July 31, 2006
New record for hits
Today’s Top 10 Posts
- WCOA Blog down
- Steve K corrects Outtakes column
- Healthcare for some, Part 2
- Democratic Chair goes after me
- STOP OUR CITY CARTOON, PART 3
- School Salvation
- Arnold stands up for Paul
- Fetterman Night Success
- Good news, bad news
- Stop Our City ironies
Here are the Top 10 for the month of July
July 31, 2006
People are wondering who makes up the Pensacola Young Professionals. Here is an email from one who’s considering running for office in four years. To protected her identity, I’ve edited out the personal info.
“I was thinking about running for the District 2 seat because I agree completely with the points you made about previous (and current) candidates not having plans…and therefore not having any way to hold them accountable.
Other issues beyond what you mentioned for debate could be the following:
- illegal aliens in the construction industry (means lower wages for legal citizens),
- an overhaul of the Sheriff’s Department,
- a west-side mall,
- growth management to ensure environmental and economic sustainability.
My husband has agreed to me planning a run in 4 years; we have a 18 month old son who will be in kindergarten by then. This time frame will also give me more experience working in government; right now I’ve only worked for Santa Rosa (yes I live in Escambia) since April and have been in an entry-level position. Once I get my Master’s in December I will qualify for promotion.
I will need all the support I can find, so I appreciate your enthusiasm.”
July 31, 2006
The proposed budget for Escambia County (2006-2007) is available on their website. It’s not the easiest to read. However, I see no increase in public health expenditures
The public health unit proposed budget $395,000 – down from $398,993.
Health & Life insurance of County Employees (excluding the Consitutional offices) is up $589,760 to $7,206,860.
Let me summarize:
- County property tax revenue up $31 million.
- Budget increases $15 million.
- Reserves increase $17 million.
- County employee health insurance increases to $7.2 million.
- Public health spending decreases $4000.
Can any one figure out why Escambia is the unhealthiest county in the state?
July 31, 2006
From American Heart Association:
July 31, 11: 00 A.M. CT
LOCAL SCHOOLS SELECTED TO TAKE PART IN THE ALLIANCE FOR A HEALTHIER GENERATION HEALTHY SCHOOLS PROGRAM
School Representatives Attend Healthy School Forum presented at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AK
Pensacola, FL – Three local schools have been selected to take part in the pilot program of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Program, and a representative from each one attended the Healthy School Forum at the Clinton Presidential Library. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a joint initiative of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. The Robert Wood Johnson foundation provided the Alliance with an initial grant for the program. Local schools selected include:
C.A. Weis Elementary School
Bellview Middle School
Pensacola High School
The Healthy Schools Program is intended to make schools healthier places for staff and students by increasing opportunities for students to exercise, ensuring that healthy foods and beverages are available at all times during and after the school day, and increasing resources for teachers and staff to become healthy.
President Clinton and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee both spoke at the Healthy School Forum. Participants learned about actionable tools and best practices on topics such as nutrition, physical education, and staff wellness, in an intimate, accessible setting. They left with will all the skills they need to launch the Healthy Schools Program at their school.
Everyday 53 million teachers and students go to school. Nearly one in five Americans spend around thirty hours a week in schools, making them an excellent forum to shape the health and well being of the 20 percent of American students who are overweight.
Each of the 200-plus schools, located in twelve states across the country, is assigned a relationship manager by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This manager will visit the school regularly, provide hands-on technical assistance, and work with the School Wellness Council to ensure that the program is being implemented properly.
In addition to hands-on technical assistance, all participating schools will receive access to action plans to involve the larger community in their efforts, business assistance developing agreements with food and fitness companies, and opportunities to share best practices with other schools.
The Alliance plans to extend the pilot program to thousands of schools throughout the country.
About The Alliance for a Healthier Generation:
The William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association came together in May 2005 to create a new generation of healthy Americans by addressing one of the nation’s leading public health threats –- childhood obesity. The Alliance focuses on preventing childhood obesity and creating healthier lifestyles for all children.
The Alliance targets several areas that will spark change and slow the increasing rates of childhood obesity in the U.S., and encourage healthier lifestyles for young people. The effort will focus on four key areas: industry; schools, healthcare professionals, and a kids movement. For more information, visit www.HealthierGeneration.org.
The Alliance launched its Healthy Schools Program in February of this year. The program takes a comprehensive approach by recognizing schools that improve nutrition in the foods sold in schools; that increase both physical education and physical activity before, during and after the school day; that provide nutrition education; and that establish staff wellness programs. For more information, please visit www.healthiergeneration.org.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans. For more information, please visit www.rwjf.org.
July 31, 2006
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio is proposing a downtown bus system, called downtown circulators, to move people from home to work or to dinner and a movie. She wants the buses in place by 2010.
