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Bunnell Takes Tallahassee; Bill to Ban Internet Cafes Clears Florida House Committee: The Live Wire

| February 1, 2012

It's got brass. (Michael Fajardo)

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Bunnell Lobbies Lawmakers

Feb. 2, 4:34 p.m. From Bunnell’s Dan Davis, the city clerk: “More than 100 elected officials attended the annual Florida League of Cities Legislative Action Days event in Tallahassee January 24-25 to lobby and speak directly with state senators and representatives regarding key issues impacting cities in Florida. By being in attendance, elected officials are armed with knowledge and know-how when speaking face-to-face with lawmakers. As a united front, the municipal delegation visits the Capitol, where they meet with numerous legislators on issues ranging from pension reform to economic development to water policy and many more priorities. The two-day advocacy-centered program is designed for discussions and idea-sharing between city officials and legislators. Bunnell City Commissioner Daisy Henry had discussions with Sen. Audrey Gibson and Representative Leonard Bembry. These conversations allowed her to gather relevant information on matters of importance to the Bunnell City Commission and the citizens of Bunnell. Legislative Action Days is a call to action to elected officials and requires them to keep a fast-paced schedule packed with opportunities to learn, network and make a difference at the Capitol. Not only do elected officials have a chance to make their voices heard, they get a first-hand view of happenings in Tallahassee and the opportunity to speak directly with those who make decisions that impact their communities and citizens.”

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Internet Cafe Ban Advances in Florida House

Gambling by any other name is intruding on Flagler County's perception of itself as a morally leafy place. (© FlaglerLive)

Feb. 1, 4:05 p.m.–Despite arguments that the bill would eliminate jobs and hurt veterans’ groups, a House committee Wednesday approved a ban on Internet cafes that have popped up across the state in recent years. The Economic Affairs Committee voted 12-6 to approve HB 3, which supporters say is needed to eliminate storefront “casinos” that offer computerized games similar to slot machines. The Internet café industry contends it offers sweepstakes-style games that are legal. Rep. Mike Horner, a Kissimmee Republican who voted for the bill, said he visited an Internet café and that customers clearly thought they were gambling. “I can tell you, there is no café-ing going on, there is no Internet-ing going on,” Horner said. But veterans groups are concerned the bill would reduce game-related revenues that they use to provide services to veterans. Also, opponents say closing the cafes would eliminate an estimated 13,000 jobs. “These are 13,000 private sector jobs,” said Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach. “I’m wondering, why would we want to do that?” The House and the Senate have taken different stances on the issue, with a Senate committee approving a bill that would regulate — not ban — the cafes. Democrats on the House panel Wednesday also urged regulation. But House bill sponsor Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, likens the idea to giving “amnesty” to the businesses. —News Service of Florida

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Gingrich Losing It in Florida, in a Rout

He smells it.

The romance with Florida voters is over. Gingrich, whose appeals to Saul Alinski are not working anymore, is losing it. From the Christian Science Monitor: “Gingrich appears headed toward a big defeat in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Florida. Five polls out Monday show Mitt Romney ahead of him by at least 5 percentage points (Insider Advantage) and as much as 20 points (Suffolk University). In the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Gingrich by 12.5 points. The polls reflect a stunning reversal of fortune for the former House speaker, who trounced Romney in the South Carolina primary only nine days ago by nearly 13 points. Gingrich is reacting defiantly, insisting that the Republican nomination race will go on all the way to the party’s convention in August. Candidates in trouble always say they’re in it for the long haul. After all, why telegraph to your supporters that you may be a lost cause? And after Tuesday, only a tiny fraction of convention delegates will have been awarded. But in Gingrich’s case, he may mean it. He has long dreamed of becoming president, and at age 68, this is likely his last chance to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. But first, there’s the question of money. […] Enter Sheldon Adelson, the Nevada casino magnate, and his wife, who have already pumped $10 million into a pro-Gingrich super political-action committee that has funded ads highly critical of Romney. If the Adelsons re-up with another donation to Winning Our Future, that signals to potential Gingrich campaign donors that he’s still in the game.” The full story.

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The Muppets vs. Fox News

Yes, Fox Business took on the Muppets last month over their supposed anti-oil agenda. Here’s how the Muppets struck back. You can catch up on Fox actually arguing with Muppets in the clip below.

