Sunday, November 19, 2006


We begin our weekly tour in the Panhandle, as the Pensacola News Journal says that with talk of a special legislative session to deal with the state's insurance crisis on the table, the state-run Citizens Property Insurance should be at the top of the list. Some Pensacola Bay businesses are looking at possible rate hikes of 1,200 percent, with homeowners also fearing huge increases which could result in businesses closing and residents selling their homes.

Easing eastbound along I-10 to the state capitol, the Tallahassee Democrat calls for governor-elect Charlie Crist to address concerns about the reliability of electronic voting equipment and work to increase citizens' confidence that their ballots will be counted accurately. The newspaper calls for Crist to appoint a secretary of state with election oversight experience who is committed to easy voter verification, and suggest a review of the equipment certification process.

In Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union takes note of a "new day dawning" in St. John's County, where the election of two new county commissioners will likely mean efforts to manage growth in the suburban area. Development there has increased sharply, and other challenges for the new members include new infastructure for the developments already approved, and attracting new jobs to keep taxes low.

Now heading down I-95, today's Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial looks at the divisions between the United States and the European Union --- a huge economic partner for Florida --- which have widened in a number of areas. Even so, Europe is important to us, and the opinion notes that as the EU struggles through constant changes and increased threats, America should continue to support our partners across the Atlantic unequivocally.

Foreign relations is also on the mind of the editorial writers at the Orlando Sentinel, who expresses pleasure that the Bush administration is approaching the recent election of Daniel Ortega as president of Nicaragua with an idea of engagement rather than the ideological divide which marked relations between the two countries when Ortega first came to power in the 1980s. It notes that the intent of U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli to meet with Ortega is a step in the right direction.

Along the Space Coast, the Melbourne-based Florida Today calls on the Brevard County Commission to approve a programme suggested by the county's Affordable Housing Task Force to provide affordable and workforce housing for homeowners and renters or to present a better idea. Brevard's median home price has jumped from $92,900 six years ago to $206,100 in September. The idea is to make it easier for workers such as health care professionals, teachers, and first responders to live where they work.

Continuing down the coast, the Fort Pierce Tribune and it's sister Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers are concerned about the state's lingering insurance crisis and lists several ideas presented by Governor-elect Crist, Congress, and the insurance industry itself.

Today's Palm Beach Post editorial takes note of West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel's late welcome of a grand jury investigation into what it calls a "pay for play" culture at City Hall, and says that it wouldn't be necessary "if the city had valued ethical standards and fair play more than political and financial opportunities". One city commissioner has already pleaded guilty to federal fraud and obstruction charges, and reports are that there is so much evidence that the grand jury will continue it's work through January, two months beyond originally scheduled.

Keeping on I-95 to Fort Lauderdale, we see that the South Florida Sun Sentinel opinion page states that Florida's tax system should be overhauled after approval at the general election of two constitutional amendments providing tax breaks for disabled war veterans over 65 and doubles the homestead exemption for low income seniors. That would mean that the state would have to make up an estimated shortfall of up to $56 million, meaning that working-age, middle class residents will have to pick up the additional burden.

Back to foreign affairs issues, the Miami Herald editorial today calls for the U.S. to revamp programmes for Cuba and lift restrictions on travel and remittance which have been in effect for nearly a half century. It says the restictions have been a failure, and that promoting democracy on the island can be best done by removing them.

Heading into Southwest Florida, today's Naples Daily News opinion reminds readers of the flooding problems experienced in the area's Golden Gate Estates development. The drainage system is rudimentary, and continued development there means less open space for water to diffuse. The editorial reminds readers that while solutions are required, they won't be simple or inexpensive.

The Fort Myers News-Press asked the area's "snowbirds" --- winter residents from the northern tier states and Canada --- to submit suggestions on how their lives could be better while they are here, and the newspaper got plenty of replies. It's editorial space this morning notes some of the responses and asks readers who are permanant residents to respond.

The generosity of people makes note on the Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial page, noting the efforts of 72-years-young Jean Berlin who put up $200,000 of her own money and got three civic clubs to pitch in. The result was an enviromentally friendly skate park in the Englewood area to help provide young people, who have complained of nothing to do in their neighbourhood, with a recreational outlet.

Professor Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhouise University and collegues have a study in the journal Science which predicts that the world's oceans would be fished out by 2048. It is noted in today's St. Petersburg Times that Floridians should be particularly aware of this pending enviromential nightmare and it's solutions --- tougher fishery management laws --- because of the economic, enviromental, and health-related consequences.

The editorial in today's Tampa Tribune criticizes former Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, Jr. (R - Plant City) for what it calls rancorour politicking to make changes and cut administrative positions at the Alzhermer's Center named after his father. The opinion notes that the changes could threaten the center's ability to grow and be as effective as it could be. It calls on the center's new board of directors to examine Byrd's reasons for seeking these changes.

The Gainesville Sun opines about the increase in buyers' wanting hybrid cars --- an electric/gasoline-driven vehicle, and their belief that the miles-per-gallon advantage would be much higher than actual fact. It notes that the Enviromential Protection Agency's estimating system is out of date and does not reflect current drivers or vehicles.

Finally, here at home, the Lakeland Ledger uses it's editorial space for the occasional "Gigs and Garlands" series, in which the paper mentions for deeds memorable and forgettable.

Make it a great Sunday. Keep warm, and cuddle up with someone close. And as the song says, "If you can't be with the one you love...."


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