The line exists. Of that, you can be sure.
Somewhere, there is a line that our state leaders will not cross. Call it morality. Call it decency. Call it integrity. Somewhere, there is a point where shame kicks in, and their conscience finally forces them to stop in their tracks.
Unfortunately, no one can locate that line.
Yes, it is a remarkable thing to witness the shameless in action. To see them deny the obvious and ignore the ironic....
06/29/15 Local Government
Someone, please, get the man some confetti.
He is a conqueror in need of a celebration. A honcho in search of minions.
It has been a little more than a week since Ed Montanari (sort of) won an election to the St. Petersburg City Council and the band is still waiting for its cue.
Alas, it turned out to be a victory without a battle.
No other candidate filed to run against him in District 1, and so Montanari happily accepted the political equivalent of a forfeit more than four months ahead of the election....
06/27/15 Human Interest
Two towns, two stories, two battles. Separated by miles and decades, and yet connected somehow through a bygone symbol and the passion it still incites.
The Confederate flag controversy playing out in Charleston today is not indigenous to South Carolina, and it is not novel by any standard.
Just ask the long-ago teenagers who were part of Pinellas County's first integrated class of students at Dixie Hollins High a couple of generations ago....
He is always chipper, that governor of ours. Always smiling, always talking of bigger ideas and better days.
And yet every time he walks out of a room, there seems to be more angry people than when he arrived.
This is not accidental, and it should not be any huge surprise. It is, for lack of a better term, the Rick Scott style.
And what exactly is that?
It is omnipotence without a conscience....
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Come, the man said, this is our house of worship.
And so, on a cloudless Sunday morning, they came.
They came to mourn. To worship. To comfort, and to gawk.
They came until the 800-seat Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was filled beyond its means. And still more came. They spilled onto Calhoun Street where barricades were set up, and stereo speakers were brought outside so the sermon could be heard....
CHARLESTON, S.C. — This is a city with a past, not all of it glorious. A place where history is sold by the walking tour, though some of the banter is strategically cleansed.
The downtown is forever under the gaze of an 80-foot high statue of a man who once argued slavery was a blessing for us all. It's a place where a quiet man in a suit and tie can point to storefronts where, not so many years ago, he couldn't try on clothes because of the color of his skin. A community that has seen historically black neighborhoods disappear within gentrified streets of coffee shops and high-end rentals....
Sometimes, decisions made in the Legislature are nauseatingly selfish.
Sometimes, they are fanatical. Phony. Outlandish. Cruel.
And sometimes, they are none of those things.
They are simply wrong.
The state budget that was agreed upon earlier this week has plenty of fodder no matter where you reside philosophically. You can say legislators spent recklessly or you can say they skimped foolishly, and there is truth to both arguments....
06/15/15 Human Interest
Let this be the image America remembers:
Thousands of Lightning fans with no hope of tickets, yet no shortage of passion.
They stood outside Amalie Arena for home games with their noses pressed proverbially against the glass, and they gathered inside the building for Monday night's away game.
They came not to see their heroes in the flesh, but to bond over a shared quest.
Almost as if Tampa Bay was a real sports market....
06/14/15 Human Interest
If you study the history and crunch the numbers, you start to get a clearer picture of the challenge facing your Tampa Bay Lightning. • Technically speaking, the team is toast. • Give or take a miracle. • At least that's the pessimistic interpretation of the statistics in front of me. Since the National Hockey League went to its best-of-seven format in the Stanley Cup final, the team leading after five games has gone on to win the series 78.3 percent of the time. • That's disturbing. In fact, if you're a Lightning fan, it's downright depressing. • And, heaven knows, depressed and disturbed is no way to start a new week. So we're here to offer five reasons why you should tell hockey historians to go shove it today....
06/13/15 Human Interest
The man in charge of the night's hysteria is about to cut loose.
He's surrounded by about 20,000 of his favorite fans, and has thousands more camped out on the pavilion outside of his arena.
The hockey team he bought and rescued is playing for a little slice of immortality, and the buzz above the ice is about to reach a crescendo.
And that's when the unthinkable happens.
Should he? Might he? Did he?...
This is not a column about abortion, contrary to its appearance.
Instead, it is about deceit and dishonesty. Maybe clout and influence.
Mostly, it is a column about hypocrisy.
If you have not yet heard, your state Legislature passed a bill a couple of months ago that requires women to show up for two separate doctor's visits and endure a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion....
And now, a final word for opponents of Medicaid expansion:
You did it. You won.
Once again, you denied health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Floridians.
And all it took was distortions, diversions, threats and cruelty. All in a day's work, am I right?
In the hours before members of the Florida House voted down a Senate proposal to use federal funds to buy private insurance last week, they unleashed a staggering display of twisted and faulty logic....
His body is slowly breaking down, and Matthew Young seems resigned to the inescapable result.
Nearly 20 years of working as a military contractor, including five in Iraq, have robbed him of much of his future. Concussions, diseases, organ failure and PTSD have all taken a toll, and the 45-year-old Young has no illusion of making it to old age.
Prolonging life is not today's concern; it's the quality of life he has before him. And Young says the lack of a comprehensive medical marijuana law in Florida is threatening to destroy any time he has left....
06/05/15 Local Government
Her life had been mostly stark, and so her story would be too. Just a series of 61 index cards, held up one after another, to tell the unadorned tale of a child in search of a family to love.
Mariah Boyd steadied the camera, turned on some inspirational music, and began recording her version of a 21st century life. "Hello,'' the first card read. "I would like to tell you a story.''
By the seventh card, you already know Mariah was removed from her parents' home for the first time at age 2. By card No. 15, her eyes flutter and her pace slows. "Seeing your mom snort pills up her nose …''...
First thought on a recent elementary school graduation ceremony and commencement speech:
Where the heck did this idea come from? Not to sound old and cranky, but a friend pointed out that all he got on his way to middle school was a pack of Lucky Strikes from his dad.
Second thought on a recent elementary school graduation ceremony and commencement speech:
Oh my, I wish every politician in Florida had heard these words when they were leaving fifth grade. Or, better yet, when entering the Legislature....