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Missy Layfield - Editor
4 days ago, 10/16/2014 at 4:23pm Delete

Campaigning

Election Day is November 4th. Though many have already voted early or by mail, there are plenty of us traditionalists and who show up at the polls on that first Tuesday in November to mark our ballots and get our "I Voted” sticker.

This year, without a presidential election, there is bound to be a lower turnout. And that is a sad reflection on how our society views elections, as if only the guy at the top matters, when it’s actually the elected officials at the state, county and local level that have the biggest influence on our taxes and our government services.

Our Florida gubernatorial race is flinging enough mud to turn off any voter. Yet, surprisingly, that is often the very effect some of those slinging the mud want. It’s no longer a dirty little secret, it’s right out there in the open. Some politicians and their advisors want there to be fewer voters voting. Their polls have shown them that they benefit if voters of a certain stripe, location or party, do not go to the polls. How un-American is that?

Don’t let the negative ads keep you from the polls. