Monday, June 25, 2018
Opinion

Joe Henderson: Looking for the meaning of year 2017? Google ‘weird’ or ‘strange’

In a little while, the year 2017 will be dispatched the dust bin of history, accessible only by a Google search with the words "weird" or "strange" or "what the ..."

Is the truth "out there" somewhere, as they say on the X-Files?

Maybe.

Consider this: In early December, people throughout Tampa and Florida reported a loud, mysterious boom that, as the Tampa Bay Times reported, "shook walls and swayed chandeliers."

Days later, we learned of a secret government program to track UFOs — along with video of an object that looked straight out of Star Wars.

Oh, wait. NORAD’s big boom theory is (wink, wink) that two F-15 fighters were allowed to fly at supersonic speed over the Gulf of Mexico. Sky go boom! Mystery solved.

Yeah, sure.

Why wouldn’t a year that included floods, hurricanes, wildfires, unrelenting heat waves, the Buccaneers’ repeated face-first pratfalls, and the Rays trading Evan Longoria include a visit from E.T.?

Hmmmmm?

I won’t miss this year, not even a little bit.

Fun fact: In May, the Miami New Times reported a study from the National Centers for Environmental Information that said this was the hottest beginning to any year in Florida’s history. Sure seemed like it.

The study noted that on consecutive days in late April, Tampa hit 96 and 95 degrees respectively— its highest and second-highest temperature since they started keeping records in 1890.

It got hotter, and not just outside, when summer arrived and your finger-in-the-wind county commissioners dithered and harrumphed about what to do with a civil war monument in front of the downtown courthouse.

One day it seemed like it would be moved, then no, then maybe, then — hey, let’s study it a while in the hopes that please, please, please, don’t be offended. After all, several commissioners face re-election battles in 2018.

The monument was finally moved after the Bucs, Rays and Lightning donated money to defray the cost.

Civility took several body blows in the name of what monument supporters called "preserving history."

Yeah, racist and bad history. We don’t celebrate that.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn made news when he announced he will not run for governor in 2018, ending years of speculation to the contrary.

What will he do? He’ll probably work like the dickens to help a Democrat, any Democrat, beat Donald Trump in 2020. If successful, maybe he can become the undersecretary for something vital — Cuban sandwich quality control, for instance.

Sports didn’t provide a lot of relief.

Hurricanes forced the Rays to play a "home" series in New York against the Yankees (at Citi Field, home of the Mets), while the World Series champion Houston Astros played a "home" series at Tropicana Field.

I was getting whiplash trying to keep up.

The Rays finally have a proposed site for a new stadium near Ybor City, but they don’t seem to want to chip in much to pay for it.

Their marketing plan is to gut the roster and put out a low-budget lineup that should win at least 55 times next season. Good seats still available.

The Lightning missed the playoffs (they’re doing better now), but the Bucs turned collapsing into an art form.

Hurricane Irma forced their opening game at Miami to be postponed, which — as things turned out in this wretched season — was a better idea than playing most of the games.

Two words: no playoffs.

We still haven’t solved our traffic and transit issues, although the state took a stab at it.

Sensing that locals loathed the controversial Tampa Bay Express plan that included 90 miles of toll lanes, the Florida Department of Transportation unveiled Tampa Bay Next.

Critics pounced, saying it was basically the same plan under a new name. That begs the question: Will 2018 be basically the same year as this one, but under a new name?

Well, the truth is out there.

Somewhere.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18

Editorial: Florida needs to explain its own price gouging

In the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to scour Florida to prevent businesses from exploiting consumers by price gouging. It turns out she could have just looked down the hall in the state capitol. Based on reportin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18