Sunday, October 08, 2006


It was a beautiful day Saturday here in Central Florida, a great time to just take a day off from everything and enjoy the wonders of our area. But it's time once again to stoll around Florida's editorial pages and see what the issues are.

We begin in the Panhandle, where the Pensacola News Journal takes pride in the community's hosting the NCAA Division II Fall Sports Festival next month, with the University of West Florida the host institution. It touts the 800 to 1,000 people the event puts in local hotels right when it's needed, and the national exposure the festival brings as it will be broadcast on CBS.

In another positive editorial, the Tallahassee Democrat lauds Wakulla County commissioners for their unanimous vote last week to put new enviromential standards in place to protect Wakulla Springs, one of the state's true natrual treasures. It becomes the first county in Florida to adopt tough spring protection standards.

The Florida Times Union opinion this morning deals with the St. John's River Ferry, a/k/a the Mayport Ferry, connecting two sections of state road between Mayport Village and Fort George Island. The state dropped it's subsidy for the ferry 15 years ago, and the City of Jacksonville funds it today. The editorial responds to the warning from Mayor John Peyton's office that it could end it's funding if tight budget times continue, and gives several reasons why it should continue.

The headline of today's Gainesville Sun editorial is Beyond the Bicker. It deals with the occasional bickering due to the lack of communication and partnership between the Gainesville City Commission and Alachua County School Board until they came together last week for several hours. The Sun is hoping it is the beginning of building a better relationship which could benefit schools and the community.

Following conservations with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D) and Congressman Cliff Stearns (R - Ocala) this past week with the Ocala Star Banner editorial board, the opinion page takes note that both men, from different legislative bodies and political parties, say it's time for a change in our policy regarding the occupation in Iraq as the current direction isn't working. While both say that an immediate pullout isn't pratical, Nelson has a three-point plan to help stabilize the area.

Speaking of Nelson, the Palm Beach Post is the first major newspaper in Florida to offer an endorsement for the November 7 general election. There is no surprise when you read the first paragraph of the editorial: "To support Bill Nelson's reelection bid, you don't have to be a Democrat seeking political revenge for 2000. You just have to be a Floridian who wants a competent, sensible, productive United States senator, not the embarrassment that Katherine Harris would be for the state". Calling GOP opponent Katherine Harris' campaign "one long running freak show", can you guess who the Post supports?

Today's Daytona Beach News Journal has begun announcing it's recommendations for the November 7 ballot. No, they've not started endorsing candidates yet, but they do encourage voters to say "No" to all six constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot. They deal with the planning and budget process, making it more difficult to pass voter initiatives to the constitution, tobacco protection, seniors and veterans homestead exemptions, and eminent domain. It also supports all but one of the ballot initiatives to change the Volusia County Charter.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial page calls out one of the area's most prestigious law firms, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, criticizing it for aiding and abetting "dirty politics" by paying $470,000 to political consultand and "Ax the Tax" founder Doug Guetzole, who the newspaper calls the "king of sleaze campaigns" while pubicly decrying such activity. Guetzole says he involved himself in mayoral campaigns in Winter Park and Winter Garden, which happen to be the site of controversal development projects represented by one of the law firm's senior partners.

There seem to be several positive messages in today's Florida editorial pages. Another one is in the Space Coast's Florida Today, which reminds us of the good some area teens are doing amid so much negative publicity we usually hear. In this case, it notes a story today which ends a series on a group of teens on Merritt Island training spending their summer vacation in Africa to help battle poverty and disease while teaching the Gospel as Christian missionaries.

In Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Sun Sentinel gives it's support to Florida's two U.S. Senators leading the charge for a $330 million hurricane research database to help communities predict and prepare for the tropical systems, as well as assist researchers to better understand how hurricanes and tropical storms evolve. It notes that while the price tag is big, it is tiny compared to the $81.2 billion in damage caused by last year's Hurricane Katrina.

The Florida Department of Transportation has an idea to help divert a potential downtown traffic crisis in Miami: Build a $1.2 billion tunnel under Biscayne Bay from I-395 on Watson Island to the Port of Miami. It wants the city and Dade County to put up $600 million toward the project. Today's Miami Herald editorial page offers it's support to the idea, urging the Miami-Dade County Commission to commit when it meets Tuesday.

Today's editorial in the Naples Daily News offers hope after years of talk that the pieces are finally coming together toward what could very well be the redevelopment of Immokalee extending to coastal Collier County.

Housing sales have fallen into a slump throughout Florida, but the developers of Lakewood Ranch don't believe it will be a long one. Manatee County commissioners should also view the downturn as brief, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune opinion page, and use the time to catch up with the building boom or risk falling further behind.

With state and federal agency investigations in how the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority conducts it's business, the St. Petersburg Times says that the current board, appointed by Governor Jeb Bush, needs to go and that the whole idea of such a body needs to be reconsidered in a day of looking regional as the Tampa Bay area continues to grow and as new ideas of moving more than three million people about are being considered.

The Tampa Tribune editorial is seemingly troubled by the upcoming construction of a 420 bed student housing complex at Hillsborough Community College, noting that the space consumed will be needed later to serve it's core constituency of commuter students and working residents seeking to advance their education. HCC is getting around the state prohibition for community colleges to build dormitories by using it's foundation to do so.

Finally, the Lakeland Ledger offers it's support for the decision last week by U.S. Customs to stop seizing shipments of small quantities of prescription drugs from Canada, although ordering them by mail remains illegal.

Make it a great Sunday!


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