Friday, March 31, 2006


NOTE: This compliation is put together early Friday morning. In some cases the subjects and guests will likely have not been announced, and are always subject to change with little --- if any --- notice according to news demands. Please check back Friday evening or early Saturday morning for the very latest information.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: The debate over immigration and securing our borders will be discussed by U.S. Senators Barak Obama (D - IL) and George Allen (R - VA). The roundtable will feature former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz, as well as conservative columnist George Will. And Will, a huge baseball fan, will talk with Philadelphia Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is approaching Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak as the new season begins next week.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Subjects and guests have not been announced as of Saturday morning.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Mexican President Vicente Fox, U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R - TN / Majority Leader), Chuck Hagen (R - NE), and Evan Bayh (D - IN), and Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R - SC) will discuss immigration reform, his collegue Russ Feingold (D - WI) will talk about his efforts to have President Bush censured, and a discussion on breaking down the wall between law enforcement and intelligence gathering.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: A discussion of national security and Iraq with U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) and General Tony Zinni (Ret., USMC), author of the new book The Battle For Peace to be released in April.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Subjects will be immigration and how Congress will satisy Americans' demands to control it, along with the question of wheather Christian conservatives will have a veto over the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. The roundtable will consist of Gloria Borger of CBS News and US News & World Report, Time magazine's Joe Klein, radio talk host Laura Ingraham, and The New Republic's Andrew Sullivan .


It's that time of year again. Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday morning at 2:00 AM, which means that before you turn in tomorrow night/early Sunday remember to "spring forward" by setting your timepieces one hour ahead so that you don't arrive at work/church/appointment an hour ahead of everyone else.


It may not necessairly be right, but it's legal according to one county attorney's opinion.

The Tampa Tribune reports this morning that Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee wrote in a four page memo to county commissioners released Thursday that a 1991 Florida Supreme Court decision "clearly established" that counties can use public money and staff "to educate and advocate a position" on such issues. You can read the decision for yourself clicking here.

The memo in question supports a county commission decision to have County Administrator Pat Bean and staff members speak to groups about two issues most of the commission opposes: Electing a county mayor and allowing Ruskin to incorporate.

Supporters of the proposals are crying foul, saying that political activity by staff members is prohibited under Hillsborough County's charter, and that the 1991 Supreme Court decision noted in Ms. Lee's memo did not consider differences in the charters of Hillsborough and Leon counties.

Section 5.04 of the Hillsborough County Charter reads: The county administrator shall not hold any political office nor take part in any political activity other than voting.

Section 9.04 of the Hillsborough County Charter: Political activities of officers and employees of the county government shall be governed and controlled by general law except as provided herein and except that the county administrator's assistants and division and office heads, the county internal performance auditor, the county internal performance auditor's assistants, and the county attorney and his assistants, shall not hold any political office nor take part in any political activity relating to county commission elections, other than voting.

That last sentence, notably the highlighted bit, could be a stumbling block for those in opposition. It should be an interesting debate, but the electorate will make the final decision through their petition signatures and their votes.


There are truly some sick people in this world.

The Tampa Tribune reports that in New Port Richey, a mother learns that a neighbour had molested her seven-year-old son and confronts the man. But instead of calling the cops and having the punk locked up, the unemployed mom allegedly asks the neighbour/molester how much he would pay to do it again and keep the whole episode quiet. Authorities say she accepted $600. She reportedly has a history of drug abuse and prostitution.

Thankfully, an anonymous tipster let authorities know. Both mom and neighbour/molester have been charged with capital sexual battery; the mom also has been charged with child abuse.

I've always believed that there is a special place in Hades for people who abuse children, and people who allow such abuse to happen.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-3 along party lines Wednesday to approve a bill which includes Governor Jeb Bush's proposal which would provide virtually every parent across Florida with a taxpayer-provided voucher to send their children to private or religious schools, but it's future remains questionable.

This is the governor's latest attempt to circumvent the Florida Supreme Court decision earlier this year which ruled the Opportunity Scholarship Programme unconstitutional (Adobe Acrobat Reader required to read the decision). The proposal approved in committee yesterday would also override the constitutional prohibition on the use of public funds for religious education, allowing the Legislature to "enact and publicly fund prekindergarten through college education programs, without regard to the religious nature" of the schools, as well as allow parents who "request alternatives to traditional public education" to receive state money to attend private schools, "as provided by law".

That line casued Senator Dave Aronberg (D - Greenacres) to mention that the proposal as presented would allow taxpayer support for Taliban schools in Florida, as lawmakers could not discriminate between religious faiths seeking to run schools. (FYI: For those who may have forgotten, the Taliban is a Sunni Muslim nationalist movement in Afghanistan, not a religion of it's own...but surely you can understand the good Senator's point, eh?).

According to the report from Joe Follick of the New York Times Florida Newspaper Group's Tallahassee bureau:

While Democrats raked the proposal, Republicans were mute. (Senator Daniel)Webster (R - Orlando, also Judiciary Committee Chairman) was clearly defending it out of a sense of duty. He dubbed the bill's future in the Senate "Mission Impossible" and stuck to his own proposal to change the laws, rather than the constitution, to resurrect the OSP plan.


The second segment of the latest Mason-Dixon poll was released Tuesday, this time dealing with Governor Jeb Bush's approval ratings and specific issues facing Floridians.

Jeb is still quite popular among the electorate, as 63 percent of the respondants rate him "excellent" or "good". That matches the previous high for the governor, which was recorded in June, 2000. Unlike his brother, Jeb has enjoyed favourable ratings throughout his two terms in office, with the most positive grades coming from North Florida and the Gulf Coast regions. He remains slightly more popular among men, and his lowest ratings tend to come from blacks.

When asked about what issues respondants consider the most important facing our state, it is not unusual that most selected education (21%), which was followed by homeowner/hurricane insurance rates (14%) and development/growth management (12%). Everything else followed in single digits.

Regardless of gender or party affiliation, the vast majority of those asked said they would support a permanant nine day sales tax holiday on back-to-school purchases (73%), as well as a similar 12 day period on hurricane supplies (72%). However, more would oppose the sales tax holiday on hurricane supplies if generator and chainsaw purchases were not included.

Respondants were divided over the governor's proposal of a $100 tax rebate for Florida homeowners, with 47 percent statewide saying they would support the idea, and 41 percent saying "no". The numbers were almost equal when asked about Bush's efforts to maintain the school voucher programme, 48 percent in support with 41 percent opposing the idea.

A small majority of respondents like the class size amendment passed four years ago. As efforts are being made to have voters agree to raise the class size caps, 51% say they would oppose such a measure with 40% supporting it. The largest number of undecideds came when asked about supporting or opposing a measure which would make it harder to change the state constitution through the public petition drive: 20 percent. A very slight pluarity actually like the idea.

