• Rarely is everyone in agreement that an expensive new building built by a government agency should sit idle as much as possible. But that’s the case in our area.

    Last Friday, a luncheon took place at the Marion County Emergency Operations Center at the main Sheriff’s Office. It was an information session to let the media, public information officers of various governments in the county and city officials know what would happen in case of an emergency, such as a hurricane.

  • Today’s the day (if you’re reading this on Friday). Kate and William are getting married. Some coverage is starting at 4 a.m. on some networks (because of the time difference).

    My point is this: Why should I care? For that matter, why should anyone care?

    Isn’t British royalty over the hill, so to speak. Sure, members of the royal family have lots of money and probably a great deal of influence, but we have people over here that fit that description, too (Obama and Trump, for example).

  • President Obama joined the battle over our national debt and deficit by throwing his re-election hat into the ring. Whether campaigning, governing, or negotiating, Mr. Obama is most comfortable and effective in his cheerleader mode.

    Discussion of our debt and deficit problems was triggered by the 2012 budget introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Chairman of the House Budget Committee. It’s an ambitious and politically risky plan to reduce federal spending by $6.2 billion next year.

  • Democrats didn’t bother to pass a 2011 federal budget when they had control of both houses of Congress in 2010. The numbers were too embarrassing. The result has been a succession of continuing resolutions, presidential requests for more money as needed. That’s no way to run a lemonade stand, let alone a government.

    The recent deadline drama in which Congress produced a $38 billion resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of 2011 will look like a sideshow when the 2012 budget and debt-limit war gets rolling.

  • Last week we ran a story taken from a news release about a new rehab hospital obtaining a certificate of need for Marion County.

    In the article there was a statement, provided by the company that is building the new hospital, that Marion County was the largest in the state that did not have rehab available.

    Turns out, that statement was a little misleading.

    One lady called us and said that she had rehab at TimberRidge, inpatient care, and did very well. She also said there were various choices given to her for rehab in the county.

  • This is the year 2011, the 11th year of the 21st century (or 12th year, depending on whether you count 2000 as part of the old or new century).

    Will someone please send a note to the Ocala City Clerk’s office and let them know?

    Three or four times a week, for several months, we receive a fax from the city notifying us of the upcoming public meetings and events. It’s sort of a Sunshine Law thing, making sure people like us know when the meetings are.

  • For 20 years, Congress and the White House have pretended they were doing something about the mass migration of unidentified immigrants crossing our southern border. Quite the contrary. Washington was deliberately doing nothing.

  • The irony of the name can’t be ignored. This year, you don’t have to pay your taxes until Monday, April 18, because Washington, D.C., is observing Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15, which is the normal tax filing date.

    Actually, Emancipation Day is April 16, honoring the day Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862, but when it falls on a Saturday, it’s observed on Friday. Don’t ever doubt that our federal bureaucrats will find a way to celebrate a holiday on a normal workday.

  • There was a story floating around this past weekend about an armed robbery at a convenience store on State Road 200. Armed robberies like this happen all too often in this county, and members of the media have gotten to the point where we have to treat these items as relatively routine, especially where no one was hurt.

    That’s why it was surprising to see information about this robbery get out into the public, complete with the name and family situation of the clerk who was robbed.

  • On March 2, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case Snyder v. Phelps that illustrates the difficulty of balancing competing claims to rights and justice in our judicial system.

    The court overturned a lower court’s $5 million tort judgment against Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, for invasion of privacy and inflicting emotional distress on the Albert Snyder family.

  • This Sunday, April 3, is a celebration that many veterans’ groups hope will grow; It’s Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans Day.

    The county got a jump on it with a March 30 ceremony, according to a publicity release that arrived in our office on March 29, a little late for us to publicize. But we did get information from the VFW about something at their Clubhouse marking the occasion. It’s a barbecue dinner from 3 to 5 p.m. free to veterans on Sunday.

  • Have you ever heard a bunch of “Screaming Orphans?” No, that’s not a trick question. That’s the name of the group that entertained on Saturday, March 19, on the Downtown Square in Ocala.

  • Of all the deceits perpetrated by government, one of the longest running has been the fiction that FICA taxes are premiums on health insurance policies and retirement annuities – guaranteed by the largest insolvent insurance company in the world, the U.S. Treasury.

  • There were two stories coming out of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in the last week about the same issue. One had a happy ending, the other, sadly, did not.

    In the first, some deputies were in an apartment complex to serve a warrant when a man came running up to them holding a limp child. He said he had left the child for a moment to go to the rest room, and when he came back the child was in the water of the complex pool and wasn’t breathing.

    The deputies were able to revive the child, who evidently hadn’t been in the water that long.

  • Ordinarily, I ignore the dumb things that people circulate around the Internet. But I got this one the other day and it made me chuckle, so I decided to share it with all of you. Here goes:

    Only in America do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

    Only in America do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet drink.

    Only in America do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

  • Ever since Thomas Paine’s famous pamphlet “Common Sense” stirred our colonies to rebellion against the British crown in 1776, we Americans have harbored a delusion that we’re the keepers of a bottomless grail of “common sense.” We flatter ourselves.

  • Last week exposed me to a lot of Central Florida news, particularly the high speed rail. I spent four days in Lakeland, which is the heart of the fight for the rail money, as the mayor there joined with Orlando and Tampa to try to get the money the feds were offering.

    Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the plan, was challenged in court by a couple of legislators, and won that battle, as the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously that he had the right to reject the funds.

  • We’ve now come to the point where it stops being fun for our state legislators.

    For the next two months, elected officials will be in Tallahassee determining your future. These are the people we elected last fall, and their decisions will shape our state for a generation.

    If you attended the Legislative Delegation hearing a few months ago at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, you listened to the pleas from the audience for the exact thing that many people are fighting … money for special interest projects.

  • Sometime last year, I wrote a column about joining Facebook. I have suddenly realized that the social network is doing for me what I wanted it to do.
    Granted, there's a lot of garbage on there. I would never post all the personal stuff that some people put up.
    But, in those months since I joined, I have made contact with three long-lost cousins and tried for a fourth.