Saturday, October 13, 2007


First, let me once again thank everyone who visits this spot for dropping by, and let you know that I sincerely appreciate your patience with my recent absecnces from this space.

Apparantly, the hard drive on my computer went south a couple of months ago, and is no longer functional. As I have a severely tight budget (you think local governments are having it rough...), it may be some time before I have another computer in my apartment. Until then, the only online access I will have will be a weekly visit to the Lakeland Public Library where I will have one hour to post and take care of other online business.

Most weeks my posts here will be on Saturday, but that may change occasionally due to work and other obligations. I will not be posting the weekend of October 26-27 as I will be at the Florida Democratic Party Convention at Lake Buena Vista. Again, my budget will keep me out of the ticketed dinners and such, but I'll at least get to party to the music of the 70's era band Orleans.

Thanks again for coming by, and please keep checking he each weekend.


Congratulations to former Vice President Al Gore on being a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations Intergovernmential Panel on Climate Change for their work over at least the past two decades to educate America and the world on the issues of global warming and related climate change.

This being a presidential campaign season, there are those who would like to see Gore to use the opportunity that the related press coverage brings from winning one of the world's most prestegious awards to announce his entry into the Democratic race for the White House.

Friends, trust ain't gonna happen.

First, I honestly do not believe that at this point in time Gore has the heart to dive back into the cesspool of presidential politics. He seems to have found his true calling as the public voice warning about our planet's future unless we do something now.

Secondly, I believe that Gore realizes that it is too late now to put together a top tier team (most have already committed to one of the other candidates) and raise the amount of money required to make a serious run at the nomination.

Finally, as a true believer in the global warming/climate change issue, Gore likely realizes that his entry into the presidential campaign would 1) make the issue a polarizing point and 2) make people question Gore's sincerity and motives, thus likely damaging the work he has done.

2012, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Last month, Winter Haven and Polk County lost a truly remarkable human being in former postmaster, city commissioner, and mayor Robert "Smitty" Smith when he passed away. Closer to home, I lost a good friend.

"Smitty" gave his all for family, especially his wife of 50-plus years Nancy, and was active in organizations and activities too many to mention here. Regardless of whatever burdens he happened to be saddled with, he always had a smile and a kind word for anyone who came across his path.

When I came to this area in the autumn of 1990, it took a few months before I became ready to start attending meetings and get active. At the Winter Haven City Commission meetings, "Smitty" was the first person who introduced himself and made me feel welcome. A loyal Democrat, we crossed paths at local party meetings and events.

It was very touching to hear relatives and friends talk about Robert during his funeral service, but the words were simply confirmation of the type of man he was. Someone like "Smitty" doesn't come very often, and our friend will be --- already is --- truly missed.

RIP, my friend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Apoligies to everyone again for my absence. I've been working six day weeks for the past month-plus, restricting my access to the Lakeland Public Library's computer centre while my own computer's hard drive has apparantly gone south for good. I'm back, at least on a once-a-week basis for now until I have a new computer to use.

Monday, September 24, 2007


So, the train wreck has taken it's next step. The battle between the Florida Democratic Party and National Democratic Committee has gone forward like a virtual game of chicken following last weekend's expected announcement that the FDP would not change plans to hold it's presidential preference primary vote from the January 29 date approved earlier this year by the overwhelmingly Republican legislature.

What's done is done, so we have to be prepared for whatever consequences regarding the seating of our state's delegation to the national party convention next summer.

My anger now is directed toward the Democratic candidates for president. With the lone exception of Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), they have surrendered to pressure from the four early primary/caucus states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada) by signing a pledge saying they would not campaign in Florida (or any other state which leapfrogs the accepted calendar - Michigan has recently done so). However, in a move that I can only consider highly hypocritical, they and their surrogates continue to trek to the Sunshine State to raise money. In effect, the candidates are figuratively giving Florida's four million-plus Democrats the finger...thus sending the message that they don't give a rat's ass about our state and it's people, unless, of course, you have a fat checkbook.

Florida is an important state for our candidates, regardless of wheather our delegates are seated at the national convention next summer. Whoever wins in the January 29 voting will have huge bragging rights heading into the following week's "Sunumai Tuesday", where 15 states will hold primaries or caucuses. Florida will be vital to any candidate who truly wants to win next November. So it is important that our candidates know that their attitude toward our state through their agreement to sign the pledge is totally unacceptable.

So, what do we do? Simply take it up the backside and say all is forgiven? Certainly, we are loyal Democrats, and we will fully support our nominee in the general election. However, IMHO a bit more than talk needs to take place to let the candidates know they screwed up big time by giving Florida short shrift.

Therefore, I am strongly urging my fellow Florida Democrats to do two things:

First, it is important for all of us to participate in the January 29 up and vote! There are simply two many local and statewide issues to be decided that day to use the current controversy as an excuse not to cast your ballot. However, I encourage you to leave the presidential preference portion of the ballot blank. Do not vote for ANY of the presidential candidates. If the DNC has it's way, which I fully believe that it will to escape looking weak and unable to maintain discipline withing the ranks, the vote will not count, anyway. But mainly, if enough Florida Democrats withhold their votes from the presidential preference primary, it will send a profound message to all the campaigns that our state should be respected and simply not taken for granted.