Most people seem to like the idea of changing the way Florida's Public Service Commissioners and the Insurance Commissioner are selected. They are currently appointed by the governor, but nearly six in ten of those asked in the Mason-Dixon poll say they should be directly elected. There seems to be an apparant fustration over the PSC's ability to regulate power and gas companies, as a full two-thirds of the respondants say the panel does not exercise enough oversight of public utilities. A smaller number, although still a majority, say that the Insurance Commissioner has not done enough to ensure homeowners are treated fairly by insurance companies.

You can read the numbers for yourself by clicking on the link. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required). The survey of 625 registered voters statewide was done last week for several Florida newspapers and broadcasters, and has a margin or error of four percent.


The Tallahassee Democrat's political columnist Bill Cotterell can be oftentimes entertaining, as he is today. His column this morning deals with the continuing problems of Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris, who he calls "...the most snake-bit Republican to challenge an incumbent Florida senator since 1964, when Claude Kirk tried to convince us that Spessard Holland was insufficiently conservative".

It's great reading, and you might get a good laugh out of it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


The Palm Beach Post Web site this afternoon is reporting that Jupiter attorney and orphanage operater Tom Rooney has decided not to challenge Congresswoman Katherine Harris of Longboat Key for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race.

Rooney had reportedly been considering entering the race for several weeks, but told the Post today, "Some day I would love to get involved in public service. This just isn't the time."

There is now no serious challenger to Harris, now or in the forseeable future, for the GOP nomination as to who would face Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson this November.


My son and I both enjoy watching the ABC hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The show, for those who may not be familiar with the format, focuses on a family who has been experiencing hardship. The programme sends the family on a week's vacation, while a design team led by Ty Pennington and a band of volunteers work to renovate --- or, in some cases, to rebuild --- the family's home.

Listening to a radio show Tuesday, the host brought up this e-mail from ABC's affiliate relations district representative for the Southeastern U.S. to stations in her area which ended up on The Smoking Gun's Web site, passing along a request from the show's producer/family casting director for their help in finding families to feature next season. The show is especially seeking families with:

--- Extraordinary Mom/Dad recently diagnosed with ALS (a/k/a "Lou Gerhig's Disease")

--- Family who has child w/PROGERIA (aka "Little Old Man's Disease")

--- Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, referred to as CIPA by the few people who know about it (there are 17 known cases in the US - let me know if one is in your town!) This is where kids cannot feel any physical pain.

--- Muscular Dystrophy Child - Amazing kid who is changing people's views about MD.

--- MADD/Drunk Driving - Family turns tragedy into triumph after losing a child to drunk driving.

--- Family who has multiple children w/Down Syndrome (either adopted or biological).

--- Amazing/loved Mom or Dad diagnosed w/melanoma / skin cancer.

--- Home invasion - family robbed, house messed up (vandalized) - kids fear safety in their home now.

--- Victims of hate crime in their own home. Family's house victim of arson or severely vandalized.

Of course, I understand you've got to find families to spotlight/help somehow. But the tone of some of the items is somewhat creepy (let me know if one is in your town!).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Today's top-of-the-fold headline in the Tampa Tribune focused on the continuing hemmoraging within the campaign staff of Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key). The most recent vacancy is from longtime advertising consultant Adam Goodman of Tampa, who has been for 12 years her most reliable political consultant.

One of his most pointed statements to the Tribune called Ms. Harris' campaign for the U.S. Senate to be like "...a defenseless fighter in the ring with his arms down."

Here is the list of Harris staffers who have left since last fall:

Adam Goodman - media consultant
Nancy Watkins - campaign treasurer
Ed Goeas - pollster
Anne Dunsmore - fundraiser
Jim Dornan - campaign manager
Leah Pitts - deputy finance director
Mike Miller - finance director
Michelle Query - finance director

Kara Borie - spokeswoman
Peggy Evans - deputy chief of staff
Ryan Work - legislative director

Can ya sing with me..."Freeeeeeeee....freeeeeeeeeeeeee falling"


The University of Central Florida was host Monday to a symposium of four former and one current Florida governor, and when Jeb Bush came to the podium for his address, around 20 students protesting military research and development on their campus stood and turned their backs to the chief executive.

Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell remembers the last time something like this happened, six years ago when African-American legislators held a sit-in at the governor's office to protest a proposal to end affirmative action in Florida's university system. At that time, Bush had armed guards physically remove reporters who were covering the story.

This time, the governor kept his wits about him. Palm Beach Post reporter Brian E. Crowley writes in the newspapers' new political blog Q:

As he took the podium, Bush seeing the signs, said, “let me see the protest.”

Wearing white shirts scrawled with, “Students Not Soldiers,” the students stood quietly with their backs to Bush.

When one of the protesters said the group belong to SDS - Students for Democratic Society - Bush asked, “Is that like the 60”s SDS? Wow!”

Unlike the radical SDS of the Vietnam War-era, the new SDS was polite, asked a few questions about military research on campus - Bush supports it - and then quietly left.

“They don’t look like the SDS I remember,” Bush said later. “I don’t think that they are their daddy’s SDS.”


The Mason-Dixon polling firm has released it's latest gubernatorial poll taken earlier this month, it's first survey here since June, 2005. The numbers have changed little in the meantime.

Among regular Republican voters, Attorney General Charlie Crist continues a sizable lead over Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher 43-27 percent, but with a significant 30 percent still undecided. Meanwhile, regular Democratic voters are still largely undecided, with a 63 percent figure either not knowing of or favouring either of the two main primary candidates. Congressman Jim Davis of Tampa leads Alachua State Senator Rod Smith 28-9 percent, with both candidates gaining slightly.

Both Republicans are slightly favoured when asked about potential general election scenarios, but still with a large undecided group that could potentially swing the results. That is likely caused by the greater name recognition Crist and Gallagher have over Davis and Smith, especially Crist per the benefits of his office.

The survey of 625 registered voters has a four percent margin of error. Click here to read the complete analysis and see all the numbers.


I4J welcomes the newest addition to the Florida political blogosphere, Q. It is the Palm Beach Post's contribution which, as it describes, is dedicated to discussing the issues, players and inside scoop of Florida politics and is written by reporters from the newspaper.

There are some interesting --- and funny --- bits in the posts so far. Friday, reporter Brian E. Crowley noted:

In what was a very friendly interview on ABC’s Nightline, reporter John Donvan did try to get a little tough with Katherine Harris.

Donvan: “Only because Harris had told me she felt quite well-versed in foreign affairs, with a masters degree from Harvard, I ran a short pop quiz. Okay, who is the leader of China?”

Harris: “You’re going to ask me that?”

Donvan: “Okay. Shall I move on?”

