Sunday, April 30, 2006


Beginning our tour of the Sunshine State by looking at the St. Petersburg Times' editorial page, where it laments that while most of us are struggling to affort the ever-increasing price of gasoline, Congress comes to the their eight cylinder gas guzzlers. It notes several cases of leaders of both parties talking about the need for fuel efficiency, then getting into their SUV/minivans which get in many cases less than 20 miles per gallon.

The Miami Herald also opines on energy issues, saying that the current gas crisis calls on the federal government to have a long-term strategy as well as encouraging the use of mass transit and development of reliable alternatives to fossil fuels. It also reminds us that a credible policy must include a significant increase in fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles.

Florida Today on the Space Coast makes many of the same points and ideas made in the Herald editorial while slamming record oil company profits and calling much of the posturing being made by Washington types as simple gas price hypocrisy.

Taking a slightly different angle, the Fort Myers News-Press says that $3 a gallon gas "is the best thing to happen to America's energy situation since the oil price shocks of the 1970s. Gas at $3.50 or $4 would be even better. And if you are complaining about it you're wasting your time." The opinion is that our dependence on fossil fuels is the real problem, and that our leaders should make a serious commitment to energy independence.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Tribune reminds us that legislators have some chores to finish such as working out the details on a $70 billion budget, passing an ethics reform package, reform the homeowners insurance industry by repairing Citizens Property Insurance Corporation while seeking ways to bring private carriers back to Florida, and devising a sensible but affordable way for school districts to meet the mandate of the class-size amendment.

The Palm Beach Post opinion this morning notes that Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) has uncorked yet another problem in her campaign for the U.S. Senate, thanks to the dinner at a Washington restaurant she had with defense contractor Mitchell Wade, who later admitted bribing a California congressman and who gave Harris illegal campaign contributions two years ago.

Down the road in Broward County, the Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun Sentinel says that while there is little reason to doubt the qualifications of temporary workers charged with grading Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test essay questions, skeptics such as the two legislators who have filed a lawsuit to force disclosure of the workers' names have a right to the information as such secrecy violates at least the spirit of the state's Government-In-the-Sunshine Law.

Today's editorial in the Orlando Sentinel is opposing a strike Monday by immigrants and supporters of immigration reform, noting that it would be ironic that as the Senate is seemingly close to a breakthrough on the issue a nationwide strike called on behalf of that cause ended up hurting the effort.

Heading back up I-95 to Jacksonville, the Florida Times Union is concerned about the contract over naming rights to Alltel Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It believes the amount being paid is much too low (the city splits the amount with the Jags), and calls on Mayor John Peyton to deliver on his campaign promise to run the city more like a business and seek a significantly better deal when Alltel's contract expires next July.

In the state capitol, it's not legislative matters that take up today's editorial space in the Tallahassee Democrat: It's the effort to revitalize Gaines Street, making it a welcoming destination and link between Florida State and Florida A&M universities. The opinion is that the city and FSU should team up in the effort.

The Gainesville Sun reminds us that NASA recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle programme, and as the three remaining shuttles are heading toward retirement, it is other retirements that are of greater concern as we wonder about the next generation of space vehicle to replace them: The space agency is having difficulty recruiting young, skilled engineers and scientists to replace the estimated 40 percent of the workforce now over the age of 50.

Vision is the subject of today's editorial in the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Restoring vision to the future of Daytona Beach. Many were shocked and did not like the scenario favoured by a consulting firm hired by the city commission which did not include sufficient public comment, and now the city's Executive Visioning Committee is being called on whether to accept the plan. The editorial calls on the panel to reject parts of the idea while considering others.

Following the death in the Escambia County Jail last August of a prisoner described by the local coroner as a "paranoid schizophrenic", today's Pensacola News Journal takes the opinion that county officials should take a serious look at creating a programme to deal with mentally unstable crime suspects.

A couple of newspapers are not featured here this morning. I have to work today, so I began this earlier than normal.

Make it a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Word has been received in the past few hours from Florida Democratic Party Chairman Karen Thurman that the Victory '06 reception scheduled for today has been postponed. The featured guest, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D - MA), has had a death in his family and needs to remain in Boston with his family.

The event will be rescheduled TFN.


I don't exactly know what's gotten me on this trip back in time I've been having recently. You may have read one of my posts from a few days ago remembering the years I spent in suburban Houston and falling in love. Those were great days.

It may be listening to a greatest hits collection from my all-time favourite band, Chicago, wishing I would be able to attend their upcoming concert at the Ford Ampitheatre in Tampa. Their early blend of rock, jazz, and a touch of blues were unique for the time, and only a few other bands such as Earth, Wind, and Fire and Blood, Sweat, and Tears have succeeded with similar sounds.

One of Chicago's lead songwriters, keyboardist Robert Lamm, spiced some of the group's early hits with political commentary. After all, many of their fans were college students who were strongly opposed to the Vietnam War which was still raging in the very late 1960s/early 1970s. Listening to one of those tunes from 1972, Dialogue (Parts I and II), is so appropriate today as well. The late Terry Kath and Peter Cetera do the back-and-forth dialogue on the first part of this piece, and the group joins end for the real message:

Dialogue (Parts I and II) - Robert Lamm

Terry: Are you optimistic 'bout the way things are going?

Peter: No, I never ever think of it at all

Terry: Don't you ever worry when you see what's going down?

Peter: No, I try to mind my business, that is, no business at all

Terry: When it's time to function as a feeling human being, will your Bachelor
of Arts help you get by?

Peter: I hope to study further, a few more years or so. I also hope to keep a steady high

Terry: Will you try to change things, use the power that you have, the power of a million new ideas?

Peter: What is this power you speak of and this need for things to change?
I always thought that everything was fine

Terry: Don't you feel repression just closing in around?

Peter: No, the campus here is very, very free

Terry: Does it make you angry the way war is dragging on?

Peter: Well, I hope the President knows what he's into, I don't know

Terry: Don't you see starvation in the city where you live, all the needless hunger, all the needless pain?

Peter: I haven't been there lately, the country is so fine, but my neighbors don't seem hungry 'cause they haven't got the time

(Insturmental break)

Terry: Thank you for the talk, you know you really eased my mind. I was troubled by the shapes of things to come.

Peter: Well, if you had my outlook your feelings would be numb, you'd always think that everything was fine.

(Insturmental break leading into Part II)

Group: We can make it happen...We can change the world now...We can save the children...We can make it better...We can make it happen...We can save the children...We can make it happen


Governor Bush's wish to reverse the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2002 to limit class sizes seems to have died for this legislative session, thanks to Democratic lawmakers' efforts along with exploiting a Republican caucus which has been divided for much of the session.

