Monday, May 30, 2005


Attorney General Charlie Crist has been racking up some big bucks to date as he gets his gubernatorial campaign off and running. He has enjoyed a bit of celebrity aid as well, as America's Most Wanted host and former South Florida resident John Walsh filed Crist's paperwork for him at the Division of Elections office to officially kick off the campaign.

The AG will really get the celebrity help on June 14 in New York when real estate magnate and part time Palm Beach County resident Donald Trump hosts a fundraiser --- on Trump's birthday, no less --- at, where else...Trump Tower.

As anyone who keeps up with Trump knows, he never does anything on a small scale. So I would expect the amount to be raised by his friends and partners in The Big Apple to easily surpass the estimated $1.1 million collected/pledged last week at a Tampa luncheon.

Can't you only guess as to what Trump would ask for if Crist won the governor's office? Who's Bill Rancic? Forget Kelly! Don't think about Kendra! He'd have Charlie as his new Apprentice! He wouldn't be able to tell Crist "You're Fired!", but Charlie would know where the mother's milk came from that got him there.

Seriously, though. The Donald is expanding his property portfolio across Florida. In addition to his Mar-A-Lago properties in Palm Beach County, Trump is building a luxury 52 story condo building to be know as Trump Tower Tampa, the three building Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residences in Sunny Isles Beach, and two projects in Fort Lauderdale, the Trump International Hotel and Tower and the Trump International Beach Club. I'm sure a LOT of tax breaks for The Donald and his condo residents would be in order...hmmmm.......


As we take time to remember those men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to the nation, we should also take time to remember how we treat those veterans who are still with us.

It is a disgrace that the Bush administration has continued to slash funding for veterans' health care, especially in the area of nursing home services. There will be an estimated 1.3 million-plus vets aged 85 and above by 2012, more than double the number presently. Although a Veterans Administration report 1984 warned of this, the agency has cut back on nursing home and mental health services, hoping that Medicaid and the private sector can pick up the slack. VA is already in violation of a 1999 federal law mandating a minimum of 13,391 beds, as it only has about 12,000 nursing home beds available. And Dubya and Friends want to slash that to less than 10,000 by next year.

Even for those veterans who are able to get in VA nursing or retirement homes, the care is seriously lacking. The Washington Post reported last Wednesday that a group of veterans at the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home in northwest Washington, DC have filed a class-action lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the home's Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cox alleging that the over 1,000 residents can no longer get prescriptions and regular physician checkups there due to cuts in service since a new management team took over two years ago.

Our great nation has an obligation to those men and women who served their country. Unfortunately, this administration seems not to care about people unless it's one of their wealthy business partners. We need a change now.

And to all our veterans...thank you for your service and sacrifice on our behalf. God bless you!


The Lakeland Ledger ran an AP story this morning about a Fort Lauderdale man who has invented a steering wheel which includes skin sensors to measure the amount of alcohol content. If the driver has had a but much adult libation, it prevents the vehicle from starting or running.

Dennis Bellehumeur received a patent earlier this month for the device, which costs approximately $600 and was prompted by his son's crash in Ontario while driving under the influence in 1989. He says that the device should be finished testing by the end of this year, and State Representative Jack Seiler (D - Wilton Manors) is planning to present the device to his legislative collegues after testing is completed.

The device is installed in the steering wheel or on gloves which are worn by the driver. There is a two minute warning prior to shut-off, and the device is adjustable to adhere to a state's legal alcohol limit.

There has been a similar device on the market for over 30 years and has been mandated in a number of cases for drivers convicted of DUI, but it requires the driver to blow into an insturment which is connected to the vehicle's ignition system.

Congratulations and best wishes on continued success on this device. If it will help bring down the number of tragedies resulting from drunk driving, more power...

Sunday, May 29, 2005


My hometown Lakeland Ledger takes advantage of the Memorial Day weekend to hand out it's occasional "Gigs and Garlands".

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union says that we must allow nuclear plants to maintain it's 20 percent share of America's energy supply

The Miami Herald opines that the USA Patriot Act should be reviewed, with many provisions being discarded or improved to stop the assault on civil liberties.

In the Panhandle, the Pensacola News Journal laments Escambia County's dependence on service jobs, which plays a major role in it's being ranked as the poorest among Florida's 16 largest counties (and 17th poorest among the nation's largest).

Today's editorial in the Orlando Sentinel says that as we prepare for another hurricane season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to clean up it's act.

The St. Petersburg Times focuses on an important enviromental issue on it's opinion page, slamming state officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for allowing at least 84,000 acres of wetlands --- an area about the size of St. Petersburg --- to be destroyed over the past 15 years.

The Palm Beach Post urges state legislators to approve payment of a Palm Beach County jury award of $35 million dollars to Marissa Amora in a three year old negligence lawsuit against the state Department of Children and Families.

As high school and college commencements continue, the Tampa Tribune encourages graduates --- and, I'm sure, the citizenry in general --- to be engaged citizens and know what's going on in your community. I actually like one quote included in the editorial, made by Beatles producer Sir George Martin when he told a recent graduating class:

``The reassuring thing I have learned from working with geniuses is that no one is perfect; no one is so good that he does not need help.''

Today's Sarasota Herald-Tribune makes note of President Bush's double standard on the issue of stem cells, allowing them to be discarded/destroyed but not their use for research that could be beneficial in saving lives.

And the Gainesville Sun makes note of two attempts in Congress this week to weaken the moratorium on drilling for oil and natrual gas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. One was ruled out of order while the other failed.

On Florida's East Coast, Florida Today notes that the hurricane season begins Wednesday, exposing the impact of weak insurance reform.

Once again, the Fort Myers News-Press urges the Lee County School Board to act now to get support for an increased sales tax to raise revenues for building and other expenses resulting from expected rising enrollment.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Great post in Florida News Thursday regarding the probability of Operation Rescue co-founder and general right-wing idologue jerk Randall Terry to challenge former Florida Senate President Jim King next year for his northeast Florida seat.

Seems Terry's passion to challenge the GOP incumbant is leftover from the Terri Schiavo case. Anyone who watched much of the news coverage will remember his taking on the reins as chief spokesperson for the Schindler family (Terri Schiavo's parents) during all the legal wrangling surrounding wheather Terri's feeding tube would be reinserted. During a news conference this week, which basically was done to seek contributions which will help determine if he will run, Randall Terry said that the decision of King and several other GOP lawmakers to block legislation which would have mandated the reinsertion of Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube was "unforgivable in the minds of many Republicans" and that King had "betrayed the core values of the Republican Party".

Terry was and remains a hero to many in the evangalical Christian community for his activism, which includes more than 40 arrests mainly during protests at abortion clinics. However, in recent years that support has waned after it was noted that in 1999 he left his wife of 19 years and children to begin a relationship with a woman who he met while a candidate for Congress in his former New York home. He later married the woman, but was censured by his former church, Landmark Church of Binghamton, NY for what it called "a pattern of repeated and sinful relationships and conversations with both single and married women".