Harris: “Yes”

And correct answer is - Hu Jintao


The Florida Democratic Party has announced that U.S. Senator and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry (D - MA) will be coming to the Sunshine State to help raise money for the organization.

What is known as the "Victory '06" reception has been scheduled for Saturday, April 29 at 5:30 PM at the Delano Hotel, 1685 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Tickets are $100 each for the event, with Host Committee members raising $1,000 either by selling ten tickets or simply writing the check.

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets can do so online at the FDP Web site (, or for more information contact Ryan Hampton at (850) 222-3411 or (305) 218-7717.

The work continues...

Monday, March 27, 2006


No, this isn't another post about Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) and her quest to replace Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the U.S. Senate. But it IS about the congressional seat she is vacating to run for the upper chamber.

It seems as though some big political names are or have been heading to Southwest Florida to help the candidacies of those wishing to replace the former Florida Secretary of State.

Last Thursday, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R - TX) showed up and helped raise $150,000 for Sarasota banker Tramm Hudson's effort. GOP primary opponent State Representative Nancy Detert (R - Venice) is being supported by former New Jersey governor and Enviromential Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman. Meanwhile, auto dealer Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key is getting help from U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R - FL) and Congressman Mark Foley (R - Fort Pierce).

And the Democrats haven't been "playing possum", either.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D - NV) is supporting attorney/author Jan Schnieder, while primary foe and retired Sarasota banker Christine Jennings is getting aid from two big names: U.S. Senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (D - MA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D - CA).

Obviously, this is one of the key seats that is being battled over during the mid term elections in November. And you can look for more big names to be appearing before it's over.


In case you were'nt watching last night, Terri Schiavo's husband Michael was questioned by Matt Lauer for the newsmagazine NBC News Dateline. It was part of a weekend trip to New York City with his current wife to promote his new book Terri: The Truth, which is due in bookstores today. An interview with the St. Petersburg Times is also featured in today's edition.

Also out now is a book from Terri's family, A Life That Matters : The Legacy of Terri Schiavo -- A Lesson for Us All.

Her case still divides people in Clearwater, where the couple lived and where Michael still lives and works as a nursing supervisor at the Pinellas County Jail. Deborah Trueman, who produced the Michael Schiavo interview for NBC, writes in the show's blog about what she found preparing for the segment. I can certainly agree with how Ms. Trueman ends her post:

Whether one sees this as being about the right to life or the right to die, it's crucial to make your wishes known in writing. Even Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers can agree on that.


I've had the pleasure of meeting Frank O'Reilly on several occasions. He was a Democrat at one point, switching his party affiliation after the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky episode. The former Lakeland mayor/city commissioner and current Polk County School Board member is a decent fellow, and Republican registration notwithstanding, has managed to retain many of the traditional Democratic Party beliefs.

And O'Reilly doesn't mind speaking out when he feels like it. This time, Lakeland Ledger political writer Bill Rufty writes that his ire is over a proposal in the Legislature (HB 7171) which would create incentives for teachers which would help them purchase homes in areas where they work but the housing market is too expensive (similar proposals would similarly cover police officers and firefighters).

Sounds like an idea everyone can support, eh? Not!

O'Reilly, quoted from Rufty's column: "Pay them a housing bonus? Why don't you just raise their salaries?" he said. "I have talked to high school students . . . They are not going to stay in Florida and teach. They are going to Georgia or to North Carolina or anywhere that treats them with respect by paying them a decent wage."

"What are they (lawmakers) going to do next? Give them food stamps? Teachers, police officers, nurses -- these are college men and women and we are treating them like scum."

"If someone is down and out we should should give affordable housing. But nurses, teachers and police officers -- we're not going to pay them enough so that they can buy their own home? "So, they come along and say, `We are going to give you subsidized housing.' What an insult. I just can't believe they would do this and not understand how they are treating people," he said.

I agree. Give them all a raise, and let them decide how to use what they've earned. If they want to purchase a home nearer to where they live, that their choice. And many probably have more urgent uses for those funds. With college loans, families, and other pressing debts, one can probably understand.


I've mentioned here the ongoing feud among some in the Florida Senate over alleged disloyalty and changing allegiences in the 2008 Senate President race, which has caused a bit of a problem when it comes to getting some legislation passed now.

Kennedy & Garcia in today's Orlando Sentinel write that legislation includes a bill that would make it more difficult for the state constitution to be changed by initiative. One senator, Evelyn Lynn (R - Ormond Beach) found herself the target of the Florida Chamber of Commerce's ire in opposing the measure. The business group sent letters to Republicans in her district, as well as writing radio ads, printing mailers, and preparing a phone bank to call GOP registrants. However, that effort was somewhat ended before it began, as Senator Ken Pruitt (R - Port St. Lucie) --- scheduled to take the presidential helm next session --- sent a strongly worded letter charging that his collegue was "inappropriately maligned".

The Chamber did agree to postpone the ads and phone bank, at least for now.

While cooler heads may have prevailed, the storm continues within.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


It seems that Representative Katherine Harris was working hard to shore up her support among the GOP base Saturday by, among other things, speaking to a concealed handgun class being held at an Orlando gun show and instructed by Pasco County GOP chairman Bill Bunting. He mentioned to those present that Harris received an A+ rating with the National Rifle Association, and told the gathering that "I'd vote for her in a heartbeat."

Ms. Harris also worked to shore up the GOP faithful with remarks yesterday to a breakfast in Kissimmee and a barbecue later in the day at Daytona Beach.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune/AP story reports:

Still, she remains optimistic about the campaign, and told each constituent offering a "hang in there" that she planned to win.

"I think there's a lot of stake for the future," Harris told supporters gathered for a lunch event. "I think how Florida goes, the rest of the nation goes."

At the gun show, Bunting led Harris between tables of assault rifles, knives, bullets and pistols to meet with patrons and dealers.

However, she was confronted by one Democrat who had purchased three guns at the show:

Terry Corbell, a registered Democrat from Panama City who bought three handguns at the show, wanted to confront Harris about the 2000 election... (remember her obvious conflict of interest she was Secretary of State in charge of elections and co-state chair for the Bush/Cheney campaign, and her related actions during and after election day).

"I don't like any of you, I don't trust you all one bit," he told her. "You're all crooks and liars."

Harris later joked to reporters, "You heard that - he said he was talking about Democrats, too."


In today's Lakeland Ledger business section, the main feature focused on one of several telephone call centres located in Polk County.

Unfortunately, the newspaper made a poor choice on which company to feature.

The story spotlighted Accent Marketing Services, an Indiana-based company which operates a center at the old Scotty's Homecenters corporate site in Winter Haven and recently was presented an expanded contract with Sprint/Nextel wireless division to provide customer service, account upgrades, and sales.

