Monday, March 19, 2018

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?


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.?


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.


Editorial: Congress must stand up to Trump’s attacks on special counsel

Editorial: Congress must stand up to Trump’s attacks on special counsel

President Donald Trump resumed his attack Monday on the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, calling it a ‘‘total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!’’ That is another one of his tall tales, but t...
Updated: 26 minutes ago

Another voice: A longshot bid on banning assault rifles

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the most extraordinary things keep happening.A surge of protests forces Florida’s first small steps on gun control in 22 years. Students by the thousands stage walkouts at h...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Hits, errors and misses by the Florida Legislature

Editorial: Hits, errors and misses by the Florida Legislature

They named roads, replaced a state statue in the U.S. Capitol and demanded every school display "In God We Trust.’’ They embraced daylight saving time year-round and considered creating license plates for schools in Georgia and Alabama. They crafted ...
Published: 03/16/18
Editorial: Pinellas should affirm commitment to add affordable housing

Editorial: Pinellas should affirm commitment to add affordable housing

With the Penny for Pinellas local sales tax on the books for another 10 years, a stream of funding will be available for developing affordable housing, and there is a dire shortage. Rising rents are forcing low-income residents to spend a growing sha...
Published: 03/15/18
Updated: 03/16/18
Editorial: Florida Legislature fails public schools

Editorial: Florida Legislature fails public schools

Tampa Bay school district superintendents who are asking Gov. Rick Scott to call the Florida Legislature into special session and demand more money for public schools can sum up their powerful argument in two numbers. The governor asked lawmakers to ...
Published: 03/15/18

Editorial: Tech Data climbs to the top

Tech Data recently seized the throne as Florida’s largest company, a result of its steady climb and adaptability in the fast-changing technology industry. The company’s growth likewise elevates the Tampa Bay area’s importance, both in Florida and aro...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/16/18

Editorial: Pasco’s proposed solar farm is no dump

As NIMBY issues go, this is a new one.Residents of rural northeast Pasco County are up in arms over a solar farm proposed for 350 acres of pasture land across from Pasco-Hernando State College. Tampa Electric wants to install approximately 470,000 so...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/16/18

Another voice: Big tent, big result

The result of a Tuesday special election in a usually solid Republican congressional district is just the latest sign that the GOP’s toxic embrace of President Donald Trump is hurting not only the country but also their party. With all precincts repo...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/15/18
Editorial: 2 smart transportation investments for Tampa Bay

Editorial: 2 smart transportation investments for Tampa Bay

They received virtually no public attention, but buried in the tax cuts and the state budget that the Florida Legislature sent to Gov. Rick Scott are two significant provisions that would help Tampa Bay create a more robust mass transit system. Allow...
Published: 03/14/18
Editorial: Trump’s firing of Tillerson messy but necessary

Editorial: Trump’s firing of Tillerson messy but necessary

President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing by tweet of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday triggered another round of chaos in an administration that appears more unstable than ever. Tillerson was a moderating voice and more in line with mainstre...
Published: 03/13/18