The Tampa area Metropolitan Planning Organization is footing the bill for the research of circulators at the request of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and the Tampa Downtown Partnership.
Pensacola’s mayor, our regional transportation authority, ECAT and the DIB need to follow Tampa’s example.
The price of gas isn’t getting any cheaper.
July 31, 2006
West Florida Regional Library system has been woefully underfunded. For most communities, their public library is a key public service and solid fixture in the community. Not here.
Why should we care? Read this PDF – Five Things Community Leaders Should Know About Public Libraries
July 31, 2006
Refuting Mark Avelli’s Lies
By Kenneth E. Lamb
I don’t normally get into give-and-takes with other columnists, but the following from Mr. Avelli is so filled with lies that I have to do so now.
Just so you know that I’m not cutting and pasting his words, I reproduced them verbatim, with his initials, MA, leading his words, and my initials, KEL, leading mine.
Mr. Avelli published his column on July 29, 2006 through NW Florida’s leading public internet forum, Gulf1.com.
One other note: I will use the word “lie” because I know Mr. Avelli is far and away intelligent enough to know the truth. If you tell someone something you know is not the truth, as Mr. Avelli is doing here, then you are a liar. And what you tell then, are lies.
Lesson #1 on Trillium – with Lamb’s rebuttal in bold
by Mark Y. Avelli
This is the first in a series of artic les to inform the public of facts on the Trillium venture.
The Trillium waterfront advocates are superb propagandists lead by a charismatic leader endowed with limitless finances to bamboozle the public to gain control of $ 100 million dollars of valuable public waterfront assets, for 60 years, for the whopping sum of $1,00 per year.
LAMB: First, Mr. Avelli lies to you when he says anyone other than the citizens of the City of Pensacola will own – and control – this land. In fact. Mr. Avelli’s first lie is the Big Lie of the so-called Save Our City horde of nihilists.
I’ll disregard Mr. Avelli’s typo in stating the lease fee, which should read $1.00. The non-profit corporation, Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc., pays that money to the city treasury. There is no private asset ownership whatsoever in this transaction.
The $1.00 per year is required legally to allow the non-profit corporation the right to oversee the Waterfront Park’s operation s. All rents, leases, and sales taxes generated by the Waterfront Park flow directly into the city treasury.
At the end of the 60-year period, the land is still in the hands of the citizens, and full ownership of all building and other improvements on the property – built and paid with private investment money – reverts in total to the city.
Let me put it this way: Pretend you leased out your land for $1.00 per year to a non-profit corporation which supervised the building and maintenance of hundreds of millions of dollars in buildings and improvements. At the end of the lease, you own everything on the land.
Frankly, any of us should live so long as to get a deal like that. But Mr. Avelli tells you that deal is a “bamboozle.” Please Mr. Avelli, I have some land; please “bamboozle” me into giving me everything you paid for at the end of the lease, with me owning it, free and clear!
This enterprising leader has hired a cadre of experts, public relations firms a nd accounting claques to camouflage the dubious financial clarity of the venture.
Lamb: If what I just wrote is unclear to Mr. Avelli, he has no business pretending to be competent to discuss the deal. What is clearer than “the city owns the property forever?”
This first infomercial is to help the average area resident understand their personal stake in the Trillium venture.
LAMB: Unfortunately, you are about to see Mr. Avelli is not being honest enough with you to even discuss this project, but let’s continue anyway.
1. The City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is a small city department with a FY 2006 budget $ 2.793 million dollars, or only 1.4 % of the total city budget. Only three people are employed to eliminate downtown slum and blight. This department has existed since 1984.
2. The CRA plans to borrow $ 40 million to build a $ 16 million baseball park for a private investor in a sub minor league baseball team. The remaining funds will be used to build a UWF conference center, classrooms, maritime museum, and undefined access by the public to the waterfront.
LAMB: So many lies, so little space to refute them.
Anyone who looks at the architect’s rendering knows access to the waterfront is what this project is all about. Mr. Avelli can see that – as can everybody else – which is what makes this another Big Lie. The truth is that the entire perimeter of the property opens out to the water. To see this for yourself, go to: http://www.propensacola.com/concept-pensacola.asp
Of the 27 acres that are available, only 5.5 are dedicated to commercial development. That means 79.63 percent of the total land area is non-commercial.
As for individual buildings and improvements, Mr. Avelli knows the two Biggest Lies are about the multi-use stadium, and the conference center.
The truth is that both of those facilities are available to anyone who pays to rent them.
The stadium is a 3,500-seat facility with all fixed-back seats. It is a venue for other sporting events, such as UWF soccer, high school football, baseball and soccer, local, regional, state, and national tournaments and championships for all of those – and many other – sports, concerts, festivals, graduations, and public celebrations. The left-field walls open up to provide an additional 6 acres of space for events held there.
