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Opinion

  • 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.

  • It has become customary today to think of and speak of Social Security and Medicare payments as being the same as financial assistance given to the impoverished and destitute. Nothing could be further from the truth. These payments are made to individuals as payouts no different than any other insurance policy payout. The only obvious difference is that employed persons have no choice in whether to buy these insurance policies.

  • Some columnists, especially those who like to throw some humor into their efforts, exaggerate a bit occasionally, especially when their columns are trying to make a specific point.

    Such is the case, I feel, with the Rev. James Snyder, who writes a column each week called “Out to Pastor,” which runs in our newspaper and several others in the area. He always writes with humor, leading into a spiritual message at the end of each epistle.

  • One of the things all newspapers are conscious of is getting names right. That’s why we feel sorry for those who have to edit stories about the recent uprising in Libya.

    Here are just a few of the references we found about the Libyan leader:

    Muammar Gaddafi (BBC and Reuters)

    Moammar Gadhafi (Wall Street Journal, Associated Press)

    Muammar Qaddhafi (The Economist)

    Muammar al-Gaddafi (Wikipedia)

    Moamar Gaddafi (ABC News)

    Moammar Kadafi (Los Angeles Times)

    Muammar el-Qaddafi (New York Times)

  • Catching up on some county issues:

    Televising the meetings

    I settled down at 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening to watch that morning's County Commission meeting. Once again, it wasn't on Cox Cable 12, which puts its schedule on digital cable's guide and said that it was supposed to be on.

    This isn't the first time.

  • Some day, somehow, 80th Avenue will be widened between OTOW and State Road 40.

    Until then, though, there’s something else that needs fixing a lot sooner.

    When you are northbound on 80th, and you want to make the left turn into Sholom Park, there is no left turn lane. There is little advance warning of the turn coming up, so if you’re going 55 mph, which is the speed limit, and you suddenly see the sign, you risk getting rear-ended.

  • When you’re not really rooting for either team, the Super Bowl becomes just another game. That’s what it was for a lot of people last Sunday.

    Usually, I write a lot about the commercials, but that’s getting old after all these years, so later we’ll just mention a couple.

    But there are a lot of things in the news about this past week’s activities.

  • We already knew that the 2012 election was going to be a hot one. Nationally, we’ll be electing a president, statewide we’ll be choosing a senator, three county commissioners will be up for election, and there’s going to be a School Board race that promises to be interesting.

    Enter Sheriff Ed Dean … or should we say, exit Sheriff Ed Dean.

  • Tuesday night’s discussion of the aerobatic box at the Dunnellon Airport was a drawn out, sometimes nasty way to spend an evening, and the problem is that all of it may be immaterial.

    The complaints continued about the box, which is a waiver giving a pilot permission to fly his aerobatic plane over the area within a one mile radius of the airport.

    Two neighbors have been complaining loud and long, only this time Mark Stewart, the pilot involved, came and spoke publicly.

  • No one would argue that we need to take great care to save the quality of water in our natural springs in Marion County. Preservation of water should be one of the top considerations in thinking about any project in the area.

    In that light, government should step in and make sure that we save the springs for all the future generations.

    It is not, however, the government’s responsibility to preserve a tourist attraction.

  • No one would argue that we need to take great care to save the quality of water in our natural springs in Marion County. Preservation of water should be one of the top considerations in thinking about any project in the area.

    In that light, government should step in and make sure that we save the springs for all the future generations.

    It is not, however, the government’s responsibility to preserve a tourist attraction.

  • Not too far back, the show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” was a staple in our house. We taped it and watched it when we could.

    Gradually, I grew to like the Meredith version better than the Regis version. She seemed more relaxed, more personable, and seemed to make the contestants more at ease.

    The format hadn’t changed much from the original, and this made the daytime version a success.

    So what happened?

  • Consolidation is a fancy word used by some to combine government services.

    Right now in Marion County we have a major push, initiated by the sheriff, to consolidate sheriff and fire/rescue services in the county.

    Some people are calling for other consolidation, such as combining parks jurisdiction … all in the name of efficiency.

    What they should call it is what it is … a power grab.

  • Something caught my eye in my wanderings through Internet stories this past weekend, and it got me thinking about traffic in Marion County.

    Someone is proposing that, with the creation of new roads, all u-turns and left turns be eliminated. There would be jug-handles and cloverleafs at every intersection with a traffic light, and that would be the only way you could get from one side of the road to the other. No crossovers, no u-turns.

    The story, which I believe had its origins in the Smithsonian Magazine, said this would increase safety on the roads.

  • If there is one overriding concern of the folks who live along the State Road 200 Corridor, it's health issues.

    One need only count the number of medical services offered along the stretch of highway that is home to various retirement communities.

    It was very evident this past weekend.

    On Top of the World held a health and wellness event at the cultural center, and it was packed. Crowds wandered through the displays, had numbers of questions of those with displays, and seemed particularly interested in the home health care agencies.

  • All journalists respect free speech, so there’s no reason to tell the commentators who have attempted to assess blame for the Arizona shooting to shut up … except common decency.

    Almost as soon as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ wounding made the airwaves, some radicals were on the air blaming, of all people, Sarah Palin. They said her map of several months ago, with crosshairs indicating which members of Congress the Republicans should try to unseat, was the cause.

    How utterly ridiculous!

  • The other day, I was going through the websites of a bunch of newspapers, reading all the stories about the opening of Congress, with a new majority of Republicans in the House.

    In going through the material, I was hard-pressed to find a decent story about what was going to happen, but I found plenty about who was occupying what office in the Capitol.

    Congressmen were worried about the pecking order, seeing who got the biggest and best-placed office space, which committees got the most staffers, whose budget would be cut, etc.