Thursday, August 23, 2007


As everyone knows by now, the decision by Florida's legislature to change the date of our presidential preference primary to January 29 is in violation of rules agreed upon by both major political parties to protect the status of Iowa as the nation's first caucus state, New Hampshire's first primary, and South Carolina as the first primary in the South. Both parties have threatened to cut the size of our state's delegation in half, and the Democrats have additionally promised that any candidate who campaigns or raises money in Florida will not be entitled to any of it's delegates, regardless of how he/she fares in the January vote.

On the Democratic side, there are two items related to this of note:

Lesley Clark reported in the Miami Herald Wednesday that Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman is prepared to argue before the Democratic National Committee's rules committee when it meets in Washington on Saturday that it is sticking with the January 29 date for a variety of factors; among them, a number of municipalities have decided to move their elections to that date as well...''So when we go up to Washington to fight for all our delegates, it will be the Democratic National Committee who chooses to penalize us.'' Thurman is encouraging all Florida Democrats to send a message to the DNC opposing any possible cut in the delegate strength, and has a page set up on the state party's Web site to do so.

Also, the Florida Democratic congressional delegation has sent a message to DNC Chairman Dr. Howard Dean, threatening that if the state's delegation to the national convention is cut, it would call for a voting rights investigation. The St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz printed the letter's content this afternoon. Click here to check it out.


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senators Jim Webb (D - VA) and John Cornyn (R - TX) will appear to discuss Iraq, President Bush's troop surge, and his strategy in the Middle Eastern nation. The "Voices" segment will feature Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts talking about her battle with breast cancer. And the roundtable will have ABC News' Cokie Roberts, Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, and conservative syndicated columnist George Will talking about the week's top political news. Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran fills in for George Stephanopoulos this weekend.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: U.S. Senator John Warner (R - VA), President Bush's previous close ally on Iraq who recently returned from there and Thursday s , will be on to talk about his visit and break with Bush on the way. Also, former pro bicyclist and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will appear to discuss his battle with cancer and his Livestrong Presidential Forums. The roundtable will feature NBC News Middle Eastern correspondent Richard Engel, Washington Post Pentagon reporter Thomas E. Ricks, and New York Times Chief Military Correspondent and author Michael Gordon.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The questions for the week: Just how religious do we want our president to be? And, will 2008 be the year that a sitting senator win the presidency, the first time since JFK that would happen? Pondering those issues will be NPR's All Things Considered co-host Michelle Norris, Michael Duffy of Time magazine, columnist Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group, and David Brooks of the New York Times.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

WFTS-TV 28 / Flashpoint with Brendan McLaughlin: The guest and topic has not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.


Click here to access the newly updated Florida Presidential Candidate Appearance Calender!


A touch of the cultural panorama of Lakeland and Polk County has apparantly been lost...for now, at least.

The Child of the Sun Jazz Festival is the victim of cost cutting measures being taken by it's host and primary financial donor for nearly two decades, Florida Southern College. The festival, which kept it's focus on traditional jazz sounds while similar events began mixing in more pop and so-called "smooth jazz" influences, was the brainchild of FSC music instructor Larry Burke with a lot of help from the late cornetist and longtime Lakeland resident Nat Adderley.

Adderley's global fame as one of the premier musicians of the genre helped to attract other well known players to Lakeland each spring for what has grown into a weekend long event.

It's always disappointing for a community to lose a piece of it's cultural life, and I would certainly think that there are enough businesses throughout Lakeland and Polk County that would be willing to be associated with an event such as Child of the Sun. Hopefully, it won't take long for a local company or group of companies who want to keep events such as this part of the area variety to step up and provide the necessary funding to keep this event going.


Last night after 9:00 I was lying in bed, halfway paying attention to the TV still on, when an advertisment came on. It ended before I could get my reading glasses on to clearly identify the sponsor.

The ad asked viewers to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives in support of our involvement in Iraq, and used the terms "surrender" and "defeat" in reference to any withdrawal. It also ended with the phrase (not exact, but similar) "Victory is the only option". I can say it was not on one of the religious channels, but one of the independent stations in Tampa (33/38/44).

It was the first time I had seen this ad, and am simply curious as to who sponsored it.

Kinda reminds me of growing up in south Mississippi. My grandmother was loyal to one of the local country music stations in Hattiesburg during the mid and late 1960s, and listened to a preacher every morning who came on that station. He was the New Jersey-based Dr. Carl McIntyre, and this was during the Vietnam conflict. McIntyre spent probably 22-23 minutes of his daily half-hour programme ranting about the growing protests over our involvement there, and was a cheerleader for victory there.

So much for "Thou Shall Not Kill"...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I usually have my CD player with me to hear the latest news from NPR and some favourite music heading to and from work...a nice way to relax before and after the pressure of working in a call center answering strange questions and taking orders from customers. This morning I had Chicago's Overtime --- a greatest hits compliation released mainly in Canada --- as they are one of my all-time favourite groups, and I came across their political anthem Harry Truman. I tend to pay more attention to the lyrics, and while it was written in the latter days of the Vietnam War it comes across perfect for today's political enviroment.