Five of the six GOP state senators who voted against the measure just happen to be on the other side of bill sponsor State Senator Ken Pruitt (R - Port St. Lucie) in an intraparty battle over who should become Senate President two years from now.

The major players in that race are Senators Alex Villalobos (R - Miami) and Jeff Atwater (R - North Palm Beach). Pruitt, who will be the next Senate President, is supporting Atwater. It has been a bitter battle which has previously caused current Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) to insist that the bickering stop during the 60-day legislative session. We are now thankful it didn't, as the voters' wishes will be upheld.


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice will be the featured guest to discuss unsteady oil markets along with the plan in Iraq, along with a debate between U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D - NY) and former U.S. Senator - now oil industry spokesman J. Bennett Johnson (D - LA) about oil prices and who's to blame. The roundtable will feature Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, Time magazine Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney, his wife Claire Shipman of ABC News, and conservative columnist George Will.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: The guests and subjects were not been announced as of early Saturday morning. This has, unfortunately, become a bit of a habit for CBS, which has not posted a preview of guests since early April.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: The SecState will be here discussing the new Iraqi government and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Also appearing: U.S. Senators Trent Lott (R - MS) and Barbara Boxer (D - CA), former director of the Israeli intellegence service Mossad Efraim Halvey, and former CIA director James Woolsey.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: It's a tenth anniversary show for Fox News Sunday, and it will be duly celebrated with host Chris Wallace. Also, President Bush's new Chief of Staff Josh Bolton will be interviewed, and a chat with former Fox News host turned Bush Press Secretary Tony Snow.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, American Petroleum Institute President/CEO Red Cavaney, CNBC host Jim Cramer, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D - IL), and energy analyst/author Daniel Yergin will discuss the continuing upward spiral in gas prices.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The panel will discuss the 2008 presidential possibilities. MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell, Howard Fineman of Newsweek magazine, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and David Brooks of The New York Times will banter about Hillary, John, Rudy, and maybe a couple of more folks and their chances.


It seems as though "The Red-Headed Nimrod", Congressman Adam Putnam (R - Bartow) will likely have a Democratic challenger for November. A gentleman named James B. Davis, who was involved in the effort of saving Polk General Hospital when it was threatened with closure in 1995, is raising the $10,000 filing fee to qualify.

To be honest, I do not remember ever meeting Mr. Davis, and have not been able to find any other information about him to this point. I've been invited to a meeting Monday evening where he will be present.

More information as it becomes available.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Florida's Commission on Ethics announced two results Thursday, clearing both Republican gubernatorial candidates of breach of trust and a Bradenton GOP lawmaker of conflict of interest.

The panel dismissed complaints against Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, as well as Crist's campaign chief of staff George LeMieux, filed by former Convergys Corporation employee Sam McDowell.

The complaints claim that Crist and LeMieux failed to investigate his allegations that Convergys mishandled sensitive personal information belonging to state employees "due to the various relationships between the Attorney General's Office, the Crist for Governor campaign, as well as powerful Tallahassee lobbyists."

The complaint against Gallagher was brought by an Arcadia woman who felt wronged over the handling of a workers' compensation claim and accused the CFO of being "influenced by rich and powerful attorneys".

According to Steve Bousquet's story in today's St. Petersburg Times, the ethics panel said that "all three complaints failed to meet the basic threshold of legal sufficiency, meaning that even if the allegations contained in the complaints were true, they would not constitute a breach of the public trust."

In another matter, the Commission cleared State Senator Michael S. Bennett (R - Bradenton) of a conflict of interest complaint, saying he did not violate any ethics rules for offering to purchase a mobile home park while sponsoring a bill which would have required local governments to help pay in relocating residents displaced when developers buy and redeveop mobile home park land. The panel said the complaint was "legally insufficient". As for Bennett's bill, it looks dead for this session.


Another racial barrier was broken Thursday in Bartow as Karla Foreman Wright was sworn in as the first black judge in the Tenth Judicial Circuit, which covers Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties.

Her investiture ceremony was held in the Polk County Courthouse's main courtroom, with the oath of office administered by Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince.

Judge Wright was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to fill a newly created judicial seat for the Tenth Circuit by last year's Legislature. She had previously been appointed by Bush as a county judge in 2000, being reelected two years later. Before taking the bench, Wright has worked as an assistant County Attorney in both Polk and Hillsborough counties, an assistant public defender, and as a senior attorney with the Florida Department of Transportation.

She has been assigned to the Felony Division.


This morning I did something that had been intended for awhile: I updated the blogroll in the right column of this page. Some sites which have not had anything posted in awhile have been dropped, and a couple have been added.

I've also added Lefty Blogs, which is an excellent source to see what the latest news is around Florida and around the nation...mostly political, of course. I've also updated the press related blogroll to include two or three new sites.

Do take time to check out the sites on the blogroll, as they all usually have some interesting --- and occasionally funny --- posts.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Is there a song that, when you hear it, remind you of times gone by or stay with you hours later?

That's what I'm feeling now. Listening to Paris Bennett on American Idol Tuesday evening singing Barbra Streisand's classic The Way We Were took me back 31 years to my junior year in high school and some of the most magical times of my life.

When I was in high school, I was always the new kid. My family moved several times during the five years we lived in suburbarn Houston, so I was never in one school very long. But in 1974, we moved into an apartment in Pasadena, the city made famous by country artist Mickey Gilley's mega-honky-tonk in Urban Cowboy.

After I had been at Pasadena High School for awhile, I got to know a young girl in my speech class named Martha Awwad. She wound not have been at the school except for the fact that as her father was a math teacher at PHS she got an exception from the attendance zone requirment. It wasn't long before we began dating, and it became more serious.

Having to move again, this time returning to my native state of Mississippi, was especially hard for me. Martha had graduated (she was tops in her class), and I was beginning my senior year. She had really caught my heart.

Throughout the past 31 years, the memories of those special times continue to make me smile. So when I heard that lyric last night, a huge smile came across my face as a tear or two came to my eye. Of course, one can never really get those times back --- especially as she is now married with a family in Austin, Texas --- but she will always have a special place in my heart and unfailing gratitude for providing the most wonderful times of my nearly 48 years.

Like the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were

Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?

Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...


Texas politics is almost never bland, and the race for governor there is being made more interesting with the campaign of singer/writer/humorist Kinky Friedman. He's got the backing of several big names in the "outlaw country" community which is based around Austin, most notably Willie Nelson and the Dixie Chicks. They perform on the latest "KinkyToon" encouraging people to support Friedman's effort to get on the ballot this November as an independent candidate. Nelson also does a radio commercial for the campaign (Real Player required). He's also been endorsed by radio/MSNBC personality Don Imus.


