Off Key!

By Bob Frederickson

From Throwing a Vowel to Siblings to Follow…

FDOT Fails Spelling Test

The state DOT installed a new sign recently directing motorists traveling along US 41 near Venice to the entrance of the State College of Florida’s Venice campus. 

One problem though. The agency’s proofreader must have been on furlough that week. Instead of reading STATE COLLEGE of FLORIDA followed by an arrow pointing to the right, the sign read STATE COLLAGE of Florida…which given the free-form nature of higher education these days might be more accurate than most of us would care to admit.

But it didn’t take long for traditionalists to prevail. Many residents of Venice are older of course, having actually learned how to spell when spelling was still part of the curriculum. Suffice to say the DOT got the word. 

The sign was quietly replaced last week.


Advice to Consider Before Telling Someone to Calm Down…

Never in the history of ‘calm down’ has anyone ever ‘calmed down’ after being told to ‘calm down.’ 


FCCI Chief Ends ‘Safer at Home’ Stint a tad too Soon?

No time is ever a good time to cross paths with a grizzly bear. But early spring, when the creatures are emerging after a long winter of hibernation, is especially bad timing. They’re hungry, mean and perhaps a bit groggy as they head out of their dens ready to reclaim their territories.

Perhaps former FCCI CEO Craig Johnson was similarly disposed after too many weeks of self-imposed ‘Safer at Home’ exile with no televised or live sporting events, trips to the gym or golf outings with his buddies to help redirect his own animal spirits.

Or maybe he just forgot how to act in public after being locked down for so long. It happens. Just ask Joe Biden.

In any case, after a recent trip to the Wicked Cantina on the North Trail with his son Nathan Johnson, 22, and a friend of his son, Ethan McGregor, also 22, Johnson, 51 probably wishes he had extended his hibernation a bit. 

According to police reports, the trio got into an argument with the restaurant’s manager who said the men were drunk and belligerent with other restaurant patrons. The manager said he asked them to leave but they refused. 

Strike one.

The police were called and after they too failed to get the men to leave, things allegedly turned physical. 

Strike two.

According to the Sarasota Police Department report the three became physically aggressive. The elder Johnson reportedly cited his friendship with Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight and said the officers would ‘pay.’

Johnson was arrested and charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and battering officers. Meantime, his son was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and trespassing after allegedly punching an officer. Twice.

McGregor was charged with resisting arrest. 

All three denied the charges against them. 

The men were released after posting bail, but the worst was yet to come for Craig Johnson. The Tuesday after his arrest, his employer, FCCI Insurance, one of Sarasota County’s largest with over 500 employees, released a statement saying it was in the best interest of the company to terminate him.

Strike three…

…thus concluding a stunningly fast fall from grace played out against the backdrop of a modest Mexican cantina on Sarasota’s North Trail. 

One minute you’re sipping margaritas from a salt frosted mug. You’re the CEO of a major company pulling in the big bucks. In the words of Johnson’s attorney Derek Byrd you’re a respected ‘pillar’ of the community… 

The next?

You’re a pillar of salt. 

What a hangover that’s gotta be. 


Still Thrilled About Super Bowl Coming to Tampa Bay?

If you look at the state of Florida’s online Covid-19 Data and Surveillance dashboard it clearly shows the epicenter of the state’s outbreak as being in South Florida. And if you zero in on the border between the two hardest hit South Florida counties, Dade and Broward, you’ll find Hard Rock Stadium and perhaps recall that was the site of a major event in early February just before the wheels fell off and the current coronavirus pandemic started ramping up. That right, Super Bowl LIV. Millions of visitors from around the world came to the Dade/Broward area for a weeklong party leading up to the game. It stands to reason that may have contributed mightily to the elevated cases of the virus in that region compared to the rest of the state.

So perhaps you might want to curb your enthusiasm about Super Bowl LV coming to this region this coming February.


Imprisoned by Fear?

There is something to keep in mind to temper the dire warnings the media is bombarding us with daily regarding the current pandemic. If you’re under sixty, the chances of dying of it are about 1-in-a-1000. That is of course unless you happen to be a Chinese scientist who may know the truth behind its origins near Wuhan, China. 

In that case, well…you’re toast. 


It Must be in the Genes…

Imagine having one of your kids named Valedictorian at their high school and the other being named Salutatorian…at the same high school…in the same year. 

How is that even possible you might think, given the odds against two siblings even being in the same class? 

One got left behind? One skipped a grade?

No…Vin and Nick Sherwin of Suburban Tampa are twins graduating this semester from Strawberry Crest High School in Hillsborough County.

Not just twins, Identical twins. 

Even their GPAs are virtually identical.

Vin’s grade point average was 851 while his brother Nick came in at 850. 

Both made their mama proud and will attend her alma mater, the University of Florida, in the fall; and both will study bio-medical engineering. 

They even plan on rooming together and will certainly continue to motivate each other along the way.

If past is prologue, I have a feeling we’ll be updating this story in four years…or given their competitive spirits, maybe three.