1. Archive

Sometimes the news arrives in tasty tidbits

Sometimes, I like to present a collection of items in a column.

And sometimes, I want them to be like gum: things to chew on and think about.

Here are a few sticks from my newest pack of Juicy Fruit.

Men and women have different ideas when it comes to decorating homes. This came as news to me Monday because in my house men aren't allowed to have decorating ideas.

For seven years, however, Michael Payne has been resolving such differences as host of HGTV's Designing for the Sexes. Payne, who visits a new Badcock & More in St. Petersburg today, says the differences are not generally surprising.

"Women, being the beautiful things that they are, love to have feminine touches around the house," Payne explained. "They love gorgeous fabrics like lace. I mean, Ernest, when was the last time you bought tassels for the drapes."

That would be never, of course.

"Men like cleaner, simpler, uncluttered types of interior, almost undecorated," Payne said. "But the moment you start talking technology, the man is jumping up and down and really excited. They want the TiVo system, the surround sound plus all the other components that come with remote controls because, as you know, the more remotes you have, the more macho you are."

Clearly, humor serves Payne well, but he also employs compromise to make most of his design efforts pleasing to husband and wife. If you're a couple feuding over what to do with that spare room, see Payne from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the new Badcock at 2601 Tyrone Blvd. N.

Kudos to Bob Abberger, the new chair of Tampa Chamber's Committee of 100, for highlighting the need for higher-paying jobs. Sometimes, chamber functions can turn into rah-rah sessions, but at a Committee of 100 dinner earlier this month, Abberger was up front about the area's need to increase salaries from an average of $36,000 a year.

"We have the lowest average wage rate of any metropolitan area we compete with," said Abberger, regional director for Trammel Crow developers. "This might sound good if you're an employer, but combine this with our rapidly rising cost of living and absence of affordable housing, and rapidly rising housing costs - up 30 percent last year - and you have a formula for failure."

Abberger also stressed the need to increase high school graduation rates and SAT scores. Of course, better schools are a constant theme, and one we have to hope isn't lost on the County Commission. Thanks largely to Tom Scott's vote, the commission recently delayed raising impact fees in a 4-3 decision. Scott said there is no harm in the delay, and the county is wise to wait and see how much money comes down from Tallahassee.

Yet the delay merely allows for a dangerous shell game. Commissioner Kathy Castor, who has been the biggest proponent of increasing fees, had the right idea when she said, "We need to do this with all deliberate speed."

One source of high-paying jobs is the biotech industry, but it appears Palm Beach County has a decided advantage over the Tampa Bay area. Palm Beach County already has lured in Scripps Howard, and now a second high tech California company looking to expand to Florida might end up in nearby St. Lucie County.

Gov. Jeb Bush is a major player in guiding these relocations, and it's time someone ask him to give serious consideration to the Tampa Bay area.

The University of South Florida and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center make this a prime spot for the biotech industry, and I would think the governor would want to spread the wealth to an area that has largely voted Republican in recent elections.

Of course, if the request comes from me, it's not going to have an impact. However, if it came from Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and he was strongly backed by a coalition of legislators from Tampa Bay, I think Jeb would have to listen. If our representatives formed a true team, it would make for a formidable legislative voting block the governor could not ignore.

Finally, it's worth noting that out of the many aspiring candidates and elected officials at the Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner, County Commissioner Ronda Storms received the biggest ovation. I just wonder if people still will clap if Valrico bikini bar owner Jamie Rand is successful in his $20-million suit against the county because of Storms' actions.

That's all I'm saying,

Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or