Randall Terry has also said that his son, Jamiel, is not welcome in the family home after he wrote in the May, 2004 issue of Out magazine that he was gay. And, according to an April, 2004 feature in the Washington Post:

Their four children say they still love their father but the relationship has frayed. Terry recently barred one of his adopted teenage daughters from his house after she got pregnant out of wedlock for the second time. Another adopted daughter also became pregnant as a teenager and later converted to Islam, a religion Terry has described as composed of "murderers" and "terrorists." (The couple's lone biological child, a daughter, is in college.)

Mr. Terry has been actively soliciting contributions from supporters --- those he has remaining --- to "help restore to Randall Terry what the enemies of life 'stole'." The donations are being sent to "The Terry Family Trust" so that they cannot be taken as the results of past or future lawsuits. He had previously filed bankruptcy after being ordered to pay $1.6 million to the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood. The solicitations came as he was preparing to move into a $432,000 residence in a gated community of South Pointe Verde Beach (according to an article from 2003 in the conservative World magazine, no longer available at it's online site but reprinted on the Web site for First Freedom).

And this is the fellow that some Republicans in northeast Florida want to represent them in the Florida House of Representatives?

Jacksonville attorney and Republican James Post told the Florida Times-Union for it's story that ran Friday:

"With Jim King, we might as well have elected a Democrat to the position. I'd rather have someone in there who will act consistent with Republican principles."

And Duval County Republican Executive Committee member Kay Durden told an Associated Press reporter (story is courtesy the Tallahassee Democrat):

"Randall Terry, to me, is like Ronald Reagan in many ways. He is witty, kindhearted, articulate and very courageous"

Now, c'mon! That is simply going too far! I was by no means a fan of Ronald Wilson Reagan's politics, but to compare him to Randall Terry tells me this woman has been smoking A LOT of hippie weed (scarcasm intended).

Terry winning a GOP primary against Senator King --- which would be highly unlikely to begin with --- would certainly open the door for a good Democratic candidate to take the seat, and that's allright by me!


Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott his turned down a request by six Democratic members of the state House of Representatives seeking additional damages against a Republican political action committee which was ruled to have violated state campaign financing laws, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The ruling Thursday by Senior Retired State District Court Judge Joe Hart against Texans for a Republican Majority was that it's treasurer, former Dallas-area legislator and co-founder of the Texas Conservative Coalition Bill Ceverha failed to disclose nearly $1.3 million in corporate contributions and expenditures made during the state legislative campaign three years ago. Texas law says that corporate donations cannot be used in campaigns except to pay a PAC's overhead expenses. Private attorneys can sue to collect double damages for injured candidates, and the attorney general can file suit to collect triple damages for taxpayers.

The decision puts Abbott --- a Republican with his own ties to such groups --- in a harsh light. TRMPAC Executive Director John Colyandro was an advisor to Abbott's own campaign in 2002; he is now facing criminal charges of money laundering and accepting illegal contributions in Travis County. Defeated Democrats have also filed suit against Colyandro, but his part in the litigation has been suspended pending resolution of his criminal charges.

Also, the Virginia-based Law Enforcement Alliance of America spend corporate contributions to air television ads against Abbott's opponent, former Austin mayor Kirk Watson. Although Abbott said his campaign did not coordinate it's efforts with that of LEAA, Colyandro said he recruited the organization to aid in legislative campaigns in the Lone Star State. It, too, is facing a lawsuit on behalf of Watson as well as an investigation by the local District Attorney.

TRMPAC is affiliated with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, which should not be surprising considering his own ethical shortcomings. Click here to find out more about it's contributions and expenditures noted by the Center for Public Integrity. DeLay, BTW, was not a party to the lawsuits.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Cypress Gardens Adventure Park has opened it's newest attraction, Nature's Way, although it was somewhat behind schedule due to last year's hurricanes.

The animal habitat features several alligators, including the 75-year old "Tarzan", a ten foot long reptile who appeared in the Tarzan films during the 1940s (back when he was but a babe). A new pirate show will be featured in the area beginning next week.

Give a lot of credit to owner Kent Buescher for a much more diverse concert lineup. Rock/pop artists Styx, Hootie & the Blowfish, and 38 Special, country performers Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels, and Larry Gatlin, and Rockapella (haven't heard from them since the kids' game show Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?) are will be featured along with the Nashville Star Summer Tour.

It may not have SheiKra, but Cypress Gardens Adventure Park doesn't cost quite as much, and the lines aren't as long. Sounds like a great way to spend a day or two.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


With thanks to Mustang Bobby of Miami-based blogger Bark Bark Woof Woof for the heads up on this story:

Part of the excitment that comes at the end of another school year is getting the long awaited yearbook for one to look back at all the memories of the term just past. I was only able to purchase one during my high school days long past, but on occasion I will still glance through the pictures and remember those mostly wonderful times and the great friends long gone.

Unfortunately, in several cases across South Florida this year, pages are being cut out, stickers placed over pictures, and students have been suspended for allegedly flashing gang signs in pictures taken for yearbooks.

Three students at Miami Springs Senior High School in Dade County --- including one senior --- were suspended six days before the end of the term for making what administrators say could have been interpeted as gang signals in their varsity baseball team picture taken for the school's sports yearbook.

The trio used hand signals to depict the number '305', and say that it was meant to show their love for local Cuban rapper Pitbull, who uses the number to depict Miami-Dade County (it is the area's original telephone area code) as well as his son's birthdate (3/05). Click here to view the picture in question, courtesy of WTVJ-NBC6.

The students, one of whom has a grade point average of 3.7, and their parents were scheduled to meet with Principal Douglas Rodriguez Wednesday morning. Rodriguez was scheduled to make a decision afterwards as to wheather the suspensions will stand.

Also, the Palm Beach Post is reporting that the mother of a Boynton Beach Community High School senior is asking for a recall of it's yearbooks after it pictured her son, who was noted as "Most Whipped" of his class, in a dog collar and leash being held by his then-girlfriend. The title means that his girlfriend had the young man "wrapped around her finger" use an old expression.

The 19 year old young man said that the pose was his idea, but his mother objects because she said it reminded her of scenes in the miniseries Roots which showed manacled slaves. Over 240 copies of the yearbook had been distributed, and stickers were used to cover the artwork on the other nearly 500 copies.

And in Bonita Springs, administrators at the middle school there literally cut out pages from the yearbook showing two students flashing gang signs and a joke about another student's weight. The students whose pictures were edited out had left the school.

