Sunshine

Going crazy about the Lightning hockey team.

KENT NISHIMURA | Times

Going crazy about the Lightning hockey team.

And good morning again. It's Thursday, April 17, 2014.

Here are the lawmakers who chose the NRA over your safety.

Can we agree to never again use the term fulfillment center? Not because of the taxes. That's fine. That's fair. Just ... because.

A Disney documentary about bears? We don't need that here in Florida.

Hands off those ugly sea cucumbers.

Like I said yesterday on Twitter: St. Pete has gone from green benches for the almost dead to "a goldmine of young urbanites."

Something I learned reading this morning's Times: Since 2007 the volume of Florida grapefruit exports to South Korea has grown more than 400 percent. Click.

... Florida ranks dead last on effective funding for higher education as well as ranking behind most of the nation on K-12 per-pupil funding and teacher salaries. Click.

A teacher in Port St. Lucie ordered some students to attack another student, and a teacher in Estero was very, very drunk during her morning drive to school. …

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The oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida wants everybody to know it didn't like yesterday's Jameis Winston story

The university expresses its deep disappointment in today's New York Times story alleging FSU officials did not properly investigate a rape allegation against FSU student Jameis Winston "in apparent violation of federal law." It also vigorously objects to the newspaper's characterization of the university as being uncooperative in explaining its actions. Read all of the many words.

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Did you see what the victim of the most recent bear attack said?

Watch this from ABC News.

"... these are wild animals, and we need to respect 'em," she said, "and unfortunately we have five new developments going up within five miles. They just, they have no place to go, and she was protecting her cub. I know. Because I would do the same. And so I can't say I want all these bears killed. We need to learn to respect them. At some point we need to say enough is enough, with the building, the taking way of their habitat ..."

The other much less dramatic but just as important thing she said? "I got here and saw the two bears eating garbage ..."

Remember:

1. According to Stephen Herrero's book, Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, the bears are doing nothing more than following a foraging strategy, which, before the introduction of human recreational use of its habitat, was successful for many generations of ancestors. …

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Sunshine

Over a million square feet of stuff.

SKIP O'ROURKE | Times

Over a million square feet of stuff.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

The future:

Located near Interstate 75 off State Road 674 in Ruskin, the Hillsborough center will process small items like books and CDs. The Lakeland center, which is also under construction, will handle larger items, from kayaks to TVs.

The Ruskin center will eventually use robots to locate order items and take them to a warehouse worker for further processing.

Also: Winn-Dixie hiring spree! The Atlantic's Derek Thompson: According to the Fed, real hourly earnings for retail workers has actually decreased since 2007, the year the recession struck. The upshot is that we're seeing a large industry stricken by the rise of the Internet, which is growing fastest into supercenters like Walmart that pay regularly low, if not minimum, wages to its employees. For consumers, there's never been a better time to buy stuff. It's not such a happy story for the people on the shopping floor and behind the counters.

Interesting sentence about St. Pete in today's paper from Katherine Snow Smith: This is a town of folks who will spend more than $100 a person on a meal in New York but complain if a hometown place charges more than Harvey's 4th Street Grill. …

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St. Pete artist Frank Strunk to Arielle Stevenson in Creative Loafing

Here: "... don't take St. Petersburg as an art city, or any city as an art city. That's a term used by government employees, real estate agents and tourism bureau dollars. Look at our country as one big art city. You can sell your art anywhere in the country." Frank.

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In response to the rape allegations against Florida State's Jameis Winston, 'there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university'

Tallahassee.

Times

Tallahassee.

Three-time Pulitzer winner Walt Bogdanich had this on the front of today's New York Times. No new bombshells or anything but you should read it in full. If you don't, though, here's some of what I underlined:

1. The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.

The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.

2. ... Florida State did little to determine what had happened.

3. The university, after initially speaking with The Times, recently stopped doing so.

4. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of football to Florida State and its hometown. …

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Learning from the remains unearthed at what was Florida's notorious Dozier School for Boys

What one of the victims might have looked like.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

What one of the victims might have looked like.

Ben Montgomery's superlative boys school work just doesn't stop. The latest:

TAMPA — Coffin nail by coffin nail and bone fragment by bone fragment, University of South Florida forensic anthropologists are learning more about the identities of remains exhumed months ago from a hidden cemetery at the state's longest-running and most criticized reform school.

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Sunshine

Good morning. It's Tuesday, April 15, 2014, which means it's Tax Day, and unfortunately I need to be quick because I have a flight to catch.

Let's start with John Romano scratching his head:

I have a difficult time following the game plan of our super-smart state leaders when it comes to public education. Try as I might, their logic escapes me.

They insist accountability is the key to all that is magical in education, then steer students and tax money to private schools that have no formal accountability.

You saw the Times won a Pulitzer yesterday?

This is pretty Florida. So is this.

University Press of Florida's Essential Florida Bookshelf! Click.

The quote of the morning? "One day, I hope to actually get a better job to get back into doing what I used to do, which is traveling the circus and performing with wild cats." Click.

One of the most expensive cities for renters is Miami, where rents, on average, consume 43 percent of the typical household income, up from a historical average of just over a quarter. Click. …

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The Times' Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia are Pulitzer winners for the rest of their lives

The recipients of a big award for their important work.

Times

The recipients of a big award for their important work.

This afternoon's big news:

The Tampa Bay Times won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting Monday, earning national recognition for stories that exposed a government agency's inhumane treatment of Hillsborough County's homeless population.