Secondly, all Florida Democrats should withhold all donations to any of the presidential candidates during the primary season. This would show the campaigns that our state will not serve as a virtual ATM while they refuse to come and state their cases to Floridians face-to-face as they are doing everywhere else. Instead, I would encourage my fellow Democrats to give that money to their local Democratic Party organization. We need to rebuild our party from the grass roots up, not from the top down. That means finding candidates for local offices and getting them elected, eventually building the base to where we can take back the state legislature. So instead of giving money to the presidential campaigns which will simply be used elsewhere, let's put it to better use here at home!

It's time to act, friends!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


As everyone knows by now, the decision by Florida's legislature to change the date of our presidential preference primary to January 29 is in violation of rules agreed upon by both major political parties to protect the status of Iowa as the nation's first caucus state, New Hampshire's first primary, and South Carolina as the first primary in the South. Both parties have threatened to cut the size of our state's delegation in half, and the Democrats have additionally promised that any candidate who campaigns or raises money in Florida will not be entitled to any of it's delegates, regardless of how he/she fares in the January vote.

On the Democratic side, there are two items related to this of note:

Lesley Clark reported in the Miami Herald Wednesday that Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Thurman is prepared to argue before the Democratic National Committee's rules committee when it meets in Washington on Saturday that it is sticking with the January 29 date for a variety of factors; among them, a number of municipalities have decided to move their elections to that date as well...''So when we go up to Washington to fight for all our delegates, it will be the Democratic National Committee who chooses to penalize us.'' Thurman is encouraging all Florida Democrats to send a message to the DNC opposing any possible cut in the delegate strength, and has a page set up on the state party's Web site to do so.

Also, the Florida Democratic congressional delegation has sent a message to DNC Chairman Dr. Howard Dean, threatening that if the state's delegation to the national convention is cut, it would call for a voting rights investigation. The St. Petersburg Times political blog The Buzz printed the letter's content this afternoon. Click here to check it out.


ABC / This Week with George Stephanopoulos: U.S. Senators Jim Webb (D - VA) and John Cornyn (R - TX) will appear to discuss Iraq, President Bush's troop surge, and his strategy in the Middle Eastern nation. The "Voices" segment will feature Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts talking about her battle with breast cancer. And the roundtable will have ABC News' Cokie Roberts, Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, and conservative syndicated columnist George Will talking about the week's top political news. Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran fills in for George Stephanopoulos this weekend.

CBS / Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

CNN / Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

FOX / Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

NBC / Meet the Press with Tim Russert: U.S. Senator John Warner (R - VA), President Bush's previous close ally on Iraq who recently returned from there and Thursday s , will be on to talk about his visit and break with Bush on the way. Also, former pro bicyclist and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will appear to discuss his battle with cancer and his Livestrong Presidential Forums. The roundtable will feature NBC News Middle Eastern correspondent Richard Engel, Washington Post Pentagon reporter Thomas E. Ricks, and New York Times Chief Military Correspondent and author Michael Gordon.

Syndicated / The Chris Matthews Show: The questions for the week: Just how religious do we want our president to be? And, will 2008 be the year that a sitting senator win the presidency, the first time since JFK that would happen? Pondering those issues will be NPR's All Things Considered co-host Michelle Norris, Michael Duffy of Time magazine, columnist Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group, and David Brooks of the New York Times.

Bay News 9 / Political Connections: The guests and topics have not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.

WFTS-TV 28 / Flashpoint with Brendan McLaughlin: The guest and topic has not been announced as of Thursday evening. Please check back for further updates.


Click here to access the newly updated Florida Presidential Candidate Appearance Calender!


A touch of the cultural panorama of Lakeland and Polk County has apparantly been lost...for now, at least.

The Child of the Sun Jazz Festival is the victim of cost cutting measures being taken by it's host and primary financial donor for nearly two decades, Florida Southern College. The festival, which kept it's focus on traditional jazz sounds while similar events began mixing in more pop and so-called "smooth jazz" influences, was the brainchild of FSC music instructor Larry Burke with a lot of help from the late cornetist and longtime Lakeland resident Nat Adderley.

Adderley's global fame as one of the premier musicians of the genre helped to attract other well known players to Lakeland each spring for what has grown into a weekend long event.

It's always disappointing for a community to lose a piece of it's cultural life, and I would certainly think that there are enough businesses throughout Lakeland and Polk County that would be willing to be associated with an event such as Child of the Sun. Hopefully, it won't take long for a local company or group of companies who want to keep events such as this part of the area variety to step up and provide the necessary funding to keep this event going.


Last night after 9:00 I was lying in bed, halfway paying attention to the TV still on, when an advertisment came on. It ended before I could get my reading glasses on to clearly identify the sponsor.

The ad asked viewers to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives in support of our involvement in Iraq, and used the terms "surrender" and "defeat" in reference to any withdrawal. It also ended with the phrase (not exact, but similar) "Victory is the only option". I can say it was not on one of the religious channels, but one of the independent stations in Tampa (33/38/44).

