Saturday, September 30, 2006


As almost everyone has heard or read, Mark Foley can now be called Former Congressman Mark Foley following his resignation Friday. The Republican from Fort Pierce decided to leave the House after being confronted with a series of sexually explicit chat and IM messages and e-mails that he wrote to congressional pages.

Too bad it wasn't Dateline NBC's Chris Hansen doing a To Catch A Predator-style sting on Foley. That would have been a sight to see.

The state GOP leadership is expected to gather as early as Monday to decide on a replacement candidate. The ballots for the November election have already been printed, so Foley's name will appear. Under Florida election law in a case such as this, when voters in the 16th District cast their ballots, a vote beside Foley's name will be counted as a vote for the replacement GOP candidate.

From the 2006->Ch0100->Section%20111#0100.111">Florida Statues 100.111 (4)(a):
In the event that death, resignation, withdrawal, removal, or any other cause or event should cause a party to have a vacancy in nomination which leaves no candidate for an office from such party, the Department of State shall notify the chair of the appropriate state, district, or county political party executive committee of such party; and, within 5 days, the chair shall call a meeting of his or her executive committee to consider designation of a nominee to fill the vacancy. The name of any person so designated shall be submitted to the Department of State within 7 days after notice to the chair in order that the person designated may have his or her name on the ballot of the ensuing general election. If the name of the new nominee is submitted after the certification of results of the preceding primary election, however, the ballots shall not be changed and the former party nominee's name will appear on the ballot. Any ballots cast for the former party nominee will be counted for the person designated by the political party to replace the former party nominee. If there is no opposition to the party nominee, the person designated by the political party to replace the former party nominee will be elected to office at the general election. For purposes of this paragraph, the term "district political party executive committee" means the members of the state executive committee of a political party from those counties comprising the area involving a district office.

The Palm Beach Post political blog Q is noting that based on conversations with area GOP activists, State Representative Joe Negron of Stuart seems to be the early front runner. Jupiter attorney Tom Rooney (of the Pittsburgh Steelers Rooneys) and City Councilman Hal Valence of Palm Beach Gardens (brief bio at the bottom of linked page) have voiced interest in the vacancy. Others receiving mention include State Representatives Gayle Harrell of Stuart, Paige Kreegel of Punta Gorda, and Carl Domino of Jupiter. However, Domino has told the Post that he will not likely seek the nomination.

And I noticed it didn't take long at all for Foley's congressional Web Page to be shut down. When you click on the link you are taken to a page set up by the Clerk of the House, whose office supervises the Washington and district congressional offices and staff in the case of a vacancy such as this.


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett will appear to talk about Iraq, the war on terror, and the fight for control of Congress. Congressman John Murtha (D - PA) will also discuss the same issues in a seperate interview. And the roundtable will feature ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin, Democratic consultant Donna Brazile, former Pentagon spokesperson Tori Clarke, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Dan Bartlett will be here, too, as well as U.S. Senator Joseph Biden (D - DE) to discuss Iraq and what's happening in the Bush Administration.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Mr. Bartlett also appears to talk about Iraq and wheather the president turn a deaf ear to warnings about the insurgency there. Also weighing in on the subject: U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R - IN) and Chris Dodd (D - CT), Former National Security Adviser Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Politics and Iraq, linked together heading into the November elections. Appearing to talk about it will be Congresswoman Jane Harman (D - CA), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author Lawrence Wright, former CIA Osama bin Laden Unit chief Michael Scheuer, and Daniel Benjamin, former member of the National Security Council under then-president Clinton.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: The Senate Debate Series continues this week with it's focus on Ohio. Republican Incumbant Senator Mike DeWine will debate the issues with Democratic challenger Congressman Sherrod Brown. Also, an interview with Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Questions about wheather Bob Woodward's new book State of Denial will give Democrats new momentum on Iraq and wheather people really care about past racially insensitive comments by politicians will be bantered about with NBC News Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Time magazine's Joe Klein, and Julia Reed of Vogue.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: This should be an interesting show, featuring one of the hottest races in the area filled with negative advertising: Republican Vern Buchanan and Democrat Christine Jennings will discuss the issues as they seek the 13th Congressional District seat vacated by Katherine Harris, who is running for the U.S. Senate.


The Lakeland/Polk County community is recovering from the shock and grief many of us feel following the tragic death of Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Matt Williams Thursday in the line of duty.

It was announced that his funeral service will be held Tuesday at Victory Assembly of God Church, 1401 Griffin Road in north Lakeland. It is a few blocks west of U.S. 98 near I-4. Services will begin at 1:00 PM, but those attending are asked to arrive by 11:30 AM. Williams, and the cremeated remains of his canine partner Diogi, will be buried together in Auburndale.

If you have business in that area of Lakeland during the mid-afternoon Tuesday, it is an area you may want to avoid. If you have never witnessed the procession after the funeral of a police officer killed in the line of duty, it is a truly moving sight as a very long line of police cruisers and motorcycles from throughout the state travel slowly to the officer's final resting place and the traditional farewell there to honour one of their own. You can certainly expect that Tuesday afternoon, as well as a number of people along the procession route to bid farewell to one of Polk's finest.

There have been three funds set up at local banks to assist Deputy Williams' widow and children:

--- Lakeland attorney Scott Langston has set up an account at Citrus & Chemical Bank. Donations can be made at any C&C branch throughout Polk County, or by mailing a donation to

Matthew Williams Memorial Fund
(Account 060022741)
c/o Citrus & Chemical Bank
114 North Tennessee Avenue
Lakeland, Florida 33801

--- One of the newer banks in the area, Community Southern Bank, has also started a fund. Checks should be made out to "Polk County Sheriff's Department Benefit Account". You can bring donations to the bank's Lakeland office, or mail donations to:

Polk County Sheriff's Department Benefit Account
c/o Community Southern Bank
3234 South Florida Avenue
Lakeland, Florida 33803

--- And Wachovia Bank has begun a trust fund for the slain deputy's family. Donations can be made at any area Wachovia branch, or can be mailed to:

Matt Williams Family Trust Fund
Wachovia Bank
c/o Marilyn Watson
203 Avenue A
Winter Haven, Florida 33881

Friday, September 29, 2006

Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Vernon Matthew "Matt" Williams
(1967 - 2006)


Many people throughout Lakeland and Polk County are deeply saddened over the murder of Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Vernon Matthew "Matt" Williams and his K-9 partner Diogi Thursday when a suspect who had been stopped for a traffic violation fled the scene. Another deputy, Douglas Spiers, was wounded in the leg, treated and released from Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

The murderer was found in a very thick area of woods less than 100 yards from where the deputy was shot, hiding in a hollowed area under a fallen oak tree. He was shot numerous times by officers who had ordered him to show his hands but still held the slain deputy's handgun in a threatening manner.

