Thursday, May 31, 2007

Protecting the Children

If you've been told that lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, don't believe it.

The Shuttle launch pad gets struck time and time again, often more than once during the same storm.

Lightning is a weird force of nature, zapping the roof of a low-lying structure while totally missing a nearby 60 foot oak tree.

A bolt of lightning is indiscriminate in the strike to balance a charge separation: the positive and the negative.

Mark Lunsford grabbed hold of the bolt that struck his family. He harnassed the negative to effect a positive charge in the name of his tragically deceased daughter, Jessica.

To ensure the safety of Florida's children, the changes in the law were passed lightning-fast through the Florida legislature, widespread and far-reaching. The new laws zig-zagged oversight in previously low-lying areas of security concern, such as requiring background checks of construction personnel working on school campuses.

Once something-or someone-is struck by lightning, immunity is not granted.

Lightning struck twice with the recent arrest of Lunsford's son, 18-year-old Joshua, who stands accused in Ohio of a sexual conduct with a minor. If convicted for the alleged offense, the young man finds himself facing the full brunt of the laws advocated by his father on a national level.

Lightning simply has no memory when protecting the children.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Battle Fatigue

At the sound of a car backfiring, my mother's uncle would drop to the floor commando style. Everyone knew the drill. Steer clear until he snapped out of it.

He was back on the battlefield.

Back in those days, his condition was described as "shell shock", psychological trauma from exposure to the constant horror of combat on the battlefront. In his state of mind, he had no way to distinguish the good guys from the bad.

After reading the first installment of Florida Today's "The Tax Divide", I'm beginning to feel a little shell-shocked myself.

The entire subject gives me a headache. The different plans offered as solutions make me dizzy. I maintain a heightened sense of threat because I truly believe Florida's elected officials are more concerned about saving their own skin than initiating a Grant-Lee-style Tax Treaty. Our commanding officers of the Battle Field Tax Front watch from far above the maddening crowd-while their troops struggle with the intensity of the tax barrage on the home front.

I don't know the good guys from the bad guys anymore. My hypervigilance over the current government brass is constant. Charlie Crist sounds like a leader the troops can trust and has distinguished himself as far different than the "my way or the highway" ex-governor, John Ellis Bush. "We now have a great pathway to consensus so that the people of Florida can benefit by a significant tax cut this year. That's what they want."

Sounds great. But that Marco Rubio guy-a Jeb Bush clone-he talks the same talk as Crist. That makes me nervous when the "twin poles" of the debate shake hands before the debate has begun. How can any of these guys be trusted?

Just who is running the War Room?

And when-if ever-will the war plans be shared-in detail-with those in the trenches?

The Battle for Survival begins June 12.

Will it be Them against Us?

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

We Will Never Forget

Mother is the battle over?
Mother is the battle over?
Thousands, thousands have been kill'd they say;
Is my Father coming? tell me,
Have our soldiers gain'd the fay?
Is he well or is he wounded?
Mother do you think he's slain?
If you know, I pray you tell me,
Will my father come again, will father come again?

Mother dear you're always sighing
Since you last the paper read...
Tell me why you now are crying
Why that cap is on your head?
Why that cap is on your head?
Ah! I see you can tell me not,
Father's one among the slain;
Altho' he lov'd us very dearly,
He will never come again!
He will never come again.

"Mother Is the Battle Over?"
(circa 1861-1865)
by Benedict E. Roeffs

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Incidentally, Take the Scrub Jay

Palm Bay scrub jays will soon have new neighbors.

Under an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the city will permit development to displace scrub jays on 2,000 lots.

Cost to the prospective home builder: $125 per quarter-acre.

The City of Palm Bay anticipates collection of $10.7 million dollars during the 30 year permit period.

The environmental fees will be donated to The Nature Conservancy for the acquisition, management, and restoration of scrub-jay habitat.

The eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise are covered under the Conservancy umbrella, just in case those species join the list of Threatened or Endangered. (Which sadly, is a fairly safe bet).

Sounds all warm and fuzzy. A real win/win situation for both man and beast.

Until one reads the fine print.

The summary of Palm Bay's request of the feds indicates the "take of these species is anticipated as a result of residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal construction projects and associated infrastructure within the city limits of the City of Palm Bay." (Federal Register: August 28, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 166. Notices. Page 50942-50942).

