Sunshine

Stephen Cox, 66, a.k.a. "the Bird Man of St. Pete," feeds a snowy egret a piece of squid.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Stephen Cox, 66, a.k.a. "the Bird Man of St. Pete," feeds a snowy egret a piece of squid.

Good afternoon. It's Friday, April 18, 2014.

P.C. Wu would like to reiterate the importance of an open and transparent government in our state and urge lawmakers to address these issues.

Rick Scott, Sue Carlton says, has attempted more makeovers than a middle school slumber party.

Here's this headline: Florida man bought, resold limited-edition sneakers stolen from Nike, court documents say. Sneakers, man.

Here's this sentence: Swift previously created a full-length documentary called "The Bubble" about the town of Celebration.

The phrase of the day is Florida's liberal regulations for keeping wild animals.

This is some rageful road rage.

 

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Secede or succeed?

If at first you don't succeed ...

dixienet.org

If at first you don't succeed ...

The billboard advocating secession went up a couple months back in Tallahassee. The billboard advocating success went up this week in response.

"Secession is really the fundamental American political ideal," according to the League of the South.

"Florida's doing great," according to Ed Moore, the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, the organization that teamed up with the Florida Chamber of Commerce to offer the roadside-advertisement-viewing portion of the populace a message that's broad to the point of unavoidably vague but certainly less separatist and slightly more ... sane.

"Oftentimes, the future belongs to the bold and those willing to think and act outside the box," League of the South president Michael Hill told Sunshine State News. "We in the League of the South offer this advice to the good people of the sovereign state of Florida: secede to succeed."

"Seceding is not the answer," chamber boss Mark Wilson said in a video.

I think the League of the South and the ICUF and the state chamber are going to have to agree to disagree.

The rest of us?

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What people are saying about Jameis Winston and this week's New York Times story

Famous Jameis.

Getty Images

Famous Jameis.

1. Slate's Emily Bazelon: At the outset of this tale of error — and possibly corruption — I wrote that “sexual assault charges against star athletes are often a kind of poison, one that acts less on the athlete in question than the woman who says she is the victim.” The woman who says Winston raped her was relentlessly criticized at FSU and withdrew from her classes. Winston won the Heisman Trophy. It’s too late to alter any of that. But I hope the Times story hits FSU and the Tallahassee police with the force to produce fundamental change. And I hope other universities and police departments treat this as a warning and a wake-up call, too.

2. Baine Kerr, a Title IX attorney representing the woman who said she was raped by Winston: "The university took the position that since he refused to respond to questions, they could not make any Title IX findings. We have objected to that as impermissible reason to delay or terminate a Title IX sexual assault investigation because that would permit any charged party to thwart an investigation simply by refusing to answer questions." …

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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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