The Longboat Key Republican congresswoman should take a close look at the latest poll released Wednesday from the GOP-leaning Strategic Vision Political.

If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, the telephone survey of 1200 voters taken over the weekend favoured Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson 56-24 percent over the former Florida Secretary of State. While the numbers were closer (and in two cases tied) when asked about a Nelson matchup against several other Republicans, the incumbant wins in all but one: Nelson -vs- Governor Jeb Bush, where Bush comes out on top 52-39 percent with nine percent undecided.

Nelson has a favourable opinion of 46 percent of those surveyed (13% unfavourable), while Harris has an unfavourable opinion from 54 percent (25% favourable).

In the governor's race, Republicans Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher generally top Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith, but it's by no means a washout. There are still a lot of undecided voters out there, and still quite a way until November.

In head-to-head primary races, Crist leads Gallagher 47-35 for the GOP nomination with 18 percent still undecided. On the Democratic side, Davis doubles Smith 44-21, but there are still a huge 35 percent undecided.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Last evening was the night of love songs featuring guest vocal coach Andrea Bocelli and super producer David Foster. One would think that the six remaining contestents would have taken something from the time gained with one of the truly great vocal talents on the planet today and a producer who has made hits with quite a number of performers (with 14 Grammy awards and 41 nominations to his credit).

The show began with Katharine McPhee, who did a credible job with Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing", but got slammed by the judges. Not a great way to start, and singing in the first spot has been traditionally not a good thing. But I'll say she was one of the three best among the six that weren't at their overall best last night.

A young man who should also be safe is Elliott Yamin, who had one of his best performances with Donnie Hathaway's classic "A Song For You". It moved judge Paula Abdul to tears (either that, or she was crying over having to sit beside Simon again), and actually had Simon saying "Tonight, in parts, it was like a master class. It was superb." I have to agree, and he deserves to be safe this week. Whether that happens is questionable, as the viewers don't seem to be giving him a chance.

Make it two weeks in a row for Kellie Pickler, who deserved to be cut last week and deserves it again after her rendition of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody". She was saved from all of Simon's wrath by the theme music coming up and host Ryan Seacrest closing the segment, interrupting the harsh diatribe. Viewers seem to have connected with her "young country girl in the big city" personality, vocal talent notwithstanding.

I've been singing the praises of Georgia teenager Paris Bennett all season long, and am still hoping she takes her talent all the way. Only 17, she can make you forget her young age singing material that is considerably more mature. But last night was not her best performance, and I'm afraid she'll be in the bottom three once again tonight. Doing Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were" was a good choice, but her vocals were a bit too breathy and the arrangement wasn't quite right for her.

David Foster said that the senior citizen of the bunch, 29-year-old Taylor Hicks, "potentially had the most charisma, which is a very, very important part of being a star." He could have dropped the "potentially", as he has shown much of this season. Although he made a good choice in song with James Ingram's "Just Once", he was a bit weak at the beginning...and while he got better as the song went along, it was still not among his best moments. He should be in the bottom three tonight.

To say the show saved the best for last would be an understatement. Rocker Chris Daughtry was expected by many to fall hard this week as he went into unfamiliar territory. He selected Canadian rocker Bryan Adams' sweet piece "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman", about as close to a rock song as one could possibly get considering the theme of the show. Although he was somewhat uncomfortable with the material (was it possibly because members of his rock band from back home were in the studio audience?), it was the best performance of the night. He should be safe.

I'd love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, let me remind you: If you want to hear a truly magical vocal talent, tune into the results show tonight when Andrea Bocelli performs. He has a remarkable voice that will make your heart melt. One song on a 30-minute show is not enough to experience his gift.

UPDATE: I hit it on the head with Pickler and Paris being at the bottom, except there was only a bottom two instead of three...and that Kellie was the one voted off. But then, my five year old granddaughter could have predicted that. Don't cry for Miss Pickler, though. My guess is that once the finalists finish their tour, someone will sign and work with her.

And I hope you tuned in last evening, if for no other reason than to hear the magic of Bocelli. Yeah, I'm a fan.


At least, that Biblical verse seems to be the appropriate praise the White House would use for it's new press lackey, Fox News Channel talk show host and political analyst Tony Snow, in offering the job to him.

He is reportedly taking a "massive pay cut" to become press secretary, replacing Scott McClellan, who submitted his resignation last week but will still be in the post for a couple of more weeks. Snow is still recovering from colon cancer, but received the needed OK from his doctors after tests last week.

It's only appropriate that the Bush Administration pick someone from FNC, long considered a clearly pro-conservative Republican news organisation. I like the reaction by Mustang Bobby of the Miami-based blog Bark Bark Woof Woof:

"It's hard to imagine that putting a new face on the Bush administration's relationship with the media is going to make any difference whatsoever. It's like trying to put a new face on a toxic waste dump; a layer of Snow may make it look pretty for a while, but it's still just a cover for a load of crap.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


A new poll of 1,012 adult Americans taken over the weekend by Opinion Research Corporation and conducted for CNN shows a large majority support allowing illegal immigrants who have been here five or more years to apply for citizenship if they have a job, pay a fine and back taxes.

The poll released this morning shows 77 percent support the idea, but that a majority also support deporting those illegals here for less than two years by a 64-31 percent margin. A smaller majority --- 54-to-40 percent --- also opposed a proposal which would allow illegal immigrants here from between two and five years to remain on a temporary basis without a chance to seek citizenship.

The sampling error is plus or minus three points.


Lakeland Senior High School just won't be the same after the end of this term. That's because English Literature teacher Ms. Hazel Haley will be forced to retire.

The 89-year-old Haley has taught in the same room since 1952, when the high school moved from it's downtown location to the current campus on Hollingsworth Road. She has actually taught for nearly 71 years, 69 of them at LHS. Before returning home, Ms. Haley had spent a half year teaching in Oviedo and some time teaching migrant students in Moore Haven. Among her students: The late governor and U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles.

She is the state's oldest and longest serving schoolteacher (thought to be the nation's as well), and her long service is not going unnoticed. The Lakeland Ledger recently spotlighted Ms. Haley, and she was featured on the CBS Evening News "Assignment America" segment last week. Also, a free community celebration saluting her career will be held Sunday afternoon at First United Methodist Church.

It's not often you see someone with the love for their work, especially for as long as Hazel Haley has been doing hers. Congratulations on a job well done!

BTW: Ms. Haley has written a note to the thousands of alumni on her own page at the school's Web site.