While the shooting took place in the same general area that I live, it was not that close. But many of us where I work looked at television reports in the break room or checked local media sites on the Internet at our desks when we were not on a call. Fortunately for me, my granddaughter's school was not one of those affected by the lockdowns that lasted well into the evening.

Kathleen High School, which was near the crime scene, was closed Friday after their lockdown lasted past 6:00 PM, when the 1,600 strong student body was transported under police escort to a nearby church where parents with proper ID could pick them up. Some were there until close to midnight. It is homecoming weekend for KHS, but related activities did go on. However, the Red Devils' football game was moved from the on-campus stadium to city-owned Bryant Stadium, home to the Lakeland High Dreadnaughts near downtown, and gametime was moved up to 4:00 PM instead of the usual 7:00. Another nearby charter school, McKeel Academy of Technology, also closed for the day.

The Lakeland Ledger looks at Deputy Williams' career and how people in the northwest area around Polk City enjoyed working with him and appreciated his efforts, especially with children. It notes that his personnel file is thick with commendations during his 12 years with the PCSO.

He leaves behind a wife, Nancy, and three teenage children.

Yesterday was Nancy Williams' birthday.

I4J offers our deepest condolences to the Williams family, his friends and collegues on what is a loss for all of us. We also give thanks that Deputy Spiers will recover fully from his wounds.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


If you are in Tampa or heading there today, and have business in the area of MacDill AFB, you may seriously want to reconsider your plans. Afghani President Hamid Karzai, between meetings with President Bush in the nation's capital, will visit with top brass of Central Command at MacDill today.

Needless to say, military officials are being tight-lipped about details, and security will be very tight. Expect roads near the base to be closed, and traffic in the area will obviously be affected. This is one day when any appointments or other stops in that area should be rescheduled.


As I mentioned here a few days ago, I am taking advantage of overtime being offered at my job. So far this week I am putting in approximately 13.5 hours a day, and plan to continue doing so for the remainder of the week...or until my supervisors say "Enough!" It comes at a good time, when rent and utility bills come due and the food shelves are beginning to look bare. OT is not offered very often where I work, so you learn to get it while you can.

This is simply a long winded way of saying that if you don't see any posts here for two or three days, that is the reason. As always, I thank you for making the time to visit and check out the news and occasional opinion. Of course, I always encourage you to look through some of the previous posts; I noticed there are now nearly 2,000 since this effort began.

In the meantime, make it a great day...and enjoy the next two or three days with little or no rain expected and milder temps!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Everyone has heard or read by now that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms is hospitalized after having his spleen removed during emergency surgery Sunday following the team's loss to Carolina. He took several big hits during the game, missing only two or three plays to be looked at in the locker room and get IVed for dehydration.

With that type of injury, and the rehab needed to fully recover, the general belief is that Simms is done for this season. However, head coach Jon Gruden is not ruling out the fact that his QB could return to finish the season. According to a press release after the coach's day-after news conference, Gruden said:

“Yeah, it’s possible [Simms could return this season],” said Gruden. “Whether or not that’s the direction we want to go remains to be seen. I think it all depends on the next couple of weeks, honestly, and what we think is best for his future, physically. We’ll get all the information and respond accordingly. “I’m just very happy that he’s going to be okay.”

That seems to be the type of player Simms is. From the AP story Monday afternoon:

Texas coach Mack Brown related a story about Simms facing Nebraska in 2002, when the former Longhorns quarterback had an ugly looking dislocated finger on his throwing hand.

Simms went to the sideline, had it popped into place and finished with 419 yards passing, still a Texas regular season record.

"He wouldn't let us pull him out of the game. He said `Please call timeout so they can pop it back in.' He didn't want to miss a play," Brown recalled. "His competitiveness, his toughness, has never been a question."

Of course, we wish only the best for Chris Simms. That said, let's hope he'll take his time and be fully recovered before heading back into action.


--- Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for state Chief Financial Officer, received the endorsement Monday of the Associated Builders & Contractors of Florida. That is an very interesting decision from the group, as it usually endorses Republicans in statewide races --- it also endorsed Charlie Crist for governor and Bill McCollum for attorney general --- but especially because Sink's opponent, Senate President Tom Lee, is one of them (he's a builder)!

The organization represents 1850 contractors and subcontractors across Florida, employing more than 100,000 men and women.

--- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis received two endorsements Monday. The 33,000 member Sierra Club, which backed Davis in the primary, announced that it would support him in the general election as well. Curt Levine, the organization's political director, did acknowledge that Charlie Crist also had a good record on enviromential issues and that some were encouraging the group to endorse both he and Davis.

And Democratic State Senator Al Lawson of Tallahassee said that he was backing Davis. Not a great surprise, but some have begun to speculate that the long time legislator was looking for an appointed position after the election.

--- Speaking of Davis, he and State Senator Rod Smith will appear together for the first time since before their primary election this morning in Tallahassee with Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman. We all know that the latter days of the primary turned somewhat ugly, and that a lot of talk was generated by Smith's not appearing with Davis in a show of party unity. The fact is that the legislator from Alachua simply chose family first, vacationing with his wife and kids in the Carolinas before returning to his Gainesville law practice.

--- Don't expect a legislative special session before the November election. That's according to State Senator J.D. Alexander (R - Lake Wales), who told the Miami Herald that "I think it would be a total zoo to do it before the election''. There have been rumours that Governor Jeb Bush would call the Legislature back to Tallahassee to deal with the insurance issue, but Alexander says look for it to happen after the election, but before year's end. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays looming soon after the November 7 election date, lawmakers will be under pressure to get the job done and get home.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Reform Party gubernatorial candidate Max Linn has gotten the attention of Lakeland Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty, who features the retired financial planner from St. Petersburg in his column today.

Linn was in Lakeland last Thursday to meet with the I-4 Corridor Group, but didn't appear as apparantly he was not informed that the location had been changed.

Of course, anyone familiar with recent politics knows that the Reform Party was formed by Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who ran for president under it's banner in 1992 and 1996, and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. Linn, and his running mate former Avon Park mayor Tom Macklin, switched their party affiliation from the Republicans.

Most local folks know, or at least read or heard, about Macklin earlier this year when he championed proposals before the Avon Park City Council to make English the city's official language in which it will do business and punish landlords and businesses who assisted illegal immigrants in any way (read: renting, employing). They failed by narrow votes in July.