America needs you, Harry Truman
Harry could you please come home
Things are looking bad, I know you would be mad
To see your favorite men prevail upon the land you love

America's wondering how we got here
Harry, all we get is lies
We're gettin' safer cars, and rocket ships to Mars
From men who'd sell us out to get themselves a piece of power

We'd love to hear you speak your mind in plain and simple ways
Call a spade a spade like you did back in the days
You would play piano, each morning walk a mile
Speak of what was going down with honesty and style

America's calling Harry Truman
Harry you know what to do
The world is turnin' round and losin' lots of ground
Oh, Harry is there something we can do to save the land we love...

America needs another Harry Truman...too bad there doesn't seem to be one on the horizon.


As the new school year begins across Polk County, prep football fans are wondering just how good the Dreadnaughts of Lakeland High School will be. When last season ended, the LHS crew had achieved it's second straight national championship and third straight state championship (of seven overall, currently in class 5A), not to mention a running win streak of 45 games. What a way for a high school to begin it's 100th year of football tradition, so you would expect the team at the top of last year's heap with the record it has to begin the new season having to defend it's top ranking.

Think again.

One of the most read high school football polls, the USA Today Super 25, appeared in today's edition, and the Dreadnaughts not only are out of the number one spot...they don't appear at all in the national Top 25 rankings. Afficinados will not only notice that, but that the 'Naughts aren't even in the top ten among teams in the South! There is a Florida team at the top of the USA Today elite, 6A champion Miami Northwestern at number two (the will play top ranked Southlake (TX) Carroll September 15), with Pahokee of Palm Beach County at number 14 (seventh in the regional rankings). Also noted among top teams in the South is another Miami school, Booker T. Washington at ninth.

With the loss of several key players to graduation, Head Coach Bill Castle will have a challenge on his hands, but still with considerable talent. One can presume Castle won't need to use today's news to get his players ready for the opening game, an unofficial "kickoff classic" this Friday.


The new school year began Monday in Polk County --- a number of parents probably said "Amen!" to that --- with a new enrollment record being set. The Lakeland Ledger reported that 89,215 students reported for the first day of classes, an increase of 2.2 percent from last year's numbers.

At least one administrator at Polk County School District headquarters in Bartow suggested that the enrollment numbers could reach as high of 93,000 within two months. The first day figures, however, will have at least some people thinking that it marks the beginning of a slowdown in overall countywide growth.

The 2.2 percent first day hike compares with 3.5 percent from last year, 3.3 percent in 2005, and 4.0 percent in 2004.

So, what's happening? More homeschooled kids? More students being enrolled in private or parochial schools? Or are we seeing more folks leaving the area, joining the reported parade of people leaving Florida in the face of higher property taxes?

Hmmmmmmm...has some of you scratching your heads.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


One of Winter Haven's best known and respected citizens, former mayor/commissioner Richard "Dick" Dantzler, passed away over the weekend after a long battle with the condition known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He was 76.

Dantzler, born and raised in Winter Haven, was a longtime businessman who led or otherwise involved in a number of civic organizations over the years. In addition to heading two area banks, his accomplishments included being active --- and for a time chairing --- the trustee board of Winter Haven Hospital, as well as heading the Winter Haven Area Chamber of Commerce. His business interests included real estate, and he was named chairman of the Florida Real Estate Commission in 1984.

He was elected to the City Commission in 1961-67, serving as mayor from 1962-64. During his tenure, Dantzler was credited with helping make Winter Haven the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, as well as helping guide the city through the difficult periods of racial intergration.

Dantzler's sons have all followed in their dad's footsteps well. All have become active in a variety of civic organizations, and one, Rick, is a former Florida State Senator who resigned in 1998 to run for governor. Rick told the Lakeland Ledger that their father stressed the importance of community service and that should be a guiding principle for any responsible citizen.

Dick Dantzler was a man who obviously loved his home area, and worked hard to make it a better place for all. He set an example that all of us should strive for. Mr. Dantzler will be missed, but he can rest in peace now with the knowledge that he has the thanks and respect of many throughout Winter Haven and beyond.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

As you can see from the forecast track bubble above, the threat from Hurricane Dean to the U.S. coast is reduced greatly. It seems as though the combination of a mid-to-upper level system shifting ahead west of Dean and a deep level high pressure system taking hold over the Southeastern U.S. will keep the powerful Catagory 4 storm (still predicted to reach Catagory 5 before reaching the Yucatan) well south.
The forecast track and bubble, which takes into consideration the National Hurricane Centre's margin of error, only shows a small possibility of the centre of Dean making landfall on the coast near Brownsville, Texas. The higher likelihood is that after clipping the Yucatan Penisula, the hurricane will make final landfall over the northeast Mexican coast.
That's not stopping the folks at NASA's Mission Control from bringing Space Shuttle Endeavor home a day early, on Tuesday instead of the original return date Wednesday. Mission Control, located at the Johnson Space Centre in southeast Houston near Galveston Bay, made the decision so that should Dean change course and become a threat, it would allow personnel --- many of whom live in the neighbouring suburban communities such as Clear Lake City and Webster --- time to shut down and possibly evacuate. Having lived in the area some time ago, I know that one reality of the area is that drainage is not the best. Even a decent afternoon thundershower during summer can cause water to reach bumpers in many areas, and with all the flooding they have had in much of south Texas they certainly don't need a Catagory 4 or 5 hurricane dropping a whole bunch of additional water.