IMHO, the Miami Springs instance was more than likely one of administrators going overboard. A few questions, and a reference to the school's resource officer --- part of whose job is to keep up with any gang activity or refer any questions to the appropriate collegues within the police department --- would probably cleared up the matter without further action. Not every student is in a gang, trying to revolt against authority, or participating in a conspiracy against the social order...which is the attitude that many school administrators seem to take. The students, however, are not without fault, and should have known that in a time when schools are battling gang influences such a consequence was imminent.

The "Most Whipped" picture is simply poor taste and should have never been allowed in the yearbook. While it was meant to be humourous, it was obvious that some people would have seen it in a different light, especially since the student wearing the collar was an African-American and his girlfriend at the time, who was holding the leash, was white.

And the middle school pictures was another case of poor judgement by the advisor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The National Football League announced today that Tampa has been awarded Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 in a vote of team owners.

The Cigar City beat out Atlanta, Houston, and Miami to win the award, not to mention it's own PR debachle when none of the Glazer family members attended a press briefing to promote Tampa's bid. I guess they were too busy planning their purchase of Manchester United.

The 2006 Super Bowl will be held in Detroit, the 2007 game in Miami, and the 2008 contest in Glendale, Arizona at a stadium being built for the Arizona Cardinals. The 2010 game will be held in New York, IF a new venue for the Jets is approved on the West Side of Manhattan.


For nine years the Tupel0, Mississippi-based American Family Association has supported a boycott of the Walt Disney Company and it's various products and facilities for what it percieved as the erosion of it's squeaky-clean family image.

The AFA was founded by Donald Wildmon, a conservative United Methodist minister from Tupelo, as the American Federation for Decency. The organization is now headed by his son, Tim, although Don Wildmon still holds the title of Chairman.

Citing new challenges in the culture wars along with what it sees as "positive signs" at Disney --- including CEO Michael Eisner's scheduled departure in September --- the AFA announced Tuesday that it was ending it's participation in the boycott. Other religious demoninations and organizations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, and Focus on the Family, still support the action.

IMHO, a boycott doesn't do a great deal of good in the long run. It's like talking about Wal-Mart: You can complain about their business practices all you want, but as long as it is offering decent products at a price lower than comparable items elsewhere, people --- indeed, including you --- will continue to shop there. Disney provides entertainment that people want to see and experience, and those that are willing to pay for it will do so regardless of their religious background. That is as it should be.


During the past several years as news of the various strains of citrus canker have been reported throughout Florida, Polk County's remaining citrus industry has been extremely fortunate not to have been hit. That ended this week as 1,200 acres of trees will be destroyed after the more dangerous Asiatic strain of canker was found two weeks ago at Ben Hill Griffin Inc.'s citrus nursery in Frostproof.

In addition to the BHG nursery being hit, a heavy infestation was found in a 255 acre grove next to the Griffin nursery owned by the LaBelle-based agribusiness Alico, Inc. Apparantly the Alico infestation is over 1 1/2 years old, and last year's hurricanes blew the bacteria from there into the Griffin nursery.

Sounds like someone at Alico wasn't doing their job, if it took over a year and a half to notice it.

It's the first time the A-strain has appeared in Polk County since a statewide outbreak in 1916.


Tampa television station WFLA and the co-owned Tampa Tribune reported earlier this week that Florida's Medicaid program has been paying over the last four years up to $93,000 for 218 sexual offenders to receive Viagara and other erectile dysfunction drugs. This discovery was made in the wake of other states looked over their records after it was reported that New York State's Medicaid program had been providing 198 rapists and other sex offenders with similar products since 2000.

Such disbursments will be a thing of the past, not only for sex offenders but for anyone using Medicaid for erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagara. The only exception will be for those patients using it in treating primary pulmonary hypertension, which could become a life-threatening condition.

Excuse me for being naive, but what the hell is Medicaid doing paying for Viagara and similar drugs when many recipiants have difficulty receiving disbursments for medications they need? Sorry, I can't see how this is medically necessary, especially for sex offenders. The taxpayer should not have to foot this bill!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


From the Baton Rouge Advocate columnist Smiley Anders today:

When the folks at St. Jude Catholic School on Highland Road opened the box of diplomas ordered for their eighth-grade graduation ceremonies, they were puzzled to find that they were in Latin.

A call to the diploma company revealed that they were supposed to go to the University of Notre Dame -- which had received the St. Jude diplomas.

Of course a swap was arranged.

But before it was made, Sylvia Kress, coordinator for religious education at St. Jude, just had to play a trick on her son Kevin -- who was graduating from Notre Dame Law School that next week.

She found his diploma and had a photo made of her holding it, beaming a proud-mom smile.

Sylvia and husband Bill went to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame graduation. After the ceremony, she presented Kevin with the framed photo.

To say he was confused would be a major understatement …


It seems that we're seeing more instances of children being sexually abused this year. I swear, since those terrible stories earlier this year of young girls being abducted and murdered, it seems like a virtual avalanche of similar or more unusual situations.

There is the story over the weekend of the eight year old girl reported abducted, but thankfully found alive...although buried in a recycling bin piled with rocks at an abandoned landfill. A 17 year old boy now faces life imprisonment for attempted murder, sexual battery of a child, and false imprisonment of a child. A Palm Beach County jury will determine if he will be tried as an adult.

And then there is this story out of Louisiana where nine people have been arrested in the case of a now-defunct church/cult whose pastor, wife, and other members reportedly had sexual relations with children and animals. And authorities there say that as many as a dozen more people could be involved! Not only that, but this case is getting more and more weird by the day. Seven of those arrested are being held with no bail as they are charged with capital offenses.

You've got to wonder how some people could be so sick as to abuse children like this.


Sad to read in USA Today that one of the most recognizable commercial voices in American television is now gone. Thurl Ravenscroft, who for over a half century provided the voice of Tony the Tiger touting Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, passed away over the weekend from prostate cancer at his home in Fullerton, California. He was 91 years young.

Ravenscroft's career dates back to the Golden Age of Radio, where he was a regular during the 1930s and by the latter part of that decade was singing backup for Bing Crosby. After military service during World War II he sang with the Mellomen, who performed with many of the top singers of the Big Band era such as Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Danny Kaye as well as Elvis. His music career continued as late as the 1970s, when he performed with the Johnny Mann Singers.

He did his first Kellogg's commercial in 1952, where his line "They're GRRRRRRRREEEEAT!" became a staple for Frosted Flakes and is still used today.

Mr. Ravenscroft was also involved with Disney from the opening of Disneyland in 1955, when he was the announcer for many of the ceremonies. His voice is featured on a number of the rides throughout the park, as well as many of it's movies throughout four decades. It also is his voice that sings "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" from the Dr. Seuss animated feature How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and that led to his work in the other Seuss features Horton Hears a Who and The Cat in the Hat.

Here is his obit from the Orange County Register.


