Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Hooper: I can't imagine Florida without these

Sometimes, I worry about Florida.

As a native, certain icons, standards and institutions frame my appreciation for living here. It's difficult to envision Florida without them, but sometimes I get a nagging feeling I'll wake up one day and the things that help define my love of the state will be gone.

I can't imagine a Florida without homegrown oranges and orange juice. From my earliest childhood days — when my mom mixed frozen concentrate and two cans of water in the blender — to now, when I spare no expense to buy the premium stuff in the bottle, I've started most days with a glass of orange juice squeezed from oranges grown just down the road.

However, an insidious plant disease known as citrus greening threatens one of the state's most iconic industries. The state and federal government are pouring money into research for a solution and I hope they find it. Can we still call ourselves Florida without Florida citrus?

I can't imagine a Florida without the flora and fauna, beaches and springs that make it a great place for people who love nature. Admittedly, I'm not Mr. Outdoorsman, but I'll fight to protect the state's environment. The Everglades, beach renourishment and our ailing springs system need greater legislative funding. As someone who grew up going to Wakulla Springs, I know the Sunshine State won't be as sunny if these precious resources continue to suffer.

I can't imagine a Florida without Florida A&M University. My late mother and father spent their lives teaching at the historically black school. While it soldiers on with a new president, longtime supporters always will share a fear that the state will someday try to merge the school with nearby Florida State University. Some may say it will never happen, but a history of tension between the universities and a Legislature that's asserting greater control over higher education does little to ease concerns.

I can't imagine a Florida without Publix. Sure, it may seem folly to link natural resources and education institutions with a grocery store chain — especially when you consider their relatively high prices for premium orange juice — but ask yourself: Is there another retail outlet more Florida than Publix?

A friend of mine who is a military wife has found herself living in varied outposts over the years, including Canada. When she finally got a chance to come back to her native state last week, she made a beeline to Publix — even before heading to the beach. Anyone who moves away develops a greater appreciation for the chain, and those of us who live here make up excuses just to go in and enjoy the bright atmosphere and friendly customer service.

I need an eggplant.

From all accounts, Publix is doing just fine but ever since mighty Walmart got into the grocery business, I've been a little worried. It's almost inconceivable to imagine the chain ever being in trouble, but over the years, we've seen a lot of grocery store chains come and go. Anyone remember A&P? Pantry Pride?

Finally, I can't imagine a Florida without compassion. Upon meeting my son in Tallahassee, an aide to State House Speaker Will Weatherford said, "Your father never writes anything nice about my boss."

Let me be clear: Weatherford deserves kudos for at least one laudable piece of legislation. He set out this year to pass a law that would grant in-state tuition for immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. While I greeted the effort with a degree of cynicism, he succeeded, moving Florida in the right direction.

Of course, an undercurrent of intolerance always lurks, but as we wrestle with issues like immigration, let's hope the better Florida — the compassionate Florida — continues to emerge.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Democrats say Trump’s tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trump’s tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON — Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
A life-sized Pittsburgh Penguin once roamed Earth 60 million years ago

A life-sized Pittsburgh Penguin once roamed Earth 60 million years ago

NEW YORK — Fossils from New Zealand have revealed a giant penguin that was as big as a grown man, roughly the size of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The creature was slightly shorter in length and about 20 pounds (9 kilograms) heavier than t...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment but w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations; Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everything The Force Awakens was missing; and more

Top 5 at noon: Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations; Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everything The Force Awakens was missing; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.WARREN SAPP ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT; NFL NETWORK SUSPENDS THREE ANALYSTS OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONSWarren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual hara...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Lead us not into’ what? Pope Francis suggests changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

‘Lead us not into’ what? Pope Francis suggests changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

One of the best-known prayers in the English language might need an update for the sake of theological clarity, Pope Francis recently suggested in an interview.The words in the Lord’s Prayer that ask, "Lead us not into temptation," can cause confusio...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Downtown St. Pete’s 24-hour diner 2nd & Second is open

Downtown St. Pete’s 24-hour diner 2nd & Second is open

Downtown St. Petersburg’s only 24/7 restaurant has opened and doesn’t plan to close, ever. The 2nd & Second diner at the corner of Second Street and Second Avenue N will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week offering a spot f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual harassment while working as an analyst with NFL Network, according to a lawsuit.NFL Network has suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor "pendin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

I have a theory that Major League Baseball is always way more interesting when the New York Yankees are good.Well, the Yankees got way better in the past few days.But baseball didn’t get more interesting. It got way worse.And it could get worse in Ta...
Updated: 2 hours ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 2 hours ago