Meaning, any time a city starts playing advocate for its citizenry-in this case, those retirees who purchased land from the infamous General Development Corporation and found themselves stuck with a scrub jay habitat instead of a buildable lot-something more self-serving-more lucrative for the city-lurks at the heart at such advocacy.

Revenue for the City of Palm Bay.

While standing at the June 12 tipping point of the property tax issue, we all know how well such revenue has been managed in the past.

Read the Federal Register Summary-and how citizens can obtain a copy of the ITP application-here.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Sprawl Straight to the Heart

Palm Bay is asking the State of Florida for permission to change their comprehensive plan to greatly increase development density on 1500 acres surrounded by publicly owned conservation lands.

Wrong development, wrong place.

Palm Bay annexed this land from the county and zoned it for rural low-density residential.

The Perfect Place to Grow...and grow...and grow...a city infamous for its inability to serve its existing population and their needs-is planning to extend surburban sprawl in the heart of a conservation area.

Indian River residents-sound the alarm. Palm Bay plans to annex as far south as the county line.

If allowed, this development threatens the viability of our public conservation lands.

The Department of Community Affairs received the completed request by the City on May 4.

Citizens have 30 days from that date to comment on this issue.


Email First. (These State types receive email faster than snail mail).


Follow up your email with snail mail:
Tom Pelham

Sadowski Building
2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100

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Those Formerly Known as Insured

Red Carpet Schools is an organization that judges the family friendliness of schools. Judges visit applicant schools on the "down low" to see for themselves-is this school customer friendly?

It's time to extend such a concept to the medical community, specifically those working with clients caught between the world of the insured and the uninsured. I'm referring to the once insured-those who received benefits through their parents or through a job now lost-that aren't quite certain how to navigate a medical world without the passport of medical coverage.

The Brevard Health Alliance was visited recently by an individual down on their luck-a person caught between the rock of a chronic health condition and the hard place of no health insurance. A condition-I might add-that has suddenly become tremendously unaffordable without the life raft of medical insurance. After several visits just trying to get a foot in the front door, an audience was finally granted by the BHA, which-by the way- provides medical services to those who find themselves suddenly displaced into situational poverty.

It's the BHA customer service part that needs work.

The patient had many questions of the BHA, having never before had the experience of swimming against help for her health condition. As a former card-carrying member of the insured, this new medical world was far different than that of before. She left her BHA appointment that day with prescriptions in hand, but perceived her questions about the procedures and guidelines were treated as trivial, silly and not worth the time of those volunteering to work at this facility.

She felt "less than".

For professionals who work with the public, having a bad day is no excuse toward those who seek out their expertise and knowledge-whatever the field.

Roll out the red carpet, BHA.

You just never know who that next patient might know.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gouge This

Go to bed at $2.96 a gallon.

Wake up the next morning at $3.10.

But rest easy, fellow drivers.

Big Oil wants to assure the Henry Ford in all of us that in no way is price manipulation at play here.

Oil companies blame the sky high gasoline prices on unexpected refinery shutdowns, a decline in gasoline imports and higher demand by the gas guzzling public.

So why have gasoline prices soared while crude prices have dropped?

Why are gas prices almost 50 cents a gallon higher this month than last?

Feeling a bit gouged?

Talk to Me.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Manic Monday

And then...it was gone.

The weekend, that is.

Navigate your "case of the Mondays" with a couple of interesting reads.

The New York Times catches up with Paul Ruebens aka Pee Wee Herman here.

Miss last night's Sopranos? Fuggetaboutit! (Two more episodes left).

Lizard Dreams munches through a meme and this story on campus security has caught my eye. (More from me about that later).

But what are your thoughts on campus security? Many of us have kids in college. Tell me about the security on their campus...or lack thereof?

What changes would you make?

Talk to Me.

I'm out. It's my last Monday before the long, hot summer.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Outta Here

School's out for summer!

Last day for kids not attending summer school: Wednesday, May 23.

School resumes for students on August 20, 2007.

Just like the good old days.

Enjoy the extra time, kids and congrats to the Class of 2007!

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Bit of Floridalia

You know you're a Floridian when...

Sand in your shoes in common place no matter what type of shoes they are.

Flip-flops are everyday wear.

Shoes are only for business meetings and church.

No, wait, flip flops are good for church too, unless it's Easter or Christmas.

"Panhandling" means going to Pensacola.

Sweet tea can be served at any meal.

An alligator walked through your neighborhood (at least once).

You smirk when a game show's "Grand Prize" is a trip or cruise to Florida.

You measure distance in minutes.

You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and only one sweatshirt.