Derek Newton writes for the blog Florida Politics today about the alleged lack of a bench among Florida Democrats. He names ten "ready-for-prime-time" Dems who may not be widely known now, but could play a major role on the statewide scene:

--- State Representative Bruce Antone (D - Orlando), 43 years of age.

--- State Senator David Aronberg (D - Fort Myers), 34

--- State Representative Loranne Ausley (D - Tallahassee), 42

--- Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan of Gainesville, 38

--- Mayor Pam Iorio of Tampa, 45

--- Mayor Kristin Jacobs of Broward County, 46

--- Congressman Kendrick Meek (D - FL 17 / Miami), 39

--- Former Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales, 43. Now Chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee

--- Debbie Ritchie (nee: Horan) of Tallahassee, 42. Formerly of Key West where she served as a state representative, she now lives in Pensacola with husband and former House Speaker "Buzz" Ritchie. Editor of the Pensacola Business Journal.

--- Congressman Robert Wexler (D - FL 19 / Boca Raton), 44

Where the Democratic Party hurts is that in many areas, we don't do a good enough job of recruiting candidates for local offices. Many of them are now officially nonpartisan (all in Polk County except the Board of County Commissioners are now that way), so most local Democratic Executive Committees ignore them entirely or give short shrift to those races. We simply cannot allow that to continue. The opposition definately supports their own in these nonpartisan races, and we should find candidates and pledge our support there as well.

Monday, May 23, 2005


I don't usually include this type of material here, but felt this was worthy enough for your consideration.

My sister sent this poem to me today. She wrote that she noticed this on the Web site of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi's main daily newspaper. It was written by Tim Lindsey, a deputy with the Lamar County Sheriff's Office in Purvis, Mississippi. Since he penned it five years ago, it has received national attention...including a letter from Vice President Cheney.

You Don't Remember Me, Do You
by Tim Lindsey

You don't remember me, do you...

I was the one who unlocked your car after you accidentally locked the keys and your baby up at the mall.
I was the one who gave you a ride to the gas station when you ran out of gas on that back road.
I was the one who changed your tire because you couldn't figure out how to work the stupid scissor jack.
I was the one who directed you safely through that busy intersection when the traffic signals weren't working.
I was the one who gave you a jump-start after you left your lights on.

You don't remember me, do you...
I was the one who found the item that identified the guy who raped your daughter.
I was the one who spent my days off in court to testify and help convict the man who beat your son so badly.
I was the one who located your grandmother in the woods that night when it was 22 degrees and she had wandered away from the nursing home.
I was the one who loaned you the raincoat the night we stood and watched your house burn.
I was the one who talked with you for two hours about your son running away from home.

You don't remember me, do you...
I was the one who held your hand, wiped the blood out of you eyes, and calmed you down while the Fire Department cut you out of what was left of your car.
I was the one who called you at 2 a.m. to come pick up your 16 year old daughter because she had been drinking too much.
I was the one who knocked on your door at 4 a.m. to let you know your 16 year old daughter would never be coming home again.
I was the one who did CPR on your 3 year old after you found him in the pool.
I was the one who helped deliver your new baby when you didn't quite make it to the ER.

You don't remember me, do you...
I was the one who got that snake out of your bathroom around midnight.
I was the one who got my knees and elbows scraped up fighting with the shoplifter with your carton of cigarettes.
I was the one who took your son for a "ride-along" so he could see what it was really like.
I was the one who gave you the right directions so you wouldn't miss that business meeting.
I was the one who stopped you to let you know your right rear tire was going flat.

You don't remember me, do you...
I was the one who escorted your son's funeral procession from the church to the cemetery and cried behind my sun glasses because he was my friend, too.
I was the one watched over your place while you were on vacation.
I was the one who worked for you on Christmas Day so you could be off with your family.
I was the one who joked around with you after your truck got hit by a train and you walked away without a scratch.
I was the one was able to talk your husband into going into counseling with you.

You don't remember me, do you...
I was the one who got shot when I pulled over a car for a traffic violation and the driver turned out to be an escaped convict who had sworn he would never go back to prison.
Oh, by the way, my memorial service is at 2 p.m.

Will you remember me now?


This could be interesting...on Friday, St. Petersburg Times political columnist Adam C. Smith wrote that two-time Attorney General Bob Butterworth has been letting prominent Democrats know that he is considering running for his old job again.

So far no Democrats have officially announced their candidacy for the state's top legal job, although State Senator Walter "Skip" Campbell (D - Fort Lauderdale) is reportedly a leading contender for either the AG or Chief Financial Officer position. Smith wrote that Campbell would not run for Attorney General if Butterworth decided to give it a go.

Butterworth is best known during his period in office as being a consumer's friend, and was the AG who won Florida's multi-billion dollar award against Big Tobacco. For the past 12 years he has served as Dean of the St. Thomas University Law School in Miami.

If he decided to run for a third term as Attorney General, Butterworth would be a formidable candidate. Besides the fact that he is from South Florida, one of the true hotbeds of Democratic Party politics, he would enjoy a name recognition unmatched by the three Republican candidates who have jumped in the race. Butterworth's entry would also discourage other Democrats from getting in, allowing him to catch up in fundraising and promoting himself again as the Republicans are mired in a potentially heated primary battle.

An interesting opportunity. I say "Go For It!"

Sunday, May 22, 2005


The Daytona Beach News-Journal notes that growth issues will be a major challenge when Volusia County's Home Rule Charter Review Commission begins it's required study.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial focuses on Lake County and is asking how serious officials are about improving regional transportation options while protecting the enviroment in considering five proposed changes to it's long range growth plan.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune opines that the oil industry should bear the full cost of cleaning up oil spills. According to a Coast Guard analysis, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, designed to help pay for such mishaps runs an annual deficit of $200 million and could run broke by the end of the decade.

The St. Petersburg Times looks at the hypocrisy of Jeb! this week appearing with California collegeue Arnold Schwarzenegger to help raise money for initiatives which would reform Golden State politics...among which would call for a nonpartisan commission of retired judges to redistrict the Legislature. Jeb! has opposed similar efforts here.

In today's Tampa Tribune editorial, it is noted that government can only do so much to improve the streach of U.S. 19 in west central Florida mentioned on a Dateline NBC report as one of America's most dangerous roads...those using the road have to do their part, too.

The Winter Haven News Chief celebrates the significant improvement many Polk County schools made on the FCAT scores.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union calls for the Duval County Courthouse Advisory Group to look at all options to insure that plans for a new courthouse meets the budget of $201 million.

A bit of a surprise from the usually conservative Panhandle: The Pensacola News Journal asks what President Bush's gamble on Iraq has cost the nation in terms of it's credibility overseas.

Florida Today hopes that new Brevard County Sheriff Jack Palmer will follow through on his promise to change his office's practices on monitoring public demonstrations.