The Lakeland Ledger has run a couple of interesting stories during the past few days touching on the local homeless situation and serving this group which, though small when you consider the nearly half million population of Polk County, seems to be growing.

Last Saturday, the Ledger ran a story of All Saints' Episcopal Church in downtown Lakeland and it's efforts to minister to the homeless and transients through a feeding Tuesday mornings behind the city's Greyhound bus station and a Sidewalk Sunday School early Sunday mornings across from the church which includes coffee and doughnuts. It seems as though someone has complained, and now city code enforcement officers have said the church has to move both to a nearby homeless shelter.

A little background, from the Rick Rousos piece:

In 1994, All Saints, located in the shadow of City Hall, began the "Tuesday Walkabout" around downtown and in Munn Park with food and prayers for the hungry.

Church members said that several years ago, probably in 1997 or 1998, they were asked to move the feedings north of the railroad track. They wound up at the bus station, just north of the police station.

Beginning in 2000, the parishioners invited people down on their luck to the church's Sunday morning sidewalk ministry, where a crowd of 40 or 50 isn't unusual.

However, three or four weeks ago a supervisor from the city's Code Enforcement Office visited the Greyhound feeding and told parishioners that the sandwich giveaway was over, but could be moved to the courtyard at the Talbot House.

In order to provide food, City Attorney Tim McCausland said, the bus station land would need to be zoned for a "transient lodge or social service facility" offering "counseling, meals or temporary shelter." It isn't.

The bus station's owner was quoted as saying she did not mind the Tuesday sandwich, cookie, and drink giveaways. Some parishoners are saying the city has another reason.

Parishioners consider it no coincidence that the eviction comes at a time when the city is searching for a developer for the land behind the bus station, which is slated for high-end housing.

"They just want to develop that area, and they don't want any street people there," said Charlie Ware, 82. "They're trying to attract a developer to build condominiums, and they don't want a potential developer to see the wrong image."

Monday, Eric Pens focused on the federal government's effort to collect data and get a more accurate count of the number of homeless people nationwide, and how it's being handled here.

Most notably, the Lakeland Salvation Army has begin issuing photo ID cards to those any of their services, wheather it be the free lunch or transitional housing or even food baskets at holiday time. As for now, noone is turned away for not having the card, but effective October 1 it will be required for anyone seeking it's services.

The agency's ID card carries a number for tracking a person's whereabouts in the county and the information is kept on an Internet database shared by Salvation Army and the 16 other members of the Homeless Coalition of Polk County.

Much of the information will be shared with the federal government. That rankles some advocates for the homeless because many homeless individuals receive mental health and other medically sensitive services.

Advocates also fear that many within the homeless community, natrually suspicious of government, will forgo the meal or roof over their head instead of having to answer personal questions. Some organizations --- none locally identified in the Ledger story --- have decided to reject government funding instead of participating.

This from the city that prides itself on compassion for the less fortunate.

Monday, April 24, 2006


It seems as though NBC News is continuing to expand it's online presence, in case you may want to check out another decent source of information and/or analysis during the day.

For awhile, NBC Nightly News anchor/managing editor Brian Williams takes time after the afternoon's editorial meeting to post about the stories to air or being considered to air, along with other items he decides to include. In addition, The Daily Nightly blog includes bits from producers, editors, and correspondents with information you may or may not get on the broadcast. Always an interesting place to go to in the afternoon/early evening.

NBC has been a leader among the broadcast networks for extending it's reach into the blogosphere. It also has Blogging Baghdad, a look by correspondent Richard Engel from the Iraqi capitol, and Ann Curry (the Today anchor and Dateline co-host) doing a daily commentary among others from both NBC and MSNBC personalities.

Now, the NBC/MSNBC News Political Unit has added it's First Read to the blogosphere. What had been formerly a weekday analysis of the day's political news e-mailed to subscribers has become a regularly updated blog. For those who keep up with national politics and what's going on in Congress, this is one source to check out. Among the bits noted today: Andrea Mitchell writes about the case of CIAer Mary McCarthy, who was fired from The Agency but is fighting back, President Bush's reaction to the terrorist attacks today in Egypt, and the blame game in DC over gas wars.


My apoligies for there being no posts this morning. Apparantly Blogspot was having some issues. Thanks for checking in, and please take time to view the posts from over the weekend.

I may have some items to post this evening.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


A number of Republican activists who don't like the idea of Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Longboat Key) as their party's nominee to challenge Democratic U.S. Senate incumbant Bill Nelson have been reportedly pleading with Florida House Speaker Allan Bense (R - Panama City) to consider entering the race for some time now.

With the deadline for qualifying less than three weeks away on May 12, it's clear that those voices may be getting to him. At least, that's what the St. Petersburg Times' political blog The Buzz is implying.

Bense, who has previously said he would not oppose Harris in a GOP primary race, recently spoke with a reporter from the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group and was quoted as saying "If I had to bet, I'm probably at 50-50, but probably inclined to go home...I think we've had a pretty good run so far in the (Florida) House and there's nothing wrong with quitting while you're ahead. But you never know."

The Buzz also reports that while Bense received a standing-o from activists attending a party meeting in Tallahassee, Harris only had sparse attendance at a reception her campaign hosted. Maybe her campaign was just too cheap to provide free snacks and drink, an easy way to gather a crowd. Yeah, believe THAT!

Meanwhile, the Sarasota Herald Tribune political blog Political Insider notes that Nelson's Senate collegue, Republican Mel Martinez, is backing Harris with a $2,100 donation made March 13. The latest reports released by the Federal Election Commission also show that Harris received a $5,000 contribution from a political action committee run by Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist (R - TN) and Senator Jim DeMint (R - SC).


Winter Haven is generally considered a small, peaceful city, but Saturday morning a crowd counted at between 1,000 and 1,200 marched three miles from the city's Chain Of Lakes Recreational Complex across town to Inman Park in support of immigration rights and against a proposed bill before the House of Representatives which would criminalize illegal immigrants and those companies and individuals who would hire, aid, or hide them.

The march was peaceful as drivers along U.S. 17 either honked their horns in support or gave a "thumbs down" signal in opposition. At the park, located at one of the city's busiest intersections, several speakers addressed the gathering in both English and Spanish about how the proposed law would affect them and what they could do about it.

This is the latest in a series of protests throughout Florida which support a guest worker programme and allowing those immigrants currently here to apply for citizenship after meeting several criteria such as learning English and paying a fine.

Here is the news story from today's Winter Haven News Chief, and another from the Lakeland Ledger.


