Wishing for happier headlines (and less head-shaking)
Ever have one of those weeks where you just can’t stop shaking your head while browsing through the local headlines on our website?
This was one of them. Despite being knee-deep in planning election coverage, trying to finish the sixth season of the Murder on the Space Coast podcast and a couple of investigative pieces, I feel compelled to take a moment and acknowledge these “head-shakers.”
Lori Scott’s resignation
There has been a lot of praise heaped on outgoing Brevard Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott and maybe rightfully so. I do not know her personally, nor have I had to interact professionally much with her over the years.
Scott announced on Facebook that she was resigning, effective Oct. 4.
Wait, what? The Supervisor of Elections is quitting her job a month before the 2022 midterm election with numerous important statewide and local elections to be decided?
The timing triggered speculation about the reasons for her abrupt resignation. Again, Scott took to Facebook, to address the rumors. She denied being forced out by Gov. Ron DeSantis. She said she was not dying and she had not won the lottery. She said, “After 32 years in public service, it is time to begin the next chapter of my life,” adding that the resignation was planned.
But if the reason is just that it was time as Scott says, then her timing is horrible. Leaving office one month before an election is a terrible choice on her part. Imagine the manager of a baseball team quitting just before his team is set to play in the World Series. What message would that send to fans? Continuing the analogy, what message does Scott’s abrupt resignation send to voters? Not a good one, at least to this voter.
It’s been a few years since television meteorologists started tracking potential bad weather as it forms off the west coast of Africa. But does that mean we all have to do it?
We’ve been (knock on wood right now) very lucky these last few years to enjoy relatively quiet hurricane seasons. Can’t we just enjoy our good fortune? Do we have to obsess every time something kicks up across the Atlantic?
We would be wise to remember the moral of the “Boy who cried wolf” story. Typically we get five days or more advance warning when it looks like a hurricane — not wave, storm or depression — has its sights set on the Space Coast. That’s plenty of time to board up the homestead, pack some “go-bags” and make arrangements to leave town if necessary.
I want to know about these things only when I have to know about them.
National Guard to help understaffed prisons
This headline conjured up images of 1970s prison films and newsreel footage of violent prison riots.
It’s not my objection to using the National Guard for emergencies as they arise. It’s the 24.1% vacancy rate and 4,000 job openings that has me shaking my noggin. That tells me either the state has too many prisons and people locked up or the state is not paying enough to workers charged with keeping prisoners safe and secure.
The prison population surpassed 82,000 at the end of July and is expected to reach more than 93,000 by the 2027-28 fiscal year, according to the latest state figures.
One of the most fascinating consequences of the pandemic was that many in the workforce took stock of their lives and the shortness of it and decided they would no longer work at bad or difficult jobs for low pay. If those prison population numbers hold true then the state needs to do better at recruiting and paying enough so that people will want to take these jobs. Now.
I had the unfortunate experience of being at a New York Jets game in 1979 when a man was killed by a flying lawnmower during a halftime show gone bad. OK, it was a model airplane made to look like a lawnmower. Still, the operator lost control, the plane flew into the crowd and a man was killed.
I was 14 years old and that was my first experience with the fragility of life and the absurdity of death. The victim made the decision to drive from Massachusetts that morning to watch his New England Patriots play in New York, So many things had to happen in order for this tragedy to occur.
Recent headlines on floridatday.com brought that nightmare of a memory back for me.
The first was a 58-year-old Pennsylvania woman who took a cruise to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral. She was killed by a bull shark while snorkeling with her family.
The second was a 57-year-old Rockledge woman who police said was brutally stabbed to death by her own 16-year-old grandson. She had taken the youth in after he had been living with his mother out of state. The boy used a second knife after the first broke during the attack, police said.
The third was a 24-year-old Florida Tech student from Nigeria who was working on his master’s degree in administration of applied aviation safety at the university’s College of Aeronautics. The young husband and father of two was killed when a freak 60-mph gust of wind flipped the plane he was sitting in at an Orlando airport.
Here’s hoping for better, happier headlines in the weeks ahead.
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