The Fort Myers News-Press is urging the Lee County School Board to schedule an election to support a half-cent sales tax increase and begin making it's case for the increased revenue to accomodate the district's expected growth.

This morning's Palm Beach Post opines that smaller class sizes --- which voters mandated last year in a constitutional amendment --- do work, and notes that while Jeb! generally gets credit for rising test scores, FCAT was not his idea.

The Miami Herald editorial, noting that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation --- the federal agency founded to insure private pensions --- is in trouble, notes that over the long run private companies should get out of the pension business in favour of improving IRAs and 401(k) accounts.

Up the road in Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Sun Sentinel supports a bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Foley (R - FL) now in Congress aimed at tracking sex offenders.

And the Gainesville Sun says that the Legislature should consider standardizing the current system of reporting sewage spills in the interest of public health.


Jim Saunders, Tallahassee Bureau Chief for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, takes a look at what could become the most costly and possibly bitter governor's race in recent history. And in it's "Vantage Point" column, Pamela Hasterok has her own view of the race...and the candidates. She makes an excellent point worth mentioning here:

Hard-core ideology is more suited to scholarly institutions than state governments. Florida gets a new governor on Jan. 2, 2007.

Between now and then, voters need to find a good ol' middle-of-the-roader to return the state to its pragmatic past.

I still don't believe that Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings will run this time. Her entry would only add to what promises to be a divisive Republican primary. She will simply wait for a better opportunity, like 2010.


As some of you may be aware, during the Democratic primaries last year I supported retired four-star general Wesley Clark. He has apparantly learned from the mistakes he made during the campaign, and is ready to do it again in 2008. During a gathering of his supporters recently at the California Democratic convention General Clark all but announced that he was seriously considering another run for the nation's top job, and at a reception in Chicago Thursday evening he made references to "the party I want to lead" and "the country I want to lead".

According to an e-mail I received from someone who was there,

He was surprisingly candid about his own campaign's failings, and even took a couple of shots at the management of Kerry-Edwards team. ("When I went to bed on election night, I had heard John Edwards say they were gonna make sure every vote in Ohio was counted. I thought that sounded like a good idea. But then a few hours later, they conceded. I didn't understand it.")

His main theme seemed to be that Democrats need to get over their circular firing squad mentality, stop arguing with each other over the minutia of policy and focus on the Big Picture: regaining control of our country. He said arguing over the details of candidates' respective health care plans, for example, is counter-productive as the end result of every Democrat's plan should be universal health care. Quit splitting hairs and hit the big themes.

He's obviously learned a lot from his time on the trail...He acknowledged that some of his campaign staff had handcuffed him during the primary cuz they didn't really know him or what he was about. He said his mistake was to trust their guidance instead of following his own instincts. He said he wouldn't make that error again.

He then took some questions and issued an early heads-up on the Administration's plans on Iran. Said we can expect a massive troop pullout of Iraq by the end of this summer so Bush can launch an Iran offensive next summer. Just in time for the 2006 congressional races. He said everyone should be wary of this trap.

He also said the administration is making a huge error in how it's dealing with China. He said that's where our real long-term foreign policy challenges are.

I still believe that Clark would be the best Democrat to deal with many of the current issues we face, especially with the liklihood of a hostle (read: Republican-majority) Congress for the forseeable future.

That said, the juggernaut that is Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton (D - NY) will be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. Recent polls show her the favourite of nearly half of those Democrats asked who they would support for the party's presidential nomination in three years. Everyone else falls in single digits.

On the Republican side, expect it to be a bitter fight for the heart and mind of the conservative right wing. Between Senators Rick Santorium (R- PA) and Bill Frist (R - TX) trying to say who is the more conservative, this could be the opening fellow senator Bill McCain (R - AZ) needs to do well. As for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R - TX), his presidential hopes are dead. His ethical issues make him unfit, and while the voters back home in suburban Houston might not see anything wrong, even mainstream Republicans nationwide should see that DeLay would not be a fit candidate to run for the Oval Office.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


It's no secret that Texans love their high school football, and there are some towns where the prep stadium is more of a shrine. I lived in suburban Houston during the oil boom of the early and mid 1970s, and crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 for a regular season game were by no means unusual. When it comes to playoff time in the Lone Star State, pro venues such as Texas Stadium and the Reliant Astrodome almost filled to capacity.

I was looking at one site this morning that featured high school stadiums in the Metro Houston area, and came across one that is simply over the top. In the Houston suburb of Galena Park, the school district's two high schools --- Galena Park and North Shore --- share a $22 million facility built three years ago that has numerous features. According to the site:

A jumbotron scoreboard with instant replay. A VIP section with individual seating and cup holders. TV monitors in the concession areas. A double-decker press box that has tons of space for every group to be happy. The scouts have seating capacity of about 30. The coaching boxes can seat up to 16. There are separate rooms for the press, radio, video deck, the dignitary section, and much more. Papasitos is served to all in the box at halftime and a standing buffet line of chips and dips, fruit and vegetable trays are there throughout the game.

Now remember, this is for a high school stadium! It seats 10,300...larger than most, but smaller than some in the area. The school district's athletic Web site features a virtural tour of the press box. There are a lot of colleges that would love to enjoy some of these features.

Friday, May 20, 2005


The St. Petersburg Times is reporting this morning that Tampa cardiologist and HMO executive Kiran C. Patel is responsible for the largest single donation in the history of the University of South Florida's of $18.5 million which will be bolstered by $30 million in matching state funds over a period of years and $14 million in private donations.

The total $62.5 million will go toward the Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, a facility where foreign leaders and scholars will come, discuss and study issues of a worldwide nature such as global warming and international trade.

When it is completed, the Patel Center will have four pavillions to house scholars, classrooms, a 500 seat auditorium, and housing for foreign dignataries. It will also take in USF's existing Globalization Center.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


At least it seems that way, the way our prep teams have made their way into the FHSAA regional rounds.

Tuesday, Winter Haven routed Tampa Jefferson 9-0 behind a 15 strikeout performance by senior Jordan Schafer to take their 4A regional final. The Blue Devils now face Ponte Verda Beach Nease on May 27 on Sarasota in the state semifinals.

McKeel Academy of Technology has both baseball and softball teams in playoff action. The Wildcat baseball team won the 2A regional title at home with a 6-5 decision over Berkeley Prep. They will now face Arlington Country Day of Jacksonville next Wednesday. The McKeel softballers also bring home a regional championship, winning 8-1 over Trinity Prep of Winter Park and a spot in the semifinals at Tampa at noon Thursday against Trinity Christian Academy of Jacksonville in Tampa. It's the second straight trip to the state semis for McKeel softball.

UPDATE: The only bad news was that in the 5A Region 3 championship at Lakeland, Lakeland George Jenkins was routed by Tampa Gaither. When the game was suspended by rain and lightning Tuesday Gaither was leading 11-2 in the fifth inning. Before it was completed Wednesday, the Gaither players took batting practice and ran wind sprints, then took a 17-2 victory.

