Off Key

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By Bob Frederickson

From Girls on the Run to a Final ‘Well-Done’

Girls Just Wanna have Sun?

That explanation is probably as good as any for the three young women who were the subject of a 9-1-1 call from a traveler at an I-75 rest stop in Pasco county on a recent spring day after he observed Oasis McCleod, 19, Jeniyah McCleod 19 and Cecilia Young, 18, bereft of any and all clothing, applying sun tan lotion in plain view of all using the crowded facility, children included.

When FHP officers approached the women they said they were “air-drying” after washing-up in the rest room. Perhaps the hot-air hand dryers inside weren’t up to the task? Or maybe they were headed to North Lido Beach and just wanted to get a jump on their ‘au natural’ sun bathing?

They did seem to be in a bit of a hurry though, fleeing the rest stop before officers had completed their questioning, which, of course, is not an advisable strategy when dealing with peace officers, as the ensuing events bear out. The jilted officers gave chase, using a controlled impact maneuver to spinout the fleeing vehicle. Whereupon in two final examples of errant judgment Oasis McCleod allegedly drove the car at one officer while Jeniyah McCleod allegedly attacked another officer with a metal baseball bat.

All three now face charges of indecent exposure, fleeing to elude, resisting arrest and aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer.

So how was your Spring Break?

“I can’t even explain why they did what they did,” said a clearly exasperated Cecil Young, father of Cecelia Young, expressing a sentiment likely to elicit sympathy from any parent of teenagers.

Paradise Lost?

So Sarasota has once again made one of those “Best Places to Live” lists chamber of commerce types live for, this one from US News & World Report. The city came in at number 18 on the magazine’s 2019 list.

Heady stuff.

But as Jerry Garcia sang, “every silver lining has a touch of grey.” That line came to mind as I read the Sarasota Herald Tribune headline “REPORT: SARASOTA IS THE DUI CAPITAL OF FLORIDA.” Yikes!

And as if on cue, in a span of mere days came news of three alcohol related fatalities on area roads. One involved 13 teenagers piled into an SUV that failed to negotiate a turn in an undeveloped subdivision in North Port, killing one teen. Another resulted in the death of an elderly couple when their vehicle was rear-ended on US 41 near River Road by an impaired driver. And in a third recent crash, 63-year-old Petruska Marquez was killed on I-75 near Clark Road when the car she was riding in struck the stopped vehicle of Nicalos Simpson, 26, of North Port. Simpson’s car was stopped in the middle lane of the interstate at 2:05 AM on April 14th. He was charged with DUI manslaughter.

Writers and poets have detailed since time immemorial, the price of paradise…and the perils of pride. So beware the list! And perhaps good news as well. Jerry had it right in another line from Uncle John’s Band:

“When life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door…”

NYC Offers New Career Path: Climate Vigilante!

New York City has a new way to earn some extra cash. Just wander the streets and whenever you see a truck idling while parked, pull out your smart phone, shoot a video documenting the license plate and showing the vehicle idling continuously for at least three minutes, forward your file to the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and you’ll earn 25 percent of any fines assessed for a violation. Fines run anywhere from $300 to $2000. One guy interviewed by Fox News claims to have pocketed over nine grand for his 120 reports since the program went into effect last fall.

And just think of all the friends he’s made along the way…

Best Day to Buy Gas?

Mondays. This according to Internet app Gas Buddy. Apparently some stations (most?) hike prices later in the week just in time for heavier weekend travel. Another benefit to buying early in the week? Lines are usually shorter meaning you’re more likely to find an open pump without having to wait.

A Case of Homesickness?

Michael Casey Lewis, 34 had just been released from the Saint Lucie County jail in Fort Pierce when an officer noticed him acting suspiciously in the jail’s parking lot.

When confronted, he said he was just waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up. But when surveillance video was reviewed, Lewis could be seen checking doors to find unlocked vehicles. He eventually found one where he allegedly ‘found’ an iPhone, a debit card, four packs of cigarettes and over $500 in cash.

He was promptly booked back into the same jail he had just left mere minutes earlier, and later released again after posting an $11,250 bond. And this time he actually left the area. But I’m thinking it’s a pretty fair bet he’ll be back.

Better Late than Never?

Conventional wisdom holds that if you’re traveling by air, taking an early morning flight offers the best shot at an on-time arrival. Well, it didn’t work out that way for those on one recent British Airways flight. Passengers on flight BA3271 thought they were heading from London to Dusseldorf, Germany on March 25th. So imagine their surprise when they de-planed and discovered they were actually in Edinburgh, Scotland. 


Turns out a ground staffer had punched in the wrong airport code for the flight plan and the pilots simply assumed Scotland was where British Airways wanted them to go. After a few hours things were sorted out and the passengers were on their way to their original destination, half a day late, but none the worse for wear.

A Tale of Two Borders

While planning a trip to attend a relative’s funeral in Western New York, we briefly considered flying in to Toronto and seeing the sights and maybe a ballgame or two before crossing the rainbow bridge to pay our respects to a favorite Aunt in Rochester, NY. Both my wife and I had worked for the parent company of the Toronto Sun for almost 20 years and had enjoyed visiting the city.

But those plans went by the wayside when I realized our passports had expired and there wasn’t enough time to renew them prior to our departure. Oh well, we thought, maybe we can at least take a side trip tor Niagara Falls. 

My wife has lived in Florida since she was ten and so had never been to the falls. I did a little research to see if we could at least cross over to the Ontario side for a brief look at the falls, as the view is generally more expansive from that side. Well, I soon learned that was a no go: According to the official US GOV site, “You must have a valid passport to enter the United States at the Canadian border.” NO EXCEPTIONS.

And the news was much the same from the Canadian side, with this added warning: “If you have been charged with a DUI or convicted of a minor offense, you may be denied entry to Canada.”

Neither of us fit into either of those categories, thankfully, but I find the warning and the absolute necessity of a current passport an interesting counterpoint to what’s been going on along the southern border, where hundreds of thousands of non US citizens have entered the country with seeming impunity over the past year.

Jackie LeClaire Leaves Legacy of Mirth

Sarasota lost a true original recently with the passing of Jackie LeClaire last month at the age of 91. His entire life was intertwined with the circus and the towns of Sarasota and Venice the circus helped put on the map.

He first performed as a child as part of his parent’s clown act, remaining active in the circus arts almost till the end. In later years he could be seen at the big top of Circus Sarasota, which released a statement by founders Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs.

“(LeClaire) was a one-of-a-kind person, definitely with sawdust in his veins. He was a storyteller and the story of his life on the circus was larger than life and very colorful. (His) humor and warmth affected everyone who was lucky enough to come into contact with him. He was an integral part of our circus family and we will miss him.”

He was considered the unofficial mayor of Bay Village across the bay from Siesta Key, where he made his home and where he regularly delighted the grandchildren of residents when they would come visit their grandparents.

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