The conference/continuing education center is also open to public rental. Since the City tore down the decaying Bayfront Auditorium, we need an open-to-the-public space to replace those venues. The conference/continuing education center will house everything from dances to Mardi Gras balls.
Here is the best part, which Mr. Avelli can’t seem to grasp – well, he tells you he doesn’t get it, publicly anyway: All rent money goes straight into the city treasury.
In fact, all leases will be open to the public, because the non-profit corporation, Community Maritime Park Associates, Inc., runs under the Florida Government in the Sunshine Act. That means all meetings are public meetings; all records are public records – you can read any lease that you want to read.
Here’s another extremely important safeguard Mr. Avelli doesn’t want you to know: Federal District Court Judge Lacey Collier will be on the board of the non-profit corporation. Well known for the legal discipline in his courtroom, he is the best watchdog you could ever seek to be on a non-profit corporation’s board.
And Mr. Avelli knows every bit of what I just wrote is true. Which makes every bit of what Mr. Avelli wrote – a lie.
3. CRA yearly bond payments on the borrowed $ 40 million dollars is $ 2,532,880.
4. Yearly portion of Item 3 for ball field is $ 1,013,152. Team owner yearly commitment for use of field is $ 175,000 or a shortfall of $ 838,152 each year for 30 years. Guess who is responsible for covering this shortfall, if not covered by rental from other undefined events? The history and experience of the Civic Center provides a clue for expectations.
LAMB: This lie is as classic as the slight-of-hand trick of “Guess which shell covers the pea?”
Mr. Avelli wants to lie to you by presenting this as if each component of the Waterfront Park is somehow independent of the park as a whole. Debaters call this “The cut and paste argument.” It is a fraud.
Telling the Big Lie his way leads to this type of insane statement Mr. Avelli could also make: “The open green area will cost X-dollars. It will receive no lease money from anyone, so “Guess who is responsible for covering this shortfall, if not covered by rental from other undefined events?”
Mr. Avelli is lost somewhere out in space with that Looney-Tunes logic. By that corkscrew thinking, all parks are financial disasters, and Mr. Avelli can belly ache about every park anyone wants to build.
The truth is that the Waterfront Park is composed of:
- The University of West Florida,
- A multi-use stadium anyone can rent,
- A conference center anyone can rent,
- A maritime museum that will honor the past, while looking into the future,
- Commercial space that will produce sales tax and leasing revenues – all of which go straight into the city treasury,
- And waterfront access unlike anything else on the north Gulf coastline.
CHARISMA is a most dangerous existing quality in man; it has affected human lives and altered the course of history.
VOTE NO ON SEPT. 5 TO STOP THIS PROJECT HATCHED IN SECRECY AND BYPASSING CITY PROTOCOL FOR “REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS.”
LAMB: These last Big Lies border on the paranoid schizophrenic.
How anyone can say that a subject that is the biggest source of talk in Pensacola is somehow “hatched in secret” is totally beyond me. It would be funny, but it isn’t funny at all, because this type of thinking is threatening to torpedo the best idea yet for downtown Pensacola.
As for “Request for Proposals,” the truth is that the city did issue a Request for Proposal (RFP). In response, they received only two, one of which is the current proposal by Community Maritime Park Associates. The non-profit Community Maritime Park Associates board – will ensure that the waterfront remains open to our citizens.
Don’t let the Big Lies of the so-called Save Our City nihilists steal your future, and the future of your children, and your grandchildren; vote “YES!” on Sept. 5 for the Waterfront Park!
July 31, 2006
Pull quote: Testosterone was once the drug of choice, particularly in the 1970’s, when the East Germans mastered its use and dominated sports.
From the NY Times:
Testosterone Seems to Be Enhancer ofChoice
When a doping scandal shook the Tour de France on the eve of this year’s race, Floyd Landis climbed onto his bike, unscathed. When a doping investigation involved some of track and field’s most high-profile figures, the sprinter Justin Gatlin (RO note: Woodham High Grad) continued to compete, untouched.
But last week, Landis, the Tour de France winner, and Gatlin, who shares the world record in the 100 meters, were no longer on the outside looking in. They were ensnared in the net of drug testing, with the same substance, testosterone, at the center.
For some, last week’s news is a sign that doping controls have improved, but it may also be evidence that some athletes remain undeterred, tempted to break the rules by the promise of money and fame.
“Many more athletes are going to get caught, and it’s going to get ugly,” said Dr. Steven Ungerleider, an antidoping expert who wrote the book “Faust’s Gold: Inside the East German Doping Machine.” “I think people need to brace themselves for some darker clouds on the way here.”
