Sunday, January 22, 2006


We begin in Daytona Beach, where the News-Journal looks at school startup dates that keep getting earlier, and the efforts of some in the tourism industry to reverse the trend by requiring uniform startup dates statewide. The opinion today is that legislators should keep hands off an important element of local control.

The Miami Herald editorial notes that the federal government's "wet foot/dry foot" regarding Cuban refugees will be reviewed in the wake of protests after 15 were repatriated recently. The Herald says that noone should be repatriated to face persecution or torture on the island.

Today's editorial in the Pensacola News Journal spotlights the Panhandle city's ties with the U.S. Navy as they celebrate the commissioning of the new Arleigh Burke class destroyer Forrest Sherman this week, the fourth ship commissioning in the past 15 years to be held there. And, as a native Mississippian, I'm proud to say that it was built at the Ingalls Shipbuilding facility in Pascagoula.

This week, details and statistics will be released on the deaths of babies in the Capital City area, and why it continues to have a higher infant death rate than the rest of the state. The Tallahassee Democrat opinion calls on the community to educate and take action toward reversing this unfortunate fact.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger editorial page highlights a new batch of it's occasional "Gigs and Garlands" for deeds good and bad. Among those receiving good mention: The University of South Florida, 57 Polk County teachers who recently qualified for national board certification, and Haines City Police Sgt. Mervin Stewart, the Polk County Police Chiefs Association Officer of the Year.

The confusion regarding the new Medicare Plan D presecription drug programme is on the minds of the editorial team at the Sarasota Herald Tribune, which is urging readers to help their elderly and disabled neighbours through the maze of providers and formularies in making sure they are getting the best deal available for their personal situation.

In another editorial touching on health-related issues, the Tampa Tribune calls on the Legislature to pass a bill which would require hospitals to post it's average wait times, among other recommendations to improve the very ill emergency health situation across Florida.

Today's Orlando Sentinel editorial calls on the U.S. Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, noting that his resume "may be the strongest of any Supreme Court candidate in decades." and claiming that his opponents have failed to make a substantial case against his being approved to sit on the high court.

The St. Petersburg Times is saying today that the "Save Our Homes" constitutional amendment voters passed in 1992 has benefitted homeowners who can afford to pay higher taxes for their more expensive homes, and that a proposal to make the tax savings transferrable to a new house --- even with a higher tax value --- would make bad tax policy worse.

I mentioned in an earlier post today about efforts to tighten up the "best interest" standard of the parental notification abortion law. Today's editorial in the South Florida Sun Sentinel says that legislators can tinker with the law's language at the risk of having the entire statute being thrown out, but that supporting pregnancy prevention programmes is far better.

Florida Today is concerned about Brevard County's practice of disposing of treated wastewater by pumping it underground, and about the possible effects on sources of drinking water such as the upper Floridan Aquifer. The editorial states that a long term programme is needed to test the county's injection wells and local surf.

On another enviromental issue, the future of Babcock Ranch is the subject of today's opinion in the Fort Myers News-Press. It states that while it is a good idea to keep some agricultrual operations there if the 91,000-plus acre ranch is bought by the state, officials need to remember to keep their priorities right; it was bought to provide the people of Florida with a park to enjoy, and for the preservation of natrual resources such as water and wildlife.

Today's editorial in the Gainesville Sun notes the price of literacy, with the best readers being able to command an average of $28,000 more a year than persons who have trouble with the written word. The editorial had previously appeared in the Lakeland Ledger two weeks prior, but it's still good to encourage our young people to spend more time reading for pleasure to help them comprehend articles and documents.

The continuing "affordable/work-force/attainable" housing crisis in South Florida made some progress last week with West Palm Beach's decision to set terms of engagement for developers and setting a policy which provides incentives for building more affordable units. The Palm Beach Post says that the city started too late to do a great deal of good, but at least Florida cities are beginning to realize they have to get into the game to fix the situation.

The Florida Times Union today is concerned about the lowering of enviromential standards for the St. John's River, and offers several recommendations to protect the river's future. It also says that legislators should hear from Northeast Floridians who believe that the St. John's is as precious as the Everglades.

Teen sex is becoming not only an issue of pregnancy, but also a health crisis. Thus, the launch of an in school abstinence programme through a partnership between the Marion County School District and a Ocala-based ministry. The effort wins a good word today from the Ocala Star Banner editorial page.


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