Linn's has highlighted his support for eight year term limits for elected officials and changing how the FCAT is used. He has a professionally-done cartoon dealing with the FCAT issue (click here to view) and promoting his idea of paying all Florida school teachers $50,000 a year. Among his supporters: Retired Major League Baseball manager and Hall of Famer Don Zimmer.

In his column, Rufty tells readers not to be surprised of Linn receiving a double digit percentage of the vote November 7. If that occurs, and the battle between Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis becomes really close --- as it seems to be heading toward according to some early polls --- this third party candidate may actually have a major effect on who will be Florida's next chief executive.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


First, let me explain that if this weekly feature does not seem as complete as usual, it is due to the fact that I am leaving early this morning due to work commitments.

Beginning in the Panhandle, the Pensacola News Journal applauds the recent purchase by the Nature Conservancy of more than 11,000 acres of undeveloped land in nearby Santa Rosa County from International Paper Company. The newspaper reminds us that saving land from development is often the best way to reduce government spending (read: infastructure) and avoid increases in property taxes.

In the state capitol, today's Tallahassee Democrat notes that area officials and the community have done a lot to improve it's standing among mid-size cities across the nation. But it says there is still more to be done, and with changes in the air on several fronts, it is important that the city not simply rely on it's Southern charm and natrual beauty, but become more savvy as well.

What do you do with a gutted historic landmark which was once a major centre of Jacksonville's LaVilla neighbourhood and the city's African-American community? The Florida Times Union says the city should take back the Genovar's Hall land from a fraternity it had deeded the site to and financially supported as the project to restore the building lacked focus on several fronts.

Former President Bill Clinton may have been out of office for awhile, but he continues to work, building on the relationships and connections he made while in office to benefit his foundation. It made news this past week with announcements made at Clinton's Global Initiative for a $10 million clean water initiative for Africa and British billionaire Sir Richard Branson's commitment of $3 billion over ten years to combat global warming. The Gainesville Sun notes that however people may think about Clinton's term in the White House, the time after is proving to be time well spent.

Today's Ocala Star Banner editorial reminds readers that the area's annual One Book, One Community literacy and community building programme begins today. It mentions that the Marion County Public Library, which sponsors the event, has chosen Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Pulitizer Prize-winning classic The Yearling as the featured book for residents to pick up. Rawlings lived in the Cross Creek area of Marion County, based many of her stories on the Florida "Crackers" who lived near her, and The Yearling is based in the area.

As citizens throughout much of Florida are complaining about their tax bills, the Daytona Beach News Journal uses it's editorial space today to promote the idea of reforming the state's tax system...especially in the areas of sales and property taxes. It mentions that by eliminating special interest tax breaks, Floridia's sales tax could realistically be lowered from the current six percent to four percent without losing revenue.

Just down I-4, the Orlando Sentinel takes note of a master plan for downtown Orlando recently commissioned by local officials, and supports the effort saying that it is vital that leaders throughout the region realize that it's fortunes rely on a vibrant, active downtown area.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger looks at the motion picture rating system and the need for changes to make it fairer. The editorial highlights a new documentary by filmmaker Kirby Dick, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, that show flaws in the system, and raters who no longer meet the Motion Picture Association of America's guidelines for the post.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist (R - TN) will be on to talk about the midterm elections, the Congressional agenda, and the 2008 presidential campaign. Also, the show will look at a New Jersey State Senate race. And the roundtable will feature ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz, Frank Rich of the New York Times, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: A discussion of detainee treatment in the war on terror, the military operation in Iraq, and politics with U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) and John Harris, National Political Editor of the Washington Post.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Afghani President Hamid Karzai will be on to talk about the war on terror, the search for Osama bin Laden, and the resurging violence in his country. Also appearing: U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R - PA / Chairman, Judiciary Committee), Congresswoman Jane Harman (D - CA / Select Intelligence Committee), former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, Author and GOP strategist Matthew Dowd, and Democratic strategist/former Clinton campaign advisor Stan Greenberg.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Former President Bill Clinton will sit down to discuss his second annual Clinton Global Initiative, the upcoming midterm elections, and his wife's possible presidential aspirations. Also, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R - SC) about the terror detainee deal.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Former President Clinton will be here as well to talk about politics, and Afghani President Karzai will appear to discuss the war on terror and the situation in his country. And former U.S. Senator John Danforth will talk about faith and politics. NOTE: MTP will appear in most areas at 1:00 PM ET due to NBC Sports' coverage of the Ryder Cup golf tounament.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The questions to be raised are: What can explain the Muslim rage? Plus, Bill Clinton as the global rock star: What's in his future? Offering their views will be Washington Correspondent Katty Kay of BBC News, David Ignatius and Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post, and Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble With Islam.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: The focus will be on one of the most heated --- not to mention negative --- races on the Tampa Bay area scene this election cycle. State Representatives Kim Berfield (R - Clearwater) and Charlie Justice (D - St. Petersburg) sit down together and talk about the issues in their campaign for the State Senate.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I had the chance to hear former State Representative Joe Viscusi last evening at the I-4 Corridor Group meeting in Lakeland. The former Democrat, who switched to the GOP after leaving the Legislature, is now running as an independent for the congressional seat now held by Republican incumbant Adam Putnam of Bartow.

He features a good gimmick in this campaign. Viscusi carries around a Howdy Doody puppet with small labels on the strings coming from it representing the various special interests Putnam is beholden to. He also carries a Howdy Doody doll in his pocket, which he pulls out to show that Putnam is in the pocket of those special interests.

Viscusi also criticized both the Republican and Democratic parties on several fronts during his address. He noted that the GOP is "strong and wrong" on several issues, notably fiscal issues and personal freedoms, while the Democrats are looked at as "weak and right". While saying he would like to take the best of both parties, he did not specifically state with which party's caucus he would sit with if elected.

The other independent candidate in the race, Ed Bowlin, doesn't seem to be doing much. He's barely visible on the radar screen.

The question remains: Does an independent candidate have a realistic chance of defeating a popular incumbant, who happens to be the fifth ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and has raised nearly $800,000 so far this election cycle? Probably not, but at least Viscusi is making a good effort at it...and at least he's on the offensive against "Opie".


Beginning tomorrow, and throughout next week, you may notice fewer posts on this blog. My job has been offering unlimited overtime, and I will be taking advantage of that offer. Needless to say, I need the money.