You get annoyed at the tourists who feed seagulls.

You get annoyed at the tourists who feed manatees.

All the local festivals are named after a fruit.

(Except Springing the Blues, Jazz fest and the Shrimp Festival)

A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.

You think everyone from a bigger city has a northern accent.

You know the four seasons really are: almost summer, summer, not summer yet but really hot, and Christmas.

It's not soda, cola, or pop...its coke, regardless of brand or flavor, "What kinda coke you want?"

Anything under 95 is just warm.

Anything under 70 is chilly.

You think no-one over 80 should be allowed to drive.

You've hosted at least one hurricane party - probably more!

You go to a theme park for an afternoon, and know when to get on the best rides.

You pass on the right and honk at the elderly.

You understand the futility in exterminating cockroaches.

You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Withlacoochee, Okahumpka and Loxahatchee.

You understand why it's better to have a friend with a boat, than have a boat yourself.

Bumper stickers on the pickup in front of you include: various fish, the NRA, and a NASCAR number.

You were 8 before you realized they made houses without pools.

You were 12 when you first met someone who couldn't swim.

You get angry when people say "Florida isn't really part of the SOUTH"

You've worn shorts, gone to the beach and used the A/C on Christmas day.

You know what the "stingray shuffle" is, and why it's important!

Socks are only for bowling.

Orange juice from concentrate makes you sick.

You never use an umbrella because you know the rain will be over in five minutes.

A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade.

Your winter coat is made of denim... or is actually a windbreaker.

You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.

You're younger than thirty but some of your friends are over 65.

You've driven through Yeehaw Junction.

You could swim before you could read.

You have to drive north to get to The South.

You've said at least once, "Don't like it here? Take I-95 North."

Or, "Welcome to Florida. Now leave."

You know that no other grocery store can compare to Publix.

You've gotten out of school early on Halloween to trick or treat before it got dark.

You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn't worth waking up for.

You dread love bug season.

You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane list.

They aren't Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances...but
Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

You know what a snowbird is and can instantly tell when they've arrived by the change in the flow of traffic.

You know why flamingos are pink.

You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty average.

You were twelve before you ever saw snow or you still haven't.

You made it to the end of this list.

Are you a true Floridian?

Yes. Sun livin' is the life for me
No. Give me Park Avenue.

(View Results)

Create a Poll

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Teen Angst in the Pants

Want to create a politically active teen?

Hit them below the belt of their individuality. (Or the lack of a belt thereof..which effects the whole baggy pants, under-wearing showing "aint't nothing but a teen thang" look).

"My son was always wearing baggy pants with his underwear showing, and it's just not appropriate."

(OK. Obvious question. Who's buying that kid's clothes?)

One thing's for certain. Teens are anything but uniform.

At the middle school age, kids reach a developmental period in their lives where new identities are tried on like a new pair of shoes-open toe or closed one week, heels, boots, or skate shoes the next.

Baggy jeans are anything but new. One hundred years ago-when I was a student at Johnson Junior High-the dress code finally eased and allowed girls to wear pants-to-school-for-the-first-time-ever. Thus started this Longhorn's baggy jean phase.

Levi jeans-red tag-30W-30L-back pockets hanging down the back of my legs. The baggier the better. (Imagine that look on a girl 4'11"). Quite attractive and if I might add-quite hot, heavy and uncomfortable, but hey, I was cool, baby. A Rebel without a Clue.

Want to witness grassroots at its finest? Watch Central Middle School students network an anti-school uniform campaign quicker that one can say back-to-school-shopping-tax-holiday.

I'm thinking email campaigns, text messaging, letters to the editor, phone banks, and bake sale petition-signings mixed with a bit of good old-fashioned political lobbying: But Mom and Dad, no one, no one wants to wear a dumb uniform. I'll do anything. Anything. Just please, please vote No School Uniform, No School Uniform!

Imagine listening to that all summer-and this is the Long Summer, thanks to the state legislature.

Come registration day in August, my bets are the Student Body Factor will figure heavily on what dons their student body school year 2007-2008.

Here's an idea.

Want the middle school set to buy into the whole khakis, polo shirt look?

Forbid it.

Tell them absolutely in no uncertain terms, they simply cannot-will not-wear such a conservative outfit to school. No matter how much the kid begs, whines, cajoles...do not give in.

But everyone is wearing khakis and polos.

Not you, kiddo.