Sadly, from personal experience I can tell you that Accent is one of the worst companies in the field when it comes to employee relations. It was so bad that, after leaving with two years of it behind me, I actually e-mailed Founder/Chairman Thomas Hansen to express my concerns. Several of my collegues where I work now are also Accent veterans, and they expressed many of the same complaints.

I understand the feature was in regard to Accent's expansion and hiring of another 50-70 staff members, but if the Ledger really wanted to spotlight some good call centre operations, it could have selected GC Services, which handles a variety of items for MCI, or ICT Group, which employs several hundred on behalf of seven different clients at it's facility. Both are located in Lakeland; GC Services also has a centre in Jacksonville.

Although there are a few ways that both centres can be improved, they are far superior to the Accent operation. Let that be a warning for anyone interested in applying there, or at it's sister facilities in Eustis and Zephyrhills.


Beginning here at home, the Lakeland Ledger opinion this morning reminds us that in the wake of the recent ethics and bribery case against two members of Congress, it is imperative to reform current ethics rules. While the body is having difficulty following through on getting it done, there is at least some hope in that two Oregon representatives --- one Democrat, one Republican --- have proposed a new ethics panel consisting of former members of Congress. Also offering an opinion on the issue is the Miami Herald, which said that while Congress is stalling when it comes to lobbying reform, could very well force the hand of represenentatives.

In northeast Florida, the Jacksonville-based Florida Times Union notes that while Florida already bans the use of eminent domain rules for economic development, that has not stopped rules allowing such condemnation for blighted properties to be misused, in effect, for development. The editorial supports efforts in the Legislature to limit eminent domain powers to strictly public purposes such as roads, schools, and bridges.

The Palm Beach Post is opposing an effort by West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel to have the city commission repeal a public referendum passed ten years ago limiting buildings east of Olive Avenue to five stories, saying the city would benefit to sell the current city hall site to developers who would construct 15-20 floor hotel and condo towers there and using the money from such a deal to build a new city hall.

Seat belt use in Florida is mandated by law, but law enforcement officers are prohibited from citing a motorist of passenger from not wearing one unless he/she was pulled over for another traffic offense. The Gainesville Sun says this morning that the prohibition makes a mockery of the law, and supports a bill filed by State Representative Irving L. (Irv) Slosberg (D - Boca Raton) --- whose daughter was killed in a traffic accident ten years ago while not wearing a seat belt --- that would make not wearing a seat belt a primary enforceable offense.

The St. Petersburg Times is concerned that with the approval of two new medical schools at Florida International University and the University of Central Florida by the Board of Governors, it invites a new round of legislative meddling in higher education programmes. The editorial reminds us that the last time a med school programme was denied, for Florida State University in 1999, the Legislature eliminated the Board of Regents and creating the school anyway.

Turning to northwest Florida, the Pensacola News Journal wonders why an Escambia County sheriff's deputy was not arrested and charged with criminal offenses outlined in a recent internal report regarding aggravated battery and tampering with evidence, and questions just how much more wrongdoing has been covered up at an agency which the editorial says has a long history of violence and alleged misbehaviour.

Instead of presenting an opinion about a particular issue, the Naples Daily News is checking out it's readers' news smarts. The newspaper's editorial spot features a multi-choice news quiz regarding several local issues. I wonder how many have been paying attention...

Today's Orlando Sentinel editorial says that it's bad enough that despite state and national do-not-call registries, you still get those annoying solicitation calls. Now they're coming through on cell phones, and the Sentinel supports a proposed bill which would prohibit solicitors from calling cellular phone numbers without the customer's prior consent, but says that besides allowing consumers to file a civil lawsuit, the law should open offending companies to the same penalties included in the Florida Telemarketing Act.

Starting over the idea of outsourcing with a fresh approach. That's the idea supported by the Tallahassee Democrat opinion, applauding efforts by State Senator Nancy Argenziano (R - Dunnellon) and the Governmental Oversight and Productivity Committee for their efforts in Senate Bill 2518 which would require state agencies to develop a detailed business plan through certified negotiators.

The Tampa Tribune weighs in on a controversial issue this morning...abortion. While reminding us that each member of the newspaper's editorial board have their own opinions about abortion but believes that should it should be legal, but it can be regulated in several ways. They 1) support the challenged ban on partial-birth abortions, 2) support parential notification for minors, 3) abhor abortion as a means of birth control, 4) believe it should be allowed in cases of rape and incest, and to protect the life of the mother, and 5) hope for a society where abortion is rare. A reasonable, rather moderate stance that most Americans agree with.

The opinion of today's Daytona Beach News-Journal is that for the state to set higher standards based on recommendations from the Florida High School Reform Task Force which would also set up higher academic goals for the state's high schools and attempt to make school revelant to teenagers while also requiring students to set career paths at about age 13 which would determine their course of study of the next four years. The editorial says that in setting up such higher standards, an effort must be made to focus on those students who will be involved, reminding them that they would be able to alter their choices.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune notes that the clock is fast ticking away on Charlotte County's decision to waive provisions of it's "transfer of density unit" ordinance for the Babcock Ranch development, with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council urging commissioners to delay votes to allow such a waiver and changing the county's comprehensive plan until more information is received from the developer, afraid that if they do so other developers will follow with similar requests.

This morning's opinion in the Melbourne-based Florida Today agrees with comments by two United States Supreme Court judges which are concerned with attacks from the far-right on an independent judiciary, fearing that such remarks are resulting in a "climate of violence" against judges, and against efforts by lawmakers which would, in effect, eliminate the balance of power between the legislative and judicial branches of government.

What to do about no-fault auto insurance? The clock is ticking, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and the Legislature needs to re-enact no-fault insurance but with revisions which would provide additional funding and tougher penalties to combate fraud. PIP coverage is currently scheduled to end next fall.

In today's Ocala Star-Banner, the editorial gives, in effect, urges the state's Florida First long term programme to acquire and protect enviromentally important lands, to act quicker in making a deal with Coral Gables-based developer Avatar Holdings to purchase a 5,200 acre tract near Silver Springs, which it is proceeding to turn into an 11,000 home community known as Ocala Springs. The opinion is that if developed, the Ocala Springs would forever change east Ocala and potentially destroy Silver Springs.

Finally, an enviromential issue also is highlighted in the Fort Myers News-Press opinion page, noting it's excitment in seeing Dr. Betsy Henry's science class at Trafalgar Middle School in Cape Coral working in the fight to protect the Calooshatchee River and it's estuary and reminding us that young people such as this group should be encouraged and listened to.

I hope your Sunday will be fun. We will be belatedly celebrating my granddaughter's fifth birthday this afternoon with food and gifts, with highs expected here in central Florida near 70 and a low tonight in the upper 30s...probably the last relatively cool burst of the season. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I've never been much of a country music fan, but those of you who have for any length of time will probably remember the '70s series Hee Haw, which had a run on CBS before going into syndication.

Buck Owens, who with guitarist Roy Clark co-hosted the variety show which mixed country music with hayseed humour, died early this morning at the age of 76.

Many will remember Owens' hit songs during the 1960s such as "Act Natrually", one of the very few country tunes that was a hit for a pop/rock less than the Beatles (1965). Others will remember the singer and his group the Buckaroos decked out in rhinestone-dotted suits when they performed. Still others will remember the red-white-and blue guitar he played, country's answer to bluesman B.B. King's "Lucille".

Owens also worked away from the Nashville establishment, choosing to remain based in Bakersfield, California and helping to establish a twangy, honky-tonk genre that became known as the "Bakersfield Sound". And unlike many artists then and now, he invested his money well. His company owned a television and several radio stations, along with a production company and other business interests. Broadcasting was more of a first love, and at the height of it's success Buck Owens Broadcasting owned several radio stations throughout the Southwest.

He is survived by three sons.


The St. Petersburg Times reports this morning that an ethics complaint was filed Friday against Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist by a former Convergys Corporation employee who had complained to the AG's office about how his employer mishandled state worker's personnel information.

The complaint, filed with the Commission on Ethics by Sam McDowell, charges that Crist failed to follow up on his concerns regarding lax security and that the lack of action was partially because Convergys lobbyest Brian Ballard is an adviser with the Attorney Generals' gubernatorial campaign.

McDowell also filed a complaint against former Crist chief of staff George LeMieux, who is currently serving as the AG's campaign manager.

It is important to know here that McDowell's attorney, Steve Andrews, supports Crist's opponent in the Republican primary, state chief financial officer Tom Gallagher, and donated to his campaign.


For the past couple of weeks, Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) has tried to jump start her floundering campaign for the U.S. Senate by saying that she would "...commit my legacy from my father -- $10 million." Many, including myself, interpted that to mean that she would use the amount left by her late father.

Now, campaign officials are singing a slightly different tune.

In an e-mail to the Orlando Sentinel, spokeswoman Morgan Dobbs stated that Ms. Harris would liquidate her personal assets rather than use her inheritance from Bartow banker George Harris, who passed away in January.

If you remember, she told FOX News' Sean Hannity:

"I'm going to take his legacy that he gave to me, everything I have, and I'm going to put it in this race...I'm going to commit my legacy from my father -- $10 million."

Just to be sure, Hannity --- a good friend and supporter of the former Florida Secretary of State --- asked, "This is money from your father?". To which she replied "Yes".

Ms. Dobbs wrote in her e-mail to the newspaper:

"It is my understanding from her statements that she does not plan to use inherited money on the campaign -- rather, money from liquidating her personal assets, which she says total $10 million."

When a message was sent in reply asking about the discrepancy between her televised statement and the campaign's message, Dobbs only replied that no additional information would be available on the subject.

Another day, another screw-up in the Harris campaign. As University of South Florida political science professor Dr. Susan MacManus put it:

"To say something different now just confuses matters. And the last thing her campaign needs right now is to confuse people."

That's alright, doc. Just further evidence that Katherine Harris does not have what it takes to remain in the House of Representatives, much less the United States Senate.


Among the major issues to be discussed on most of the shows this weekend will be immigration, which has become a hot topic with demonstrations being held in cities throughout America. And Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice will make the tour around the television studios, appearing on three to answer questions about Iraq and American foreign policy in general...and maybe a question or two about the prosepects of her becoming the next NFL commissioner.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R - PA) and Congressman Tom Tancredo (R - CO) will discuss immigration reform. Mr. Stephanopoulos interviewed Governor Brian Schweitzer (D - MT) in his state's Glacier National Park, and saw firsthand how warming temperatures are melting the glaciers and dicsussed how the governor is facing the issue. The roundtable will feature Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation, as well as conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Iraq, Iran, and the immigration issue will be discussed with U.S. Senator Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy (D - MA) and White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: How will the government control the contiuning violent insurgency in Iraq? Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice will attempt to answer those questions, along with Generals Bernard Trainor (USMC, Ret.) and George Joulwan (USA, Ret.), U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R - KS) and Jack Reed (D - RI), and Iraqi Kurdistan regional representative to the US Qubad Talabany.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Talking about Iraq this week: SecState Dr. Rice, and outspoken war critic U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D - MI).

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Yes, Dr. Rice appears here, too. And a roundtable discussion with Washington Post national political correspondent David Broder, Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, Cook Political Report editor/publisher Charles E. (Charlie) Cook, and John Harwood of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Immigration policy will be discussed, as well as the question of U.S. Senator John McCain's move further to the right and it's possible affect on support from Democrats and Independents for a possible 2008 run for the presidency. Pondering these issues will be Kathy Kay of the BBC, Julio Cesar Ortiz of Univision's Los Angeles owned-and-operated station KMEX-TV, Kathleen Parker of the Tribune Newspapers, and Michael Duffy of Time magazine.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I woke up late this morning, and with my schedule there will be light posting here today. I'll be back tonight with some additional info.


The historic Polk County Courthouse will once again host trials, at least for a few months later this year.

The building, which was built nearly a century ago, has not been used for actual court business since 1995, when the current ten story courthouse across Broadway underwent renovations. It currently houses the Polk County Historical Museum.

As Polk County has continued it's remarkable growth over the past couple of decades, court programmes have expanded and additional judicial positions have been created. The result is that space in the current courthouse has become strained, and new options are being reviewed.

The current plan is to renovate the present courthouse beginning this summer, with completion scheduled for November or early next year. The county's branch courthouses in Lakeland and Winter Haven, which currently handle arraignments, small claims, and traffic cases, will also be renovated in order for them to begin handle criminal cases and trials within the next couple of years.

At the historic courthouse, a few changes will likely need to be made. One of the two upstairs courtrooms will need a bench and jury box, with air conditioning likely being added to one of the jury rooms and various security considerations.


Among the films premiering this weekend is Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. For the unfamiliar, the movie and it's star has several key links to the I-4 corridor.

The star, whose real name is Daniel Lawrence Whitney, really got known as a stand-up comic after attending college at Baptist University of America in Georgia. In 1991, he began doing radio comedy, calling stations' morning drive programmes as a variety of fictional characters. He eventually worked with several radio stations in the Tampa/St. Petersburg market, most notably as a part of the infamous Ron & Ron Show (Those were the days of REAL radio!).

