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....
Here's what you need to understand about how Republicans in the state House of Representatives view themselves:
They are right.
Always and only.
A dispute with the federal government over tax money?
Trust the House.
A dispute with local school districts over testing?
Trust the House.
A dispute with the Senate over the budget?
Trust the House.
There is no middle ground, no shades of gray, no extenuating circumstances. They know what is best for you, and no one else can be trusted to do what is moral and smart....
It took a little time. And it probably involved some partisan gamesmanship.
But the bottom line is the Florida Legislature may finally be getting serious about ridding residential neighborhoods of backyard gun ranges.
One month after a bill proposed by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, was killed, the issue has come to life again as an amendment tacked on to an unrelated bill in the Senate....
04/15/15 Music & Concerts
He's not, of course. A god, I mean.
But heaven knows there has been an inordinate amount of time spent in the last 50 years or so trying to classify, quantify and otherwise demystify Bob Dylan's impact on society.
He's a poet. No, he's a prophet! He changed pop music. No, he changed America in the 1960s! He's the voice of a generation. No, he's the voice of every generation.
Dylan, 73, has churned out around three dozen studio albums since 1962, and probably twice as many books have been written trying to interpret and explain them all....
The freshman representative had been on the job for barely a month.
He had come to Tallahassee in a special election, so he had little time to prepare for the legislative session, and could rely on none of the all-for-one camaraderie of a typical incoming class of lawmakers.
Maybe that explains why, as he stood to address the House tourism committee in early March of 2000, the 28-year-old Republican made the mistake of announcing his proposed bill was his "maiden voyage'' in legislative politics....
One of the prerequisites of being a big shot in Tallahassee is having a pocketful of ideas. You simply cannot expect to make a name for yourself in state government without them.
On the other hand, short-term memory is not required.
Neither, apparently, is a sense of irony.
For in recent months we've seen a parade of ideas, policies and strategies that seem to defy previous philosophies adopted by some of these very same idea-rich people....
Folks, it's time we face facts.
And the glut of evidence suggests that residents of this glorious state are now intrinsically linked by this one simple truth:
We are morons.
You, me and everyone else.
We are morons for allowing a handful of selfish, egotistical, politically driven hucksters to waste billions of our tax dollars while also playing games with people's lives....
04/05/15 The Heater
Spring training has been a distraction for Rays fans.
It has forced them to worry about forearms, shoulders and elbows. It turned visas and passports into a daily irritation and pneumonia into a crisis.
Headache after headache have caused you to fret about the starting rotation, the one area of the team that was supposed to be worry-free.
And it has distracted you from 2015's real concern:...
04/04/15 Human Interest
The fighter is older, and more frail than you know. His time in the spotlight has passed, and his greatest accomplishment has been relegated to history's back pages.
Instead, the stories now told of Vince Naimoli are often derisive — comical and demeaning recollections of his time spent as the owner of the woebegone Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Mind you, those tales seem limitless and are forever entertaining. But the truth is they paint an incomplete picture....
We are days away from the anniversary of Congress affirming George Washington as the first president of the United States on April 6, 1789.
History tells us Washington was chosen unanimously by 69 electors representing the 10 colonies that had ratified the Constitution.
What history often neglects to mention is there were supposed to be 81 votes. Two electors from Virginia and two from Maryland failed to cast their ballots, and the entire eight-man contingent from New York was too busy feuding to actually vote....
03/25/15 Local Government
The owner is frustrated, the mayor is weary and a deadline may be slipping past.
Chances are increasing that the agreement to allow the Rays to search around the Tampa Bay area for new stadium sites may not get done in 2015.
The Rays have generally avoided discussing stadium-related issues once the regular season begins, so it's possible the next meeting or two could be the last opportunities for the mayor's deal with the team to be approved by the current City Council....