Please continue to visit here regardless, as I will be posting...just not as much. Thanks to everyone who visits and supports this effort, and while you're here take time to check out some of the posts from earlier.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Walking outside my apartment this morning, it felt sooooooo much better than it has in awhile. After yesterday's rains as a cold front moved through the area, we have a couple of days of drier air and cooler temperatures before we return to the late summer regimen. At least my walk to the bus stop will be a bit more comfortable, and I'll get to enjoy a seat outside one of the local gyro shops along Memorial Boulevard before the I-4 Corridor Group meeting to enjoy some deep fried shrimp.

If you want to get outdoors for awhile, today and tomorrow will be the days to do it. Enjoy...and know that autumn is not that far away!


The Florida Democratic Party and it's gubernatorial candidate, Congressman Jim Davis, will be getting some big name help after all. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner, one of several persons being hyped as a possible 2008 presidential candidate, will make two stops in Florida October 4 to raise money for the party's efforts.

Warner will first be in Tallahassee for a luncheon to benefit the state party. Then he flies to Tampa for a fundraising effort at the Tampa Club to help out the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee.

Also, 2004 presidential nominee and Massachusetts U.S. Senator John Kerry will return to the Sunshine State to help Davis and the FDP. He'll be the featured speaker at a Miami fundraiser next Saturday (September 30). According to the Miami Herald political blog Naked Politics, Kerry will also traverse across Florida to rallies for four congressional contenders: Christine Jennings in Sarasota, Phyllis Busansky in Tampa, Tim Mahoney in Palm Beach Gardens (who is, BTW, the only Florida candidate so far endorsed by former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark's WesPAC), and Ron Klein in Fort Lauderdale.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I wonder what the tension level will be Thursday evening in Orlando, now that Congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris says she will be at a reception benefiting the Republican Party of Florida and GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

Also in attendance will be President Bush and his brother, the governor.

Q, the political blog of the Palm Beach Post, noted that Harris' schedule had her in Washington Thursday to participate in votes on immigration legislation, then attending a Republican club meeting near Jacksonville about the same time as the Orlando event; it's still on her campaign schedule this morning.

Of course, you may remember that many within the GOP elite on both the state and national levels tried to find another candidate to carry the party's banner in the race against Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson, even though many --- including Karl Rove --- promised their support in exchange for Harris' withdrawing from the U.S. Senate race last year in favour of Mel Martinez.

While one can guess that all is not quite forgiven on Ms. Harris' part, I'm sure that everyone will be on their best behaviour tomorrow evening in putting up a good facade of togetherness on the party's behalf. But it's only a facade.


The Seminole County Democratic Executive Committee has produced a television ad which will be airing this week on cable systems in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole interesting move considering that less than one-third of all registered voters in Seminole are Democrats.

The 30-second ad, titled "I Am A Democrat", does not promote specific candidates, but is intended to help the party's image and encourage like-minded viewers to get involved. Details were not made available, but the Seminole DEC is spending part of the $30,000 it has raised during the past year on the effort.

County DEC Chair Carol Cox also is founder/CEO of DemsLink, an online campaign service which helped produce the advertisment. She told the Orlando Sentinel political blog Central Florida Political Pulse that she is hoping to provide the spot to other local DECs.


You may remember the story of Brian Doyle, the former deputy press secretary for the federal Department of Homeland Security who was busted in April on 23 counts of using his computer to seduce a child and transmitting harmful materials to a minor. He believed at the time he was communicating to a 14 year old girl, but the "minor" was in reality a Polk County Sheriff's Office deputy working undercover.

The 56-year-old Maryland resident pled no contest Monday to all of the charges as part of a plea agreement. He remains free under a $230,000 bond until his sentencing hearing in November.

Under the deal, Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance can sentence Doyle to as much as five years in prison. He will also have to serve ten years of sex offender probation, which will require that, among other conditions, he will have to register as a sex offender. Without the deal, he could have been sentenced to up to 115 years prision time, as each charge carries a five year penalty.

Doyle's Maryland attorney told reporters that the prosecuter, Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley, "drove an extremely hard bargain" and that "I think he got his measure of justice as he sees it".

Copley will reportedly argue for prison time at the sentencing hearing November 17.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Some disturbing news during the past couple of days:

The St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz noted Monday that Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist received endorsements from two Democratic mayors in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale's Jim Naugle and Susan Gottlieb of Aventura. Gottlieb, whose city has a large Democratic voter base, said that Democratic candidate Jim Davis' knowledge of the region is "sorely lacking".

Crist also received the support of a group of black ministers in Orlando. Some were Republicans, but some among the gathering were Democrats. Among those were Rev. James Blount of St. Stephens' AME Church, who supports Crist's proposal to double the $25,000 homestead exemption.

And the Miami Herald's political blog Naked Politics takes note of the Florida Professional Firefighters' decision to endorse Crist. They had supported Davis' primary opponent, State Senator Rod Smith, but union president Bob Carver "said Crist has championed higher fire safety standards and better training for emergency responders since the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks".

The union, with a membership across the state of 21,000, also endorsed Republican Tom Lee for Chief Financial Officer and Democrat Walter G. "Skip" Campbell, Jr. for Attorney General.


Try being a low or middle income resident unable to afford the insurance and property taxes, much less the monthly mortgage payments, or who do not have the credit rating to even get in the game. Renting an apartment in this area has become just as bad.

The Lakeland Ledger, as part of it's year long look at Polk County's population growth and it's effect on residents, focused on apartment rentals in Monday's edition.

While not weighed down with all the financial burderns of owning a home (or trying to), finding an affordable apartment in Polk County is difficult at best. The current occupancy rate is 99.2 percent, with many complexes having often lengthy waiting lists. And the average monthly rent is $674, up nearly $100 during the past five years.

Of course, skyrocketing property values --- and the related property taxes --- along with insurance rates are the main reasons for the current crisis.

I currently pay $645 a month for a two bedrooom apartment in North Lakeland, for which I consider myself very fortunate. This is my sixth year here, and my rent only went up about $20 this year. However, I am faced with the probability of moving when my lease expires next April as I expect the new owner (this complex has flipped three times since I've been here) will likely not be as generous. Combined with the outrageous rates we pay from Lakeland Electric, plus phone bill, groceries, and laundry, it's tough going.

While there are a few more apartment buildings being constructed across Polk County, the vast majority of residents are simply not able to afford the rents being demanded. And there are more issues than just insurance and property taxes involved in the slowdown of any new affordable apartments. It's a good story, and everyone should read it. We need to pay attention to the growing number of residents who are forced to rent when discussing the affordable housing crisis here, and across Florida.


Josh over at has a great piece about the four candidates seeking two seats on the Polk County Commission who faced the local Tiger Bay Club luncheon and their questions Monday.