St. Johns Schools in $9 Million Deficit

From the Record: “St. Johns County education officials say the district will be $9 million in the hole even with the $10.4 million it would get from the state as part of the $1 billion in additional education funding the governor and Florida House leadership propose. That shortfall means the school board likely will face some tough decisions for next school year as budget reserves shrink. […] The district is looking at least at a $9 million shortfall because a large federal stimulus package is running out and the student population is continuing to grow. […] In 2009 the federal government threw Florida a lifeline in the form of a $3 billion stimulus package for K-12 public schools. The money helped offset some of the state funding cuts in education brought about by the ongoing financial crisis. The stimulus package was for only two years and the funding is coming to an end. In St. Johns County that means about $6.3 million will be off the table. […] Unlike most school districts St. Johns County is expected to grow. More than 900 new students are predicted for 2012-13 in St. Johns. For the entire state, about 30,000 new students are predicted. […] The budget will take two other “really big hits,” Degutis said. Both have to do with the Florida Retirement System and could cost $4.8 million. The Florida Legislature last session required the contribution to Florida Retirement System to go up 1.6 percent. Here, that translates to about $2.3 million. The other hit would be if Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to fully fund Florida Retirement System at 100 percent is approved. The district’s share of that is estimated to be up to $2.5 million. […] Three other major expenses in St. Johns County include textbook upgrades as required by the state ($520,000), start up costs for Elementary School L in Palencia ($1.39 million) and increase in electricity costs after FPL announced it’s going up 8 percent on rates ($480,000). […] In 2007-08 the base allocation per student was $4,163.47. In 2011-12, the amount was $3,479.22. Based on the governor’s budget, the amount for 2012-13 would be $3,564.64. In St. Johns that would be about $85 more per student next year, but the district will have about 940 more students and those new students will mean additional costs. In the past St. Johns County has used the reserve fund balance to help maintain programs and teachers. That option is running out.” The full story.

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America Drops Out of College

graduation rates flagler palm coast high school matanzas high school flagler county school districtFrom the Wilson Quarterly: “[T]here is strong evidence that America needs more people to earn college degrees, not fewer. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has projected that if current trends continue, the nation will produce three million fewer college graduates by 2018 than the labor market will require. That’s because the economy continues to reorganize itself in ways that favor people with the knowledge and skills that college degrees represent. As economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz have argued, America’s economic dominance during the 20th century stemmed in significant part from educational investments that began in the 19th century. “The nation that invested the most in education,” they wrote, “was the nation that had the highest level of per capita income.” Other nations have noticed. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that highly industrialized competitor nations have increased college attainment faster than the United States in recent decades. A few nations, including South Korea, have even surpassed us in the proportion of the national population from ages 25 to 34 that holds a bachelor’s degree. When associate’s degrees are included, we fall to ninth place in college attainment. Meanwhile, America’s population is becoming increasingly diverse, with the greatest growth occurring among Hispanic citizens who have below-average college attainment rates. Helping new generations of Americans graduate from college will be crucial to the nation’s future prosperity. […] According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, high school math and reading scores have been flat for decades. One reason for this poor performance is that there has never been a serious effort to establish consistent high standards in America’s secondary schools and to hold schools accountable for achieving them. The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and its antecedents focused primarily on elementary and middle school, requiring only one round of tests in high school. […] The years between grades 10 and 14 are also the leakiest segment of the education pipeline, a time when students drop out of high school, fail to enroll in college, and drop out of college by the hundreds of thousands every year. Many colleges could also be characterized as “dropout factories.” Among students who enroll as first-time full-time freshmen in four-year universities, less than two-thirds graduate within six years. Among all new college students, the on-time graduation rate is less than 50 percent. In 2009, more than 350 four-year colleges and universities reported a six-year graduation rate of 30 percent or less. […] We could begin by extending the public subsidy for education all the way through grade 14.” The full essay.

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Ennio Morricone, Master

Has there ever been a greater master of movie soundtracks? Here he is, Ennio Morricone, conducting a bit from “Cinema Paradiso,” which won the best foreign film award in Reagan’s last year. Please don;t confuse the film’s marvelous elegy to nostalgia with nostalgia with those years. The trailer is below Morricone’s bit. We should get the Flagler Youth Orchestra to try one of his pieces.

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When Adolescent Girls Are Possessed

Do you know what she did?

