It's an age-old question in education:
How do you deal with troublemakers in the classroom?
You know the type. The ones who refuse to listen, and the ones who are slow to learn. The ones who don't care about the disruptions they cause, or the hours they waste.
As another school year winds down, I have a humble suggestion for dealing with those schoolyard agitators who want to take over every classroom:...
People occasionally say the political process in Florida is broken.
Not to sound disagreeable, but that's a wimpy euphemism. As if we accidentally dropped Tallahassee on its head.
The problems of this state were not born of fluke or chance. The corruption of Florida was planned. Carefully. Deliberately. Cynically.
The process didn't just break.
It was rigged.
How else do you explain elected officials who hold their constituents in such contempt? Legislators who defy the electorate, and a governor who routinely makes up bogus facts?...
The pedestrian, wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap and headphones, is not moving. The car, closing in on 40 mph, is not stopping.
The collision is inevitable, which explains all the law enforcement types sitting nearby in bleachers and lawn chairs with notebooks and cameras in hand.
Welcome to another day of mayhem and mathematics at the Special Problems in Traffic Crash Reconstruction conference in Pinellas Park and Clearwater Beach this week....
This is … Jeopardy!
With your host, Alex Trebek!
Trebek: Thank you, Johnny. Welcome contestants, let's get started, and please remember to frame your responses in the form of a question.
Contestant one: I'll take Hypocritical Oaths for $200, Alex.
Trebek: At his 2011 inauguration, this Southern governor said his state was accepting too many "handouts from the federal government" at the expense of its grandchildren, yet in 2015 this governor sued the federal government for more than a billion dollars in additional handouts....
Read a recent report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, and you will learn all sorts of trends and conclusions about drug overdoses around the state.
You will discover communities where prescription pills are still a problem, and areas where heroin has exploded. You will see which drugs are being mixed with others, and which age groups are at greater risk in cocaine deaths.
And, ultimately, you will learn that this collection of numbers, charts and summaries will still somehow fall short....
05/11/15 Local Government
The argument would sound a whole lot better if the subject matter were more profound.
If, for instance, this was a politician fighting for voting rights. Or equal pay. Or antidiscrimination laws. Or any number of weighty topics.
Except, in this case, it's a debate about boob jokes.
And the guy has a point.
"I refuse to give up my constitutional rights just because I'm an elected official,'' Gulfport City Council member Michael Fridovich said. "I'm going to be who I am.''...
05/09/15 Human Interest
So the dog is giving me a dirty look. Something between disappointment and disgust.
And what exactly is his problem? I wish I knew.
Perhaps I skimped on his share of my meatloaf. Or maybe I rushed his after-dinner walk. Or, as my wife often suggests, it could be he's just an #@$%!*&.
Not that I begrudge his bad attitude. He's a 50-pound lab mix who is pushing 17 years old. He's got lumps in all the wrong places, a face full of gray hair and a poodle's sense of entitlement....
05/06/15 Local Government
Usually, it's money that divides us. We tend to get loopy over the origin and the destination of every dollar that passes through the doors of City Hall.
And that's what makes the ongoing Pier debate in St. Petersburg so unusual. For this battle did not begin in earnest until the money was already counted and secured.
It was back in April 2005 that St. Petersburg leaders persuaded the Pinellas County Commission to extend the life of a downtown tax district, and thus provide $50 million to complete whatever grand plan the city could come up with for the Pier....
Let's start with the racist:
Sidney Catts, a Baptist minister who had never before held public office and was the nominee on the Prohibition ticket, was antiblack, anti-Jew and anti-Catholic. Somehow, he persuaded Florida voters to elect him governor in 1916.
Later, there was Gov. Haydon Burns. The Democratic former mayor of Jacksonville was elected governor in 1964 after labeling his white opponent "the NAACP candidate.'' His first term went so well, his re-election attempt never got out of the primary....
This is bad: Republicans in the state House turned their backs on Floridians by shutting their doors in order to make a political statement on Obamacare. This might be worse: Democrats in Florida chose to widen the divide by immediately turning the House rift into a campaign issue through mailers and robocalls.
• • •
Somewhere along the line, our leaders lost their way....
04/27/15 Local Government
Emails I wish you had written to me:
You: Should I feel guilty that I didn't care what pier was chosen as long as it wasn't the favorite of the snobs of Old Northeast?
Me: Yes, you should feel guilty. Also giddy.
You: The Rays had sparse crowds at Tropicana Field for six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. Should we be worried about attendance?
Me: The short answer is yes. We get so accustomed to small crowds, the temptation is to grade Tampa Bay's attendance on a curve. That's a mistake....
They are so gosh darned good to us, I don't know how we stand it.
From the moment they arrive in Tallahassee, our state legislators insist on sending back unnecessary gifts. Fancy-sounding laws we neither asked for, nor need.
It's too much. Really. Please, stop.
Take this new schools bill (HB 1145) the House passed on Friday. It is crammed full of unrelated educational items that no one seemed to be clamoring for....
It's probably fair to say the governor was fed up.
He was incredulous. He was angry, and he was appalled.
Appearing on Fox News last week, Rick Scott looked straight into the camera and blasted the White House for what he called coercion tactics in the health care debate.
"This is The Sopranos," Scott said forcefully. "They're using bullying tactics to attack our state. It's wrong. It's outrageous that they're doing this."...
04/20/15 Public Safety
For the most part, I believe cops deserve more praise than you and I.
I believe they are more selfless. More heroic. More noble.
I believe any community is better served when its residents are united in their respect, support and faith in their local law enforcement officials.
And that's why I believe the Tampa Police Department has screwed up.
As meticulously detailed by Times reporters Alexandra Zayas and Kameel Stanley on Sunday, police in Tampa have zealously, and disproportionately, singled out poor, black residents for relatively insignificant bicycle infractions....
04/20/15 The Heater
You learn things when you're a teenage star.
And you learn a few more when the crowds stop calling your name.
So Tim Beckham knows better than to sound bitter, and he knows better than to sound cocky. He has a pretty good idea of what the baseball world thinks about him, and he isn't going to offer unnecessary ammunition with ill-chosen words.
So instead of dissecting the past or predicting the future, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft is focused on today. And, as it turns out, that ain't so bad....