As legislators return to the state capitol for the final two weeks of their annual session, the Tallahassee Democrat likes the concept of pulling some amendments from the state constitution and making them "super statutes" which would be immune from legislative tinkering for a period of time, namely, the class size amendment passed by voters nearly four years ago. The Democrat likes the idea because of the effect it will seemingly have on taking money from university building and renovation funds --- $263 million, to be exact --- to help fund the class size inititative.

Today's editorial page in the Fort Myers News-Press encourages readers to contact their representative in an effort to stop two bills expected to be decided on: HB129 / SB206, which would allow employees to keep guns locked in their cars on employers' property during working hours, and the measure mentioned above to pulling some constitutional amendments and turn them into "super statutes". But the News-Press asks for support on HB1363 / SB132 to eliminate the cap on spending from the state affortable housing trust fund and providing other incentives for developers and tools for local government to help the middle class buy homes.

The Orlando Sentinel seems to agree on the affordable housing issue, questioning the leadership of both Senate President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) and House Speaker Allan Bense (R - Panama City) and accusing them of not taking the state's affordable housing crisis seriously. The editorial notes that "Mr. Bense and Mr. Lee argue that they want to hold back a large chunk of the housing money in case there's a 'rainy day'. Where have they been? The rainy day is here. There are 730,000 households in Florida today struggling to pay for housing".

Meanwhile, as Congress returns to Washington after it's recess, the Miami Herald asks: "Can This Congress Be Saved?" It answers: "Yes, but don't bet on it...Nothing is likely to get done in the current atmosphere of extreme partisanship." It offers several suggestions on how congressional leaders from both parties can restore the trust of the public and get the nation's business done.

On the Gainesville Sun editorial page, the state of the National Park Service is being lamented. Our national parks are continuing an increase in visitors, but budgets have been squeezed in recent years, and the Bush administration is ordering another 20 percent slice out of operating budgets. That is resulting in fewer rangers and services, along with a bigger backlog in maintainance needs.

The St. Petersburg Times notes that the German government has, after six decades, has agreed to open an archive of millions of documents from the Holocaust regarding 17.5 million people, many of whom died at the hands of the Nazi regime. However, there is a backlog of 400,000 requests from people seeking information regarding relatives. The Times suggests that the records be opened and digitized, reminding us that "With Holocaust survivors well into their sunset years, this cannot happen soon enough."

Today's Pensacola News Journal editorial focuses on a local issue, noting there is plenty of blame to go around regarding a controvesy over a wetlands bill which eventually did pass the Legislature. It commends Escambia County Director of Enviromential and Neighbourhood Services Keith Wilkins for his strong beliefs in the county's wetlands ordinance which caused him to lobby area lawmakers on personal time against some aspects of the proposed bill --- eventually excluded from the measure that passed --- that would negate the ordinance and would have stripped the county of its right to have its own, higher development standards...even while it notes that Wilkins used poor professional judgement in doing so.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune says today that efforts by the Florida Department of Enviromental Protection to have the federal Enviromental Protection Agency allow it to set new, lower pollution standards on the St. John's River should concern all Floridians. If it is allowed, DEP may eventually ask the EPA to allow the lower standards on a case-by-case basis on other rivers such as the Manatee, Peace, and Myakka.

Here at home, the Lakeland Ledger offers another in it's occasional "Gigs and Garlands" series, which offers commendations and criticisms to deserving local and state officials for their actions or handling of issues during the past month or so.

As the new movie United 93 opens in theatres this week, some wonder if it is too soon to reflect on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Palm Beach Post opinion is that for some, the movie will be simple exploitation, but reminds us that " is not too soon to reflect on the 9/11 attacks, learn from them and be reminded again of what free nations and free people must defeat. It is a relief that it's not too late".

Recent polls indicate that barely half of our state's population can identify the three branches of the state and federal governments (executive, legislative, and judicial), and some lawmakers are promoting the idea of requiring civics instruction in public schools. The Daytona Beach News-Journal says that Education Commissioner John Winn wasn't ready to commit to the idea because "...the state, for all its emphasis on testing for learning gains in reading, math and writing, does not measure students' knowledge of civics". The newspaper's opinion is that "By all means, teach civics at every reasonable opportunity in the classroom and expand that discourse in community forums. But the greater work requires changes in public policy that will allow every citizen to reclaim the power of his voice, her vote, equal to any other's".

Today's editorial in the generally conservative Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville approves the concept of merit pay for teachers (a/k/a pay-for-performance), and looks at the example of Denver's public school system. Duval County has been looking at merit pay ideas for six months, and the Times-Union says that, like in Denver, "The public may be willing to fund programs that show clear results".

Several embarassing blunders as a result of the state's push in privitazing a number of services previously handled in-house has the Tampa Tribune calling for a dose of accountability. The editorial notes that it makes sense to outsource some jobs and services to companies who can provide them, as long as they can truly do the job better.

Speaking of doing the job better, Florida Today says that Brevard County commissioners should look at several cities along the Space Coast who have used foresight in increasing impact fees on new construction to help pay for infastructure and services. It mentions that a majority of Brevard's commissioners seem to be "stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to finding responsible ways of meeting the huge transportation needs growth has caused".

The Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial opines today that the American people are being sold a bill of goods when we are told that our troops are training Iraqi forces in large numbers. The fact is that Iraqi solders are deserting en masse without punishment, drawing the ire of U.S. and Iraqi commanders. These desertions suggest that Iraqis are unwilling and unmotivated to fight for their own country, and that the U.S. must insist that the trend be reversed if they want continued help from us.

And the Ocala Star Banner editorial page deals with parks in Marion County and their future. The major needs are those of long term base level maintainence responsibilities at parks throughout the county, and future funding as it's "Pennies for Parks" fund is nearly dried up.

Enjoy your Sunday, and keep involved!

Saturday, April 22, 2006


In the vast majority of cases when a direct relative of a prisoner has passed away, the inmate should be allowed to attend the funeral and burial of their loved one, either on a 24 hour leave or with escort, according to certain criteria. IMHO, that criteria would include the prisoner's previous record with lack of violent behaviour and lack of issues with the family.

Friday, 19-year old Plant City High School graduate and Army private Jody Missidine was given a hero's funeral, having been killed serving his country in Iraq. His father, Kelvin, has a long criminal record and history of violence and did not raise his son. The family did not want him to attend the funeral.

Regardless of that past record, which includes his current incarceration for two counts of battery against a law enforcement officer and one count each of resisting an officer with violence and escape, and the Polk County Sheriff's Office decision declining to escort Missidine because of his long and violent record, Circuit Judge Dennis Mahoney allowed him a 24 hour release anyway.