And I forgot to mention that Florida Southern College is hosting a NCAA Division II South regional tournament beginning tonight. The Mocs, who are the top seed, will play fourth-seed Rollins College at historic Henley Field. Second seed Tusculum faces three-seed Tampa open the double elimination tournament this afternoon at 1:00.


It was not surprise that state CFO Tom Gallagher would file to run for governor. It's his fourth shot at the state's highest office. But he's definately changed, clearly to court the far right which has taken control of the Florida Republican Party.

Gallagher has become a big fan of more school vouchers...which means more money taken from the public schools. He was once a supporter of a woman's right to choose on the issue of abortion, but now is an ardent opponent. While 11 years ago he supported a one cent increase in the sales tax to expand prison space, he now calls for more tax cuts, including eliminating taxes on stocks and bonds.

In the latest Strategic Vision poll taken last month and asked of only registered Republicans as to who their first choice for the party's nominee for governor would be, Gallagher was chosen by 28%, nine percent under front runner Attorney General Charlie Crist (37%) and double those who chose Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings (14%). Twenty-one percent were undecided. With those numbers, and the fact that Jennings' failure to jump in puts her in a seriously unflattering position in terms of fundraising and support, don't look for her to run.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


While I was grocery shopping yesterday, I had to do a double take when I came across American Idol breakfast cereal!

Now I've seen it all!


Former Florida Democratic Party chairman Scott Maddox did what everyone expected him to do Monday: Filed papers with the Division of Elections to run for governor. No big name politicos or celebrities present to help do the deed; Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson, Waldo Mayor Louie David, and Lynn Haven Mayor (and Republican) Walter Kelley.

It's no secret that Maddox has wanted the state's highest office for some time. However, with Tampa congressman Jim Davis and state senator Rod Smith of Alachua already in the fray --- and especially since former senator Bob Graham expressing his favour of Davis --- some had believed that Maddox would have decided to seek the Attorney General's post instead. No Democrats have filed to run for the office now held by Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

My understanding was that Maddox was going to officially announce his campaign, but in early June. But time is money, and he needs to get on the ball if he hopes to catch up with Davis and Smith, especially in the all-important area of fundraising.


Check out The Orange Grove, a new blog which recently started. Creator/writer Billy Pancake features some fresh voices, including some of the state's alternative and college newspapers. Welcome aboard!

Monday, May 16, 2005


This morning's lead story in the Tampa Tribune took a close look at Spanish language radio in Tampa Bay. While the Tribune focused on the Tampa-based stations, there are eight based throughout the region:

WRMD - 680 - Tropical (St. Petersburg)
WLCC - 760 - Regional Mexican (Brandon)
WMGG - 820 - Tropical (Largo)
WIPC - 1280 - (Lake Wales)
WQBN - 1300 - Tropical (Temple Terrace)
WAUC - 1310 - (Wauchula)
WSDO - 1400 - (Sanford)
WBAR - 1460 - Regional Mexican (Bartow)
WAMA - 1550 - AC/Romantica (Tampa)

In addition, Orlando has six Spanish-language stations:

WONQ - 1030 - AC/Romantica (Casselberry)
WOTS - 1220 - (Kissimmee)
WRLZ - 1270 - Religious (Eatonville)
WPRD - 1440 - (Winter Park)
WLAA - 1600 - (Winter Garden)
WWKQ - 89.1 - Religious/Contemporary Christian (Kissimmee)
WEBG - 100.3 - Rumba

While the Hispanic audience has grown significantly over the past decade, Tampa Bay still does not have an FM station that caters to that population. And in Orlando, WEBG "Rumba 100" only recently changed formats to become the first Spanish language commercial station in the region.

Advertisers are reluctant to do business with "ethnic" AM stations for a variety of reasons: Low power and limited signal are primary, but many buyers believe that Spanish radio is often too narrowly aimed. Salsa, various regional Mexican, Romantica, Ranchero.

It's really surprising that someone hasn't taken the lead here and flipped a station to serve this growing population. The Tribune story suggests that it will be about five years before that happens. Five years is too long. That needs to happen now, and a station owner who doesn't take the advantage is making a serious mistake.


Thanks to Florida Politix for the heads up...

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Dr. Arthur Anderson recently conducted a voter registration drive among students in the area's high schools for those who are or about to become of legal age. Palm Beach Post political columnist George Bennett noted today that of the 1,871 students who registered, 48 percent (898) chose the Democratic Party. Over one-third (36% / 676) registered with no party affiliation, and only 16 percent (300) selected to affiliate with the Republicans.

While the GOP has made sizable inroads in Palm Beach County, as elsewhere in the state, Democrats still enjoy a 45-to-32 percent registration edge

While it may not mean a great deal in the total scheme of things, one has to consider that Iraq is something that many young people are considering when deciding what party to select.


Today's Orlando Sentinel reports on the Orange County Commission's likelyhood of casting a wary eye on Sheriff Kevin Beary's request for a $16 million dollar budget increase, especially since his public information office is one of the largest in Central Florida.

With six full time public information officers on staff at an average of $70,000 a year, the Orange County Sheriff's Office has a larger PR department than Walt Disney World, twice the size of Jeb's media office, and is the second largest local media office in Florida law enforcement...after the Miami-Dade Police Department.


It's graduation time again. When Lakeland's Lake Gibson High School commencement ceremony takes place at The Lakeland Center this week, seven sets --- that's right, SEVEN SETS of twins will receive their diplomas. Three sets of identical twins, and four sets of fraternal twins. Two of the three sets of identical twins will continue their education together, one set at Polk Community College, and the other at Traviss Technical Center.

I've heard of two sets of twins graduating together, but what are the chances anyplace of seven sets walking together?

And congratulations to everyone who is receiving their diplomas this spring, from high school, college, technical school, or whereever.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


In today's editorial, the Daytona Beach News-Journal looks at blogs and how they have changed the way we get news, and points out several major stories over the past couple of years that were actually broken by bloggers.

Several Central Florida blogs, deservingly, received notice in the piece as being among the most popular political blogs:

Florida Politics: Liberal-leaning perspectives on state news.

FlaBlog: News-Journal metro columnist Mark Lane's scintillating musings on state and local issues.

Abstract Appeal: A blog dedicated to Florida appellate law, which became a national source of legal analysis during the Terri Schiavo saga.

It also mentions the Sayfie Review, which is not actually a blog. While it is run by a former staffer for Jeb!, it actually compiles stories and editorials almost daily from throughout Florida and is generally an excellent resource. Also noted is the Fort Report, a more liberal-leaning counter to Sayfie and is also a fine resource.


The Winter Haven News Chief is supporting a series of increased taxes and fees which would, over eventually help close Polk County's severe infrastructure gap...nearly $600 million, as estimated at present.

