Thursday, June 30, 2005

Founding Fathers

Take a few minutes and read about that radical band of rabble-rousing liberals who put their lives & fortunes on the line so you could spend the 4th of July firing up the grill instead of a roadside bomb.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sandestin Shark Attack

Local news sources are reporting that a deadly shark attack in Sandestin Saturday led to the death of a young Louisiana vacationer. The on-line version of the New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting more details than any other news source.

According to staff writer Joy Hirdes Beech:
The victim was identified as Jamie Daigle [age 14] on Saturday night by the Rev. Gary Belsome, pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Catholic Church in Gonzales, where Daigle celebrated her eighth-grade graduation just three weeks ago. Daigle had traveled to Florida with another family for a camping trip. She and a friend were on boogie boards about 250 yards offshore when they noticed a shadow in the water, authorities said.

Daigle was bitten on her lower body, said Walton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Shank. Her friend was not injured.

Tim Dicus, a surfer, saw the attack and went to assist Daigle, said Lt. Frank E. Owens of the Sheriff's Office.

Dicus, 54, who had heard a scream from the water, said he found Daigle in the center of a bloody circle of water with a serious injury to her thigh. The girl's friend had begun swimming toward shore.

"I immediately paddled over and found her floating face down in the center of the blood pool," Dicus said. "And right next to her was the shark, about to come up and attack her again."

Dicus said he put the girl on his surfboard and that the shark, which he said appeared to be a bull shark about 8 feet long, went after her hand.

"He just followed us right to the beach," Dicus said, adding that he punched the shark on the nose when it tried to attack him. "He was determined."

Two other swimmers came with a raft and helped tow Daigle to shore. Daigle was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in Destin, where she was pronounced dead.
It is the first reported shark attack in Florida this year. It's not likely to be the last.

According to mutliple news reports, the victim was swimming on a boogie board well off shore and beyond the underwater sand bar that usually lies 100 to 250 yards offshore. That's very risky behavior. Locals know this. It puts you right in the middle of Mother Nature's smorgasbord.

But beach visitors often do not know this. And why should they? Do you know the riskiest streets in St. Louis, Cleveland, or Buffalo to avoid?

Too many Florida Panhandle communities make no effort whatsoever to forewarn the public about natural hazards which experience shows visitors from distant areas do not fully appreciate. Few beaches along the panhandle have prominent warning signs, make a concerted program to broadcast PSAs on radio and television, rope off a few swimming areas for safer public use, distribute leaflets and PSA ads in local papers and tourist brochures, or even hire enough lifeguards to adequately patrol the beaches.

Here's a modest proposal: The state, counties, and every beach community along the Panhandle that feeds off the tourist trade ought to be required to spend at least $1 annually on beach safety warning signs, lifeguards, and safety equipment for every $100 they spend on tourist promotion. That's just 1%.

If we're going to profit off enticing the public to visit and enjoy the beach, we ought to share our local knowledge about the risks and make at least a modest effort to protect them. It's not only the humane thing to do, it's good business.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Navarre Beach Tax Ruling

The 1st District Court of Appeals decision.

Condolence Letter

Exactly 168,459 Floridians died last year, according to state vital statistics reports. Given historic demographic trends, at a guess as many as 2 million Floridians may have died over the last 15 years.

In what is apparently a new Government initiative, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has begun writing condolence letters to local prosecutors about each and every one of them. The first one went out this week to the Pinellas County state attorney.

How very ... well, conservatively compassionate. As the Palliative Education Resource Center reminds us:
"One of the most meaningful acts of kindness you can do for a mourner is to write a letter of condolence. The words of sympathy and memory are comforting to the bereaved.
* * *
A good condolence letter has two goals: to offer tribute to the deceased and to be a source of comfort to the survivors."
But two million? My, my. That's a lot of letters! What Jeb needs is a succinct and to-the-point form letter to express his condolences. Something like this:
"Dear Suspect:

So sorry to learn of the tragic death __ [fill in] years ago of your spouse/parent/child/uncle/aunt/other [circle one]. As the highest and most Faithful Government Official in the state, I've decided to send a prosecutor to look into that death, even if hostile insurance defense lawyers hired a phalanx of doctors years ago who couldn't find any evidence of wrong-doing "back when it was fresh in everybody's mind."

Some might see this as trampling on the Constitution and prolonging your pain. But I see it as just a friendly little check-up by our Theocratic Government to be sure you're living the way we want you to.

Assume the position, perp.

Yours in sympathy,

Jeb Bush

Think it can't happen? Guess again:

"We'd do it all again," Republicans say

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Second thoughts???