It was a bad decision.

According to the story written by St. Petersburg Times reporter Ben Montgomery:

At the cemetery, Kelvin Missildine stayed about 50 yards away from the grave. He watched from a gray van, four kids in the back seat and a woman beside him...

A few minutes later, Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies approached him. He yelled at them. Then his van began to pull away. Missildine leaned out the passenger window and yelled obscenities.

Needless to say, Missildine was promptly arrested for violating a tresspass warning. Maybe Hizzoner Mahoney should have seen the PCSO decision not to accompany Missildine as a warning that the prisoner was rather inclined to this type of behaviour.


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R - CA) discusses why he is focusing more on the enviroment in his first reelection campaign, and U.S. Senator John Kerry (D - MA) talks about our presence in Iraq. Participating in the roundtable will be conservative columnist George Will, ABC News' Sam Donaldson and ABC/NPR's Cokie Roberts.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: The guests and subjects were not been announced as of early Saturday morning. This has, unfortunately, become a bit of a habit for CBS.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Iran's nuclear ambitions, demands for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, and White House shake-ups will be discussed with U.S. Senators Arlen Specter (R - PA) and Carl Levin (D - MI), Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, and New York Times columnist and author of The World Is Flat Thomas Friedman.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Representatives Peter Hoekstra (R - MI) and Jane Harman (D - CA) on Iraq's nuclear ambition, Former White House Chiefs of Staff Leon Panetta and Ken Duberstein on the shake-ups in the West Wing, and Washington Wizards' star Gilbert Arenas.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: U.S. Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy (D - MA) will talk about Iraq and other issues. And a roundtable to discuss White House staff changes with Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley, former presidential press secretary Dee Dee Myers, and columnists David Broder of the Washington Post and Ron Brownstein from the Los Angeles Times.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Wondering if the Democrats can field a authentic, spontaneous candidate two years from now, and if President Bush can make the case for a booming economy with gas prices continuing to rise. Participants will be the BBC's Katty Kay, Joe Klein of Time, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, and NBC News' Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Friday, April 21, 2006


This was the first of a three day weekend for me, and I had been enjoying the chance to rest and relax. However, my e-mail contained a very sad bit of news for me.

One of the truly classiest gentlemen that I shall ever know, Floyd Conrad Eaddy, passed away Wednesday of what was described as "a sudden cardio-vascular event".

Mr. Eaddy served as the minister of music for several churches, most recently at Winter Haven's Beymer Memorial United Methodist Church. In addition to his abilities as minister of music, Conrad was also given a truly magical vocal talent, which he used in worship and praise.

While all those that knew him are saddened at his loss, we know that Conrad Eaddy will be rewarded as a loyal and faithful servent. I4J sends it's deepest condolences to his wife, Ruth Ann Eaddy, his family, friends, and all who were touched by his ministry.

His memorial service will be held Saturday (April 22) afternoon at Beymer Memorial United Methodist Church on Lake Howard in Winter Haven.


For 15 years I was an on-air personality for several radio stations in my home state of Mississippi and here in Polk County. It was a wonderful period, although you don't make much money doing it in a small market, but I continue to keep up with what's happening in the industry even now...over a decade after leaving my last gig (For the record: the station went belly-up; my programme director and his assistant --- yours truly --- were canned in a cost-cutting measure).

It has been a very interesting week in "the biz", and today we learn that former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth has been sacked from his morning drive show. Roth claimed he only found out about the move while enroute to the New York station where his syndicated show is based, and according to the story reported on CNN, he responded with an implied threat that his legal advisors would seek full compensation for the $4 million deal. The change comes days before the Roth show's first ratings numbers are released since replacing Howard Stern when the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" jumped to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Replacing Roth will be the shock duo and bitter Stern rivals Opie and Anthony, who will continue their XM Satellite show simulcast for three hours on the network of terrestial stations who aired Roth's programme, then continue for another two hours exclusively for their satellite audience. The odd thing about this move is that the are being hired by the same company (CBS Radio) that fired them nearly four years ago after their aired a live account of a couple having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Inside Radio reported that the duo had some fun at Roth's expense this morning.

On a more serious note, the Federal Communications Commission has sent formal letters of inquiry to several of the nation's largest radio broadcasters in it's investigation into possible play-for-pay. Radio stations and employees are legally prohibited from receiving any consideration or payment for playing songs. The FCC has looked on several occasions at the issue of payola, but not with a great deal of success.

The best known play-for-pay case was back in 1960, when Alan Freed was indicted under commercial bribery laws for accepting $2,500 to play certain songs, a payment which he called "a token of appreciation". While he was only fined, his days as one of America's most influential disc jockeys ended.

This case will be very interesting to follow. The FCC had been in settlement talks with radio giants CBS, Citadel Broadcasting, Clear Channel, and Entercom Communications in which they would pay relatively small fines, but those discussions have broken down. That has led to the harder stance taken by the letters of inquiry. Since deregulation of the radio industry during the Reagan years, it has resulted in consolidation into a handful of very powerful players as the four mentioned above. They now own hundreds of radio stations in markets large and small in almost every state, resulting in an extremely influential position in what gets played.


Rain is something that has been rare so far this year. We received a shower about two weeks ago for the first time in nearly two months. But Thursday it was a hit and miss proposition as some brief thunderstorms made their way through. Downtown Lakeland seemed to have received a good drenching, but where I work only a half mile away...not a drop.

There is a chance for more rain in the interior portions of Central Florida today, as our high temperatures approach the 90 degree mark. Thursday the official weather station at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport reached a high of 92, much warmer than normal for this time of year. The actual chance of rain, though, 20 percent tonight and tomorrow.

I say, bring it on!


Board members of the Polk County Opportunity Council, the local community action agency which is best known for running the area's Head Start programme, were fined $250 plus court costs Thursday for violating the state's Government In the Sunshine Law when they recessed an open monthly meeting last September and met privately in another room to discuss how to deal with their executive director.

The Lakeland Ledger reminds us of what happened:

In December 2004, [former executive director Carolyn] Speed was criticized for her controversial acceptance of a trip to Las Vegas, paid for by a copier company. She was forced to resign in November 2005 amid that and other controversies.

After the closed meeting, the board members eventually came back and voted to give a letter of admonishment to Speed.

The State Attorney's Office began investigating the incident following a Ledger report of the secret meeting.

Although Judge Anne Kaylor said to the board members that she would absolve them if she could, her actions were correct in that they violated the law. It doesn't matter wheather it was done willfully or intentionally; it was done.

But that's not the only matter they need to be concerned about.