One of my favourite blogs across Florida is the Miami-based Bark Bark Woof Woof, created by "Mustang Bobby", who works for the Miami-Dade School District. He usually has something interesting to say or just pass along, and one of his posts Saturday afternoon will get many choked up. It did that to me.

Mustang Bobby passes along an experience from a flight from Chicago to Toledo while enroute to a theatre festival that also included several USAF soldiers on their last leg home from Iraq. Click here to check it out.

Friday, August 17, 2007


The list of upcoming visits by the presidential candidates, both Republican and Democratic, has been updated with a few new events having been announced or confirmed. Click here to view.

And the Sunday chat shows have announced their guests and topics. Karl Rove will be featured on three different programmes following the announcement of his upcoming resignation, and one show will be an extended version featuring the Democratic candidates for president in a 90 minute debate from Des Moines, Iowa. And I've added another local Sunday programme to the list. Click here to check it out.

BTW: Just scroll the the post below this to view the latest Florida poll results regarding the candidates for president and a couple of more interesting results.

Thanks for visiting, and in the words of the late Houston comsumer reporter and personality Marvin Zindler...

"Have a GREAT weekend...Great golf, great tennis, or WHATEVER makes you happy!"


Strategic Vision has released the results of it's most recent poll of 1,200 likely Florida voters conducted August 10-12. The margin of error is plus/minus 3%. The numbers in parentheses next to their current percentages is the comparison upward or downward to the last poll taken in mid-June

Democrats only: Who is your first choice for the Democratic nomination in 2008?
Hillary Rodham Clinton 40% (+3)
Barack Obama 20% (-1)
John Edwards 16% (-4)
Bill Richardson 9% (+5)
Joseph Biden 3% (0)
Christopher Dodd 1% (-1)
Dennis Kucinich 1% (0)
Undecided 10% (-2)

Senator Clinton continues to increase her lead, and my impression is that many Floridia Democrats, as seems to be the case across the country, are ready to give her the nomination.

Republicans only: Who is your first choice for the Republcan nomination in 2008?
Rudolph Giuliani 34% (+4)
Fred Thompson 18% (-6) (Not yet officially announced candidate)
Mitt Romney 10% (+2)
John McCain 8% (-3)
Newt Gingrich 3% (-1)
Tom Tancredo 3% (+1)
Mike Huckabee 3% (+1)
Ron Paul 2% (0)
Sam Brownback 1% (-1)
Tommy Thompson 1% (0) (Has withdrawn from the race)
Duncan Hunter 1% (0)
Undecided 16% (+5)

It seems to me here that the swooning over a possible Fred Thompson candidacy has cooled somewhat. This was, of course, before this week's announcement that Republican Party of Florida communications director Jeff Sadosky was stepping down to join Thompson's team in a similar role. McCain is out of double digits as his campaign continues to freefall. And there are more GOP undecideds this time, so people are either having second thoughts or are just still shopping.

Governor Charlie Crist's job performance still enjoys an exceptionally high approval rating, 71% among those interviewed. As for the state's two U.S. Senators, Bill Nelson (D) has a 53% approval rating compared to Mel Martinez's (R) 43%. As for their opinion of President Bush's job performance, the approval numbers are slightly higher here than the national ratings, with 37%.

And one other interesting question asked of the 1,200 likely voters across the Sunshine State:
Do you favour an immediate withdrawl of the United States military forces from Iraq within the next six months?

Yes 51%
No 38%
Undecided 11%

Thursday, August 16, 2007


This week I am pleased to add another programme to the list, Flashpoint from Tampa Bay ABC affiliate WFTS. It is hosted by Brendan McLaughlin, who is one of the best television anchors in the market. It has been on for awhile, but the guest(s) and issue(s) had not been previously announced on it's Web site. The link to the programme is actually to it's newly established blog, which McLaughlin posts regularly. It's a good programme, and much of the time is an interesting view.

ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: From Des Moines, Iowa the Democratic candidates for president will debate the issues in this special 90 minute edition, with host George Stephanopoulos serving as moderator.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President Bush,will appear to talk about his decision to resign effective at the end of this month as well as the 2008 presidential election, and politics in general.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Following the deadliest attack of the war in Iraq this week, two U.S. Senators will debate the next step for America, Robert P. "Bob" Casey (D - PA) and Christopher S. "Kit" Bond (R - MO). A member of the Iraqi Parliment, Mahmoud Othman, will also appear to discuss the crisis in his country...and maybe justify why his legislative body is taking the entire month of August off while the fighting continues?

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President Bush, will be the lone guest to speak about his resignation, the 2008 presidential race, and his involvement in the various Bush Administration scandals.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President Bush, will discuss his years in Washington, his decision to leave the Bush Administration at the end of this month, and the future of the Republcan Party. Also, a political roundtable featuring Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein, Conde Nast Portfolio Washington Editor Matt Cooper, John Harwood of CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, and National Review Washington Editor Kate O'Berine.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Where did Karl Rove's plan for a permanant Republican majority in Congress go wrong? And with Hillary Rodham Clinton's strong lead in the polls, can Democratic opponent Barack Obama still be the agent of change? Pondering these questions will be co-anchor Michelle Norris of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Dan Rather of HDNet, Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group, and Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Friday evening. Please check back for updates as they become available.