Most folks work for a living and are not able to attend these monthly gatherings. Josh did a fine job in providing us with a bit more detail than you'll likely find in the print media regarding what was asked and how the candidates answered.

Next month's luncheon should be rather interesting: Congressman Adam Putnam (R), who is seeking another term in the House, will appear with his two independent opponents, Joe Viscusi and Ed Bowlin. That will be on Monday, October 2, at Peace River Country Club, 150 South Idlewild Avenue in Bartow. They do have an alternate date set of October 9 if Congress does not adjourn as originally scheduled.

Monday, September 18, 2006


First, The Polk County Democratic Party will hold a grand opening for it's campaign headquarters Saturday, September 23, between 10 AM and 2 PM at 5351 South Florida Avenue in Lakeland (the Outback Shopping Center). Local county commission candidates Jean Reed and Robert Connors will be special guests. Invitations have also been sent to all of the party's statewide candidates.

Refreshments will be served and information and literature on all Democratic candidates will be available. For more information please call (863) 668-7199.

Secondly, the I-4 Corridor Group, an independent, nonpartisan association of progressive political activists from throughout Central Florida, will hold it's monthly meeting Thursday, September 21, at 8 PM at the First Institutional Baptist Church, located near downtown Lakeland at 932 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive (at the intersection with Memorial Boulevard). All like-minded progressives are invited to attend, and several local and regional candidates have been invited to speak.


I mentioned a few days ago that you can expect to see some big names coming to the Sunshine State to help raise money for the major party gubernatorial candidates. Sure enough, GOP contender Charlie Crist is bringing them in.

President Bush will be in Orlando Thursday evening for a reception for Crist and the Republican Party of Florida as part of a trip to Central Florida. Massachusetts governor and chairman of the Republican Governors Association Mitt Romney will make his second trip to the state, this time in Tallahassee where he will give a $1 million donation on behalf of the RGA to the state party...likely to be used on Crist's behalf. Also having already come through have been Arizona Senator John McCain and Virginia Senator George Allen.

The only big name we've noticed on Democratic candidate Jim Davis' behalf has been former North Carolina Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.

Bringing in big names usually means bringing in big money. Still a lot of work to do...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


The Lakeland High School Dreadnaughts kept their now-34 game winning streak alive Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati by defeating that city's St. Xavier in an overtime thriller 25-22.

The LHS team, ranked third in the nation according to the USA Today prep football poll, was in Ohio to participate in the McDonald's Kirk Herbstreit Ohio -vs- USA Challenge. The Bombers are currently ranked eighth in the poll.

Senior Matt Roddenberry put up the winning points for the 'Naughts with a wobbly 41 yard field goal in the OT at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium before a crowd of approximately 18,000...probably the biggest crowd any of the Lakeland players had every played in front of, and for at least a few of them, a small taste of the crowds they will experience as future college players.

The high school game, one of eight contests played Friday and Saturday in Cincinnati and Massillon, was likely more entertaining for those UC Bearcat fans who could have stayed home and watched their team fall hard, 37-7, to in-state rival Ohio State in Columbus.

And while I'm posting about football, my beloved Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles upped it's record to 2-1 Saturday with a handy 37-17 win over North Carolina State. They return to Florida next Tuesday (09/26) to put a whuppin' on the UCF Golden Knights at the Citrus Bowl before a national television audience (ESPN2). Gametime will be 6:30.



We begin this morning in South Florida, where the Miami Herald says that Citizens Property Insurance's plan to stick surcharges of up to 20 percent on homes more than 20 years old is not acceptable. The editorial reminds us that while some insurers offer rate discounts for newer homes, older homes, built when building codes and enforcement were tougher, are often studerier.

Just up the road in Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Sun Sentinel takes note that an administrative law judge recently ruled there is no legal basis for the Florida Elections Commission to fine former Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant $10,000 relating to the botched 2002 primary election. While the newspaper states that Oliphant's incompetence is "undeniable", it's opinion is that the case should be dropped.

The editorial in today's Naples Daily News follows up on it's story last week about the success of female judicial candidates in the area's recent elections. It reminds us that as more women offer themselves for public service, it becomes clearer that men do not have an exclusive franchise on jurisprudence, knowledge of the law, and judicial temperament.

Today's Fort Myers News Press opinion is that Lee County residents no longer have a real choice or competition among area hospitals as the Lee Memorial Health System has agreed to purchase two hospitals previously owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). It reminds readers that LMHS is a public entity that should have asked for public input before making it's move, and encourages residents to attend upcoming meetings and ask questions of administrators.

The practice of judges to make civil cases in Broward and Palm Beach counties "disappear" is the subject of the editorial in today's Palm Beach Post. It mentions that the Florida Supreme Court will consider rules which would effectively end such practices, and that Palm Beach County Chief Judge Kathleen Kroll praised the high court for doing so. The opinion is short and sweet: "This sort of judicial discretion must end".

Trying to forecast how strong a hurricane or tropical storm will become has always been guesswork. While technology has made great improvements in predicting the path of a storm, it still lags greatly when it comes to predicting intensity. The Sarasota Herald Tribune says today that researchers should be given the funds and tools they need to bring that area of forecasting up to speed.

On the Space Coast, Florida Today reminds us that in the heat of another election year, some religious candidates and groups are intimating that God is on their side and questioning the faith of those who differ with them. It notes a recent Gallup Poll study for Baylor University confirming that America's religious beliefs, practices, and behaviours are "startlingly complex and diverse", and the editorial reminds us to be wary when people seeking power use the Almighty as a campaign prop.

Taxpayers are revolting across much of Florida, and Governor Jeb Bush has complained that cities and counties have not cut property tax rates although revenues are increasing. However, the St. Petersburg Times editorial writers today say that the governor and Legislature also bears some responsibility thanks to state-mandated property taxes and the "Save Our Homes" tax exemption.

The property tax crisis is also the subject of the opinion in the Pensacola News Journal, which says that a new look at the state's tax structure demands attention by the Legislature.

The Daytona Beach News Journal notes that the Interior Department's aggressive plan for offshore oil and natrual gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico means that "It is the business of energy as usual for the oilmen running the federal administration". While recent discoveries in the Gulf may be good news, the editorial states that it is not a panecea for the nation's energy problems, and that we cannot afford to lose the current momentum for alternative energy.

Today's editorial in the Tampa Tribune criticizes Governor Bush for botching an opportunity to land the planned $450 million Department of Homeland Security's National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which many expect to become the nation's premier facility for addressing diseases which affect animals, agriculture, and the food supply. It mentions that Florida never had a serious bid on the table for the facility, which has a projected windfall of up to $6 billion over two decades.