The Polk County Opportunity Council still hasn't solved the problem that has repeatedly attracted state and federal regulators: Financial accounting is still inaccurate or incomplete.

The assertion that the books were $400,000 out of whack, which is disputed by PCOC, was made Thursday evening at a local PCOC meeting by the state Department of Community Affairs and by the Mid-Iowa Community Action team, which contracted with the DCA to help PCOC identify and fix problems...

Foster Lovett, a Tampa CPA who contracts with PCOC, said MICA auditors visited PCOC in January, and the assertion of incomplete bookkeeping may have been correct then. But he said that the books are now balanced and correct through February.

The apparent problem is when Lovett isn't around, the job doesn't get done. Board members pointed out that the agency is without financial stability because it has had five finance directors in the past five years.

The job is currently vacant.

PCOC is already under a one year probation for it's financial incompetance, and was informed last evening that it needs to either hire MICA to work with the agency to resolve it's problems or risk being disbanded. With that ultimatum, the board voted 11-1 to do so.

Personally, I believe that maybe disbanding PCOC would be the best thing to do. Their board doesn't seem to be paying attention to what's going on, and/or getting bad advice from staff who believe that everything's AOK. The school district is ready and willing to take over Head Start, and it's other programmes could be handed off to other agencies or organizations. It's simply time to end the incompetence among the administrative staff and board of PCOC, now.


As students staged a sit-in at the office of Governor Jeb Bush, and civil rights leaders are preparing to march today to demand action in the case of Martin Lee Anderson, the Bay County juvenile boot camp inmate who died after being beaten by corrections officers, the continued attention likely was a factor in the resignation late last night of Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy Tunnell.

Tunnell opened the boot camp near Panama City while he was Bay County sheriff, and his objectivity has been questioned since he originally rejected advice from an aide to the governor to release the videotape of the incident where the 14 year old was shown being restrained, kneed, and struck by officers. The video was eventually released.

Governor Bush's office did not release a reason for Tunnell's sudden resignation, but the timing certainly would lead one to believe that it had to be a consideration.

Anderson's parents met for nearly an hour Thursday with Bush, and it was described as a "difficult" encounter. The meeting brought an end to a sit-in by up to 70 students from area colleges which began Wednesday morning. According to the Tallahassee Democrat:

According to Daryl Parks, another family attorney, Bush was apologetic, although he did not issue an apology, and he said he needs this to be over soon. He made no promises.

A public apology was one of the demands the students delivered Wednesday as they began their protest. The others included a change in venue from Bay County for any trial; release the second autopsy report; arrest of the guards; a civil suit against the Bay County sheriff's office and FDLE; removal of Dr. Charles Siebert as medical examiner in Bay County; removal of the boot-camp nurse.

The nurse in question was seen in the videotape watching during the incident, making no effort to end the situation or move in to check on the teenager.

House Speaker Allan Bense, a Republican from Panama City whose district includes the boot camp that has since been closed, told reporters that he was sympathetic with the Anderson family, but he urged the protesters to let the criminal justice system do its job.

Bense refused to comment on demands that Siebert be removed as Bay County medical examiner. Siebert's initial autopsy report said that Anderson died of complications from sickle-cell trait. Results of a second autopsy are pending (the body was exhumed and the autopsy done in Hillsborough County), and a noted pathologist who observed it said the boy did not die of natural causes and more than likely asphyxiated while being restrained.

Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, who was named by Bush to head the investigation, was asked Thursday to expidite his inqiury. The letter sent to Ober cited the increasing political pressure the governor is receiving, noting that "On a daily basis, I am contacted by members of the Legislature and the public about your investigation." The Tampa Tribune also noted:

Bush called on Ober to examine whether Bay County State Attorney Steve Meadows had improperly deleted e-mails that relate to the Anderson case.

"As I am sure you are aware, these e-mails are public records as defined by Florida law, and public officials have a legal duty to retain such documents," Bush wrote. "I also request that efforts be made to retrieve these e-mails."

In March, Ober removed the FDLE from leading the investigation, citing communications between FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell and Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen.

Tunnell had forwarded e-mails to the sheriff that criticized those who questioned the effectiveness of the boot camp concept.

Ober asked everyone to be patient while his office continues the investigation.

"As I told the [Anderson] family, when it's all said and done, I will look them in the eye and tell them I ethically and honestly did the very best job," Ober said. "I intend to get to the bottom of this - it's going to take awhile."

A march will be held this morning from Florida State and Florida A&M universities, meeting at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Speakers for the event will include two nationally known civil rights leaders, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. The event is expected to attract up to 5,000 people.

Meanwhile, there are five other juvenile boot camps remaining across Florida. In this morning's Tampa Tribune, the one in Polk County is featured. Officials here are saying that their facility in Bartow should not be seen through the same glass as the former Bay County boot camp.

"Most people consider a boot camp to be a place of compliance," said Sgt. Alvin Mitchell, who has worked at the Polk County Juvenile Boot Camp since 1994. "We don't want compliance here. We want change."

The 110-bed facility, managed by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, is designed to change criminal tendencies through mentoring, education, therapy and vocational training. Children might have to do push-ups, but nobody is beaten, Mitchell said.

UPDATE: After the rally, Revs. Jackson and Sharpton met with Governor Bush to apparantly discuss the Martin Lee Anderson case. A group of legislators were also present for the meeting. The Tallahassee Democrat has multimedia coverage including video and audio clips from the rally.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


There is no doubt in my mind that this week's show, featuring Rod Stewart coaching the seven finalists who were singing standards from "The Great American Songbook", was the best of the competition. Almost all of the contestants had their mojo going, even those like Chris Daughtry who changed his looks and usual alt-rockin' sound to perform "What A Wonderful World".

I knew all along that it would be a tough week to pick a bottom three. The only obvious should have been country girl Kellie Pickler, who admittedly butchered the 1940 Rogers and Hart classic "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" from the Broadway show Pal Joey. Shockingly, she didn't even make the bottom three. She must have one heckuva extended family back in North Carolina who hit the speed dial over and over to vote. She's great eye candy, though.

My personal pick is 17 year old Paris Bennett, who just continues to be amazing singing tunes that would simply be way too mature for a mere teenager...but not her. Tuesday night's rendition of the Billie Holliday tune "Those Foolish Things" wasn't quite her best performance, but she didn't deserve to make the bottom trio. If I were a record executive, I'd sign her and Katharine McPhee without a second thought.

Next week should be interesting. The guest coach will be operatic/love song superstar Andrea Bocelli, and the theme will be love songs.


Polk County Commissioner Paul Senft announced Wednesday that he would not seek reelection for his District 4 seat on what is now an all-Republican board.

