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.Full Story
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. …Full Story
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.Full Story
Older and less white. It's one reason people should laugh less at the state and spend more time paying better attention.Full Story
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. …Full Story
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.Full Story
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.Full Story
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. …Full Story
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.Full Story
Marc Caputo in this morning's paper:
MIAMI — Gov. Rick Scott is standing by two misleading campaign ads that falsely suggest 300,000 people in the state already lost their health insurance plans due to Obamacare.
"Clearly, the ad's accurate," Scott told reporters Wednesday in Miami, declining to elaborate.Full Story
Today marks 50 years of a tune based on a (maybe) comforting idea.
"All negative lists occur because something works," he told the Times' Sean Daly. "It takes popularity to get you to love something; it takes popularity to get you to hate something. It's a catchy, catchy, catchy song."Full Story
These? On a roll down here.
Florida's orange production is declining, the blueberry crop is increasing, and the director of the Strawberry Festival is retiring.Full Story
Good morning. It's Thursday, April 10, 2014, and I went ahead and re-punctuated the top of Mike Van Sickler's story out of Tallahassee in today's Times:
Could be the newest safe haven.
For those carrying firearms.
Without a permit.
"To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "The bill is crazy."
The hunter who says a Florida panther attacked him: "I was sitting back in some broom sedge, and he heard me calling turkeys. Then he saw me move and decided he saw something good to eat."
My favorite sentence in the paper today? Exactly when celebrities will land in Tampa is unclear.
The ongoing alteration of the connotation of the word waterfront.
The $624 Tampa airport parking bill.
The other missing plane.
Today is a day for beer in St. Pete.
This here means ... less opportunity for the students in this state.
Miami New Times via Bill Duryea: Three Florida Law Schools Make Top Ten for Grads With Most Debt. …Full Story
Sandra Suarez of Pinellas Park.
It happened late last month, the erratic consumption of french fries and soft serve, the destruction of cash registers, display racks and the McFlurry machine. This morning the New York Daily News called it a "Mac Attack" and an "epic McRampage." There's something about Florida, said a blogger from the paper in Atlanta, that brings out the crazy. Pretty tailor-made Florida Woman fodder. This Florida woman, though, whose name is Sandra Suarez, a 41-year-old mother of two, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Before she spent five days in jail because of this, she had never been arrested. Officers, Laura C. Morel wrote in the Times today, noted the possibility of mental health issues. Suarez told the local Fox affiliate she acted the way she acted because of her bipolar disorder. Will she get help?Full Story
After the paper mill in Port St. Joe had closed and the largest private landholder in the state had become its biggest developer, the small community at the mouth of St. Joseph Bay began to change. With the pungent, acrid odor and thick smoky fog of the mill a thing of the past and land once reserved for slash pines released, wealthy people from Atlanta began to pay unimaginable sums of money for a sliver of sand close to the Gulf. The powers that be thought they had seen the future, and the future they saw was tourism. ... Man had come to the forest and money had come to town, and nothing would be the same for the land or the people of what once was the forgotten coast. ...
Rachel Mills and I were in the Dockside Cafe sitting on high stools at a tall wooden table with a view of the bay. The window was open and through it blew the warm bay breeze and the soothing sounds of seagulls and sailboat riggings -- all swirling around in a muffling din of waves and wind. …Full Story