The award was given to Times staff writers Will Hobson, 29, and Michael LaForgia, 30, whose reporting on the county's Homeless Recovery program revealed that the agency — created in 1989 to provide transitional housing for the poor — funneled millions of public dollars to slumlords and placed families in unsafe living conditions.

It was the 10th Pulitzer Prize the Times has won and the second since it changed its name from the St. Petersburg Times in 2012. Hobson and LaForgia are the youngest journalists to win in the newspaper's history. Their prize is the first the Times has won in the contest's local reporting category.

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'The Next America' will look more the way Florida already does

Older and less white. It's one reason people should laugh less at the state and spend more time paying better attention.

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Sunshine

Gunshine.

AP

Gunshine.

Good morning. It's Monday, April 14, 2014, which makes it ... National Dolphin Day.

Every day in Florida is firearms day. The state's Republican lawmakers, Tonya Alanez writes in the Sun-Sentinel, are unholstering a series of bills in the state Capitol this spring heralded by gun owners but opposed by sheriffs, teachers, parents and some Democrats. At the top of the list: Florida's Zombie Apocalypse Gun Bill.

"It's shocking that when the rest of the country is sort of backing down, Florida is doubling down," said state Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale. "It's almost encouraging, I would say, negligent behavior."

"I'm not going to leave my weapon back home in my house when I'm running for my life," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers. "I'm going to put it on my person … and I'm going to get out of there."

"I just think this could create a very, very combustible situation," said Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, envisioning evacuees in gasoline and food lines. "Frustrations and handguns don't mix."

"I think we're asking for trouble," said Rita Solnet, of Boca Raton, president of Parents Across Florida. …

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North Port's 'magic water'

Warm Mineral Springs is open again. Here's the Times' Leonora LaPeter Anton writing for Floridian not quite a year and a half ago:

The spring formed tens of thousands of years ago, a sinkhole collapse that left an hourglass fissure stretching 240 feet into Florida's limestone bedrock. At some point, half of it filled with water. When the glaciers receded, the melting ice topped it off.

More than 1,000 springs dot Florida, but none quite like Warm Mineral Springs, says Harley Means, assistant state geologist. Its name says it all. At about 87 degrees, Warm Mineral Springs is the warmest and southernmost spring in the state. It also boasts the largest number of different minerals — calcium, magnesium, strontium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, silica, sulphur, nitrogen, fluoride and chlorides — at least 51 in all.

Ancient hot seawater rushes from a vent several thousand feet below ground and then mixes with cooler freshwater in the overlying aquifer, geologists believe, creating the spring's unique brew. Every day, as much as 9 million gallons pushes to the surface. Every two hours, the water replaces itself entirely.

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Florida's 'wicked ditch'

It was a classic pork-barrel project whose very justification for being was built upon a flimsy web of half-baked economic suppositions, ginned up cost-benefit estimates and, yes, outright lies, Ron Cunningham wrote in his piece about the new biography about early Florida environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr.

Want to know more? Read more? You could buy this book. Or you could read what Craig Pittman had in the Times in 1999:

Built in the wrong century for the wrong reasons with the wrong numbers to justify it, the Cross Florida Barge Canal will forever stand as one of the biggest blunders in Florida history, one that permanently altered the state's landscape.

Imagine the reaction if you proposed it today:

Hey, let's cut a monstrous ditch across the middle of the state to link the Atlantic with the Gulf of Mexico, effectively turning most of the Florida peninsula into a big island, destroying everything in our path and letting seawater taint the underground supply of freshwater!

Oh, yeah, that would fly.

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'The bear actually had my wife's head in its mouth ...'

Near Lake Mary.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Near Lake Mary.

First Susan Chalfant. Now Terri Frana. Here, though, are 13 things plucked from my earlier bear-related reporting that are worth remembering in the aftermath of this latest attack in Central Florida:

1. Black bear numbers and their wide distribution lead to extensive contact with another widely distributed, numerically successful mammal, human beings.

2. More people are having more opportunities to interact with black bears, which in itself increases the chances of human-black bear interactions and thus the occasional fatal attack.

3. Where are bears most likely to be found? Near their food. ... the more food there is, the greater the chance of a bear being there.

4. Black bear are often drawn into conflict situations with humans after being attracted by people's food or edible garbage.

5. People's food and garbage are so attractive to bears not because bears will "eat anything" but rather because people's food and garbage are so easily converted into calories by bears.

6. The black bear's intense motivation to feed on human foods or garbage has probably set up hundreds of thousands of situations that could have led to human injury, yet only a few did. …

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Sunshine

What to do?

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

What to do?

Good morning. It's Friday, April 11, 2014.

Three things I underlined in what Congressman Alan Grayson wrote in today's paper about the unnecessary death of Charlene Dill:

1. Floridians with annual incomes between $5,400 and $11,400 are stuck in the "Medicaid expansion gap." Charlene Dill was one of an estimated 1 million uninsured Floridians who fell into that gap.

2. Florida has the second highest rate of uninsured individuals in the nation. Twenty percent of our state has no coverage.

3. One study estimates that approximately 1,158 to 2,221 Floridians will die each year as a result of Republicans' stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid.

Here's the Times' Jon Silman on the latest on the man who shot and killed another man in a movie theater because of texting and popcorn.

Searching for Theodore Weiss. I'd read that. Digital design all big and clean and beautiful.

We're No. 1 ... for BP oil spill damage claims.

... community colleges in 21 states now have the authority to offer bachelor’s degrees, including 25 of the 28 in Florida ...

The attraction is the location. Just make it structurally sound and open and green. Like Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa. Now pay me my consultant's fee. Click.

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