One of the rote lessons of journalism school is the definition of “news.” In simplest terms, it is the unusual or extraordinary. “Dog bites man” is not news. “Man bites dog” is.
These days, in our day-to-day world, less and less is it news when public officials bollix public-policy decisions or the handling of taxpayer money. Sad to say, that’s the norm.
In contrast, rare is the occasion, it seems, when high-profile public officials do something right. Now that would be news.
In that vein, here are two noteworthy examples of the latter:
Town manager of Longboat Key
Longboat Key residents have every reason to be pleased with the performance of Bullock. He has made good decisions.
Perhaps most noteworthy, Bullock led the efforts to accomplish what many Longboaters advocated for nearly a decade. That is: When in a hole, stop digging. He has stopped the unfunded liabilities in the town employees’ pension plans from digging taxpayers deeper into debt. As more and more town employees reach retirement, Longboat taxpayers will be required to pay the $27 million-plus liability that has been promised to town employees in their pensions.
When Bullock assumed his title, he placed this issue at the top of his to-do list. To his credit, Bullock worked over the past two years to end the town’s defined-benefit pension plans and shift town employees, police and firefighters into new plans that no longer obligate Longboat taxpayers to defined benefits. Kudos to Bullock.
Here are two other recent decisions worth noting:
• No. 1: Bullock told Manatee County officials he would not send them the $42,000 they requested from Longboat Key to help subsidize a county-run trolley.
Bullock pointed out how the city of Palmetto’s public transit ridership is less than Longboat Key’s, and yet Palmetto is not asked to subsidize the system. Why should Longboat Key?
Now $42,000 won’t break the town bank, but good for Bullock. His stance is illustrative of the approach he takes with taxpayer money.
• No. 2: Bullock recommended the town hold off on a beach renourishment after the one bid the town received came in $5 million, or 40%, higher than was expected.
Perhaps that decision was a “no-brainer.” But it, too, was emblematic of Bullock’s pattern as town manager.
It’s refreshing to see that, unlike lawmakers in Washington, Bullock grasps that every dollar that runs through Town Hall is other people’s money, and he must treat it as if it were his.
Now that’s news. Send that man to Washington!
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
The devil of Florida’s mainstream media, Scott in his two-and-a-half years as governor rarely if ever receives credit for the job he is doing. Indeed, Florida’s largest newspapers and the Tallahassee press corps have fixated on Scott’s low approval ratings at the exclusion of almost all else. They revel in them.
To that end, we will be shocked if we see or hear a mainstream-media mention of recent poll results that show Floridians have an increasingly favorable view of the job Scott is doing.
Although you may dismiss the following because of its source — the pro-business Florida Chamber of Commerce — the chamber reported this week a new poll shows Gov. Scott’s approval rating has risen to 52%, up from 47% in March. Six months ago, it stood in the mid-20% range.
What’s more, 45% of likely Florida voters believe Florida is heading in the right direction. A year ago, that percentage was 36%.
These were the results of a poll of 600 likely voters, conducted by Cherry Communications Co., a Tallahassee-based polling company.
What’s different? The economy.
Since Scott’s inauguration in January 2011:
• Florida’s employment has increased by more than 330,000 in the private sector. Positive job growth has occurred for 34 consecutive months.
• Unemployment has fallen from 11.3% in 2010 to 7.1%, below the national average of 7.6%.
Although Scott single-handedly is not responsible for these results, he deserves more credit than anyone else for setting the tone to create a favorable business climate in Florida. Scott is doing what governors should do. He’s selling the state to business owners. And he’s incessantly reminding Florida lawmakers to enact policies that make Florida attractive to businesses.
There’s an old saying in business: Increased sales solve a lot of problems. Scott knows this. Every time he persuades a business owner to move to Florida or expand his work force, Scott closes a sale and improves the quality of life for Floridians.
In the traditional sense, Gov. Scott is an unusual public figure: He’s doing it right.
These days, that’s news.
FAITH & JEANS
What does this say about America?
Social media channels were overflowing Tuesday morning with photos, chatter and commentaries about the jeans Nik Wallenda wore on his Grand Canyon achievement. Here’s an excerpt from one of the Glamour magazine bloggers:
“When tightrope walker Nik Wallenda started his now legendary walk across the Grand Canyon, you would think we would have been transfixed by how he was risking his life to perform this death-defying stunt …
“This morning, Nik told DJs at New York City radio station 95.5 WPLJ that he was wearing his ‘favorite brand,’ Buffalo Jeans, which cost $99. Buffalo promptly decided to change the style from the ‘Six’ jean to the ‘Nik.’
“Is there any chance these jeans could become a hot-ticket item now that Nik wore them? Did you watch Nik walk the tightrope last night? Did you think twice about his decision to wear jeans?”
In contrast, one aspect of Wallenda’s feat that impressed us was his praying and praise for God and Jesus.
Americans often squirm and wince at celebrities who are unabashed and open about their faith (i.e. Tim Tebow).
But in Wallenda’s walk on that tiny wire 1,500 feet above a river, we witnessed two awesome powers: The power of one man’s determination and skill and the power of prayer and the Almighty.
BY THE NUMBERS
We searched Google for the number of times the following terms appear together (ranked in order):
Nik Wallenda / God 24,300,000
Nik Wallenda / jeans 17,400,000
Nik Wallenda / Thanks God 8,820,000
Nik Wallenda / Jesus 3,710,000
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30 AJC's 2015 Winter Lunch & Learn
11:30 am - 1:30 pm
8 Sarasota Music Half Marathon
7:00 am - 6:00 am
12 Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce Networking Luncheon
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14 New Exhibit "Oh Baby" Life Cycles of the Seas
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On Jan. 29, Jack and Joan Gaul will celebrate their 60th anniversary.
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Encore opening celebration
Members of the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce gathered for a ribbon-cutting event Jan. 20, at Amore by Andrea.