WFTS-TV 28 / Flashpoint with Brendan McLaughlin: Matt Woolsey of Forbes magazine will be the guest to discuss his listing of best cities for young professionals, on which Tampa is at the bottom among 40 cities for keeping and attracting highly education, single professionals from the best universities.


Just over four months ago, national broadcast personality Don Imus was fired from his simulcast radio/cable morning show after he made, to say the least, insensitive remarks regarding the Rutgers University women's basketball team following their appearance in the NCAA Division I national championship game. Imus' unscripted comments were stupid and bordered on racist, and his employers at CBS Radio and MSNBC were correct in sacking him.

Now there are reports that Imus has been in negotiations with New York talk station WABC-AM and other broadcast organizations to revive his Imus In the Morning show. Needless to say, the possibility has stirred up controveresy over wheather he should ever return to the business which has been his trade for nearly four decades.

Personally, I am not a fan of Don Imus. I believe that he is an old, bitter man whose on-air persona is the way he is off the air, and that he should retire to his New Mexico ranch. That said, I also believe in giving a person the opportunity to redeem themselves and allow the people a chance to accept or reject him.

It's always possible to turn oneself around. The best example of that we've seen recently is Greg Mathis. A serious drug user/dealer and gangbanger in Detroit during his youth, Mathis had numerous run-ins with the law. Thanks to the support of his mother and several key mentors, Greg not only earned his GED, but his college and law degrees. However, after graduating from law school the State Bar of Michigan refused to issue him a license to practice law for several years due to his juvenile background. Mathis finally received his license, and as many people now know became the youngest person in Michigan history to be elected as a Superior Court judge and is now the host of one of America's most popular "judge" shows.

While I probably would not listen to Imus, I would not deny the people a chance to accept or reject his return to the airwaves on their own. The station's management would certainly be aware that signing the "I-Man" would be a risk.

That said, let me add here that I generally don't like the idea of nationally syndicated radio programmes in morning or afternoon prime time anyway. Radio stations should concentrate on serving and supporting the communities and areas that they are licensed to serve. Sadly, since deregulation of radio in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan, a lot of good, talanted air personalities are out of the business, and a lot of communities are without local news and entertainment.


Just a little FYI: There are a couple of posts from earlier that have been updated.

If you want to know where your favourite presidential candidate will be appearing in Florida, click here. Some changed information, as well as a new date or two, is noted.

And if you care about the future of mass transit in Polk County, and all local residents should care about and support it, click here to learn about how you can tell those who directly deal with the issue what you think and learn about what is being considered. I attended the meeting Tuesday in Lakeland, and it was really interesting to hear what's on the table...if the funding is there.


He was a rising star on the Pinellas County Republican political scene, a Yale graduate, and an Eagle Scout. He narrowly lost a race for State House 52 last year, counting among his contributors the city's fire chief, and even then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays owner Vince Namoli. Some were even saying that he could become the next mayor of St. Petersburg.

Today, Angelo Cappelli faces serious jail time.

Cappelli, a wealth and investment advisor for SunTrust bank, was arrested Wednesday at his attorney's office and charged with grand theft and perjury for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from the trust of a deceased client. Authorities say he returned the funds, and a police spokesman reported that Cappelli was "emotional" and that he made a "complete confession" to the crimes.

The late client, Mario Granata, passed away in February and had no spouse or children. His assets at the time of death were allocated to be left to the Pinellas County Community Foundation. So not only did Cappelli allegedly steal from a dead person, he stole from a charity.

Yesterday's Lakeland Ledger had an editorial entitled Tallahassee As a Holding Cell, noting the two state legislators who are or have experienced legal trouble, State Representative Bob Allen (R - Merritt Island) for offering to perform oral sex on who turned out to be an undercover police officer in a park restroom, and State Senator Gary Siplin (D - Orlando), who was convicted last year for grand theft. On a side note, what I want to know is...Why the hell is a convicted felow still allow to serve in the Florida Legislature???

It's getting to where, in the words of former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, "the five most feared words for a...politician were 'Will the defendant please rise?'".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Earlier this year, Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R - Coral Gables) punished Lakeland Republican Representative Dennis Ross by stripping him of his influential chairmanship of the Safety and Security Council after he bucked the majority GOP leadership on a vote dealing with property insurance reform. Ross was demoted to vice-chairmanship of the panel.

Today, he regains at least a small bit of his former influence.

Rubio today names the Lakeland attorney as chairman of the Courts Committee as one of a number of council and committee assignments made for the 2007-08 year. He replaces Representative Mark Mahon (R - Jacksonville), who was recently appointed by Governor Charlie Crist to become a Circuit Judge effective September 1. Ross retains the vice-chairmanship of the Safety and Security Council, under whose jurisdiction the Courts Committee falls.

The moves were due to the fact that under House rules, all such appointments made by the Speaker expired August 1.

Small steps toward redemption, I guess. Probably had to promiss to tow the line from now on...


Sorry we missed out on a couple of events that occured today which apparantly we didn't find out about until it was too late.

