The Live Wire: September 13, 2010
FlaglerLive | September 13, 2010
The Live Wire is an experiment. Think of it as a cross between a book of hours and a web version of the doors of perception. You contributions are welcome, in the comments or by email.
Live Wire Rewinds
Hurricane Igor is fiercing up its churns of the Mid-Atlantic at 150 mph (Category 4), but it doesn’t look like it’ll make landfall–not in Florida, not anywhere in the United States. Click on the image to go to the latest on Igor and its far-trotting date, Julia, whose designs are unknown at this time. If Igor jilts her, she may get angry and pick on things somewhere for retribution. Julia’s religious status on her Facebook page: animism.
4:20 p.m.Gators Drop to #10 in AP Poll
Thrashing South Florida 38-14 did nothing to help UF’s cause Saturday. The Associated Press poll (which can, all told, be as obtuse as the Associated Press style) dropped the Gators to #10, from 8. Miami dropped from 12 to 17 after losing 36-24 to Ohio State. Florida State is out of the top 25 following a 47-17 loss at Oklahoma. So much for Monday trivia.
Last week the Florida Independent revealed that Florida’s taxpayer funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers “are distributing brochures that suggest abortion causes mental illness, including depression, addiction and suicide,” information that is either tendentious or medically inaccurate. The Independent now reveals that 17 of the crisis centers are managed by an ad agency, of all things, and without transparency–the Uzzell Group of Tallahassee. It has no functioning website, though the Orlando Weekly reported last year that the agency received $746,000 in taxdollars to build a website and “provide media services” for the pregnancy program it was managing.
“The Florida Independent spoke with Erica Uzzell, identified as the person in charge of The Uzzell Group’s clinics, [about] how the company manages those pregnancy centers,” the Independent reports. “She said, ‘Any questions about the program will be answered by the Department of Health communication office.’ […] We have repeatedly contacted the department for more information on its pregnancy clinic program, but we have yet to receive any answers.”
It gets shadier. Read the full report.
10:45 a.m. Finishing Touches at Palm Coast’s Waterfront Park
Glimpsed a few moments ago: Pepe, who works with Electrical Systems and Design, is working on dock lights at Waterfront Park, Palm Coast’s newest, which is set to open Saturday. The park is on the Intracoastal Waterway between the Grand Haven and Forest Park gated communities, just east of Colbert Lane.
Carver Gym Meeting on Tuesday
The committee led by County Commissioner Barbara Revels to save Carver Gym in Bunnell meets at 8:30 a.m. in the school district’s Room 1 on the third floor of the Government Services Building in Bunnell. The meeting is open to the public. The committee is made up of community members and government representatives from various agencies. The committee last met two weeks ago, not entirely fruitfully. More on Carver Gym here, here and here.
7:21 a.m. League of Women Voters Punts on 2 Most Debated Amendments
Disappointing release from the Florida branch of the League of Women Voters, which does not endorse individual candidates butdoes take positions on issues. Well, maybe not. The league just released its positions on the six proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 2 ballot. When it came to Amendment 4, the so-called “Hometown Democracy” amendment that would let voters weigh in before local governments make major changes to their overall land-use blueprint, and Amendment 8, which would scale back the class-size amendment voters approved in 2002, the league took no position. (Read more about those two amendments as they were debated in a local civic association forum last week here).
Here’s the league’s mealy-mouthed position on Amendment 4: “While the League has several positions on the subject of growth management, there is no position that would clearly support or oppose the proposal made in amendment 4.” And here’s its logic-defying reasoning on Amendment 8: “In 2002, the League of Women Voters of Florida opposed the original class-size amendment, stating that it should not be in the Constitution. Therefore,we take no position on amending the original amendment.” Really? So if something doesn’t go the league’s way, ever, that issue is removed from the league’s radar regardless of how it evolves? Illogically petulant and strangely undemocratic for one of our most admirable civic organizations. Our position on the league’s no positions: OPPOSE. (Read the league’s full positions and no positions here.
We Are All Muslims
Just noted on Inna Hardison’s Facebook page: “Decided I’ll keep my religion descriptor as Muslim for as long as it takes for people to treat Islam the way they treat any other religious belief. We are supposed to be substantially better than that.” Hardison is a local media marketer, web developer and publisher at the Ha Media Group.