When they tarry a bit too long at the Ralph Lauren displays in the mall, march those kids right over to Hot Topic and make them take a nice long look. See that? That's what you're wearing to school next year and I don't want to hear another word about it. Got it?

They'll be sneaking the K & P to school in their backpacks.

It'll be the brand new teen thang.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Florida Blogging

With the special session on the horizon, the State of Sunshine is on the rise.

The blog is center-right, meaning that mostly Republicans hang out there, but "not so hardcore that they can't see good in other parties or bad ideas from the GOP."

The State of Sunshine absolutely encapsulates the best day by day coverage of our elected officials at work.

Lean more to the left? FLA Politics blogs Florida blue with often intense collaborative political discussions where readers can participate. Join the conversation at FLA Politics and be part of the change.

And of course, you can always Talk to Me.

Whether you're a righty tighty or a lefty loosy, check out sourstock, a public RSS newsreader which tracks more than 700 feeds of Florida's best creative blogging talent, "from the Panhandle to the Keys."

Make some noise. Participate in Florida blogging.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Heat is On

News Talk 1240 WMMB's Scott Duncan asked a good question of his listeners early Monday morning.

Are you tired of all this tax talk?

I'm happy to report that 88.89% of The Space Coast Talks crowd voted to "keep up the pressure."

That's bad news for our elected representatives.

They want you to become bored with the tax issue before the start of the special session June 12th. They want you to give up, to become so jaded with the system that you'll throw up your hands in utter despair and cry "uncle".

These political meanderers don't want you-me-us-Scott Duncan-WMMB-Florida Today-anybody-to hold them responsible for this tax mess on their watch. They are so counting on good old American ADHD to kick in and let them off the hot seat, simply because our elected representatives are a bit confused with all this microscopic attention.

They prefer it when We, the Taxpayer are per usual inattentive, i.e. apathetic-because that's when lawmakers get the most accomplished. The dirty tricks, the governmental damage, the political "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" dogma, the "Git-R-Done" mentality-is preempted when constituents start holding "good ole boy" feet to the fire.

It's getting "hot in here" and my goodness gracious, these guys and gals are starting to sweat.

If these jokers don't come up with a plan soon that keeps the auctioneer out of the front yards of our foreclosed homes, they know all too well... the "hold them accountable" jig is up.

We will vote them o-u-t OUT of office at the first opportunity.

Keep the fire lit under these Political Meanderers.

Florida has been held hostage for way too long. It's time to take Florida back.

The heat is on.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Working (at the) Car Wash?

These guys car-pooled with me down and back from Ft. Lauderdale this weekend.

Love bugs-the Florida highway gift that just keeps on giving.

Simple Rule of the Road. Get the buggers off your car asap.

The expected hitchhikers-or what was left of them-got the chance to bake good and hard on the windshield of my Saturn because I couldn't find a working automatic car wash in Broward or Brevard.

Now-for those of you who know me-I don't sweat, so that is why an automatic car wash is an important working luxury necessity for me.

My first seven car washes greeted me with one of these:

What's up with that?

I finally found a working wash at Mobil, which, ethically-cost me a lot more than 8 bucks.

Which leads me to this.

Tomorrow is May 15th. The word is...gas up today...don't pump gas tomorrow.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Mom and Me

Back in the day, the teenagers in my church sat together for every Sunday service. This had absolutely nothing to do with religion and absolutely everything to do with hanging out together. Since most of us were on some sort of permanent restriction, sitting en mass was a legal "out" of our parent-imposed house arrest. Because our chosen dominion was located just a couple of pews back from the front, the preacher had a pretty good eye on us, so it was a win-win situation for both teens and parents. (That's what we told our parents anyway).

One Mother's Day Sunday-all teens assembled front row left-the preacher began speaking about the meaning of the day set aside to honor Motherhood-then as now-an often thankless career choice. "Honor thy mother," invoked the preacher. With a glare worthy of Moses himself, he turned to (or on, depending on one's persepective) our Teen Forum, heavily engaged in a whispered discussion of who did what where during the previous week. "YOU. You young people," he commanded. "Rise-RISE, I SAY-and join your mothers in church this Mother's Day morn."

Let me say this about that. That single hour every Sunday was like a drop of water to someone dying of thirst. Most of us attended different area high schools-Eau Gallie, Mel High, Satellite-so this was The Opportunity to Catch Up on Important Social Events. These days, text messaging would be involved. Back then, we called it writing notes back and forth.