Landis was found to have an illegally high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone after his Stage 17 performance during the Tour, which moved him to third place in the standings from 11th and back into contention. If the results of his backup urine sample, which could be released as early as today, confirm the initial positive result, he will be stripped of his Tour de France title and face a two-year ban from the sport. If the result comes back negative, the doping charges will be dropped.
Gatlin, who also failed a drug test in 2001, may already face a lifetime ban. He tested positive for testosterone or its precursors on April 22, after the Kansas Relays, and announced the result Saturday.
Both athletes said they were innocent and began a rigorous defense.
On Saturday, Gatlin said in a statement that he “never knowingly used any banned substance.” Since Thursday, when news of Landis’s positive test was revealed by his Phonak team, Landis has been outspoken, talking to reporters and making television appearances to say that there has been a mistake and that he did not take drugs to win the Tour de France.
“When the smoke clears, I think we’ll all go back and look at what we’ve done to Floyd,” said Landis’s doctor, Brent Kay, in a teleconference Friday.
“It’s almost this medieval witch hunt right now,” he added.
Testosterone was once the drug of choice, particularly in the 1970’s, when the East Germans mastered its use and dominated sports. These days, Ungerleider said, the drug was somewhat passé, but might be part of “an experiment with testosterone derivatives done by a number of chemists and basement physiologists.”
In track and field, a host of athletes have tested positive for abnormal testosterone levels. The sprinter Dennis Mitchell, an Olympic gold medalist from the United States, tested positive for a high testosterone-to-epitestosterone, or T/E, ratio in 1998, claiming that alcohol and sex with his wife had caused the positive test. In 1997, the distance runner Mary Decker Slaney also tested positive for a high T/E ratio. Both athletes won on appeal, but an international panel overturned those decisions. They were barred from the sport for life.
But Kay could not see why a cyclist would take testosterone. He said it would make the rider slower because it is an anabolic steroid that builds muscle.
Even so, cyclists have already been caught with testosterone in drug raids or have tested positive for it. In June, Sascha Urweider, Landis’s teammate on Phonak, was suspended for two years for testing positive for high levels of testosterone in February.
Scientists like Dr. Donald H. Catlin, who runs the Olympic drug-testing laboratory at U.C.L.A., say that athletes might use testosterone to recover quicker. The former professional cyclist Jesús Manzano said he was given testosterone when he competed for the Kelme team, and said he immediately felt the positive effects.
In an essay in the Spanish sports newspaper AS on Saturday, Manzano wrote: “It gives you a lot of strength, and it works very well. It produces a euphoria.”
John Hoberman, a University of Texas professor who wrote the book “Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodisia, Doping,” said: “These people who are using it are probably doing what they thought was low dosing and thought they could probably get away with it. The idea that these are all clever people who are doing it right is erroneous.
“Some are doing it better than others. Some are using physicians. Some are using it on advice from another athlete.”
Hoberman said that he blamed the public’s demand for “inhuman performances” in certain elite sports like cycling, and that athletes were compromising their morality to gain success and make the fans happy.
The sports federations should share that blame, Hoberman said, because they have not had control over their own athletes and have had to rely on police actions to uncover the drug users.
Some of the biggest doping punishments recently in track and field in the United States were based on evidence revealed during the federal investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. The Balco inquiry led to two-year suspensions for the sprinters Kelli White and Tim Montgomery, a former world-record holder in the 100 meters.
Nine riders, including three of the favorites, were kicked out of the Tour de France this year after Spanish authorities revealed they had been implicated in a police investigation. Pat McQuaid, president of the cycling union, told The Associated Press yesterday that the police might be used in the future to help stop doping in the sport. It would take something as drastic as that for cycling to regain its credibility, he said.
“In this type of investigation authorities like the police can go a lot further that a sporting authority,” McQuaid said. “They can put in hidden cameras and the like to crack a network, a drugs supply ring. Of course it is sad it has come to this, but it is the way it has to be.”
McQuaid also said that he would be the first to shake Landis’s hand if Landis’s backup sample came back negative. Still, even Landis admitted that a dark cloud would remain over him and the sport. And Andy Rihs, Landis’s team owner and owner of the Swiss hearing-aid company Phonak, has agreed.
After so many of his riders have tested positive since the team’s inception two years ago, including the 2004 Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton, Rihs announced last month that he would abandon his sponsorship of the team.
In an article in The Times of London last week, Rihs summed up the reason: “Where there’s money, there’s doping.”
July 31, 2006
Leave it to the Brits to develop a website that lets you create your own Bush speech. Drag various words and phrases (all actual audio clips) from one side of the screen to the other, and you have GW speaking on your computer. www.actofme.co.uk
Pretty damn cool.
July 30, 2006
Tons of comments over the weekend. The busiest yet.
WEEKEND TOP 10