Newly elected U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), who's widely acknowledged to be one of the dullest bulbs in the Capitol ceiling, after pushing Congress and the White House to approve the extraordinarily invasive "Terri Schaivo Bill," is now telling the New York Times that he's having "second thoughts" about what he did.
"Senator Mel Martinez, the Florida Republican who pressed the case most, said he has since had second thoughts about Congress's involvement. "I really probably come to the view this has to be more resolved at the state level, seems like the kind of issue the state courts deal with," Mr. Martinez said.
Wouldn't it be better if Martinez were capable of having a "first" thought before he goes charging off to invade the privacy of citizens and undo centuries of settled jurisprudence?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Evacuation Checklist

  • Candles.
  • Homeowner insurance policy.
  • Matches.
  • Florida flood insurance policy.
  • Battery-operated radio.
  • Florida wind insurance policy.
  • Batteries for radio.
  • Florida insurance claim forms.
  • Bottled water.
  • FEMA claim forms.
  • Freeze dried food.
  • Family's public insurance adjuster.
  • Change of clothes.
  • Family's insurance trial lawyer.
  • Pet dog.
  • Family's insurance appeal lawyer.
  • Beer.
  • Gun for going into Florida public places.
  • Pet cat.
  • List of Florida politicians who voted for insurance industry (all of them).
  • Jug of bleach.
  • Ammunition for public places gun.
  • More beer.
  • Spouse.
  • More beer.
  • Kids.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

T.S. Arlene

Can you believe it? Once again, it looks like Pensacola will be on the East side of a tropical storm.

And this is just the start of the hurricane season.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

For Sale - Maybe

Not exactly a "Deep Throat" moment, but Jonathan Alper, who writes the worthy Florida Asset Protection blog made the big time in the Toledo (Ohio) Blade today.

The Blade is one of the truly great investigative newspapers of all time, and one of the few remaining American media outlets that hasn't succumed to schlepping sensationalism as news or letting penny-pinching corporate bean-counters masquerade as news editors. Over the last two months it's been uncovering, rock by filthy rock, the burgeoning "coin-gate" scandal that seems likely to bring down the entire heirarchy of the Republican Party in Ohio -- including 5 of 7 supreme court justices, the current governor, all leading gubernatorial candidates for '06, and probably a few congressmen and senators, too.

For a succinct account of the scandal itself, check Jerome Armstrong's report on 'My DD' titled "Ohio coin scandal beginning to rock the GOP". Essentially, Ohio's top fund-raiser-for-all leading Republican office-holders and judges, Tom Noe, talked the recipients of his bounty into letting him divert $55 million from the Ohio Worker Compensation Fund into his own rare coin investment business. Among other things, Noe not only owns a coin dealership but he also owns stock in a numismatic valuation company. Next, the Blade discovered that two of the coins Ohio supposedly bought, worth $300,000, had been "lost." Last week, state officials admitted more than a hundred other coins worth $93,000 were "missing."

When state investigators showed up at Noe's coin dealership to inventory the state's remaining coin holdings, Noe -- who also serves as a member of the State Board of Regents and the Turnpike Authority -- refused them admittance. About the same time, Noe's lawyers were telling state officials that he also had used state funds to invest in art work and other 'collectibles' such as autographs and cards. Last Thursday, Noe's attorneys said they estimated $13 million in assets are missing. Many suspect it could be much more. And all of Ohio now is wondering how much of it wound up in the campaign coffers of Ohio politicians and judges. (They're also wondering if any of the politicians will pay the money back to the Worker's Compensation Fund. Fat chance.)

Yes, this is about swing-state Ohio. But there is a Florida connection. That's where Jonathan Alper comes in. Here's how the Toledo Blade explains it:
Amid continuing fallout from alleged mismanagement of Ohio's rare coin funds, a waterfront home in the Florida Keys belonging to Tom and Bernadette Noe has been put up for sale.

The home in Tavernier, Fla., on Key Largo, which includes five bedrooms, an elevator, and a poolside waterfall, is listed for $4.6 million with Schwartz Property Sales/GMAC Real Estate, Islamorada, Fla.
* * *
Records indicate the 4,800-square-foot home went on the market May 6 for nearly $5 million and that the price was lowered a few days later by about $400,000... .

Less than two weeks later, Mrs. Noe, in whose name the house is titled, filed papers to declare the house as her primary residence. That development, along with the couple's sale of a Lake Erie resort home in Catawba Island and planned sale of a Maumee condominium, was interpreted as a signal that the longtime metro Toledo residents planned to relocate to Florida. * * * Such a move would ... attain for [Keys property] the liberal protection from creditors that Florida grants to so-called "domiciles."
To whom does the redoubtable Toledo Blade turn for confirmation of Florida law? Florida's own blogger, Jonathan Alper:
A sale of the property wouldn't necessarily subject the proceeds to seizure by creditors. The money would receive the same protection as a primary residence as long as it was used to purchase another home or "segregated for reinvestment in another home in a reasonable time," said lawyer Jonathan Alper, an asset protection specialist in Orlando.
Those who paid attention to the recently-enacted bankruptcy 'reform' bill may have noticed that while it tightens the screws on the middle class and the poor, at the last minute the Republican majority amended the bill so it would do nothing about the unlimited homestead exemptions available in states like Florida and Texas once you lived here two years. The force that sends the nation's corporate thieves -- like Noe, and Enron's Kenneth Lay, and Worldcom's Scott Sullivan -- drifting down to Florida when they're about to be caught isn't gravity; it's the laws those same thieves paid their congressmen and senators to vote for.

To be sure, the situation for Mr. Noe was complicated last week when an Ohio trial court in Columbus issued an injunction forbidding him from selling any of his property. But enforcing that order in Florida could be tough.