Off Key

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By Bob Frederickson 

From Winston Churchill to Woody Guthrie

Looking Behind the Numbers

Remember State Attorney General Pam Bondi’s campaign ad this past fall touting her office’s successful efforts to shut down the pill mills that had taken root like kudzu across the state in recent years?

The impression left by the ad was one of Bondi’s steely-eyed determination as she crossed the drug abuse problem off Florida’s To Do list.

But the numbers she quoted in the campaign ad – while likely correct in a literal sense – reminded me of a quote from Winston Churchill about a political adversary who often used statistics divorced from their fuller context to further a point or position he was trying to make.

Said Churchill: “ My opponent uses statistics the way a drunk uses a lamp post: for support rather than illumination.”

And so it was not surprising to hear the Bradenton Police Department report recently that they now respond to an average of 1 heroin overdose each week and that in 2014 there were six heroin related deaths in the city, a dramatic increase that the department attributed to – that’s right – the statewide pill-mill crackdown.

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Longboat Key a Trendsetter?

It’s not often sleepy Longboat Key gets confused with a trendsetting locale like Miami, but the two communities found their usual roles reversed recently with representatives of the Metro Dade Police Department looking to Longboat for help with their decision as to whether or not to install stationery license tag scanners to help in their crime fighting efforts.

Longboat installed the $80,000 system back in 2013. It scans the license plate of every car entering the island for outstanding warrants or expired tags.

According to the town, in 2014, 97 citations and 20 arrests were made based on data collected by the scanners.

So what’s next, penny loafers and pleated shorts as the new look on South Beach?

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That’s a lot of Bull!

Did you hear the story of the Holstein named Toy Story who bought the farm last month? Yes, the old boy has moved on to that big pasture in the sky. But there’s no need to mourn this bull’s passing. He lived a full and prosperous life. According to the publication “Holstein International” (yes, there really is such a thing) Toy Story sired over 500,000 offspring!

Now if there’s a heaven for bulls, it makes you wonder: just how much greener can its pastures be?

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Looking for a Home…

The homeless problem in Sarasota has seemingly reached all the way to the city’s Information Technology (IT) Department, which has been shuttled back and forth in recent years like a child in a custody battle between feuding parents. First it was under the control of the city manager’s office. Then came allegations that someone in that office conspired with an IT department employee to squelch potentially embarrassing e-mail records during the Bob Bartolotta’s administration (allegations since proven to be untrue). As a result, it was placed under the purview of City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini.

Now, plummeting morale in the department (sound familiar?), high turnover and a whistle blower’s allegations of lax security standards has it moving back to the city manager’s office.

Sounds like we need an intervention here. Or at the very least, a high priced consultant (or two).

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Crack that Whip!

Just what we need…more rigid, party-line partisanship. That’s the position of local Republican operative Christian Ziegler who according to reports in the Herald Tribune by Jermy Wallace recently introduced a motion before the Sarasota Republican Executive Committee that would banish any local Republicans from GOP activities if they support any Democratic Party candidates, even in nonpartisan races.

Ziegler says it’s not personal, though some have a hard time believing that’s the case, since his wife, Bridget Ziegler was recently elected to the Sarasota School Board despite two sitting Republican members (Caroline Zucker and Jane Goodwin) throwing their support behind her opponent, democrat Ken Marsh.

The Democrats have their own “loyalty” oath that says pretty much the same thing as the Republican version. But here’s an idea both parties might want to consider: nominate strong, fair-minded candidates and you won’t have to worry about cracking the whip to keep your membership in line.

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Bumper Sticker Politics Vindicated?

Sarah Palin’s memorable catch phrase from the 2012 presidential campaign “Drill Baby Drill!” became the object of much derision by those on the left. Even the President couldn’t resist the urge to pile on, saying in February of 2012: “Drill baby drill? That’s a bumper sticker, not a strategy. We can’t just drill our way to lower oil prices. They (Republicans) are already dusting off their plans for $2 gasoline.”

So what’s happened in the intervening three years as domestic drilling has steadily increased? That’s right, the price of unleaded gas has fallen below $2 per gallon.

So of course, the President takes credit for all of this during his recent State of the Union address. And former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi? Well, for her part, she proposes increasing the Federal gas tax – already 18% – because prices have fallen so low. And what will the increased revenue be used for? Paying down the deficit? No, way…Pelosi’s plan? More spending.

No wonder so many – on the left and the right – are tuning these folks out.

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Quote of the Day:

“Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don’t change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow.”

― Woody Guthrie

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