The film was shot mainly in the Orlando area, and director Trent Cooper is originally from right here in Lakeland, getting his start in film producing corporate projects for a company in Tampa.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


You can read here my previous notes on Sheriff Billy McGee of Forrest County, Mississippi, who with two deputies commendered trucks of ice and water for the benefit of some area residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the local newspaper's supportive editorial last weekend asking the federal prosecutor handling the case not to file any charges.

Tonight, the story will be one of the featured pieces on CNN's programme Anderson Cooper 360, and he gave it some mention on his show blog. The journalist and crew recently visited the Hattiesburg area to report on this story. I truly hope this helps in the effort to prevent this case from going forward.


Sarasota Herald Tribune political columnist Jeremy Wallace writes that some are asking that question after Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) has brought up her religious faith quite a bit recently.

The U.S. Senate candidate recently spoke to a conference of Christian activists at the Fort Lauderdale Presbyterian church pastored by televangalist D. James Kennedy, and made Biblical references during an interview earlier this week on ABC News Nightline.

Ms. Harris, who is seeking to replace Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson, has a consistant record in favouring the religious right since her days as a state legislator. Mr. Wallace notes that "Florida Right to Life routinely gave Harris high marks for her advocacy of abortion restrictions from 1994-98, while she was in the Florida Senate. In Congress since 2002, Harris...has won top ratings from groups like the National Right to Life Committee and low scores from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, which supports legal access to abortions". Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed called her "a champion for the families of America".

But will her apparant strategy work? As a growing number of Republicans are wishing someone else would save the day and run, and with consultants generally saying that with no primary opponent Ms. Harris should concentrate on independent and conservative Democratic voters, there is lingering doubt.

Noone should hide their faith, and I do not doubt for a moment Ms. Harris' sincerity about hers. I certainly don't mind an individual discussing their religious beliefs in an open, honest way. What particularly annoys me is when it seems as though a candidate or officeholder talks about their beliefs in an apparant attempt to court favour among the electorate.


The Florida Senate will take the week of April 7-16 off, and that has some members complaining. But in the whole scheme of things, it turns out to be the right thing to do.

The idea is to satisfy the religious practices of all members, as Easter Sunday is April 16 this year. Jewish members had requested that they be allowed to leave to arrive home before sundown Wednesday, April 12, when the Passover holiday begins.

Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) made the decision of a week-long break, saying it was not cost-effective for members to travel great distances for meetings part of the day Monday and Tuesday. It is up to 500 miles for some senators to travel from Tallahassee to Miami.

While the break seems too long for many folks, it is only proper that the presiding officer, Lee, do the right thing in consideration of the beliefs of all of the members. It just might do some good for legislators to reconnect with their constitutents for a few days after mixing with lobbyists and other special interest types.


No, this is not an anniversary for I4J; this blog is still a baby. Today, though, is the fifth birthday for my beloved diva of a granddaughter, Yasmeen Jade. She is always funny to watch, and certainly interesting to be around...definately making me feel somewhat younger than my nearly 48 years.

We will celebrate the event this weekend at one of the local parks with a number of friends and family members.


I read earlier in the week that Bruce Parker, former commissioner and mayor in Winter Haven who served a term on the Polk County Commission, has filed to run for the District 4 seat currently held by fellow Republican Paul Senft.

Senft, who will be finishing his first term on the BOCC, is generally considered to be the moderate on the five member all-GOP panel. Parker tends to be more conservative than the incumbant, favouring cutting taxes and relying more on impact fees to fund growth.

Senft and all but one of his collegues (Randy Wilkinson, who holds the District 2 seat) lost favour with many strong Republican conservatives over a taxing vote last year, and they had pledged to find opponents in those races this year. It is unknown if Parker's entry is part of that strategy, or if the semi-retired businessman is just getting back into the fray on his own.

These are two well known, well connected gentlemen who know their way around the local political scene, and it should be quite a show to watch. They are also generally classy fellows, so don't expect any below the belt talk from either man. It's too bad that this will be a primary contest. The winner will face off against Winter Haven resident Jean Reed --- a classy woman herself --- who has sought this seat twice before.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Tyrone and Tank Carter grew up in a rough section of Pompano Beach, and are very close. Tyrone is an talented football player, becoming a safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Of course, when the Steelers made the Super Bowl, brother Tank was present in Detroit for their victory over the Seattle Seahawks to take the Vince Lombardi Trophy. After the game ended, the Carter brothers partied down with rapper Snoop Dogg until the early morning hours.

Problem is, Tank Carter was supposed to be reporting to the Broward County Jail for a six month stretch resulting from a conviction for driving with a revoked drivers' license.

Because he didn't show up on time, the judge hearing the case turned the six month sentence into five years. And Tank Carter says...he doesn't regret his decision, being quoted in an AP story picked up by as saying "Even knowing what I know now, I would do it again. It was the greatest game in my life."

I wonder how he'll be feeling after a few months or a year in the pokey.


Besides the Debra LaFarve case ending for all intents and purposes (read below), there is not much going on. With my work schedule, there was no way I was about to stay up to watch Congresswoman Katherine Harris' (R - Longboat Key) appearance on ABC News Nightline. She would probably continue her mindless drivel of putting her name/reputation/father's legacy on the line, but with her name and reputation, she hasn't much to put out there.

So, I'm taking the day off. I really appreciate your dropping in to visit I4J, and hope that you will take a few moments to scroll down and view some of the posts you may have missed from the past several days.

And, if you're crusin' through the 'Net, check out the blogroll. Florida has some great blogs of all types, especially political news and commentary.

I will be back tomorrow.


This whole Debra LaFave case has been crazy to watch.

For the uninitiated (that is, if you're outside of Florida and don't have cable/satellite TV), Ms. LaFave is the Tampa middle school teacher who was busted for having sex with one of her 14 year old students. She had reached a deal in November with Hillsborough County prosecuters of three years of house arrest followed by seven years of probation in exchange for her guilty plea.

Prosecutors in Marion County, where she was facing charges for bangin' the same kid during a trip there, were hoping to reach a similar deal running concurrently. However, Judge Hale R. Stancil refused to sign off on the deal because it did not include jail time for Ms. LaFave, and Fifth Judicial District State Attorney Brad King in Ocala decided to simply drop the charges there.

The student's mother had wanted the deal approved, citing that she did not want her son to go through the media frenzy of a trial and the attention it would attract. She had expressed the same concern with Hillsborough County prosecutors, which was the basis for the deal in Tampa.

While one has to consider the mother's feelings about her child's well being, I believe there is a lack of consistancy in these type of cases. While Ms. LaFave is getting community control and probation, consider that if the roles were reversed --- a male teacher having sex with a female student --- the charges brought against him would be much more serious than lewd and lascivious battery, and he would definately face a lengthy prision sentence.

That's a discussion that we need to have.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) will appear tonight on ABC News Nightline. Her disdain to meet with Florida media continues to be obvious. Maybe she forgot to read the advice given by Bill Rufty yesterday in the Lakeland Ledger...or simply chose to ignore it.

