At the risk of oversimplifying a year's worth of investigative reporting, here is the most important takeaway from the Tampa Bay Times' recent report on hospital trauma care bills:
When asked about the high cost of trauma response fees, the CEO of UF Health Shands Hospital acknowledged prices were out of whack with reality. He pledged to lower the trauma response cost, which is essentially a cover charge, from $10,000 to $4,000....
And so it begins again for Rick Scott. This time, a little earlier than the last.
The governor will begin selling himself today in a brand new campaign commercial designed to make him look every bit as human as you or I.
Now you might remember, at this point four years ago, Scott was not yet running for governor. His name recognition was practically nil, and when the first polls arrived in early May, he trailed Bill McCollum by 14 points in the Republican primary....
Technically, this isn't as impressive as the Ming thing.
It's a couple of centuries short of a dynasty and a few ZIP codes shy of an empire. On the other hand, the Ming Dynasty never had to deal with Social Security attack ads.
And so this is where the Republican Party finds itself today. After six decades of dominance in Pinellas County's congressional district, Republicans are staring at a rare challenge....
NAME: Cameras, Red-Light
DATE OF BIRTH: Sept. 15, 2011
PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Petersburg
DATE OF DEATH: March 6, 2014
External examination: This autopsy begins at 9:30 a.m., March 7, 2014. Based on evidence originally presented, red-light cameras were killed by a simple majority vote of St. Petersburg City Council members the previous morning.
While this conclusion is factually correct, further examination indicates death did not come naturally to red-light cameras in St. Petersburg....
For simplicity's sake, this column is divided into two parts.
Part I is about how state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is absolutely correct regarding the wisdom of giving standardized tests to children with disabilities.
Earlier this week, Stewart sent a letter to Florida teachers defending a state policy that declares standard assessments are mandatory for special needs students....
One of the candidates said something outrageous at a congressional debate last week.
It was blunt. And ominous. It was the kind of statement that should have made everyone on the stage and in the audience wonder about the implications.
And yet there were no followup mentions. It led to no commercials, and no news conferences about the candidate's fitness for office.
Part of the reason is that Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby was the speaker, and polls indicate he is not a strong threat to win next week's election....
Call me picky, but here's what I don't understand:
If we're going to circumvent the Florida Constitution, ignore the state Supreme Court, and funnel tax dollars to churches, shouldn't accountability be a larger part of the equation? You know, if only to give the appearance of fiscal responsibility?
Because Will Weatherford's plan to radically expand the school voucher system sounds curiously like the kind of entitlement he deplores when it comes to health care....
One by one, Florida has chased them down and picked them off. Massachusetts? Long gone. New Jersey? A distant memory. Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania? Relics of a time and place appropriately known as the Rust Belt. At various points in the past 50 years, Florida's population has blown past a half-dozen states. To be exact, Florida has grown more than all six of those states combined during the last five decades....
Here's how the debate works:
The moderator spends untold hours researching relevant topics. Audience members offer a bunch of potential questions on note cards. Debate organizers carve out a 90-minute window for 16 or so topics to be discussed.
And then …
Candidates give three answers. Maybe four on a good day.
Now it's possible I'm exaggerating, but not in an outlandish way....
The outrage has already begun to fade.
The jurors have returned to anonymous lives, and the news crews have left Jacksonville. Michael Dunn has only appeals and a prison sentence in his immediate future, and Jordan Davis' parents have only memories and grief in theirs.
As for the rest of us?
We are still debating this "stand your ground'' law that is somehow celebrated and condemned, both simultaneously and vociferously....
Gus Bilirakis screwed up. He made you his priority.
As you can imagine, that's a major sin in Congress these days. It's akin to breaking a handful of Washington commandments at the same time.
Thou shalt honor major donors.
Thou shalt obey party leaders.
Thou shalt fear the tea party.
And thou can worry about the folks back home in thou's spare time.
Bilirakis, a four-term U.S. representative, knew he was stepping out of line. It's one of the reasons he resisted it for a couple of weeks....
DELIVER TO FOX NEWS
To whom it may concern:
It is with great pleasure that I write this letter of recommendation for Pamela Jo Bondi. I am not personally acquainted with Ms. Bondi, but I am familiar with her work and I do know many of her constituents in the great state of Florida. It is, in fact, on behalf of those constituents that I write this letter. Many of them feel it would be a splendid idea for Ms. Bondi to escape the thankless job of attorney general and seek full-time employment at your fine network....
I may be wrong, but I think David Jolly won the debate.
Not the one they had a couple of weeks ago at St. Petersburg College, but the one still planned for next week in Clearwater.
That's the congressional District 13 debate NBC tried to grab for a nationally televised broadcast but instead got stiff-armed by Alex Sink's camp.
So it looks as if there will be no big-shot TV reporter flying in from Washington. There will be no bright lights and no buzz outside of the 400 or so folks in attendance....
In some ways, Branden Petro's life is no longer his own. Since he was 8 years old, he has been trapped inside a cycle of seizures as unforgiving as they are unrelenting. This condition impacts intellect, motor skills, memory and moods, and has the potential to be fatal.
So you ask Branden's mother what she's willing to do to save her son.
Anything, she says.
The inoperable cancer has not yet consumed Dahlia Barnhart's brain, but it has run roughshod over the rest of her life. The chemo makes the toddler vomit. The morphine leaves her dazed. And who knows if the trauma of doctors and nurses scrambling to revive her after her heart stopped beating is locked somewhere in this little girl's memory....
02/12/14 Local Government
The conversation has been going on for quite some time.
It has included grand ideas and dirt bikes. It has touched on eroding beaches and an emerging aquarium. The discussion over where best to spend an upcoming influx of tourist tax dollars has been all over the Pinellas map.
And somewhere along the way, this question occurred to County Commissioner Charlie Justice:
Is Pinellas County preparing to get out of the business of Major League Baseball?...