In the early 19th century the Transcendentalist poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, sadly finding himself in Tallahassee, observed the city was "a grotesque place, rapidly settled by public officers, land speculators and desperados" before quickly getting out of the den of mendacity while he still had a few pennies left in his pocket.
That is not exactly a carefully crafted lyrical couplet from such a gifted wordsmith, but accurate nonetheless. About the only thing that has changed since Emerson's time in Tallahassee is that the checks have gotten bigger....
Over the course of his third effort to join the Hillsborough County School Board, local political gadfly Terry Kemple has assailed Common Core standards as an "evil" scheme by the federal government to supplant local control of public education and has assailed the Hillsborough County Commission for approving a domestic partner registry.
Not a fun guy, Mr. Kemple.
There's a temptation to think that Kemple, the Mr. Dithers of the classroom, winning a seat on the School Board would be like handing over the cafeteria contract to a Borgia. On the other hand, as a scribbler, Kemple on the Hillsborough County School Board would be at least a four-year fodder annuity. These wouldn't be School Board meetings at all. This would be Elmer Gantry meets the three R's: revival, repentance and the route to salvation. You might say I'd be blessed....
At the age of 15, Charles Lindbergh the Elder started taking flying lessons at Tampa's Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands. He finished his training at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, where he took off for his first solo flight at 16 to earn his initial visual flight rules certification. Now, as a corporate jet pilot, he flies a Gulfstream IV all over Asia and beyond.
My eldest son has flown into Albert Whitted Airport, nestled on the shoreline of St. Petersburg, on numerous occasions without event — just like the 97,000 takeoffs and landings that occurred at the facility over the past year....
'Welcome to the Home Shopping Network. I'm your host Wink Winkleman, and we have a very thrilling show for you as we say hello to Duke Energy president and chief executive officer Lynn Good, who will introduce some lovely items the utility company is putting up for auction today. Let's get started, Lynn, since we have quite an inventory to snooker the public with."
"Absolutely, Wink. As you know, we inherited from Progress Energy a really botched major repair job at our Crystal River nuke plant. But we want our self-inflicted calamity, or perhaps, better put, our customers' misfortune, to be the mother of our viewers' opportunity."...
How to put this as gently as possible? Apparently the Florida Department of Citrus wants to rid itself of its current mascot, a cutesy-wootsy, pudgy, smiling orange, on the theory the image suggests obesity.
Replacing Ollie the Orange will be a musclebound superhero dubbed Captain Citrus, leaving the impression that if you drink enough OJ you will be turned into an over-ripe freak of nature....
Among the three great lies certainly must be the youth baseball coach insisting, "We're all here to just have fun," the response to "Does this dress make me look fat?" and the claim from a parent about to whip a child: "This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you." Piffle.
In theory we should be considered an advanced society. Technology abounds. Medicine makes great strides. We've sent humans to the moon....
See Ike beat the Nazis?
See Ike become president?
See Ike build the interstate highway system?
Ike was a nice man. Ike was a great general. Ike was a very good president.
And there you have it in Paul Johnson's fawning, glowing air-kiss to the 34th president, Eisenhower: A Life, which at a mere 123 pages (not including the index) reads more like a resume than a serious examination of one of the more interesting and certainly underrated figures to recently occupy the Oval Office....
How fitting that House Republicans somehow managed to find a scintilla of time away from their work sclerotic to squeeze in a few moments to hear from former Vice President Dick Cheney for a pep talk on Babel-rattling.
After an all-too-brief five-week vacation away from Washington, members of Congress returned to the oppressive grind of their job to undertake a brutal schedule of about seven legislative work days before they will take most of the rest of the year off....
This certainly ought to clear up any confusion anyone had over the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum: Randal O'Toole has spoken his two bits.
Actually it was $500 worth of bits to get O'Toole to conclude Greenlight Pinellas would be a pox on humanity. The November referendum would create a one-cent sales tax to dramatically expand bus service and begin a 24-mile light rail line throughout the county. If it passes, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will eliminate the property tax it collects....
In his long and distinguished 28-year career as a member of the Tampa Police Department, John Newman pretty much did it all — patrol duties, undercover work, detective and high-ranking member of Chief Jane Castor's administration. Newman was a cop's cop.
But Newman may well find himself facing his ultimate nemesis: the Hillsborough County School District. Busting drug rings will seem like a Roman Holiday compared to dealing with an often fractious, bickering, sniping Hillsborough School Board....
They traipse in one after another looking like conquering heroes or sheep being led to the slaughter. I have a soft spot for them all — even the ones who are wrong on just about everything.
This is election season, which means candidates, or ripe fodder depending on a columnist's snarky point of view, make their way to a meeting with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board seeking the newspaper's recommendation....
09/08/14 Human Interest
“Do you prefer a cliff, or water?" asked the owner of the lovely hotel at the foot of Mount Olympus.
It was an important question. A question of life and, more profoundly, death.
Several years earlier an elderly Aunt Mary had asked her niece, my wife, Angela, if, when the time came, we could spread her ashes on Greece's iconic mountain. And now the time had come.
Yes, a cliff would be rather nice....
Perhaps you aspire to fame and fortune, the chance to walk the red carpet at the Oscars to the cooing of adoring fans and to have gossip columnists taking note that you were seen spooling pasta at Wolfgang Puck's while canoodling with another international sex symbol.
Career planning — it's a wonderful thing.
But as with all matters of the cult of celebrity, there is a cautionary tale....
There are at least 11,630 crime stories in the "Naked City" of Waldo. Unfortunately, all of them are boring and about the same.
This was hardly a "Stop the presses!" "Get me rewrite, baby!" Johnny Deadline scoop of the century when a group of Waldo Police Department officers fessed up to what thousands of motorists, AAA, Interpol and the Visiting Nurses Association already knew.
Yes, it's true — the Waldo constabulary has indeed been acting under strict orders to fulfill speeding ticket quotas. No! Really?...
Let the lame begin. For we who are about to sigh refute you.
Here's the most pressing question of the 2014 campaign for governor. By the time election day arrives Nov. 4, after being inundated with negative commercials, how many of us will be reduced to basket cases curled up in fetal positions?
This isn't going to be a campaign pitting incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott against former Republican governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. The hyper-brainwashing propaganda about to hit the airwaves is going make The Manchurian Candidate look like Sesame Street....