The Lakeland Ledger and Gainesville Sun --- both part of the New York Times Florida Newspaper Group --- offer their support for the federal government's Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low interest loans for community water and sewage projects...a program which Congress is cutting funding for.

In a case of "What's good for the goose...", the St. Petersburg Times offers a great idea: Corporate executives should give up their own retirement perks before dumping their companies' pension plans on the government...and on all of us.

Turning to 2006 politics, the Tampa Tribune opines that if the Republicans want a candidate for U.S. Senate that could truly challenge incumbant Democrat Bill Nelson, they should look to Hillsborough County's own Senate President Tom Lee.

The Orlando Sentinel rates Central Florida's representatives in the Florida House of Representatives as the legislative session has ended. Here are the best of the bunch, the muddled middle, and the bottom of the barrel. The Sentinel rates the area's senators Monday.

While the Florida Panhandle's military bases were spared the closure list, the proposed restructuring of Pensacola Naval Air Station reminds the Pensacola News Journal that the importance of protecting base missions should never be forgotten.

The Miami Herald is of the opinion that the recently ended legislative session actually accomplished little.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is touting a program begun by the Broward County Sheriff's Office which is being expanded countywide to keep parents informed of their teenagers' driving.

The Florida Times-Union once again touts doing away with the income tax and replacing it with a so-called "Fair Tax".

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune looks as what it calls an ill-advised dual-pronged proposal from Governor Bush during the legislative session: Constitutional amendments to 1) repeal the popularly approved class size amendment, and 2) establish a minimum beginning wage for teachers statewide. Both measures died.

And the Ocala Star-Banner laments the fact that Ocala/Marion County has twice in three years rebuffed two Fortune 500 suitors (Wal-Mart and Sysco) who wanted to build distribution centres in the area, and says that it can have both greenspace and industrial development.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development held a seminar Saturday at The Lakeland Center, sponsored by the Polk County Housing and Neighbourhood Development Division, which brought representatives from a wide variety of agencies and organizations to help residents seeking housing aid.

Applications for federal grants and loans to rehab or rebuild homes damaged by last years hurricanes were available. Information was also provided by a wide variety of mortgage companies, non-profit builders, credit counselors, and agencies offering senior citizen funding, rental assistance, and Section 8 programmes.

According to this story in today's Lakeland Ledger, the event brought out thousands of people looking for a hand up after the destruction of last summer. Many roofs throughout Central Florida still have the blue tarps provided by FEMA...those that haven't been torn apart in the months since. And in those cases, rain and mold have added serious damage.

The line resembled one waiting to buy tickets for a major rock tour. The HUD field director told the Ledger that when he arrived to setup at 7:00 AM --- three hours before opening --- there was already a long line to the street. Over 3,000 grant and loan applications were processed to get some of the 40 million dollars which HUD has allocated to Polk, Desoto, and Hardee counties for home ownership and rehab assistance.

For those folks such as moi who didn't learn about the event until it was too late and want to know more, you can get more information about programmes through June 30 by calling toll free 1-866-701-8109.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Late last month I passed along a story broken by the St. Petersburg Times' Tallahassee bureau chief Lucy Morgan that four employees of the state Department of Education had been or would be sacked for sending personal and/or inappropriate e-mails via their state-provided work accounts.

Friday Ms. Morgan did a follow-up column on the investigation, and the count now reads that 14 employees at four agencies have been fired and a number of others either suspended or receiving written reprimands placed into their personnel files:

Department of Education: The original four terminated.

Department of Transportation: One termination with six suspensions ranging from one to six days.

Department of Children and Families: Eight terminations with one suspension. Two employees will receive "counseling". Two former employees were identified as having participated but had already left.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation: One termination with another employee under investigation.

Department of State: Four employees under investigation for allegedly forwarding some of the lewd e-mails sent by Education employees.

All of those who have been disciplined or terminated were charged with conduct unbecoming a public employee.

Just another reminder that your e-mail account at work IS NOT PRIVATE, and should never be treated as so. Many companies and agencies are stepping up monitoring of e-mail usage to insure that their accounts are only used for work related communication. Be careful...


One has to have a lot of desire --- and patience --- to become Florida Senate President. Those that succeed have a great deal of power. Deciding what issues will be brought forth, what bills live or die, who serves on what committees, staff and office's a truly heady job.

Those who want to be President of the Florida Senate have to prepare years in advance, almost the day one is elected to his/her Senate seat. Decisions are made years in advance. As it stands now, incumbant Senator Tom Lee (R - Bradenton) has one more year at the helm, then he turns the reins over to Sen. Ken Pruitt (R - Port St. Lucie) for two years. In 2008, it looks as though current Majority Leader Sen. Alex Villalobos (R - Miami) has enough support to get the post.

In her column this week, Fort Myers News-Press political columnist Betty Parker notes that Sen. Mike Bennett (R - Bradenton) is starting to get his campaign underway for the Senate presidency...which would begin in 2010. Now, of course, all this depends on several minor things, such as if Bennett can be reelected in his home district through then, and if the Republicans can keep control of the chamber in the meantime. Two Polk County-based senators, Paula Dockery (R - Lakeland) and J.D. Alexander (R - Lake Wales) are also toying with the idea of running.

Ms. Parker's column focuses on the fact that the campaign for the Senate's top job is much like running for any other office. One must raise plenty of money, as the "leadership committees" formed for such campaigns are done to support candidates who would be beholden to their benefactor's presidential effort...and oppose candiates who would support someone else.

In Bennett's case, his first major fundraiser for his "leadership committee", a/k/a Citizens For Housing and Urban Growth", will be held Thursday in Fort Myers.

One can definately see who Senator Bennett is beholden too, if the name of his committee doesn't make it obvious. As Ms. Parker writes (underlined/bold emphasis mine):

The May 19 event's host committee includes some of the area's most prominent developers, and the invitation urges members of the Lee Building Industry Association to participate.

Bennett "is our industry's champion in Tallahassee," the letter said, and he "has a proven record in Tallahassee of representing our causes."

Bennett now serves as chairman of the Senate's community affairs committee, and handled the growth management bill during the session that ended last week.

The letter suggests donations ranging from $250 to $2,000...


Last evening, the final episodes of the UPN series Star Trek: Enterprise aired, and for the first time in nearly two decades there will not be a fresh incarnation of the Star Trek brand on television.

Executive Producer Rick Berman and the folks at Paramount needed to give it a break for awhile.

Enterprise, like Star Trek: Voyager before it, lacked many of the creative juices that made the two series that preceeded them --- Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine --- so enjoyable to watch much of the time. Goofy aliens, poor character development, and rehashed plotlines, not to mention UPN's poor scheduling of Enterprise, have brought the once proud brand name to a new low.