In Winter Park, the presidential campaign of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani opened it's Florida headquarters today. Leading the celebration was the candidate's national campaign manager, Mike DuHaime, who touted the importance of Florida to the St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz:

"Clearly it is among the first four states, it's where we're the strongest and it's the closest to Feb. 5 where you could have potentially 20 states (voting).'

Buzz writer and Times political editor Adam C. Smith also reports that only a few miles away from the Giuliani HQ opening, Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney was holding one of his occasional "Ask Mitt Anything" events. He also has a privite fundraising event planned this evening in Orlando.

And on top of that, Republican Party of Florida communications director Jeff Sadosky is stepping aside to fill a similar post for the Sunshine State team of actor and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson's exploratory committee.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson officially ended his Republican presidential campaign Sunday after finishing a distant sixth in the Ames, Iowa straw poll. He had said that it would take a first or second place finish in the event Saturday for him to remain as a candidate.

He was generally an unknown entity to most people, focusing his campaign on improving health care and welfare in America. Thompson said he would return to the private sector and do some non-profit work.

One thing Thompson can say about his finish in the Ames straw poll: He still came out ahead of John McCain.


To this point, the first half of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season has been rather quiet. Only three named tropical storms, all of which meandered out to sea and were of no threat to the North American coast.

But things are changing quickly.

As we begin this Tuesday morning there are two systems of which forecasters are concerned. What is now known as Tropical Depression Four could likely become Tropical Storm Dean sometime today as it continues on a westward track, and the prediction is for it to become the season's first hurricane by week's end. The forecast track calls for this system to continue heading west, with a light west-northwesterdly curve as it approaches Puerto Rico by Sunday. This is a storm that we in Florida will have to keep a close watch on over the weekend.

The second system is currently an area of low pressure with showers and thunderstorms just off Mexico's Yucatan Penisula. However, it is also in an area that is favourable for development, and could become Tropical Depression Five later today after the "Hurricane Hunter" recon plane from Keesler AFB, Mississippi investigates. If it does reach tropical storm status, it would be named Erin. Forecast tracks suggest that within a few days it could become a threat to the coast of Texas or northern Mexico.
It's never too late...or too get those storm plans ready.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Dara Kam writes in today's Palm Beach Post that a number of Floridians have been receiving an e-mail warning them of sharply higher fines for such traffic violations as illegally driving in a car pool lane and improperly using a cellular phone. As a result, a number of reciepints have phone into the state motor vehicles office concerned about the potential huge hit on their bank accounts.

The truth is...the information distributed in the e-mail is false.

The message advises reciepints that they could be fined up to $1,068.50 for illegally driving in a car pool lane. In reality, the fine is just over one-tenth of that amount...$125.

And there was a proposed law this spring requiring the use of a headset hands-free device while using a cell phone, with the caveat that one could only be ticketed if pulled over for another offense. However, it didn't make it through the Legislature, so there is actually no such law, and therefore no $285 fine that can be issued.

So if you see such a message in your in box, disregard it. Just another urban myth at work.


First, let me take a moment to thank all of you who have visited, supported, and linked to I4J for the past three-plus years (it's been that long already?), and hope that you will continue to do so as this blog continues to provide another voice from Imperial Polk County.

As many of you who have visited are aware, for some time now my home computer has been experiencing fits from a few days to a few weeks during which it has refused to work, forcing me to do weekly posts from the Lakeland Public Library. During these times when I attempt to switch on my PC, an IBM, it would start normally by showing the IBM logo on screen as it prepares to switch into Windows mode. However, Windows would not come on, and all I would see is the IBM logo.

This past Friday, I switched on the 'puter and, Glory to God, she operated normally, and has been since. How long will I be so blessed, I don't know. But while it's working OK I'll be posting on a regular basis...and have been throughout the weekend.

I encourage you to check out the posts from the weekend, and thanks again for stopping by.

Robert C.


The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is resigning effective August 31. Rove told WSJ editorial page editor Paul Gigot that he will be returning to his home in the Texas Hill Country, and that he had actually considered leaving a year ago but stayed after the Democrats took over control of Congress and for the debate over immigration. His decision was set after presidential Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten advised senior aides that if they remained past Labor Day that they would be obliged to remain until President Bush's term ended January 20, 2009.

The WSJ editorial this morning, entitled "The Mark of Rove", shows an upbeat Rove, who actually believes that the president's approval rating will actually head back up and surpass that of the legislative branch. There's even a question about Rove returning to work with a possible Jeb Bush presidency in 2012.

In the theatre of professional wrestling, Ric Flair refers to himself as "The Dirtiest Player In the Game" because he'll do anything, break any rule to win. Karl Rove could be considered the political equivilent of Flair. But presidential politics is not theatre, and we have laws to govern how our leaders conduct themselves on behalf of the American people. There is no doubt that Rove and others in the Bush Administration have trounced over the rule of law. It's too bad that when Karl Rove returns to the Lone Star State, it's won't be to a federal prison.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Saturday marked another sign of tradition at the Iowa State Fair in Ames, the Republican straw poll. With six months before the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses, candidates who have done well at this event have used it for bragging rights and as a show of their support, with the hope that the national attention focused on the straw poll helps them elsewhere.

