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Off Key!

By Bob Frederickson

From Butts on the Beach to Measuring Sleep…

Where County Failed Will State Prevail?

Back in 2007 the group Keep Sarasota Beautiful lobbied the Sarasota County commission to ban smoking at county beaches. The push came after one of their annual beach cleanups retrieved seven pounds of cigarette butts in a single day. The group wrote letters, worked with schools and park volunteers and eventually got the county to schedule a vote on the matter. The result? By a 4-1 margin the commission passed a smoking ban for county beaches, including those on Siesta.

Butt…

The ACLU was not amused, saying the law unfairly targeted the homeless. The reasoning? Homeless folks often hang out at the beach. (I mean, wouldn’t you if you had nothing better to do)? So the new law clearly was harassment of the homeless. Of course, this type of reasoning was somewhat novel back then, though it has certainly gone viral in the years since; now there are all manner of legal ‘exemptions’ granted on the basis of some nebulous legal construct that holds laws cannot apply to those without the ‘means’ to obey them. Here’s the applicable ACLU syllogism as near as I can tell: If you can only smoke in your home or in your car, and you don’t have a home or a car, then everybody gets to smoke at the beach, because not everyone has a home or a car…Makes sense, no?

Well, actually, no. But that’s where we’ve landed.

In any case, The ACLU prevailed, with a judge ruling on a technicality that only the state legislature can regulate smoking; so the ban was snuffed out like a butt in the sand.

But now, State Senator Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota has introduced a bill that would satisfy that judicial argument from years past and finally expunge butts from area beaches for good.

It’s an outcome Siesta Beach benefactor Dr. Stephen Letterman (a.k.a. Dr. Beach) fervently hopes to see.

“To me this is an easy thing to support,” he told the Tampa Bay Times recently. “Cigarette butts are the number one type of litter on beaches, by volume. They are disgusting.”

On the other side of the ledger some see such restrictions as classic examples of governmental overreach. Even former Governor of California Jerry Brown, no conservative firebrand he, had this to say after vetoing a similar ban there in 2017: “If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they? There must be some limit to the coercive power of government.”

What? Govern or Moonbeam railing against unbridled state authority? What’s next? Trump and Melania inviting Hillary and Bill over for a game of bridge and some Fondue?

Antiques Roadshow Ringling Episodes Set to Air

Were you one of the lucky few who managed to score a ticket to have your precious family heirloom appraised by the Antiques Roadshow experts when they landed on the grounds of the Ringling Museum last April?

Over 15,000 applied for the tickets, which were free; but only 3,000 locals actually made the cut.

Now, after a fitting gestation period of nine months, the hundred or so most interesting and intriguing appraisals culled from that group of 3000 treasure toting hopefuls have been edited down into three one-hour episodes for the popular PBS program’s latest season (its 23rd); the local episodes will air on January 28, February 4th and February 11th.

This is the first year the show has filmed exclusively at historic locations like the Ringling estate instead of simply setting up shop in some cavernous city auditorium or convention center. Other stops on the itinerary this season include the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, the Philbrook Museum or Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Meadow Brook Hall mansion in Rochester, Michigan and Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Look for several video vignettes showcasing the Ringlings and their quaint little place on the bay, Ca’d Zan, as well as looks at the art collection amassed by the circus magnate, the circus museum on the grounds and perhaps a peek at Mable Ringling’s rose garden for good measure.

Oh, and of course a few glorious sunsets are likely to show up as well…which will surely make the folks at Visit Sarasota smile, especially after dealing with a tedious year of negative news related to the area’s red tide outbreak.

A Cough Remedy that Goes Down Easy…

Here’s something to try the next time you’re dealing with a cough or scratchy throat you just can’t seem to shake: chocolate. That’s right. If you’re tired of cough medicines that don’t hit the mark and taste horrible, try a square or two of dark chocolate.

And this isn’t just some old wives tale. A team at Imperial College in London discovered that ‘thobromine,’ an alkaloid in cocoa is more effective as a cough suppressant than even codeine.

And hey, even if it doesn’t work, well, it’s chocolate…you still come out ahead.

Government at the Speed of Molasses in Maine…

 The city of Sarasota voted to terminate city clerk Pamela Nadalini during its January 16th meeting, ending a process that took only slightly less time than the ongoing lift station 87 fiasco has to date…what with the requisite consulting reports, employee interviews, commission meetings and everything else that went in to the decision in an attempt to avoid a wrongful termination suit that is likely already in the mail.

Pride Leadeth the Fail?

Pride Elementary School in Hillsborough County was expressing a bit of its namesake pride on its message monument out front recently when the message of Proverbs16:18 hijacked their own. There, for all to see in eight inch high moveable block letters was this cringe-worthy fail:

“DISTRICK SETS ALL TIME GRADUATION RATE RECORD.”

Hey, life happens.

And Speaking of Education…

Here’s a pop quiz for our earnest readers:

Which state in the union ranks last in terms of the percentage of males over 25 years of age with at least a 9th grade education?

You’re probably thinking: ‘Uh-ohhh, I hope it’s not Florida…’

Relax.

The actual winner (or loser as the case may be)? California.

That’s right, thanks to unchecked immigration and a fleeing middle class voting with their feet to escape some of the highest taxes in the nation, the Golden State’s shining reputation is quickly losing its fabled luster: with the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous set safely ensconced in those “High Rolling Hills” Bob Seeger sang about, while looking down on a growing third world landscape in the valleys and mean streets below.

News Flash: Sleep is Overrated!

Feeling like you’re not getting enough Zzzs at night? Well, a new study concludes you may be better off. The European Journal reports those getting more than eight hours of sleep had an increased risk for heart disease and death compared to those logging six to eight hours each night.

An afternoon nap is no panacea either, at least not for those getting more than six hours of shut-eye at night. The risk of cardiovascular disease was greater here as well.

So sweet dreams! And try not to worry. It’s not good for you!