Monday, April 03, 2006


Some remarks made by Lee County's school superintendent in refusing to allow a high school band to participate in a New Year's Day parade in England has resulted in harsh words from "the other side of the pond" and could possibly result in the loss of tourism dollars.

Superintendent Dr. James Browder and secondary operations consultant Herb Wiseman had announced that the Fort Myers High School band would not travel to London to play in the city's 2007 New Year's Day parade, citing concerns regarding terrorism and last year's bombings of buses and the subway in the British capital which killed 52 people.

Parade officials have responded with anger, especially after Browder declined an offer to send officials to Fort Myers to meet with school district officials saying it would not matter. They sent a statement to the Fort Myers News-Press Friday which they said would run today in the British media warning potential travelers to Southwest Florida about Lee County's crime and homicide rates (2005 set a record for murders in the area) and reminding that "the entire area is prone to catastrophic hurricanes."

Governor Jeb Bush remarked Friday that "Perhaps the superintendent is being overly cautious in this regard...I wouldn't want to have kids in London that were going to come participate in some kind of festivity in Florida be told that it was unsafe." He also said that school officials probably should have reviewed the U.S. State Department's travel advisory before deciding that the trip to London was unsafe.

The BBC is running this story in it's broadcasts today, as well as featuring it on the BBC News Web site.

This is a clear overreaction on the Lee County officials' part. Reading the travel advisory, it's seems to be no different traveling to the UK than to New York, Los Angeles, or for that matter, to Lakeland...simply use your God-given common sense, watch for anything suspicious, and enjoy yourself!

You can let Dr. Browder and Mr. Wiseman know just how foolish their decision seems. E-Mail Dr. Browder at and Mr. Wiseman at


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