According to the Lakeland Ledger, Senft said he wanted to spend more time enjoying retirement with his family and that he no longer had the passion for political campaigning.

While Senft is generally considered the more moderate voice on the five member commission, he was one of four commissioners targeted for defeat after voting last August to approve the largest property tax increase in county history to support services and infastructure in the face of Polk's continuing growth. That was a major issue at Monday's Tiger Bay Club forum in Bartow, where Senft and the three other candidates for his seat answered questions.

"The rhetoric there convinced me about something my wife and I have been praying about during the Easter weekend," he said in a statement he released accompanying his announcement.

He said he dreaded a campaign filled with "voodoo economics and misrepresentations of financial information."

Mr. Senft will still be heavily involved in politics. He is Florida's national committeeman on the Republican National Committee.

The decision leaves two GOP challengers in the race, and one Democrat.


The federal Department of Homeland Security and it's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division rounded up over 1,000 undocumented immigrants Wednesday at more than 40 plants of German-based pallet maker IFCO Systems, including it's location near Bartow. Seven current and former executives of the company were also arrested in the nationwide effort.

The action was taken as DHS and the Department of Justice were preparing to announce steps to toughen internal enforcement of immigration laws.

According to CNN:

A customs official said federal authorities checked a "sample" of 5,800 IFCO employee records last year and found that 53 percent had faulty Social Security numbers.

"They were using Social Security numbers of people that were dead, of children or just different individuals that did not work at IFCO," Immigration and Customs agency chief Julie Myers told CNN.

"The Social Security Administration had written IFCO over 13 times and told them, 'Listen, You have a problem. You have over a thousand employees that have faulty Social Security numbers. And we consider that to be a big problem.' And IFCO did not do anything about it," Myers said.

Myers said a yearlong investigation revealed that IFCO managers had induced illegal immigrants to work there, telling some of them to doctor W-2 tax forms or saying that they did not need to fill out any documentation at all.

The local plant is located in the Homeland community, south of Bartow. IFCO's Web site also shows plants in Jacksonville and Tampa, which, like the Polk County location, do recycling work on pallets and crates. There was no word on if those locations were affected by the DHS/ICE raids. Officials did not release information on how many individuals were taken locally.

IFCO is considered a leader in the manafacture, recycling, and management of wooden pallets, crates, and containers.


No trip to Tallahassee for me, but two winners will be making their way to the state capitol to claim their share of last night's $82 million Florida Lottery jackpot. We don't know as I write this where they are from. All I can say is congratulations, and invest it well.

Of course, that's nothing compared to Tuesday night's Mega Millions jackpot of $265 million, with only one winner in Ohio. Mega Millions is played in 12 states from California to New York to Georgia.

Well, one can still dream for at least Saturday night's $3 million jackpot here...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


There is, frankly, not much I feel like writing about this morning. So I'm taking the day off from the blog. It would be nice to do the same from my regular job and sleep in for three or four more hours, but I like the money too much. I would certainly like the idea of $82 million by winning tonight's Florida Lotto drawing a lot better. If I'm not here tomorrow, it would be because I will be enroute to Tallahassee to pick up my winnings (haha).

Today's break is also a good chance for you to check out the posts from the past few days. Thanks for stopping by, and make it a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Monday, Polk County District 4 Commissioner Paul Senft of Winter Haven and the three challengers wishing to unseat him were the featured guests at the local Tiger Bay Club's monthly luncheon in Bartow.

Much of the discussion surrounded the commission's decision last August to approve the largest property tax increase in county history, for which Senft and the three other commissioners who voted in favour have been targeted for defeat.

But what really caught my eye in reading the Lakeland Ledger story was near it's end.

During the Q-and-A session from the audience, the four candidates --- three Republican, one Democrat --- were asked who they supported in the U.S. Senate race between Katherine Harris and incumbant Bill Nelson.

The lone Democrat, Jean Reed of Winter Haven, is supporting Nelson. Two of the GOP candidates support Harris. But Senft, who happens to be Florida's national committeeman on the Republican National Committee, declined to comment or endorse his party's probable nominee.

A glaring change from just over a week ago, when Senft told the gathering at the Polk GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner, "Katherine, I want you for my U.S. senator."

My question is: If he was so excited to want Ms. Harris as his U.S. Senator, and say so in front of the party faithful only a few days earlier, why did Commissioner Senft decline to acknowledge it yesterday in front of a bipartisan group of political aficionados?

It's April, and the temperature is getting hotter, but my guess is that the national committeeman's feet are chillin', because he realizes that the Bartow native is gonna:

Goooooooooo down gamblin'
Say it when your runnin' low.
Goooooooooo down gamblin'
You may never have to go.


The money race between State Senator Ron Klein (D - Boca Raton) and incumbant Congressman Clay Shaw (R - Fort Lauderdale) has grown tighter, with Klein having approximately $1.5 million cash on hand to Shaw's $2 million.

According to George Bennett in the Palm Beach Post political blog Q, Shaw's team seems to be ready to pull out the stops, sending out requests to keep May 8 open for a possible fundraising event featuring President Bush. Nothing is confirmed at this point, but GOP contributors have been told that such an event would cost them $2,000 a head.

This race is becoming more and more of a dogfight every time I read something about it. It wasn't too long ago that Klein had actually outcollected the incumbant, but the Republicans seem to have gotten the word that this seat is truly in danger of coming to the good guys.

Monday, April 17, 2006


The Pulitzer Prizes were awarded today for excellence in journalism. Two Gulf Coast newspapers, the Times Picayune of New Orleans and the Sun Herald of the Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi area, received gold medals for public service. The T-P staff also won for breaking news reporting.

Just over two weeks ago, New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV and the Mississippi Gulf Coast's ABC affiliate WLOX-TV of Biloxi/Gulfport/Pascagoula won George Foster Peabody awards for their outstanding efforts in covering Hurricane Katrina.

All these media outlets are well known in their respective areas for being on top of their games when it comes to tropical storm/hurricane coverage. They are all relied on to provide information to their communities in the face of difficult circumstances.

The Times-Picayune staff had to evacuate their plant in the midst of Katrina's wrath, and in the case of WLOX-TV, two of their local news bureaus were destroyed...and their news staff had to work out of the hallways when their newsroom's roof was blown off. It should not be forgotten that with all of these outlets, their staffs continued to work, even as their homes and belongings were damaged or destroyed, and their families had to flee.

A well deserving honour for all of them, although it is an honour that I'm sure they would easily forgo in exchange for things pre-Katrina. We continue to pray for the region's efforts toward recovery.