And needless to say, Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald Tribune writes Monday that several of the seven candidates for Ms. Harris' congressional seat are lamenting that many are asking not about their campaigns, but about the tribulations of the incumbant they are trying to replace.


With the news Monday that National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue plans to retire in July after 16 years at the helm of the world's most popular sports league, who will step in to keep relative peace between the equally greedy owners and the players union? Sounds like it would take one helluva diplomat to get that done, so why not America's chief diplomat?

It seems that Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice, known to be a "serious" football fan, has said in the past that being NFL commish was her dream job. So, with four months before Tagliabue steps aside, and the so-called legacy of the Bush Administration falling more into ruin every day, the timing seems great for the SecState.

Of course, Dr. Rice will not get serious consideration for the post, especially with a couple of well known and respected insiders already being touted (Atlanta Falcons General Manager Rich McKay, who spent a little time at One Buccaneer Place, is among those getting mention). But The Daily Nightly, blog for NBC Nightly News, mentions that it did generate some talk at Monday's State Department news briefing. The Secretary did release a statement later saying that if asked she would have to decline, as “She still has many things she wants to accomplish as secretary of state”.

It might be interesting if Dr. Rice did become commish. Can you see her having to deal with such personalities as Jerry Jones, Al Davis, and Tom Benson? I believe it just might be worth the owners' consideration. She will need a new job soon, anyway.

BTW: Condi's not mentioned, but you might want to check out this commentary from Michael Ventre at

Monday, March 20, 2006


While our hurricane season doesn't begin for a little while yet, in the Pacific area their "cyclone season", as it is known there, has already struck hard.

Cyclone Larry struck the coast of Queensland, Australia yesterday as a catagory 5 storm, bringing with it highest sustained winds of approximately 300 km/h (186 mph), about the velocity of Katrina when it stuck the Mid-South coast six months ago. While there was considerable damage, surprisingly there are no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation provides full coverage of the disaster. We know firsthand here in Florida the damage these events can cause, so let's take a moment and say a prayer for the people in northern Queensland as they work to recover from the worst cyclone to hit the area in many years.


Although Florida Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) has tried to seek calm and some sort of peace among GOP factions in the Florida Senate, it seems as though it has become an all out, uncivil war during this session.

It's a mix of several things, with the main ingredient being who will be the Senate President in 2008 and 2010. Personality conflicts added in with accusations of dirty politics and charges of betrayal have made things quite tense in Tallahassee, but interesting to watch.

Polk County's two State Senators are current Majority Whip J.D. Alexander (R - Lake Wales) and Paula Dockery (R - Lakeland). Normally, the duo should work
closely together on behalf of the folks back home, but are in the eye of this current storm on opposite sides...and that could likely hurt their influence in getting things done. Not only that, both have announced that they will run for the Senate President's seat in four years.

Today the Sarasota Herald Tribune and St. Petersburg Times take a close look at the current situation. I like Joe Follick's opening paragraph to his piece in the H-T:

"Imagine a campaign to become president of a high school's senior class that begins in eighth grade. Picture the battles among cliques, with backstabbing whisper attacks and Adrenalin-fueled quests to secure fellow students' support for a vote still four years away."

That's exactly how it seems. Those folks should stop acting like children and work on serving the people of Florida, as it seems they are less interested in now.


With the continuing analysis, spinning, and general comments regarding the U.S. Senate candidacy of Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key), political columnist Bill Rufty of the Lakeland Ledger reminds us that most folks don't know or bother talking about what it takes to win a political race.

Well, today Mr. Rufty shares with Ms. Harris --- and any other current or potential candidate --- the benefit of his years of covering political types and offers several bits of advice on how to run a campaign. And after reading his ideas, I can say that he is absolutely correct!

I'm afraid that it's simply too late for these pointers to work for Ms. Harris.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Last month, I mentioned here the story of Sheriff Billy McGee of Forrest County, Mississippi. He and three deputies commendeered two trucks filled with ice and water which had been sitting at Camp Shelby, the FEMA staging area near Hattiesburg, taking them to a couple of rural communities which had been without aid since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast over a week earlier. He is now facing federal misdemeanor charges of interfering with, intimidating, and impeding a federal officer (a National Guardsman who attempted to prevent the officers' action).

He had originally made a deal with prosecutors where he would plead guilty. In exchange, the deal would prevent charges being brought against his deputies and would allow him to remain in office. However, the day before the court date, the judge postponed the hearing indefinately.

Since then, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi who was prosecuting the case recused himself, and it has been handed to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, David R. Dugas. He still has reportedly not made a decision on wheather to press the case or dismiss the charges.

Today's Hattiesburg American editorial page features an open letter to the Honourable Mr. Dugas:

Dear Mr. Dugas,
The fate of Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee now rests in your hands.

Given the fact Mississippi U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton recused himself from The Case of the Stolen Ice Trucks, it has fallen to you to decide whether to bring federal charges against McGee, who admittedly ordered three of his deputies to commandeer two Federal Emergency Management Agency ice trucks from a staging site at Camp Shelby six days after Hurricane Katrina to aid storm victims in Petal and Brooklyn.

"Anything is possible because no decision has been made," said Dugas last week. "We can always choose not to prosecute."

Here are two reasons why you should do just that - choose not to prosecute.

First, extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary actions - and McGee's actions were appropriate given the circumstances.

Mr. Dugas, the Pine Belt was lurching rapidly toward chaos and disaster in the days immediately after Katrina.

The power was out in much of Hattiesburg for 11 days - even longer in the rural areas. In the absence of water, functioning toilets, air conditioning and dwindling supplies of food and fuel, people struggled to survive. We kept hearing promises that "FEMA was on its way." However, the cavalry was slow in coming. Then, when the nation's lead disaster response agency finally got here, it was so disorganized that supply trucks sat idle for days - exacerbating the suffering of our citizens.

McGee has stated he made repeated phone calls to FEMA officials in an attempt to provide desperately needed supplies for Forrest County residents. But after getting no response, the sheriff took matters into his own hands.

For McGee to do otherwise would have been a denial of his pledge to "serve and protect" the people of Forrest County.

Second, McGee gained nothing - and risked a lot - by acting as he did.

It took an enormous amount of courage for a county sheriff in South Mississippi to stand up to FEMA and, in the process, expose its abject incompetence. Is that what this threat of prosecution is really about? We wonder.

And for what? So he could be prosecuted for a "crime?"

Mr. Dugas, we expect nothing less from the people we put in elected office. And we dare say that, had you been in McGee's position, you might have acted in a similar manner.

