George W. Bush on Friday. As a matter of fact, they endorsed a straight Republican ticket with only two exceptions: Betty Castor for the U.S. Senate, and Robert H. Gray for Florida House District 66. Gray is a political newcomer going up against citrus/cattle money; incumbant Republican Baxter Troutman is related by family to Bush sheep dog congressman Adam Putnam and puppy congresswoman Kathryn Harris. Troutman is so out of it he sponsored a water bill written by land developers...and he had to have a lobbyist explain it to a committee when presenting it because he didn't understand it himself!
One reply to the mention of this on Mark Lane's excellent blog FlaBlog notes that it's par for the course for publisher John Fitzwater considering his history (he was publisher of the Gainesville Sun prior to coming to Lakeland). The gentleman who replied mentioned:
"Fitzwater tended to label pro-environmental commissioners as "terrible" and referred to citizens who opposed things like cement plants as "CAVE dwellers" for Citizens Against Virtually Everything."
I'm sure Mr. Fitzwater enjoys it much better in Polk County, where development is allowed to continue unabated with the lowest impact fees in the region.