Time seemed to just stop. Every eye was on us. I heard a couple of kids say, "I am not going. I am not sitting with HER." The blood pounded in my ears. Somebody started laughing, simply because the pressure-the PRESSURE-from the preacher and from the teen peer group-was so great. The preacher's own daughter clenched the cushioned pew, obviously in "stay-put" mode. The air grew so thick with tension, I felt dizzy.

I quickly looked over my shoulder at my mom-all of 36 years old-seated near the back. (With my brothers and their erratic behavior, believe me, that was a tactical move).

I turned away and stared at the floor. My heart pounded, pounded, pounded. "This is so stupid," someone whispered. It was stupid, I thought to myself.

I stood up.

Scooting past my seated friends to the aisle, (What is SHE doing???), I went to sit with my mom. I remember, she gave me a little pat on the shoulder and a smile as I squeezed in beside my brothers. In that single defining moment, I realized Mom knew how hard it was for me to break ranks with the Political Correctness of Teen Cool.

But it meant the world to her that I did.

And that's pretty cool.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!


Sheree, Vance & Jay

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Friday Pot Luck

"A week after the first Democratic presidential debate, last Thursday was the Republicans turn at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. ... This debate aimed to introduce the candidates to the Republican base, or as they're otherwise known, the 28% of Americans who think the last six years have been ... okay. The night's biggest star was Ronald Reagan himself, whose name was evoked no less than 21 times almost 20 years since he left Washington. Compared to our current president, whose name was evoked uh, uh, uh once."

Happy Friday!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Politically Putrid

Today's big questions.

Why were property tax and insurance reform not the sole focus issues during the Florida Legislature's spring session?

Why would any elected official have the ________ (insert descriptor of choice here) to pursue personal political agendas-i.e. $60 million for the Florida Marlins-while their constituents were left to tread water financially?

You tell me.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Price of Civic Nonchalance

Governor Charlie talks tough.

"When these insurance companies threaten us with this, 'We're going to leave your state' stuff, we say, 'Go ahead. We don't need that kind of business operating in Florida."

Cheap talk regarding a not so cheap subject..

As the Queen of Backtalk, let me throw back some talk right at ya.

What did the Legislature do for Florida homeowners during the first session of 2007?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

Four little words to remember at the voting booth.

Unfortunately, five out of our seven state representatives ran unopposed during the midterms, so changes in our representation will happen no time soon.

State Senators Mike Haridopolos R-Melbourne and Bill Posey R-Rockledge ran unopposed as well as Republican State Representatives Ralph Poppell (District 29-Vero Beach), Stan Mayfield (District 80-Vero Beach) and Thad Altman (District 30-Melbourne).

We handed these guys their jobs back. As a result, We, the Citizens now pay the price of civic nonchalance.

Is the ultimate cost the loss of our homes through foreclosure?

Florida homeowners need action, not words.

Pronto. Like now. Immediately.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Proclivity to Voyeur

These early Floridians no longer have a voice to relate the wonder of Florida days gone by.

Let me speak for them.

Butler Campbell and Andrew Jackson-along with wives Lucy Warren and Kate Dummitt respectfully-homesteaded North Merritt Island in the 1800's. Along with their neighbor Wade Holmes, the three men were responsible for building a school for their kids: Florida, Eugenia, Agnes, Henry and Willie Campbell and Annie, Mary, Floyd and Douglas Jackson.

They lie now where they once lived, loved and prospered, in an area I call "sacred ground"...the beautiful unravaged Merritt Island National Park Refuge. A historical marker marks the spot on Route 3, just a bit south of the Mosquito Lagoon.

I am able to marvel at the accomplishments of these early settlers because of the great work of organizations like the Brevard County Historical Commission and the Brevard Genealogical Society, historians who place vast importance on the preservation of Florida's past.

It is said that the soul of a community is its history. This statement causes me great pause as just last week, local residents would rather kvetch about tabloid crime than honor a figure from Florida's more recent past-the late Wally Schirra, Homesteader of the Final Frontier.

Our tendency to become absorbed in the proclivity to voyeur the misfortune of others rather than honor a hero will prove historically disastrous for those who come after we are gone. Our attention to titillating minutiae causes us to miss the most important events of our days.

In a nutshell, this generation's Historical Legacy Detector appears to be sorely lacking.

The next time I set foot on sacred ground-perhaps the area where the Dummitt Groves once thrived-I will cast my sights skyward and recall the glory days of NASA. For one brief second, I'll be suspended between what once was and what is yet to be. Schirra will have launched from the Cape of my childhood, far above where Florida, Eugenia, Agnes, Henry, Willie, Annie, Mary, Floyd and Douglas once most certainly explored.