Caitlin Flanagan can be seriously wrong, but also seriously funny, and occasionally on target. From her latest column in The Times, entitled “Hysteria and the Teenage Girl” (if you can make it past the first several paragraphs’ silliness): “Hysteria is the most retrograde and non-womyn-empowering condition. It’s not supposed to happen anymore (we have Title IX!), but it won’t seem to go away. Both history and myth are filled with stories of girls exhibiting bizarre symptoms around the time of puberty — from Cassandra and her raving, to the girls of the Salem witch trials, to the girls whose households were believed to be the site of poltergeist hauntings, to cheerleaders in New York and North Carolina. Pubescent girls, it seems, are manifestly more likely to exhibit extreme and bizarre psychological symptoms than are teenage boys. […] [A]nyone with a teenage daughter can attest that this is a time of emotional extremes and high drama, of girls who are one moment affectionate youngsters and the next screaming banshees. “What’s gotten into you?” the perplexed mother in “The Exorcist” wonders about her demonized daughter; it’s a question that the mothers of non-possessed girls often ask during the teenage years. What girls need during this time is a stable and supportive space in which to work out all of this drama. In many respects a teenage girl’s home is more important to her than at any time since she was a small child. She also needs emotional support and protection from the most corrosive cultural forces that seek to exploit her when she is least able to resist. Most of all she needs some privacy to work to make a way for herself as a strong and confident young woman. The emotional swings of normal female adolescence attest to its intensity, and they are also the reason girls need and deserve more protection during this time of their lives. As a neurologist treating the New York girls said: “These girls will get better. We have to give them time and space.” ” The full hysterics.

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Stradivarius Violins Get Dissed

Light up his gig.

From The Times: “In a dimly lighted hotel room, violinists blinking through vision-obscuring welder’s goggles picked up six violins. One was a Guarnerius and two were Stradivariuses, among the most storied names in instrument making and considered the epitome of violins; three were modern. The players were asked their preference. Only 8 of the 21 picked the precious products of the old masters, according to an academic article published this month. It was the latest salvo in the Strad wars, a long-running debate over whether the enormous worth of such instruments is rooted in myth or merit. The tradition of challenging the intrinsic musical worth of antique instruments is nearly as venerable as the instruments themselves. Science has advanced, with ever better methods of analysis. Makers have leapt ahead in producing superb instruments, which have gained a foothold among many serious players. But while the mystique faces ever-greater scrutiny, it remains powerful in our increasingly digitized and disposable world, where 300-year-old wood objects used to express deep emotion seem ever more precious. Prices continue to soar, and musicians still yearn to play old master instruments. […] The Strad wars won’t end soon, and soaring prices for the 2,000 made during the golden age of mid-16th to mid-18th-century northern Italy have intensified the stakes. The pool of talented string players is growing. The number of Strads and Guarnerius del Gesùs and Amatis and Bergonzis is not. By contrast, mechanical instruments like clarinets and flutes tend to wear out; even pianos, with their complicated action and the tendency of their flat soundboards to warp, have lives usually measured only in decades, not centuries. Broadly speaking, consider the divide in the string world to be between the True Believers and the Debunkers. […] Several factors put old Italian instruments on top. Superb wood, perfected design, the highest craftsmanship and special varnish all came together in Cremona and its environs from 1550 to 1750. The sheer number of years being played is a factor. Repeated vibrations have an effect on the wood’s structure, causing cells to break down in a way that produces a more flexible sound, some violin experts say. […] Psychology plays an important role. If musicians think they are playing one of the greatest instruments in the world, one that served virtuosos before them, they may actually play better. […] The debunkers include scientists, modern luthiers and some younger soloists who can’t afford old master instruments and make a virtue of the new. […] The debunkers make another point. The Strad mystique can put enormous pressure on performers to play on a rare named instrument and devalues musicians who don’t.” The full Strad.

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2 Responses for “Bunnell Takes Tallahassee; Bill to Ban Internet Cafes Clears Florida House Committee: The Live Wire”

  1. Begonia says:

    If I had any money to give to Gingrich, Santorum and Paul, I would. State party here is only carrying Romney materials.

    Do they think we’re not going to notice?

    Went to what they call Republican central here and it was all Romney. Why should we bother to vote? Anybody wondering why the gop and media are trying so hard to kill gingrich?

    That is the bigger story than the gingrich campaign. The rpof thinks they know best. If the rpof were doing their job, both state parties actually, there would be no Tea Party here in FL.

  2. tjm says:

    With Romney we get another NOBAMA. Socialist forcing medical and what ever else he can down our throats. With Newt we at least have a man who has been there and done that. The EU is also nervous about Newt. That s why the POWERS to be don’t like him. Paul I like most of what he says but he gets a little nutty and Santorum. Its just not his time.. I really like him and the values he stands for… PLZ come back again MR. SANTORUM…

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