The Lakeland Ledger editorial space features it's occasional batch of "Gigs and Garlands", where it recognizes deeds both good and bad by a variety of groups and individuals here and elsewhere.

Congress is failing Americans when it comes to the issue of immigration reform, causing "an divisive impass which is crippling the effectiveness of the federal government". So says today's editorial in the Orlando Sentinel. As local towns consider ordinances which would fine employers and business owners for aiding illegal immigrants, and the Legislature contemplate the possibility of establishing immigration guidelines, the Sentinel reminds us that it is Congress alone that is responsible for finding a bipartisan compromise on the issue, and needs to do so soon.

Ocala and Marion County boast about it's healthy economy and enviable median home price, but the Ocala Star Banner says that staying at the top when it comes to economic development is the hard part. Today's editorial mentions that there is what it calls a "woeful lack of land designated for industrial and commercial development", and that much of the available land for such purpose is either lacking proper infrastructure or is for lease/not for sale. It is a situation which the Star Banner says cannot be ignored any longer.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union looks at the situation in Nassau County, where once again officials came under scrutiny for conducting public business out of the public eye. The editorial reminds us that the "Government In the Sunshine" law was written and approved for a reason, and there is no reason for public officials to violate the people's trust by putting themselves in a position that could be considered comprimising.

And the Tallahassee Democrat editorial tells voters to "keep your eye on the main attraction", reminding us that while some lieutenant governors may have been assigned some duties by the governor, the state constitution gives them no real power except to take over in the event the governor dies or is otherwise unable to serve.

Thank you for visiting I4J. Please don't be a stranger, and be sure to tell your friends. Make it a great Sunday and week ahead!

Saturday, September 16, 2006


According to the St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz, the White House has announced a few details of President Bush's visit to Central Florida this coming Thursday, September 21.

Although his stop in Tampa is announced to be a reception for congressional candidate Gus Bilirakis, who is seeking to replace his retiring father, the announcement states that it will take place at Raymond James Stadium. Either it will be in one of the larger private rooms on the premesis, or it will be one helluva huge reception. For those who usually use Dale Mabry Highway, avoid at all costs Thursday.

The chief executive will fly from Tampa along the I-4 Corridor to Orlando for another reception, this time for GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and the state Republican Party at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes. He'll return to DC Thursday night.

BTW: The White House announcement included a not-too-uncommon misspell for the state's Attorney General, "Christ". Sorry, friends, Charlie is far from being a Messiah.


You will notice that I've added another show to the mix for the benefit of our local readers in the Tampa Bay area. Flashpoint with Brendan McLaughlin is aired Sunday mornings at 11:30 on the ABC affiliate from St. Petersburg, WFTS-TV 28, following The Chris Matthews Show. It is a half-hour chatup which generally deals with local issues and often features area and state politicians.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) will discuss his differences over President Bush's terror tactics, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley defends the White House approach, and singer/songwriter Jewel (Kilcher) will be featured on her efforts on behalf of breast cancer awareness. The roundtable will feature ABC News correspondents Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson, along with conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Detainee treatment in the war on terroro will be discussed with U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R - SC / Armed Services Committee), Arlen Specter (R - PA / Chairman, Judiciary Committee), and Carl Levin (D - MI / Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee), along with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Mr. Hadley appears here, too, along with U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R - TX / Armed Services Committee) and Evan Bayh (D - IN / Armed Services and Select Intellegence Committees) to discuss the war on terror. Also appearing: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Soros Fund Management Chairman, author, and philanthropist George Soros, Iraqi National Security Adviser Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, and Retired Lt. General Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, Governor of Pakistan's Waziristan province.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Discussing the war on terror here will be U.S. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R - OH) and Director of National Intelligence and former U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Another in the programme's Debate Series featuring candidates from some of the hottest political races across the country. Today, U.S. Senator George Allen (R - VA) will debate Democratic challenger and former Navy Secretary Jim Webb for the full hour.

FYI: Here are the remaining debates in the series now scheduled:

October 1: OHIO - Incumbant U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R) -vs- Democratic challenger Congressman Sherrod Brown

October 8: MISSOURI - Incumbant U.S. Senator Jim Talent (R) -vs- Democratic challenger State Auditor Claire McCaskill

October 15: MINNESOTA - Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D-F-L) -vs- Congressman Mark Kennedy (R). Incumbant Democrat Mark Dayton is retiring.

October 29: MARYLAND - Congressman Ben Cardin (D) -vs- Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele (R). Incumbant Democrat Paul Sarbanes is retiring.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The questions are: Does President Bush and the Republicans have to hang on to control of Congress in order to save his presidency? And could Hillary Rodham Clinton do better than John Kerry did in his presidential campaign four years ago? Bantering about those issues will be Dan Rather of HDNet, MSNBC Chief Washington Correspondent Norah O'Donnell, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and David Brooks of The New York Times.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: Retired U.S. Senator and former Florida Governor Bob Graham will be the main guest. Also, a conversation with John Russell, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House from District 5 who will be facing GOP incumbant Ginny Brown-Waite in November.

WFTS-TV 28 / Flashpoint with Brendan McLaughlin: The subject will be property insurance, considered the primary issue across Florida today. Guests, while not specifically named, will include a state legislator, an insurance industry representative, and an unhappy consumer.

Friday, September 15, 2006


It was sad to hear yesterday that two key officers of the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee, Chairman Richard Blank and State Committeewoman Caroll Franklin, submitted their resignations this week.

I will not lie here, and besides, Lakeland Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty has the story in today's edition: The two decided to step aside after disagreements over a couple of issues were allowed to become personal in nature.

Richard and Caroll are to be commended for the work they have done on behalf of the local organization, and both have said that while they would no longer be part of the DEC, their efforts on behalf of the party's candidates would continue.

Any time you have an organization with a number of people, you will have a variety of personalities and opinions. It is inevitable that at some point, you will have an issue that will bring out strong feelings on all sides. The key is to keep those disagreements civil in nature. Unfortunately, in this situation that was not the case...simply terrible timing considering the general election is less than five weeks away.

And for those who may get the idea that this behaviour is only with Democrats, it is not: Read this Rufty story, also in today's Ledger. Our opponents tend to have the same problem on occasion as well.