UF’s Alligator: Even “Closed-Minded Attention Whores” Have a Right to Free Speech
The Florida Alligator, the University of Florida’s student daily, kicked off the 9/11 weekend with a courageous editorial on Terry Jones, its backyard zealot who managed to get President Obama’s attention, Gen. Patraeus’ warnings and Defense Secretary Gates’ personal phone call with his threat to burn Korans in Gainesville. “[A]s much as we regret having to devote even more space to the blight of our city,” the editorial board wrote, “we feel obligated to weigh in on the situation.” So they do:
We’re mortified that our city of Gainesville — where we have proudly elected a gay mayor and embraced Islam On Campus; where we have a university defined by understanding and welcoming UF students — has drawn international backlash for a few dozen woefully misguided religious fanatics.
The fact that our city has been transformed into a media frenzy where the Dove World Outreach Center keeps chumming the waters with their zealous, ignorant war cries is not only an embarrassment, but rather a permanent scar on our city where perceptions will inevitably become fact.
Now that the international community has seen a handful of uneducated, closed-minded attention whores preaching exactly the opposite of what we believe to be Christian values, Gainesville will forever have an image of being intolerant and unwelcoming to those who are different whether this group chooses to go through with its plans or not. […]
As Americans, and as ones who cherish the right to free speech and freedom of the press, we cannot consciously advise these zealots and inaccurate portrayals of both Christianity and our city to quiet down.
We must remember that however much we disagree with the scab of Gainesville we just want to flick away from our bodies, and however much we are disgusted by their incessant nonsense, they have just as much right to free speech as those who are protesting their protest. […] We can only hope the world will forgive our city for those who unfortunately choose to exercise their right to free speech in such a hateful way.
Justice Hugo Black (who outgrew his own hateful days in his deep dark past beneath a white robe), would have been proud. Read the full editorial.
Your Sunday Sermon: Dealing With Islamophobia
“The trigger for this latest wave of intolerance,” the Rev. Deborah Lindsay tells her congregation at First Community Church in Columbus, Ohio, “is the media coverage, many of you have seen it, about a plan to build a Muslim community center two blocks from Ground Zero. The center will have a mosque, an auditorium and a pool. It is modeled after YMCAs and Jewish community centers all across the country. For all I know, it’s got locker rooms and child care. Now, to be very clear here, reasonable, faithful, caring people can disagree about how they feel about this facility being built so close to Ground Zero. But that does not justify the wave of fear and suspicion that has washed over this country over the last 10 days.”
And another line to keep in mind: “You know, Jesus had no time for religious know-it-alls. He saved some of his harshest criticism for church leaders.” Which is to say, all clerics.
Watch the sermon. You won’t regret it. This is religion as it should be. This is religion as it must be. Not surprisingly, the preacher is a woman.
The Most Corrupt State in the Union? Why, Yes! We’re Number 1!
The story ran in The Times two years ago: Florida, the most corrupt state in the Union.
“In a Department of Justice tally covering the last decade, Florida wins by its sheer number of guilty,” the paper reported. The Justice Department “itemizes convictions in federal public corruption cases at local, state and federal levels in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three United States territories.” True, the larger states will rack up the higher number of convictions. But The Times then adjusted for population size. Florida still came in a very unhealthy 11th (the official chart puts Florida at #14, but that’s because the Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico are included in the tally. Comparing corrupt apples to corrupt apples, as opposed to apples and pineapples, Florida is 11th).
The Department of Justice is required by law to produce those reports to Congress every year. (Here’s the 1979 report, if you’re interested: Florida isn’t shabby in that one, either.) The 2009 report is now out. It doesn’t paint a brighter picture for Florida, particularly the Middle District and Northern districts (Flagler is in the Middle one): 30 convictions in the Middle District, down from 51 in 2008 but still more than in all but two of the previous 10 years; and in the Northern District, 27 convictions, up from just 3 the year before, and by far more than in any of the previous 10 years. (See below: the rot of St. Johns.)
Corrupt St. Johns
And you thought Bunnell has it bad. Maybe it does, and the FBI is yet too busy in St. Johns County to make its way here. “The scope of the FBI probe digging into possible corruption in St. Johns County was wider than previously thought with the revelation that a fourth person was making surveillance tapes for the FBI,” The St. Augustine Record reports. “The newest tape was recorded a month after it became public that former St. Johns County Commissioner Tom Manuel was the subject of an FBI investigation. He was later found guilty of accepting two bribes totaling $60,000 and is now serving a 21-month prison term, followed by house arrest.”