It was the first time I had seen this ad, and am simply curious as to who sponsored it.

Kinda reminds me of growing up in south Mississippi. My grandmother was loyal to one of the local country music stations in Hattiesburg during the mid and late 1960s, and listened to a preacher every morning who came on that station. He was the New Jersey-based Dr. Carl McIntyre, and this was during the Vietnam conflict. McIntyre spent probably 22-23 minutes of his daily half-hour programme ranting about the growing protests over our involvement there, and was a cheerleader for victory there.

So much for "Thou Shall Not Kill"...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I usually have my CD player with me to hear the latest news from NPR and some favourite music heading to and from work...a nice way to relax before and after the pressure of working in a call center answering strange questions and taking orders from customers. This morning I had Chicago's Overtime --- a greatest hits compliation released mainly in Canada --- as they are one of my all-time favourite groups, and I came across their political anthem Harry Truman. I tend to pay more attention to the lyrics, and while it was written in the latter days of the Vietnam War it comes across perfect for today's political enviroment.

America needs you, Harry Truman
Harry could you please come home
Things are looking bad, I know you would be mad
To see your favorite men prevail upon the land you love

America's wondering how we got here
Harry, all we get is lies
We're gettin' safer cars, and rocket ships to Mars
From men who'd sell us out to get themselves a piece of power

We'd love to hear you speak your mind in plain and simple ways
Call a spade a spade like you did back in the days
You would play piano, each morning walk a mile
Speak of what was going down with honesty and style

America's calling Harry Truman
Harry you know what to do
The world is turnin' round and losin' lots of ground
Oh, Harry is there something we can do to save the land we love...

America needs another Harry Truman...too bad there doesn't seem to be one on the horizon.


As the new school year begins across Polk County, prep football fans are wondering just how good the Dreadnaughts of Lakeland High School will be. When last season ended, the LHS crew had achieved it's second straight national championship and third straight state championship (of seven overall, currently in class 5A), not to mention a running win streak of 45 games. What a way for a high school to begin it's 100th year of football tradition, so you would expect the team at the top of last year's heap with the record it has to begin the new season having to defend it's top ranking.

Think again.

One of the most read high school football polls, the USA Today Super 25, appeared in today's edition, and the Dreadnaughts not only are out of the number one spot...they don't appear at all in the national Top 25 rankings. Afficinados will not only notice that, but that the 'Naughts aren't even in the top ten among teams in the South! There is a Florida team at the top of the USA Today elite, 6A champion Miami Northwestern at number two (the will play top ranked Southlake (TX) Carroll September 15), with Pahokee of Palm Beach County at number 14 (seventh in the regional rankings). Also noted among top teams in the South is another Miami school, Booker T. Washington at ninth.

With the loss of several key players to graduation, Head Coach Bill Castle will have a challenge on his hands, but still with considerable talent. One can presume Castle won't need to use today's news to get his players ready for the opening game, an unofficial "kickoff classic" this Friday.


The new school year began Monday in Polk County --- a number of parents probably said "Amen!" to that --- with a new enrollment record being set. The Lakeland Ledger reported that 89,215 students reported for the first day of classes, an increase of 2.2 percent from last year's numbers.

At least one administrator at Polk County School District headquarters in Bartow suggested that the enrollment numbers could reach as high of 93,000 within two months. The first day figures, however, will have at least some people thinking that it marks the beginning of a slowdown in overall countywide growth.

The 2.2 percent first day hike compares with 3.5 percent from last year, 3.3 percent in 2005, and 4.0 percent in 2004.

So, what's happening? More homeschooled kids? More students being enrolled in private or parochial schools? Or are we seeing more folks leaving the area, joining the reported parade of people leaving Florida in the face of higher property taxes?

Hmmmmmmm...has some of you scratching your heads.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


One of Winter Haven's best known and respected citizens, former mayor/commissioner Richard "Dick" Dantzler, passed away over the weekend after a long battle with the condition known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He was 76.

Dantzler, born and raised in Winter Haven, was a longtime businessman who led or otherwise involved in a number of civic organizations over the years. In addition to heading two area banks, his accomplishments included being active --- and for a time chairing --- the trustee board of Winter Haven Hospital, as well as heading the Winter Haven Area Chamber of Commerce. His business interests included real estate, and he was named chairman of the Florida Real Estate Commission in 1984.

He was elected to the City Commission in 1961-67, serving as mayor from 1962-64. During his tenure, Dantzler was credited with helping make Winter Haven the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, as well as helping guide the city through the difficult periods of racial intergration.

Dantzler's sons have all followed in their dad's footsteps well. All have become active in a variety of civic organizations, and one, Rick, is a former Florida State Senator who resigned in 1998 to run for governor. Rick told the Lakeland Ledger that their father stressed the importance of community service and that should be a guiding principle for any responsible citizen.

Dick Dantzler was a man who obviously loved his home area, and worked hard to make it a better place for all. He set an example that all of us should strive for. Mr. Dantzler will be missed, but he can rest in peace now with the knowledge that he has the thanks and respect of many throughout Winter Haven and beyond.