Off Key

By Bob Frederickson 

From Unanticipated Medical Procedures to Working in the Sunshine

The Rising Cost of Health Care

A Lakewood Ranch Medical Center ER nurse faces theft charges for allegedly lifting the credit card numbers of patients who were undergoing tests while at the facility. The victims’ wallets were left in an examination room while their owners were undergoing the tests in another room. Unfortunately, the wallets apparently underwent an examination of their own while their owners were away.

It was a serious violation of protocol. The “wallet extraction procedure” usually comes later, when the bill arrives.

And You Thought Your Power Bill Was High…

The biggest building in Florida is the Vehicle Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral. But did you know the second largest freestanding building in the state is just across the Manatee River in Palmetto? That’s where Feld entertainment’s new 600,000 square foot world headquarters is located. The building is the winter home of the company’s Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus as well as its Disney Holiday on Ice and Monster Truck Jam productions. It includes rehearsal, office and warehouse space for all three.

Finally, the city named after a bug has new claim fame.

How Do You Cross Hudson Bayou?

Don’t ask the City of Sarasota. It’s clear no one there – from the city commission on down – has a clue. Witness the continuing saga of lift station 87 and the recent announcement that the already long delayed and woefully over budget project will be delayed again – until at least 2018 and cost millions more than the most recently revised, revised, revised estimates anticipated. What was originally pegged as a $9 million project has ballooned to the latest figure of $27 million.

It seems tunneling beneath Hudson Bayou has become the city’s Waterloo.

Too bad Rube Goldberg isn’t still around to offer the city some expert consulting advice.

 Jumping in with Both Feet

At his first meeting after being appointed to the Sarasota City Commission, Stan Zimmerman suggested that the prior commission’s decision to end financial support for fellow commissioner Susan Chapman in her defense of a lawsuit filed against her by Citizen for Sunshine be reconsidered at an upcoming commission meeting in January. The legal action against Chapman alleges Florida sunshine law violations surrounding a meeting in October of 2013 on homelessness.

In comments posted online in response to a story on the subject by Ian Cummings of the Herald Tribune, Zimmerman writes as follows:

“Chapman is the first official in the city’s history stripped of legal protection for the performance of her duties. Mayor Ron Norman decades ago lost his legal protection after indictment for bribery. Chapman is not charged with any criminal offense. The Citizens for Sunshine complaint is a civil tort. Stripping officials – including volunteer advisory board members – of legal representation for performance of their duties is a serious matter. It should not be taken for ad hoc, knee-jerk or superficial reasons. We were not told what reasons or grounds were used to take the action against Chapman. Reasonable standards are needed before such a serious action is taken. Fear of such a lawsuit is keeping people from volunteering for advisory board positions and running for election as city commissioners next spring. Our city is weaker because of it.”

Valid points to consider.

Still, Given Chapman’s vote just two weeks prior supporting Zimmerman’s application to fill one of the open seats on the commission, one wonders where Citizens for Sunshine will turn their scrutiny next.

For his part Zimmerman, seems ready for a fight if it comes on this issue, though he may be missing the protections afforded him by the First Amendment in his former role as a journalist.

Lower than a Snake’s Belly in a Wagon Rut…

That would be morale at the Sarasota Police Department.

According to a report recently released by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, 83 percent of respondents at the department reported morale is low. 95 percent said there was favoritism shown at the department and 83 percent say the Chief of Police doesn’t look out for them.

Ouch…

Maybe it’s time for Chief DiPino to initiate another of her community outreach programs, this time in her own backyard.

 Anti-Social Media?

Have you had your fill yet of the oft-repeated insight about how adept the terrorist group ISIS is at using social media to attract converts to its cause? My question is this: how can it still be called “social” media when the message conveyed is so virulently “anti” social?

Blackthorne Checks Out…Good riddance!

News came down recently of the death in prison of Allen Blackthorne who plotted the murder of his ex-wife, Sarasota mom Sheila Bellush. Bellush was brutally killed by a hit man hired by Blackthorne in her Gulf Gate home in 1997 in front her young quadruplets.

One can only hope his last thought as he left this earthly realm was of Freddie Mercury singing Queen’s famous rock opus Bohemian Rhapsody and the line “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me…”