But we move on: Nancy Simmons, a former member of the Polk County School Board who was only elected Vice Chairperson last Monday evening to replace Mary B. Nelson of Winter Haven --- who resigned last month due to family health issues --- will serve as Acting Chairperson until an election will be held at the next meeting Monday, October 9. Ms. Simmons has said that she will not stand for election as Chairwoman at that meeting.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


"There must be something worth living for
There must be something worth trying for
Even some things worth dying for
And if one man can stand tall
There must be some hope for us all
Somewhere, somewhere in the Spirit of Man"

Garry Osborne
British Lyricist
From "The Spirit of Man", Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, 1978


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis made the best pick possible when he decided to ask former State Senator Daryl Jones of Miami to be his running mate.

Certainly, the choice may help his standing with the African American community, and it may get at least some supporters of primary opponent State Senator Rod Smith excited, but the bottom line is simply that Jones is the best choice.

Of the several names that were tossed about, Jones' is the only one with any semblance of statewide recognition, due to his own gubernatorial campaign four years ago. Young, very articulate, knowledgable about the major issues facing Florida, and experienced from his time in the State Senate, Daryl Jones will make an excellent liaison between a Governor Davis and the Legislature. Also, with his experience from service in the U.S. Air Force and Reserves and known for his nomination as Air Force Secretary by then-President Bill Clinton, he should be a great resource to work with the military leadership to maintain --- and possibly expand --- it's presence in the Sunshine State.

Way to go, Jim! Congratulations on a great choice.


The deadline for gubernatorial candidates to make known their running mates is today. Several have already done so, most notably GOP contender Attorney General Charlie Crist, who announced that State Representative Jeffery D. "Jeff" Kottkamp of Cape Coral, and Reform Party candidate Max Linn, who picked now former Avon Park Mayor Tom Macklin.

The Miami Herald is reporting on it's Web site that Democratic nominee Congressman Jim Davis has tapped former State Senator Daryl Jones of Miami as his running mate. The official announcement will be made this morning at a stop in Fort Lauderdale.

You can check who all the candidates have picked as their lieutenant governor teammates by clicking here. It will be updated again this evening.


We lost former Texas governor Ann Richards last night after a battle with espohageal cancer. She was 73.

While the former homemaker was active in Democratic party politics for many years, she did not seek office until she was in her 40s after marrying and having four children. Her first office was on the Travis County Commission in 1976. She was eventually elected Texas State Treasurer during the 1980s, and only became the second woman elected the Lone Star State's governor in 1990.

During her four years in office, Richards vetoed a bill which would have allowed the destruction of the Edwards Aquifer, a major underground water system which now serves 1.7 million residents of south-central Texas, including San Antonio. She also vetoed a bill which would have allowed Texans to carry concealed handguns, automatic weapons, and so-called "cop killer" bullets. While those decisions likely contributed to her loss for re-election to our current president, Ms. Richards has been quoted as saying that those were the two decisions she was most proud of as governor. As part of her vision of a "New Texas", she appointed more women and minorities to state posts than any of her predecessors.

Ms. Richards was known for her quick witted comments, which was highlighted during a speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta when she referred to Republican nominee George H.W. Bush this way:

"Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

Another of her famous sayings referred to her view of aspirations of women in politics:

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

And when asked what she may have done differently if she had known her time in office would have only been one term, Ann Richards responded:

"Oh, I would probably have raised more hell."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Adventure Parks Group, LLC, the parent company of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia, voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday after an adverse legal ruling in Bartow related to $17 million in insurance claims from damage that the Cypress Gardens park received from Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne in 2002.

APG owner Kent Buescher was at Cypress Gardens to meet with employees and the media Tuesday. He said that the bankruptcy petition would allow both parks to continue running normally, that no layoffs would occur, and that creditors would be paid. The proceeding allows the company time to present a business plan to the court for approval.

Cypress Gardens has been, according to Buescher, successful to date with a 16 percent increase in attendance over last year and is expected to see 1.3 million visitors by the end of the year.

Here are stories on this week's events, along with background of the insurance battle, from the Lakeland Ledger and the Valdosta Daily Times.


This year's Florida gubernatorial race is important for both major political parties, so it's not surprising that both candidates will likely bring in nationally known names to help their efforts.

Democrat Jim Davis will have former North Carolina Senator and 2004 presidential candidate (potentially one for 2008 as well) John Edwards at a "community gathering" Friday evening in Miami to support his campaign.

No word on Republican Charlie Crist, for now, but you know he'll need to bring in a big name or two to help the war chest.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


where your beliefs are. If you're a Democrat/progressive, you should know that it takes money --- and a lot of it --- to get elected to public office. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is. We have to work a heck of a lot harder to raise the type of campaign war chests that our opponents can do. That's because most of us are working class people struggling to make ends meet.

Let me encourage you to donate whatever you can within legal limits to the Florida Democratic Party, your local county Democratic Executive Committee, or the Democratic/progressive candidate of your choice. Many entities have made it easier to contribute online, and their sites are secured.

Here are some sites where you can do so:

Florida Democratic Party Polk County Democratic Party Pinellas County Democratic Party Orange County Democratic Party

Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate
Jim Davis for Governor
Alex Sink for Chief Financial Officer
Eric Copeland for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services
John T. Russell for Congress - District 5
Dr. Bob Bowman for Congress - District 15


Elizabeth McCallum lost a fairly close Democratic primary for the District 52 State Representative post last Tuesday. But there are a number of Democrats who are not happy with her decision to work with the gubernatorial campaign of Reform Party candidate Max Linn as a media consultant.

The St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz asked Ms. McCallum if that means she is working against her party's nominee, Congressman Jim Davis. She said that "I think Max will take more votes away from [GOP nominee] Charlie Crist than Jim Davis. Plus Max and I agree on most issues.'' But she also claims that a number of supporters of Democratic primary runner-up State Senator Rod Smith are embracing the Linn campaign following Davis' victory speech in which he hardly acknowledged Smith.

One item some folks may not realize is that Max Linn has selected as his running mate Tom Macklin, who changed his party affiliation last Thursday and was scheduled to resign as mayor of Avon Park last evening. Macklin made headlines earlier this year with his proposals to make English the city's official language and to fine businesses and landlords who assisted illegal immigrants in any way. They failed on a city council vote in July.

Monday, September 11, 2006


And let me mention that the St. Petersburg Times has a truly moving tribute on it's Web site today entitled "Our Casualties of War", a multimedia presentation to the men and women of the area who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The five minute-plus video includes rememberences of family members of those soldiers and the imprint they left; I almost broke down watching it.


On Friday, I mentioned that Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson's Republican primary opponent, avaition business owner Betty Hill, announced that she would support Democratic nominee Robert Connors in the November general election for the District 2 post. She stated to the Lakeland Ledger that in her opinion Connors, could get more respect and support from fellow commissioners and members of the community.

