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  1. News

We deserve lawmakers who champion diversity

Laila Abdelaziz, the Council on American–Islamic Relations' legislative and government affairs director for Florida, says when she stepped onto an elevator in the state Capitol last week, a legislator said, "Is it safe to ride the elevator with you?"

The tasteless joke proved even more cruel, Abdelaziz wrote on her Facebook page, when others on the elevator — Democrat, Republican, white, black, old, young — laughed.

My first thought: She deserves better. But the truth is we all deserve better. We deserve to live in a state where those who purport to represent our diverse culture begin to live it through deeds and legislation, not just words.

Don't call it political correctness, call it respect. Sensitivity.

And those who might say she's overreacting to an off-color joke remind me of a statement my friend Delano Stewart often proclaims: "Don't stand on my foot and tell me how much pain I should feel." …

Seen on a T-shirt: I'm not lazy, I'm energy efficient. …

Kudos to Pinellas Park's Rob Van Tassel, whom the Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida named as the state's 2016 Big Brother of the year. Van Tassel, a logistics manager with Southwire, has been matched with his Little Brother, Seth, 16, since 2008. …

Learning that Tampa's once-famous Sportatorium will be converted into a piano conservatory made me think: Watching Dusty Rhodes play Beethoven would have been so cool, the Briscoe Brothers could have teamed for Heart and Soul and Dickie Slater would have tried to hit someone with a piano bench.

Of course, every recital would have been limited to "television time remaining." Thanks for the memories, Gordon Solie.

That's all I'm saying.