Of course, neither of these reasons specifically addresses the one issue that concerns you: Did McGee break the law; and do his actions warrant prosecution? You must decide whether or not to prosecute McGee solely on the merits of the case.

However, anyone who is familiar with the judicial system knows that there are always extenuating circumstances - issues that a good prosecutor weighs before proceeding to court.

We believe, that, when this case is viewed in proper context, it's not a case at all.

I certainly agree.


They are apparantly big inspirations for Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key). At least, that is what the Palm Beach Post reports that she told an estimated 800 conservative Christians at a conference held this weekend at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, pastored by televangelist Dr. D. James Kennedy.

Ms. Harris never directly mentioned her bid to unseat Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson during her remarks at the "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference.

Besides our Almighty Creator, the two term congresswoman did say that she was inspired as a teenager by the movie The Last of the Mohicans because "people were willing to die for something bigger than themselves". She also told the gathering that she was moved by the Lord of Rings movies, saying they, too, suggest that sometimes your mission in life is bigger than the individual.

Of course, there were reporters present hoping to catch a word or two about her campaign. Ms. Harris scheduled two press conferences last week, only to cancel at nearly the last minute. Once again, the media hounds were disappointed. Harris refused to speak to reporters, leaving to attend an event in West Palm Beach.

Someday soon, she's got to follow the advice of country music great Kenny Rogers:

You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run...


The Cleveland Indians are now saying they are interested in reopening talks with the City of Winter Haven regarding the possibility of keeping their spring training base there, possibly long term.

The Major League Baseball team has wanted to leave Chain O'Lakes Stadium in favour of a new facility, and has held informal discussions with several other Florida cities over the possibility of relocating...but at the host city's expense. There had been some talk of remaining in Winter Haven previously, but the Tribe said then they were not interested in sharing costs of building a new complex.

As the other cities have apparantly expressed no interest or inability to foot the entire bill for building a spring training complex and moving the team there, Indians owner Paul Dolan had meetings last Tuesday and Wednesday with city and Polk County officials about what could be done to keep the team in Polk County.

According to today's Lakeland Ledger, County Commissioner Jack Myers, also Chairman of the county's Tourist Development Council, was optimistic over the possibility. However, he said that it would take a four way city/county/state/team partnership for a possible new spring training complex, and possibly require a second MLB team to relocate there.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past, where city commissioners in Winter Haven were saying, in effect, "Good riddance!". The city currently loses around $1 million in general funds annually to host the team. And with property rates continuing to head upward, the city wants to redevelop the lakefront site where Chain O'Lakes Stadium currently sits for mixed commercial/residential usage. But if an agreement can be reached that will involve a share of cost which includes the Indians as well as the local and state governments where city taxpayers won't be screwed as they are now, it would be great to maintain Winter Haven and Polk County as a place for people to visit...and spend their expendable money.


Starting this morning in Central Florida, the Daytona Beach News-Journal is concerned with the security and accountability of the new touch screen voting machines, and is asking the Legislature to end it's foot dragging and return some measure of accountability to the election process.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger hopes that lawmakers approve language being proposed by State Senator Burt Saunders (R - Naples) which would mandate $58 million in the state budget for anti-smoking initiatives before voters do it for them in November through a constitutional amendment.

Looking toward Washington this morning, the Orlando Sentinel says that the effort of U.S. Senator Russell Feingold (D - WI) to censure President Bush for approving a domestic spying programme is "an ill-advised political ploy" and diverts attention from the still unanswered questions about the programme.

While the Sarasota Herald Tribune notes that Charlotte County Commissioner Adam Cummings has been an outspoken advocate for his constitutents on water issues, it says that his recent actions show his judgement is clouded by his seemingly personal agenda to dismiss the executive director of the local regional water supply authority.

Today's St. Petersburg Times editorial calls an apparant effort by Republicans in the Legislature to offer a constitutional amendment which would foreclose the rule of expressio unius to eventually get through a school voucher law "seriously flawed and dangerous", not to mention possible unintentioned consequences.

Across Tampa Bay, the Tampa Tribune wonders what happened to the fiscal conservatives voters sent to Washington, as it mentions the 22 percent increase in social programmes in the past five years which does nothing to help solve future funding issues facing Social Security and Medicare.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union urges a citywide discussion on high rise buildings as part of what it calls a long overdue revamp of the current zoning codes.

Being the third anniversary since the beginning of our military operations in Iraq, Florida Today in Melbourne says that the specter of defeat hangs heavy, and that time is running out for finding solutions to avoid what it calls a "Pandora's box" of sectarian conflicts that threaten to turn into a regional conflict...and that Iraqis, not Americans, must find the answers to their own issues.

The Miami Herald also weighs in on Iraq, saying that while many Americans are fustrated the war is not lost. But the editorial mentions that U.S. policymakers and Iraqis who want a positive future are racing against the clock to avoid defeat, so it's make significant changes in their behaviour.

The Palm Beach Post editorializes that President Bush has been only offering speeches while the U.S. needs a plan for what to do about Iraq.

Sunshine Week across Florida is drawing to a close, and the Fort Myers News-Press warns that several bills being considered in the Legislature threaten Florida's tradition as a pioneer in open government and records laws. And the Pensacola News Journal mentions that work is needed by agencies across Northwest Florida, most of which failed to comply with requests for copies of public records by a University of West Florida class. And the Tallahassee Democrat reminds us that closed meetings that violate the Sunshine Law cannot be tolerated.

The Gainesville Sun comes out in opposition of President Bush's request to Congress for a line item veto. It answers the chief executive's claim that he needs it to put America on the fiscal straight and narrow by saying that "when it comes to fiscal responsibility, the President has a credibility gap wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon", and mentions there is nothing in his record to indicate he would do anything other than rewarding allies in Congress and punishing opponents.

Today's editorial in the Naples Daily News opines that citizens should not have to choose between components of infastructure to keep up with growth, but that Collier County needs to be cautious with it's proposal to seek out sites from surplus lands --- which the editorial reminds is usually code for enviromentally sensitive --- as possible locations for affordable housing.

While the Ocala Star Banner says the state's commitment to preserve Silver Springs is indisputable, it mentions that that "the granddaddy of Florida's 33 world-renowned first magnitude springs" is still endangered by encroaching development. Noting that Silver Springs and the Ocala Springs development cannot co-exist as planned, the editorial urges the state Department of Enviromental Protection to enter into serious talks with developer Avatar Holdings to purchase at least the most sensitive areas.

Finally, noise is the issue of today's editorial in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. It says that while Florida Turnpike officials are being reasonable to study the need for a noise wall in Coconut Creek to benefit a nearby retirement community, it should not be erected if state decibel levels are not exceeded.

Have a wonderful Sunday! And may your NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket not be messed up any more than it already is, considering yesterday's results.