I'll turn to my future-my son who shares my love of this most wonderful place-to relate a story or two about how the long ago orange grove evolved into the space age.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

Your Turn, Mouseketeers

Today, Brevard County, it's all about you.

I head to Florida Today midweek for the monthly CAP meeting, so people...settle back behind the keyboard and pound out your frustrations.

Let me speak for YOU!

Tell me.

What's bugging you?

If Disney fed exed each citizen the ultimate magic wand, what would instantly be changed with a quick bibbidi-bobbidi-boo?

Let your voice be heard.

Talk to me.

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Horse TNT

Just as Barbaro exemplified strength under duress, Street Sense demonstrated an amazing ability to charge from behind while making it look like...well, horse play.

As Queen Elizabeth looked on, the thoroughbred rallied from the next to last position to Kentucky Derby winner, "picking off one horse after another like a vacumn cleaner."

"I had a bomb," said jockey Calvin Borel.

Yep. One ton of TNT on four lightning fast legs.

Congrats to Street Sense, one dynamite racehorse.

Now on to the Preakness.

If you missed the Derby, grab a mint julep, kick back and watch "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" here.

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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Dirty Laundry

Florida Today ran several fine articles over the last few days in tribute to the late Wally Schirra.

I find it interesting that the FT online community virtually chose to ignore the accomplishments and the contributions of not only the astronaut, but the historical beginnings of the space program that put Brevard County on the map.

Now, give the community a couple of sex-related stories and the Story-Chat comments just keep coming.

I guess the old tired euphemism is true.

Sex sells.

But at whose expense?


We, the People of the Space Coast-who had an opportunity to relive the Glory Days-a time this area may never witness again-chose instead to air out someone else's dirty laundry.

Today, we are the losers.

What a shame.

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Friday, May 4, 2007

The Right Stuff

"I realize that planet Earth is unique, at least in our solar system. We know that. It's odd that people try to talk about going to go to some other planet like Earth and they have no respect whatsoever for the contemplation of traveling to these places. We went to the moon -it took us about three days at the speed we went there. To go to the sun, I keep kidding about it: At the speed of light, it takes eight minutes, but you have to go at night."

--Wally Schirra


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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Traffic Stop

Did you know that revenue generated through issue of traffic tickets is fast forwarded straight to Tallahassee?

None of that money stays local.

(Which might explain the state's fixation on radar detectors. The more we get you, the more money we make).

At the recent Brevard County Commission shindig, Sheriff Jack Parker further indicated that ticket recipients might not feel so bad paying the often hefty fine if they knew some of their money stayed local.

After assuring the tax-weary audience that tickets are written only to enhance public safety-not simply to fill the state coffers-Parker asked the Commission to consider adoption of some sort of legal eagle local ordinance that would keep some of the money here.

I've got a better, more immediate, more libertarian idea.

Send a message to Tallahassee.

Shut down their income source.

Stop writing tickets.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Your Local Government at Work

Peggy Busacca appeared a bit verklempt at yesterday's County Commissioner meeting.

The county manager voiced surprised at the public criticism regarding the $12,000 spent to place the full page "incite panic" ad in last Sunday's newspaper. Busacca called the ad "economical" and far less costly than a previous $65,000 mailing by the county.

If Busacca took the criticism regarding the expenditure personally, then multiply that feeling by 1400 employees, who stand to lose their jobs with benefits should the county be forced to slash $76 million from the county budget as so stated at last night's little get-together.

The Commissioners were quick to point fingers at the state Legislature, indicating the $76 mill figure could be inaccurate as at least seven counter proposals were rumored to circulate Tallahassee as of yesterday afternoon.

So why call the meeting based on such flimsy information?

In a nutshell, this is what I took away from the Commission meeting.

-The Commission called the public meeting prematurely.

-County leaders were quick to curse the dreaded state "unfunded mandate" as if these dirty words were something new that local government had to deal with.

-Everyone wants their particular program spared.

-Private citizens are majorly ticked off.

-The windfall tax revenue earned during the last few years was improperly managed. Instead of paying down debt or investing the money wisely, the revenue was budgeted in areas of recurring cost.

-If you need seat fillers, round up your local public service employees.

From my vantage point-crammed in a room on the third floor-public services looked mighty comfortable seated front and center.

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