I agree with Tampa Tribune television critic Walt Belcher that Berman, "who ran out of ideas long ago, should have stepped aside about two sequels ago". While Belcher favours the original 1960s series, IMHO TNG was the far superior of the incarnations. At least part of the reason I feel that way is Maria Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi, was one hot looking babe, especially in those tight fitting costumes that passed for a uniform.

Maybe in a few years, some creative folks at Paramount will step up and give it another shot. In the meantime, we're left with the reruns.


Anyone who has sought to buy or rent a new residence will tell you that the Central Florida housing market has become red hot, and thus much more expensive. It's increasingly difficult for potential homebuyers to find a place for less than a six-figure sum, and those who have to rent are facing waiting lists.

The Orlando Sentinel reports this morning that in Orange County, the apartment occupancy rate is 95.1's highest level in over five years. That figure is according to a survey by Maitland research firm Charles Wayne Consulting. The high occupancy rate is not only due to the ever increasing population of the area, but a number of apartment complexes are being converted to condominums. More than 8,900 units were converted in the past 16 months.

The numbers in the Tampa Bay area, although the figures I've read are nearly (if not over) a year old, seem to support the general trend. And, of course, the Lakeland/Winter Haven market would simply follow along as the I-4 corridor boom continues unabated. The only difference in Polk County is that there are not the high number of condominuims here than throughout the rest of the region.

I recently signed a new lease for my apartment, although I feared a hefty rent increase. Thankfully, while the rent did increase slightly, it was not nearly as much as expected. The idea of having to search for a new place to live was something I did not want to face, especially with the lack of affordable housing in the area.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Reading and hearing all the news about lowering test scores and the overall demise of public education, you would think that our schools are going to hell in a handbasket. There are still some teachers and administrators out there who have a sincere dedication to their kids, and it's sad when one of them has to leave.

Sue Buckner is the principal of Inwood Elementary, a school in the heart of one of Winter Haven's more depressed areas. Nearly eighty percent of the students there receive free or reduced lunches. While that is a general indicator to many that academic excellence would not be found there, Inwood Elementary has bucked the trends. It is the ONLY high poverty A+ school in Florida.

For all but one of the past six years, the school has earned "A" grades from the state. For nine years running, Inwood has received "Five Star School" recognition due to it's strong family and community involvement. And only TWO percent of it's third grade students failed the FCAT reading test, compared with an average of 22 percent countywide.

Mrs. Buckner has been principal at Inwood Elementary since 1991, and has to retire this year. It marks the end of a 37 year career in education, and it ends where it began. She started as a teaching assistant at Inwood in 1968 for six years, and returned there as an assistant principal in 1985 for five more.

The community recognized her Thursday at the school, as Mayor Mike Easterling --- whose children attended Inwood in the 1970s --- announced that it was "Sue Buckner Day" and gave the administrator the key to the city.

She will enjoy retirement with her husband working on their Tennessee chalet, and possibly teaching some college courses. She has degrees from the University of South Florida.

Congratulations to Mrs. Buckner and her staff on everything they have accomplished, best wishes on her "retirement" (sounds like she'll be keeping busy regardless!), and the best to the Inwood family on it's new beginnings and continued successes.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


The St. Petersburg Times is reporting today that Tampa congressman and gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis has received the endorsement of former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, a huge boost to his effort to receive the Democratic nomination in next year's primary.

Graham, in a phone interview from his Miami Lakes home, told the Times:

"I have known and worked with Jim when he was in the Legislature and in Congress...He is a very serious person. He is disciplined, and he has an unusual understanding of the people of Florida. ... He will be an appealing candidate to Democrats in the primary and to all Floridians in the general election."

The former senator said that he "enthusiastcally" backs Davis, and that he would happily campaign on the congressman's behalf.

Davis faces State Senator Rod Smith of Alachua and likely former state Democratic Party chairman Scott Maddox of Tallahassee. However, I wouldn't doubt if Graham's significant clout in favouring Davis might influence Maddox to possibly enter another statewide race, such as that for Attorney General...there aren't any Democrats announced there yet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Former World War II Supreme Commander and President Dwight D. Eisenhower --- A REPUBLICAN, at that --- made the following quote in 1952:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

Ponder that for awhile...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


As many of you may well know, I worked in radio for over 15 years, both here and in my native Mississippi. While the money sucked terribly, it was overall a wonderful period where I did what I really wanted to do...something not many people actually get to do. And while I have been out of "the biz" for nearly a decade, I still like to keep up with what's happening in radio.

While reading one of the radio message boards that I frequent, I came across a message that brought some good news: One of the alltime best talk show hosts in Tampa Bay, Bob Lassiter, has started his own blog to note his views on a variety of subjects as well as what has happened since he was unceremoniously sacked from WFLA-AM 970 five years ago.

I always enjoyed listening to Lassiter, although I did not always agree with his opinions. He was great for a laugh when needed, and his voice is truly missed in the market today. What Tampa Bay talk radio needs is some good, LOCAL talk instead of stations relying on nationally syndicated cookie-cutter shows.


Our blogging collegue over at Florida Politics is getting some help. An agreement has been reached with The November Group, a Democratic consulting firm in Miami, for manager Derek Newton to provide original and exclusive editorial comment. Our congratulations to FP on this accomplishment.

You can read Mr. Newton's first offering to the site at this link. He suggests that instead of looking at the I-4 Corridor as the key to electing Democrats in Florida, candidates should instead watch The Tamiami Trail from Tampa to Miami.

Monday, May 09, 2005


The first shot will apparantly be fired in the Republican race for governor today, as Attorney General Charlie Crist is saying that he will file papers to become an official candidate today. Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings are also expected to challenge the state's top legal officer for the GOP nomination.

On the Democratic side, State Senator Rod Smith of Alachua and Congressman Jim Davis of Tampa have already filed, and now-former state Democratic Party chairman Scott Maddox should announce June 7.

Crist should be a formidable candidate, as he has strived during his time in office to present the persona of being tough on crime and a friend to consumers.

Meanwhile, State Representative Dennis Ross (R - Lakeland) has apparantly decided to end any thoughts of running for Gallagher's CFO position. Due to Florida Bar Association and Ethics Commission restrictions against attorneys holding statewide office from being connected with a law firm --- either active or inactive --- Ross would have to sell his majority status in his Lakeland firm if elected...something he is not willing to do, since he built the firm from scratch.
Ross had already said that he would not seek reelection to his legislative seat next year, and Lakeland City Commissioner Seth McKeel has already been lining up support and money to run for Ross' seat.

UPDATE: Crist did, indeed, file his papers Monday to run for governor. And he got some help from "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh, a former resident of the Miami area, to deliver his papers to the State Elections' Office. He is the first Republican to officially register as a candidate for the state's highest office. Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher are also rumoured to be strongly favouring a run.