Yesterday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came away the winner, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee surprised pundits with a second place showing. However, many pundits should look at the results as a shallow victory for a couple of reasons.

First, the turnout was significantly lower than in years past...just over 14,300 votes were cast. Also, several of the top-tier GOP wannabees such as John McCain and Rudy Giuliani didn't bother participating on an active basis. Usually, a candidate's organization will bus in supporters from throughout the state to vote, with food and other goodies to keep 'em happy. That cost a lot of money, and apparantly McClain and Giuliani felt their resources were better spent elsewhere...especially McCain, whose campaign coffers are seriously lacking right now. BTW: Giuliani came in eighth, while McCain was to last.

And we're already hearing of another candidate dropping out. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, who was sixth in Saturday's poll, had previously said he may quit if he didn't come in first or second in Ames. His organization has announced he would make an announcement within the next 48 hours.


We're only catching the edge of a truly scorching heat wave that is smothering much of the southeastern US. The high temperatures registered during the past two days at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport --- the city's official weather reporting station --- were 97 degrees on Saturday and 95 Friday. In comparision, at Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport in my birthplace of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the highs were 103 Saturday and 97 on Friday. Remember, that's the actual air temperature, not the heat index which is the temperature that it "feels like" when the humidity is factored in. And, they're expecting the mercury to hit or surpass the 100 degree mark for the next four days.

It became so serious that in Grenada County, Mississippi a chancery judge signed an order prohibiting all outdoor activities such as football and band practices, as well as recess for elementary schoolchildren. That decision, which affected seven north Mississippi counties in the judge's district, was overturned Friday by the state Supreme Court.

Regardless of where you are across the southeast, including here in "cool" Central Florida, be sure you take care of yourself and keep a check on the elderly and ill during this time. Be sure to put on plenty of sun screen, and keep yourself hydrated (we're talking water here; adult libations has the opposite effect, so if you do get into the alcoholic drinks, be sure you get plenty of water as well).

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Back in mid-January, I wrote a posting for this blog championing the idea of five regional presidential preference primaries (or caucuses, should individual states favour that idea), to eliminate the childish "frontloading" that we are seeing states do to make their event first in the nation, or close to it. There are other key advantages to such an idea, and I would suggest reading the post.

It was therefore good to read that Wednesday, former governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham came out in a New York Times op-ed piece in favour of the idea.

Some have wryly suggested a political version of “American Idol,” with voters sizing up candidates from living rooms across the nation and eliminating one candidate per week until the party nominee is chosen. I think the better analogy is college football’s Bowl Championship Series, which rotates the title game from year to year among the traditional bowl games.

A series of five regional primaries, spaced three weeks apart and rotated every four years, would give voters from Miami to Maui to Manchester opportunities to be first in the nation. Candidates could spend more time with citizens of neighboring states and less time on coast-to-coast flights. Because the primaries would be stretched out over three months rather than three weeks, reporters and other political scorekeepers could not rush to declare a national winner.

Regional primaries are not as intimate as living rooms in Cedar Rapids and Portsmouth. But they might accomplish what the 2008 primary season probably will not: a comprehensive and meticulous screening of the men and women who would be president.

Senator Graham is one of the most intellegent individuals that has graced the Florida or national political scene. If he sees the obvious advantages in a rotating regional primary/caucus system, it can't be bad.


A few weeks ago, during one of my absences, there was a letter to the editor in the Lakeland Ledger questioning the need for a local bus system. The writer claims that when he drove down Florida Avenue he would often see near-empty buses and crowed that most people favour being able to get behind the wheel of their vehicle and go where they wanted, whenever they wanted to.

Uninformed people such as this literally scare me. The simple truth is that, while many people prefer to be able to go where and when they want, there are a number of Polk Countians that cannot. Among these are men and women unable to drive for medical or other reasons, but are still able to work and be a full member of the community. There are also a growing number of people who simply find it more economical to use the local bus systems due to the high cost of fuel, some slight inconvenience aside.

The writer apparantly does not notice many of the buses during the early morning and afternoon drive times. I happen to be one of those people who depend on the Citrus Connection to get around town, as my epiltetic condition prevents me from driving (I couldn't afford the car payments and insurance, much less fuel). When I head to and from work during the week, often the bus is more than half full. And there are usually a good sized queue of people at the downtown Lakeland terminal much of the day making their way to doctors' appointments, grocery shopping, work, and other activities.

Is the Citrus Connection/Winter Haven Area Transit a perfect system? By no means. There are some areas in which the system can be improved, especially in the area of customer service by some drivers and supervisors. They could also work on better on-time performance, a challenge which will be increased once the new CSX rail centre is built near Winter Haven. Once these issues are resolved, the soon-to-be countywide mass transit leadership body should look at working with Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit on setting up an agreement where riders from each system can transfer to the other's buses.

While there are many who have asked about later operation hours, I can't presently see that as a realistic move. Even after a countywide mass transit system is in place, the fact is that Polk County simply does not have the population base --- and therefore the tax base --- to support expanded operation into the night. Maybe a Saturday schedule to match weekdays would work first (Currently Saturday operation begins one hour later, and ends one hour earlier, than weekdays).