The bribes, of course, were from a developer, a well-established pattern in those convictions outlined in the Department of Justice reports.
The Bradenton herald has a running feature called “Manatee’s featured fugitives,” flashing mug shots of individuals wanted for a variety of crimes, suspected or alleged–marijuana sale, theft, home invasion. Flashing mugshots appear one after the other next to the line-up of charges each individual faces. The mugs are as out of context as the information provided. There’s no telling if these individuals have been convicted, if they’ve merely been charged but not had their day in court, if, as the title of the feature suggests, they’ve escaped the judicial system. The newspaper probably considers it a public service. But by just listing names, flashing mugshots and providing the barest sketch of wrongdoing without background or explanation, it’s not much different than a mixture of voyeurism and prosecutorial hearsay: salaciousness without the facts.
Record Increase in Poverty
The Associated Press is reporting that “a projected 45 million people – or about 15% of the population – were poor last year. In 2008, 13.2% of the country lived in poverty. The estimated 1.8 percentage-point increase in 2009 is the largest year-to-year uptick since the U.S. started calculating poverty figures in 1959. The previous high came during the 1980 national energy crisis, when the rate soared 1.3 percentage points to 13%. In 2008, the federal government set the poverty level at $22,025 a year for a family of four.” That jump is taking place on Obama’s watch, though it would be economic silliness to attribute it to Obama’s policies which, if anything, are the first assault in a decade on the sort of vast economic disparities that led to the shock of 2008 and 2009. .
Les Femmes Nikita
Speaking of scoping out the salacious: “Ten ladies stood in a row, pistols poised to open fire. ‘Wait a minute,’ said 64-year-old Anita Ray. ‘There goes another butterfly. Don’t shoot yet!'” So goes Bridget Murphy’s feature in the Jacksonville Times Union on women firing up a local gun range, and managing in one line to attempt to demolish and reconstruct the old stereotype about women and guns. It gets slightly worse: “The smells of gunpowder and perfume wafted in the wind Saturday as club members hosted a females-only event to promote gun safety and personal protection.” Dot dot dot.
And worse still: “The feel of the firearms inspired some of the women to consider getting guns of their own. Baptist Medical Center nurse Cheryl Saddler wasn’t sure what to expect when she pulled the trigger for the first time. Then she felt a .22-caliber handgun’s hop in her hands. And she was hooked.” Is that a dildo between the baptismal lines? If only. It’d be so much safer, and mightier, than a gun. Check the video below.
Remembering Florida Pioneer Jane Green
“There might be some disagreement about how she made her living, but nobody disputes that Florida pioneer Jane Green had a colorful life. Not many other women settlers have a creek and a swamp named after them,” the Sentinel reports in a good read on a forgotten Floridian and once-famed whore. “According to most Florida historians, Green was a famous lady of the night who serviced cattlemen in the St. Johns River valley. The creek and the swamp that bear her name still flow near the Osceola- Brevard county border. Green’s remains are in the Lock family cemetery off Boggy Creek Road, in Orange County near the Osceola border. Like hers, more than 60 other graves dating back to the 1870s have been forgotten, their roles in history buried under weeds and the passage of time.” The full story…
Latest from Politifacts: Beheadings, kidnappings and other immigration distortions
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer earns herself a Pants on Fire whack from Politifacts for her wacko claim, delivered on Fox, that “Oh, our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.”
Not so. “The vast majority of deaths — more than 95 percent, he said — were due to exposure to the elements, either extreme heat in the summer or extreme cold in the winter.”
The remainder of deaths, less than 5 percent, were “generally related to the process of human smuggling,” according to Eric Peters, deputy chief medical examiner for Pima County, which has the largest border with Mexico of any county in Arizona. “For example, he said, passengers who are killed when a smuggler tries to put too many people in a van and the van rolls or is involved in an accident.”
Brewer’s claim, “like several others by opponents of illegal immigration, is ridiculously false — emphasizing a non-existent danger. So we rate her comment Pants On Fire,” Politifacts writes. See the pants ablaze.