Sunday, April 02, 2006


Hopefully, everyone awakened on time this morning. If you didn't bother to move your timepieces up an hour before turning in last night, then you're an hour behind everyone else. I have to admit, I almost forgot, and that's certainly not cool considering I have to work today.

And before we begin our weekly tour around the Florida editorial pages, let me say that while I'm not a huge fan, congratulations to the University of Florida Gators on their victory over Cinderella team George Mason last night to earn a spot in the national NCAA Division I-A college basketball championship game tomorrow night in Indianapolis. Problem is, they face UCLA.

While this week's look at the editorial pages covers most of Florida's major newspapers, it does not cover some others. Please accept my apologies, as this is simply due to time restraints caused by my earlier work schedule.

Sports is the subject of today's Lakeland Ledger opinion, dealing with the current situation between the Cleveland Indians and the City of Winter Haven. The Ledger supports a bill currently moving through the Legislature which would provide $15 million in grants to Winter Haven (as well as Bradenton, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, and St. Petersburg) to refurbish or replace current spring training stadiums.

Down in South Florida, the Miami Herald sees the case of accused al-Queda terrorist Salim Hamdan, now before the United States Supreme Court, as a test of just how far a president's wartime powers go. In this case, if President Bush had the power to establish the military commissions to try accused terrorists at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Herald reminds us that the delecate balance of seperation of powers is at stake with the Court's decision.

Today's Orlando Sentinel editorial opinion is concerned with local governments and their effort to raise their ethics policies in the wake of Orange County's current trouble regarding Mayor Rich Crotty stemming from a land deal with a developer. The view is that while it's mystifying that Orange County would balk at toughening it's ethics policy, it's disappointing that neighbouring Volusia County has not worked hard to prevent a similar problem there.

In the wake of recent news that scores for approximately 5,000 high school students taking the SAT were wrongly reported, the St. Petersburg Times calls on the U.S. Department of Education to hold companies hired to score tests responsible when these issues arise. The idea is that if the stakes are going to be high for students who can be denied a diploma or admission into the college of their choice, they should also be high for the companies doing the scoring.

At a symposium featuring nearly all of Florida's living governors past and present, one of them --- Bob Graham --- listed the next governor's biggest challenges as growth, education, and enviromential protection. The Daytona Beach News Journal editorial board has two more issues to add to the grocery list: Tax reform and improving human services.

A pat on the back today from the Tampa Tribune to Tampa General Hospital on it's decision to redesign it's 30th Street speciality clinic to an emergency centre in an effort to reduce the volume of patients in it's main emergency room. The hospital has announced that if the effort is successful it would be expanded to it's clinic on Kennedy Boulevard.

On the editorial page of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, we are reminded that in the 1990s when the cost of a barrel of oil was lower, Congress approved a measure as an incentive for oil companies to increase drilling in the Gulf of Mexico deferring royalty payments. Today, with prices significantly higher, those companies continue to avoid paying royalties while taking huge profits to the bank. The Herald Tribune believes it's time for that to change.

The Tallahassee Democrat reminds us that economic development is a highly competitive game that requires local governments to work in tandem not only to attract new business into the area, but to assist local companies as well. It also approves of the idea of Leon County commissioners allocating a $850,000 "accelerator" to harness investment in local firms as part of an overall $1.6 million being budgeted on a variety of economic efforts.

Today's Florida Times-Union editorial is concerned with road conditions in neighbouring Clay County, a rapidly growing area but with limited resources to handle the amount of road construction and improvements required. About 60 percent of it's workforce commutes daily to Jacksonville, causing commutes worse than average. The editorial calls on the county to establish a local Transportation Authority which would partner with the Florida Turnpike Enterprise toward handling two critical needs: An outer beltway and a crossing over the St. John's River into Jacksonville which would both be paid for by tolls.

State Senate President and Chief Financial Officer candidate Tom Lee (R - Brandon) says that senate collegue Ken Pruitt (R - Port St. Lucie), scheduled to replace Lee as Senate President, asked for an investigation regarding a $2,000 monthly stipend Pruitt is receiving as a consultant to the man who built his home; Lee says he declined citing a lack of evidence. The Palm Beach Post believes that the public deserves to know the details of the arrangement, and says that if Senator Pruitt really wants an inquiry, he should publicly demand one.

As residents in neighbouring Santa Rosa County are debating the wisdom of a one-cent local option tax to support primarily road construction and improvement, the Pensacola News Journal comes out in support of the effort, advising residents the only question if it fails at the ballot box is how the county will pay the bill: in increments at the cash register, or in a gradual deterioration in their quality of life.

Florida Today's editorial space today promotes a public forum to be held Tuesday evening at the newspaper's office in Melbourne. The forum will discuss the continually rising cost of hurricane insurance and will feature Florida Insurance Council executive vice president Sam Miller, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation deputy commissioner of property and casualty insurance Tom Streukens, and Florida Consumer Action Network executive director Bill Newton.


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