Sunday, March 04, 2007


This morning we awaken to what will likely be Old Man Winter's last real strike at Central Florida before Spring begins in just over 2 weeks (March 20, to be exact). Enjoy the slight chill while you can before the heat and humidity --- and the almost constant forecast of a slight chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms --- become a regular part of your day.

So is there a chill in the editorial pages across Central Florida this morning? Let's find out.

We begin with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which is concerned about the decline in food safety inspections by the federal Food and Drug Administration...down 47 percent between 2003 and 2006. And while the Bush Administration proposes an increase in funding of $10.6 million for the FDA next year, former Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says it needs to be increased tenfold.

Meanwhile, the Daytona Beach News Journal looks at and opines on the top issues facing legislators as they head into their annual session. While it says the state's tax system is broken, the DBNJ notes there is good reason to wait until the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission does it's work in evaluating all sources of state income. Other subjects touched upon in the editorial are insurance, elections, education, health care, and the budget.

The death penalty is the subject of today's St. Petersburg Times editorial. It looks at the botched execution of Angel Diaz in December and the recommendations of the governor's Commission on Administration of Lethal Injection, whose report was released Thursday (.pdf file). The Times agrees with the recommendations that additional training, supervision, and proceedures be adopted for future lethal injections, and that the three-drug cocktail currently used be reconsidered. But it's real point comes in the very last sentence:

The commission recognized that the process requires "some qualified medical personnel" to accomplish "a humane and lawful execution." Since the Florida Medical Association and the American Medical Association bar physicians from taking a life in this manner, it might be difficult for the state to procure those services. That is another reason why the state should abolish capital punishment.

Many of us who grew up in the South "back in the day" probably learned the Stephen Foster song "Way Down Upon the Suwannee River (Old Folks At Home)" in elementary school. Growing up in Mississippi, of course, I was unaware that it was actually Florida's state song. Most of us at such a young age likely didn't realize how offensive the song was and is to many Black Americans. Today the Orlando Sentinel editorial page notes that "Suwannee River" has no place as the state song and suggests one "with a more tropical theme that brings Florida up to speed on current tastes and interests..."Margaritaville", anybody?" Actually, it's writer, Jimmy Buffett, is a fellow native Mississippian (born in Pascagoula) and is a fellow alum of the University of Southern Mississippi (GO EAGLES!).

The Tampa Tribune opinion this morning is entitled "The Sacred And The Profane", and basically compares James Cameron and film director Simcha Jacobovici to P.T. Barnum regarding their TV documentary (broadcast last evening) which claims to debunk one of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith, the Resurrection of Jesus. For the record, I didn't watch...I don't have cable, and likely would not have watched anyway.

Over on the Space Coast, the Melbourne-based Florida Today agrees that the state's tax inequities should be solved, but not through a plan proposed in the House which would eliminate the property tax for homestead properties, cutting other property taxes, and raise the sales tax to 8.5 percent, which would be the nation's highest. The plan would also cap local revenue with money being doled out to local governments according to a formula devised by legislators.

Finally, last week it was the Orlando Sentinel which called on the Legislature to allow law enforcement authorities to use so-called "red light cameras" as evidence in issuing tickets to drivers who run stop lights. Today it's the Lakeland Ledger, making many of the same points that their collegues in Orlando did seven days ago. Currently they can be used, but only warnings can be sent to the auto owners. Lakeland is one of a number of municipalities considering the use of such technology.

Make it a great day, and keep warm!


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