Today, Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty writes that Connors is getting more support from other Republicans, including former commissioner Ken Richardson. He and Connors came on the BOCC together in 1992, and served for two years until Connors left for an ill-fated run for Congress. Richardson could be considered a moderate on at least a couple of issues which he generally agrees with Connors, including support for growth management and concern for the enviroment.

But Rufty also notes:

"But while the support for Connors from this one Republican is understandable, the actions of other Republicans may provoke a little head scratching. Republican officials who have criticized Connors in the past, often brutally, have now thrown their support to him. Even some in the building trades who are wary of his growth-management policies have thrown in.

"But is it support for whom they believe is the best candidate or is it sour grapes for spending all that time and money on Hill only to be beaten once again by Wilkinson?"

It doesn't matter, IMHO. Connors is the best candidate in the race, and I'm sure the building trades folks realize they aren't getting a lackey and know that Robert has not given up his growth management ideas.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The United States Geologicial Survey reported that an earthquake which registered 6.0 on the Richter scale was detected in the Gulf of Mexico with it's epicentre approximately ten miles in depth and 260 miles west-southwest of Clearwater. The shock was reportedly felt in many areas of Florida, but many may have barely noticed. I didn't feel anything, although my son said he felt something similar to a light shaking when a car stereo has it's bass turned up extra high.

No reports of any damage or injuries have been noted.

The St. Petersburg Times' Breaking News blog has an interesting Q&A about today's event.


Let's begin our weekly tour here at home, where the Lakeland Ledger editorial page criticizes the Lakeland Police Department for it's handling of the DUI arrest last weekend of Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson, stonewalling it's release of tests, reports, and videotapes until after the primary election last Tuesday. The State Attorney's office dropped charges after it was clear that Mr. Wilkinson was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, only fatigue after a long night of putting up campaign signs. He did win the GOP nomination for reelection to his commission seat by a slim margin.

With the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of the USA only a day away, the Daytona Beach News Journal reminds us how quickly the sympathy and concern from around the world has turned into apprehension, contempt, and dread. It says that the cause is that "the Bush presidency played into the hands of anti-Americanism and jihadists, fostering the very hatreds it aimed to dissuade", and that it "went from promising appropriate payback and protection to war-mongering, with arbitrary retreats on the rule of law at home and dramatic setbacks for democratic reforms in the face of radicalized regimes in the Middle East".

The Orlando Sentinel notes that five years after the attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Pennsylvania, Americans are still not safer as homeland security is weakened by petty politics and that Congress should take a more effective, less political approach to the subject.

On a somewhat related subject, the Tampa Tribune opines that those people calling for what it calls an "unconditional retreat" from Iraq are "dangereously mistaken", saying that leaving before it's government has a monopoly on power would tear the country apart along ethnic lines which would "threaten the interests of the United States and our friends in the Middle East".

The City of Sarasota plans to hire two new code enforcers, and today's opinion in the Sarasota Herald Tribune says that tales of hellish conditions persist at some of the city's rental properties such as "overcrowding, electrical hazards, filth and lack of plumbing". The newspaper urges that this be the priority of code enforcement officers, teaming if needed with police.

Today's editorial in the St. Petersburg Times deals with the practice around Florida of court cases being kept off the public docket improperly. It calls for uniforminity be established in the state's court system, and refers to a draft proposal by the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers which would sharply restrict the ability of judges to remove cases from the public record "a good place to start".

In Jacksonville, the editorial in today's Florida Times-Union slams Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland for a parade of errors that occured during Tuesday's primary election, which the rookie SOE had over a year to prepare for. The mistakes were so serious in some cases that some African-American pastors are calling for state or federal oversight of the November general election.

And speaking of elections, the Pensacola News Journal is noting that the positive vote for the city's Community Maritime Park on Tuesday is not the only sign of change in the local political landscape, as the November general elections could bring even more change to Pensacola and Escambia County.

Growing pains at the Brevard Cultrual Alliance is the subject of today's opinion by the Melbourne-based Florida Today. The Space Coast newspaper says that it is time for a revamped BCA which better meets the needs of the local arts community and is true to it's mission.

The Miami Herald reminds us that Congress has been back at work for a week now, but the prospects of moving long-promises and needed legislation on subjects such as immigration, lobbying, and fiscal discipline remain dim before the November general elections. It makes the point that those members who put political concerns before the nation's do so at their own peril.

The Gainesville Sun editorial page takes note of the bitter irony that "when American troops freed Afghanistan from Taliban rule they also freed its corrupt warlords, entreprenuers and farmers to rebuild the world's most lucrative drug trade". The short-and-sweet piece includes a quote from Antonio Maria Costa, Director of the United Nations Office on Drug Control and Crime Prevention, regarding a record opium harvest in Afghanistan with exceeds global consumption by 30 percent.

The agribusiness industry in Southwest Florida has not had to use the guest worker programme to fill some of the estimated 16,000 seasonal-worker jobs needed in the area. The programme requires, as the Naples Daily News editorial mentions, that growers have to search the local job market for workers already here, then they have to agree to transport, house, and feed workers, paying them a fair wage of at least $8.56 an hour. The Daily News opinion is supportive of the guest-worker programme, noting that "Add medical care, and we would say that the guest worker program has it just about right" and that agribusiness will have to carry more of it's fair share to support it.

Back in north-central Florida, the Ocala Star Banner takes note that women did rather well in area races, winning three and forcing runoffs in two others. It states that being should no longer be considered a drawback to running for public office.

While West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel has maintained for some time that crime is down and her city is safe, the facts argue she acknowledged this week when announcing that an additional $2 million has been found in the new budget to hire 25 more uniformed police officers. That has the Palm Beach Post editorial writers asking what has changed: Crime in WPB, or the mayor's acknowledgement of it?

Down in Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial page looks to Venezuela and the prospects for that nation's presidential election in December. It makes a point of mentioning that unity has proven elusive among opponents of incumbant Hugo Chavez in the past, something that will be necessary in order to defeat the abrasive leader. They will need to address the issues of poverty and show that concern is genuine instead of political showmanship.

And taxes are the concern in today's Tallahassee Democrat opinion. It calls on officials to be very clear about what money is needed to fund the same services at the same level, and how much will be needed to improve or expand those services. And it opines that a little tax relief would help as well as strengthen trust between taxpayers and their local government.

Of course, thanks for stopping by, be sure you check out some of the previous posts you may have missed during the past few days, and make it a great Sunday...and GO BUCS!