The bottom line is that thousands of Polk Countians depend on the Citrus Connection, Winter Haven Area Transit, and Polk County Transportation Services. It is a generally inexpensive way to get across town or across the county (much of it, anyway). Mass transit deserves everyone's support.

UPDATE: You can show your support and present your ideas for the future of mass transit in Polk County during one of two meetings organized by the Polk County Transportation Planning Organization. The first will be held Tuesday, 14 August in the City Commission conference room of Lakeland City Hall, 228 South Massachusetts Avenue. The second will be Monday, 20 August in the meeting room of the Winter Haven Public Library, 325 Avenue A, Northwest.


At least in a couple of cases, the presidential campaigns are beginning to announce individuals to head up their grass roots efforts in counties across the Sunshine State.

Here in Polk County, the Rudy Giuliani campaign has named former local GOP Chairman and county commissioner Jerry Carter of Winter Haven to lead his local effort. Back in July, fellow Republican candidate Mitt Romney named Lake Wales health care business owner Linda Pilkington to his "Women for Mitt Steering Committee" and Amy Speer, who works with Lifetimewater Solutions, to his "Young Professionals for Mitt Steering Committee". His co-chairs in Polk County are local Republican Executive Committee chairman Eric Allen of Lakeland and senior PR professional Fernando Valverde of Solvita.

One thing you will notice when looking at the list of Romney's support groups in Florida: Obviously, his visits to Central Florida have paid off, as they are loaded with people from the Tampa Bay area.

Friday, August 10, 2007


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Two presidential candidates, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R - KS) and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D - OH), will appear on the day before the Ames, Iowa straw poll, considered an important sign of one's level of support. Also, actor Leonardo DiCaprio will discuss his new enviromential documentary The 11th Hour. And the roundtable will feature Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, Torie Clarke of ABC News, former Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and conservative columnist George Will in a discussion of the week's political news.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will be the primary guest. Also, a roundtable featuring Des Moines Register Chief Political Correspondent David Yepsen, Time magazine's National Political Correspondent Karen Tumulty, and Jim VandeHei of

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: Iraq, Iran, and the war on terror; what's next for the US? A discussion with Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R - CA / GOP Presidential Candidate) and Joe Sestak (D - PA). Transportation Secretary Mary Peters will also appear, as will Pakastani Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani, CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider, and CNN Political Contributor Amy Walter of The Hotline. And a look at the 2008 presidential race from inside the campaigns with Congressman David Dreier (R - CA / Giuliani campaign), Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent (R - MO / Romney campaign), and Former Governor Buddy Roemer (R - LA / McCain campaign).

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: Host Chris Wallace is in Iowa for this week's programme, and will interview GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: A debate between Democratic Leadership Council Chairman and former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. and creator/editor Markos Moulitsas regarding the 2008 campaign and the direction of the Democratic Party. Also, a political roundtable to discuss the Ames Straw Poll and the race for the White House featuring Time magazine columnist Margaret Carlson, Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Duffy, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, and Byron York of The National Review.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: Do the Iowa caucuses still matter? And the fact that three Republican presidential candidates are cancer survivors - will voters care? Those questions will be pondered by Time magazine Managing Editor Rick Stengel, New York Times Correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller, Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group, and Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: The guests and issues for this week's programme were not posted.


Please keep in mind that often, a candidate will make a quick in-and-out visit to a city for a private fundraising event or meeting with a group which would receive little or no advance warning. The events shown here are confirmed by the candidate's Web site or Florida media sources.

Mitt Romney - Florida Medical Association Annual Meeting & Florida Medical Expo
12:00 N - 02:00 PM
Westin Diplomat & Spa - Atlantic Ballroom
3555 South Ocean Drive
Private Event

Barack Obama - Fundraising Event
12:30 - 02:30 PM
Gaither Gymnasium - Florida A&M University
1835 Wahnish Way
Tickets: $20 General Admission, $10 Students

Barack Obama - Fundraising Event
09:30 - 11:00 AM
Cafe Bella Sera
7351 North State Road 7

08:00 - 11:00 PM
Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, Duncan Hunter, Dennis Kucinich - International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers / National Staff Conference
Conversation with the Candidates
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
1700 Epcot Resorts Road
Lake Buena Vista
Private Event

08:00 - 09:30 PM
John Edwards - "Small Change for Big Change" Fundraising Event
Friday's Front Row Grill
8126 International Drive
Tickets: $15

Rudy Giuliani - Pinellas County Republican Party Reagan Day Fundraising Dinner
07:00 - 09:00 PM
Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club
501 Fifth Avenue, Northeast
St. Petersburg

02:00 - 03:30 PM
Dennis Kucinich - Peace Walk & Rally
Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts / Cohen Pavilion
701 Okeechobee Boulevard
West Palm Beach
Free Event
Sponsored by the Palm Beach County Democratic Party and Palm Beach County Coalition for Peace and Justice.

07:00 - 09:30 PM
Democratic Presidential Debate
BankUnited Center
1245 Dauer Drive
Coral Gables
NOTE: This event will be the first of it's kind to be conducted entirely in Spanish, with simultaneous translation to be made available for candidates who do not speak the language and the audience. This will be the first of two such debates, this one sponsored by Univision Communications and the University of Miami.

