Competing education plans are about to collide in Tallahassee.
If you're inclined to skip over a bunch of the details, the basic difference is this:
The Senate is looking for a solution to Florida's persistent education gap, and the House is looking for an excuse to create more charter schools.
And hanging in the balance?
Only tens of thousands of kids.
This is how life works in Tallahassee, where ideology often comes before common sense. And in this case, the House's ideology is a long-standing mission to turn education over to private interests....
Honor, they say, is the bedrock of their character. It is the quality, to quote the U.S. Marine Corps website, that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior.
Clearly, Sen. Frank Artiles skipped that part of his military training.
For I see no honor in how Artiles has behaved in recent days. Not in his insults directed toward a female senator, nor in his reluctance to apologize until it became clear that he had no other choice....
04/02/17 Human Interest
This day is like no other, and has been for a century.
Most holidays feel like a destination. A yearlong wait for a singular moment.
Baseball's opening day is more like a departure. A bon voyage to the cold, and a fresh embrace of the new. The day, like the game itself, cannot be contained by a clock. Instead, opening day is the beginning of a six-month journey across the calendar and the country....
I need your help, dear readers.
I've just watched a bunch of state legislators hear evidence, analysis and reasoned pleas from consumer groups, environmentalists, retailers, the state's public counsel and even the AARP. One after another, they said it was a bad idea to let Florida utility companies play poker with your money.
To which the legislators replied:
And so now I'm torn. What is the proper response to such contempt of common sense? Because I'm weary of shouting and feel guilty about laughing....
Your eyes grow watery and swollen. Your throat feels raw, and your head begins to pound.
It's that time of the year in Florida when the air grows thick and nearly unbearable.
Yes, the state Legislature is in mid-session.
And that means hypocrisy is in full bloom.
My goodness, how these folks can foul the air with their relentless double-talk. They are always for smaller government right up until a campaign donation convinces them otherwise. Regulations are bad, unless they coincide with agendas. Legislators never pick winners and losers, but they will remember certain people fondly in appropriations committees....
03/24/17 Local Government
For 10 years, we have crept. You may even say plodded.
The search for a new baseball stadium in Tampa Bay has been nothing if not deliberate and, on most days, stealthy. Speculation has run up the score on confirmation almost every step of the way.
And then, suddenly, BOOM!
The headline says the Rays' top five choices for stadium sites have all been eliminated. If this isn't game-changing, it's at least significant....
Feel free to check whichever box seems like the more plausible explanation for Aramis Ayala's stunning death penalty announcement:
� After four years in law school, four years as a prosecutor, eight years as a public defender, nine years as an adjunct law professor and nine months as a state attorney candidate, she had an unforeseen epiphany last week regarding the merits of the death penalty....
This legislative crusade to take food stamps away from more than 200,000 Floridians seems to be motivated by two philosophical ideals:
No. 1 — Limit spending.
No. 2 — Nudge people toward self-sufficiency.
Well, heck, who's going to argue with that? Lawmakers should always be careful when spending our tax dollars, and weaning people from government dependency is a no-brainer....
We are divided, you and me.
For that matter, so are you and a neighbor. You and a co-worker. Maybe even you and a family member.
We, as a community in Tampa Bay, are about as divided as it gets in America.
And that's not a bad thing. You might even say it's worth celebrating.
I started thinking about this when I saw a headline on analyst Nate Silver's website fivethirtyeight.com the other day. It declared, "Purple America Has All But Disappeared.''...
Here's the problem with courage:
It doesn't look good in small doses.
You either have it all the time or you're faking it most of the time. And when your courage is dependent on convenience, people tend to notice.
This is why Gus Bilirakis might want to brace himself for some sniping.
The Republican congressman from North Pinellas got some well-deserved praise a few weeks ago when he stepped outside of Capitol Hill's safety zone and spent several uncomfortable weekends and nights listening to constituents talk about the country's health care laws....
Two years later, we're still talking about teacher bonuses. As if this is the magical elixir that will suddenly lead to better schools, well-rounded students and happier lives.
If you had not yet heard, the folks in Tallahassee are rolling out improvements to their "Best & Brightest" bonus plan for teachers. And by improvements, I mean upgrading the plan from truly idiotic to largely ineffective....
03/11/17 Human Interest
It is a question with only one acceptable answer:
What do you do when your children are in peril?
You protect them. Always. Without hesitation and without remorse. That's supposed to be the deal when you become a parent. You should be willing to trade your happiness and health, if it comes to that, in exchange for their safety.
Now let me ask you this:
What do you do when your children are in peril . . . from one of your other kids?...
Think about the worst movie to ever come out of Hollywood.
A film that was a proven disaster, without any redeeming value.
And now imagine this:
They're making a sequel.
Apparently, that type of backward thinking went into a pair of energy bills being considered in the Florida Senate and House. Piggybacking on the billions of dollars that Florida customers lost on nuclear power gambles, there is now a pathway for the same kind of ripoff for fracking....
03/07/17 Local Government
Kudos to the Tampa Bay Rowdies and owner Bill Edwards.
So far, they've been spot-on in their quest to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to the area. They've been up front about their intentions. They haven't tried to circumvent St. Pete's waterfront regulations. They intend on paying for Al Lang Stadium renovations themselves. They've even agreed to foot the bill for the May referendum on a potential 25-year lease with the city....
03/04/17 Human Interest
Redemption may or may not begin in a Waffle House off Interstate 75. This is the place Tim Kane chose last week for his first non-prison meal in 25 years. For 90 minutes, he sits and savors a lunch of greasy delight. There is no one to tell him chow time has ended.
Or maybe it begins in a stuffy chamber in Tallahassee. This is the place officials gathered last fall to hear the pleas of prisoners seeking parole. In an extraordinary decision, they ignored an investigator's recommendation of a 2027 parole date and instead ordered Kane be released as soon as possible....