Sunday, December 03, 2006


We begin this look at the state's editorial pages with the St. Petersburg Times, which takes note of the charges filed in the aftermath of a nine month independent investigation by Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober into the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson at a Bay County sheriff's boot camp. The newspaper states that the end of the investigation and resulting charges has brought some much needed resolution to the family and to all Floridians.

Across the bay, the Tampa Tribune marks the 50th anniversary of the University of South Florida, now the nation's ninth largest university with huge aspirations of entering the elite among research facilities. Yet the opinion states that USF does not receive the respect it deserves from the governor and legislature...or, for that matter, the Board of Governors.

Bus and motor coach safety is the subject of today's editorial in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, which calls for Florida and other states to follow the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board to ban the use of cellular phones by school bus and motor coach drivers. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by school bus drivers while driving, but none ban their use by motor coach drivers, and only California prohibits their use by public transit drivers while behine the wheel.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger says today that there are will be no easy answers to the property insurance crisis when the Legislature meets in Tallahassee for special session January 16, and that Governor-elect Charlie Crist has no magic answers outside of his idea to give insurance companies easier access to the state catastrophic fund after major hurricanes. Thankfully, this was an unusually mild hurricane season, but the Legislature has to be ready when the big ones return.

There's a new police chief in Daytona Beach, and Mike Chitwood's got attitude. So says the Daytona Beach News Journal. Chitwood's ideas have received the support of many neighbourhood associations and energized the DBPD, but not without some controversy. Overall, the newspaper gives him good marks, but notes that he should possibly tone down his love for publicity and forge positive relationships with neighbouring law enforcement leaders.

Today's Orlando Sentinel begins a two-part editorial concerning a new megadevelopment which will be built at the Osceola-Polk county border and how it would likely affect a relatively new wilderness preserve nearby only 14 years ago to help hundreds of threatened plants and critters.

Along the Space Coast in Melbourne, Florida Today believes that the new federally mandated Safe Routes to School programme is a good concept. Florida will receive $29 million through 2009 to help fund the project, and Brevard County will get a piece of that pie beginning in January. But it won't mean a thing unless safety is considered first, including among other things teaching students of proper pedestrian and bicycle safety practices.

The Scripps Research Institute has brought recognition to Palm Beach County as a scientific centre, and now other groups are interested in coming. The Max Planck Society, Germany's leading research group, as well as another yet unnamed organization have expressed interest. But the Palm Beach Post editorial says that the first step must come from the state, and Governor-elect Crist has not said if he will seek state money to help local officials attract the Max Planck group.

Even as some Middle Eastern nations are paying for top flight universities to locate branch campuses there, the squeeze of rising costs and declining government support for higher education is taking it's toll here. The Gainesville Sun will run a series of editorials looking at the financial, political, and demand side trends that threaten to negatively impact access to higher education. Today, it presents an overview of the situation.

Along the same lines, today's Tallahassee Democrat notes that how our state deals with a wide variety of social and economic challenges will make Florida among the most consequential of the 21st century, and that a system of higher education which attracts "the best scholars and students, keeps regional economies humming, produces a highly trained work force, and is affordable and accessible" is essential to the state's success.

Down the road in Ocala, the Star-Banner laments the defeat of Marion County's local road tax last month, and things got a lot worse this past week as the Florida Department of Transportation announced postponment of three major road projects for at least three years due to money issues. The newspaper notes that the Legislature can no longer ignore the state's road work backlog. Noting it won't be easy or cheap, it says that "Sadly, we are skeptical such leadership will occur. And that means our road situation will likely go from bad to worse to..."

Today's editorial in the South Florida Sun Sentinel is critical of officials in the South Florida town of Sunrise. It has a 14-seat suite in the public-funded BankAtlantic Center, and they seem to have difficulty keeping a list of the guests for public records. Although they are not leaglly bound to do so, the Sun Sentinel's idea is simple: Keeping public trust is and should remain paramount.

The Treasure Coast Newspapers are especially bothered about the burglary last week of over $20,000 from St. Peter's Catholic Church in Jupiter, intended to help some of the poor within the area during this holiday season, especially within the area's Hispinac community. They ask readers who may know something about the crime to contact the detective working the case.

For years, there has been talk about an outer beltway in northeast Florida surrounding Jacksonville, but only a small portion of it has been built or is under construction. The Florida Times Union says today that it is time for some bold thinking to put the project on a fast track. It's idea is to charge tolls and establish a independent regional transportation authority, which it says would build the outer beltway within five years.

The Miami Herald doesn't like what Congressman Tom Tancredo (R - CO) had to say recently, that he didn't like the multicultrualism of Miami and South Florida. The Herald says that he's just spitting into a hurricane-force wind because globalization is a fact of life, and that immigrants offer our nation advantages in this 21st Century. Instead of building walls, Congress should channel legal immigrant flows to maximize the benefits to the nation at large.

Taxes is the subject of today's editorial in the Pensacola News Journal, and one item that people are watching is wheather beach leaseowners will have to pay taxes for the homes and businesses they built on the publicly owned land. Leaseowners on Navarre Beach lost their challenge at the Florida Supreme Court, and some believe that if the Escambia County leaseowners lose as well, that could offset mainland taxation.

Make it a great Sunday!


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