Barack Obama - Fundraisers
Tampa, St. Petersburg
NOTE: The exact times and locations are not being announced, but the events will be hosted in Tampa by Tom and Linda Scarritt, and in St. Petersburg by Tim and Donna Main. Mr. Scarritt is an attorney and member of the Florida Commission on Ethics. Mr. Main is President/CEO of Jabil Circuit, Inc. and a past contributor to President Bush and the Republican Party of Florida.

Republican Presidential Debate
Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Boulevard
NOTE: This is not a public event, as it will be held during the Republican Party of Florida annual gathering. The debate will be cablecast, however, on Fox News Channel.

Florida Democratic Party State Convention
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
1700 Epcot Resorts Road
Lake Buena Vista
NOTE: At this point the exact schedule has not been announced, but at least several of the Democratic presidential candidates are expected to address the delegates. So far, those candidates who have announced that they would attend are Dennis Kucinich

Republican Presidential Debate
Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts
400 First Street, South
St. Petersburg
NOTE: This event will be sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida in partnership with CNN and YouTube, and will feature questions submitted by viewers via YouTube. The debate, which will be moderated by Anderson Cooper, will be aired live on CNN and CNN En Espanol.


Unfortunately, since my personal computer has basically seen it's final days, I am relegated to one hour a week on a computer at the local library. As a result, I will combine several subjects into one post to save time and effort.

--- This week is seeing yet another round of states attempting to do one better in moving their presidential preference primaries or caucuses ahead of everyone else. Now, in order to maintain it's first-in-the-nation status, Iowa is seriously considering moving it's caucuses to December. I heard on a radio programme yesterday afternoon a great comparision to a bunch of second grade schoolchildren crowding near the front of the lunch line so as not to lose their place.

I still believe fully that a set of rotating regional primaries and caucuses would be the best direction to go. There would be no whining or crying on who would be first, as every region would go first at some point as the schedule would be rotated each election cycle. It would allow candidates to concentrate on specific areas of the country, and therefore specific issues important to those areas in addition to issues of an overall national importance.

--- Congratulations to Barry Bonds on his becoming Major League Baseball's home run king this week. Because of questions regarding wheather he used steriods or other performance enhancing drugs, his record will be debated for years to come. While I have my own ideas on the subject, I believe the record should be accepted as Bonds has never had a test come back positive for 'roids or other drugs, and there is no other clear evidence showing such usage. Almost as much of a reason people do not want Bonds to have the record is that he is not a press or fan-friendly type of player...simply put, he doesn't have the class of the man whose record he broke, "Hammerin" Hank Aaron. And if you think breaking the HR record is enough, think again. You'll hear more about Bonds next season, as he is scheduled to join the 3,000-plus hit club then.

All this said, it is up to MLB and the other major sports organization to come down hard on players who use steriods and other performance enhancing drugs. Such usage not only cheats the games and fans, it also cheats the player as well. We should expect players to use their natrual, God-given talent...nothing more, nothing less.

Until next time...

Friday, August 03, 2007


It was very sad to hear earlier this week of the passing of one of America's earliest local television consumer affairs reporters/advocates. While you may not know his name, you may be familiar in a way of one of his earliest endeavors.

Marvin Zindler was hired by Houston ABC affiliate KTRK in 1971 after a career with the Harris County Sheriff's Department to head up it's newly formed Action 13 consumer affairs segment. While with the HCSO Zindler had helped form it's consumer fraud division, so it was a perfect fit. Zindler, who had previously worked briefly during the 1950s with another Houston TV station but was fired after being told he was too ugly for the medium, took to his new duties much like a duck to water. He was a true pioneer in the field.

Marvin was best known for exposing the Chicken Ranch brothel and the on-camera beat-down he received at the hands of Fayette County Sheriff T.J. Flournoy (two broken ribs and his toupee being pulled off). The episode was later made famous in a Playboy article, which later became the basis for the Broadway musical and later motion picture The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Dom DeLuise played the character based on Zindler), as well as ZZ Top's hit song La Grange.

He was, to say the least, flamboyant. White suits in a world of dark coloured coats on-camera, blue-tinted glasses, a full-throated closing "MAAAAAARVIN ZINDLER, EYYYYYYYYYYEWITNESS NEWS!", and so much more. He helped thousands of people over his 30-plus years. After Sadaam Hussen's fall, Zindler helped seven Iraqi citizens who had their hands cut off receive prostethic devices, which President Bush mentioned this week in noting the passing of a fellow Houstonion.

"Marvin was a Texas legend with a bigger than life personality who dominated Houston TV for decades," Bush said in a statement. "He was also a kind and compassionate man who made it his life's work to help others in need."

Marvin Zinder died Sunday evening at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston following complications from pancreatic cancer. He kept to his lifetime contract by filing reports from his hospital bed, most recently helping a man who had been trying to get a Social Security card to be eligible for work. His funeral was Wednesday at his temple with a ecumenical service led by five ministers, including Houston-based televangalist Joel Osteen.

Here is the Houston Chronicle report of his passing, and the report of his funeral service.

It is only appropriate that as we head toward the weekend, I leave you with another one of Marvin's well known wishes: "Good golf, good tennis, or whatever makes you happy!"