Today, updates on some recent column items:
Okay, so I'm too cynical. It's a malady that frequently afflicts people in my profession.
I wrote May 29 about some nutty letters to the editor I received. I also mentioned how some letter writers sign fake names to their letters. I used as an example a letter signed "Rockefeller Senter," which I consigned to the rejected letters file because I suspected the name was not real.
But then I got a call from Mr. Rockefeller Senter himself.
Interesting guy. He used to be just plain Ben Senter, but he decided about 10 years ago that Ben Senter "didn't fit the personality I had created for myself."
He briefly considered changing his name to Lincoln Senter, but decided "that might be too stuffy." So Rockefeller it is. His friends in Clearwater call him Rocky.
My apologies, Rocky.
My June 12 column on day-trippers and Clearwater Beach drew some angry responses, especially from people who live in mid- and north Pinellas.
The readers were incensed that a few merchants and motel owners on Clearwater Beach had said that people who go to the beach just for the day are a problem. The merchants complained that day-trippers take up parking spaces and crowd the streets, yet don't spend much money in stores, restaurants or motels. They scare away the "real tourists" _ overnight visitors _ but don't contribute much to the beach economy.
The merchants even suggested that day-trippers should have to pay some kind of premium for their trips to the beach, such as higher parking rates.
As soon as those responses were published, I heard from some Clearwater Beach business owners who want the world to know that they, unlike those other merchants I quoted, appreciate day-trippers and want them to keep coming to Clearwater Beach. They said they are considering putting up signs to welcome day visitors.
Said one enlightened merchant, "We own property, we don't own the beach."
Reaction to my June 5 column, Duke physics equation doesn't include women, continues to come in and continues to be depressing. The column reported on the sexist "ambushes" that drove Laurie Freeman, 1993 valedictorian of the International Baccalaureate Program in Pinellas County, to abandon a major in physics at Duke University after her sophomore year.
The column made its way to the National Association for Women in Education in Washington, D.C. When a staff member called to ask for permission to reprint the column, she said that unfortunately, Laurie's experience was not so unusual. Similar incidents frequently are reported to the association by female college students trying to succeed in traditionally male fields.
So much progress against sexism has been made in the American workplace that I thought American universities would be more enlightened by now. My mistake.
June was scary
for city attorneys
What is this? Was June open season on city attorneys?
On the first day of June, we printed a news story about Oldsmar City Attorney Bryan Kutchins being in trouble with one of his bosses, Mayor Jerry Beverland. Beverland, a good-hearted fellow who sometimes gets a little carried away (rhetorically speaking), gave Kutchins a scathing evaluation in a public meeting and said he wanted Kutchins gone. After a couple of weeks and, I'll bet, some heart-to-heart talks, Kutchins smoothed things over with the mayor and held on to his job.
A few days later it was Tarpon Springs City Attorney Herb Elliott hanging on by a thread. Elliott was trying to negotiate a new contract and pay raise, but the City Commission split 2-2 on the proposal and at least one commissioner clearly wanted to kick him out. Elliott now is mulling over whether to stay at his old salary or quit.
Then last week, Clearwater Assistant City Attorney Miles Lance was fired after refusing to resign. Clearwater's new city attorney, former Tampa city attorney Pam Akin, wanted Lance to resign "in the best interests of the department." Lance said Akin wanted to get rid of him because he wrote poor memos. He said Akin didn't have the authority to fire him. She did anyway. Lance already has filed a lawsuit.
prices head south
Clinton and Co. may think the economy is perking along just fine, but I wonder if any of the experts have thought to check the lemonade markets?
I have a feeling times are tough out there. I've noticed more kids' lemonade stands by the roadside this summer than ever before.
The one I liked best offered a cup of lemonade for 1 cent. The three young entrepreneurs running the stand must really know how to stretch a penny.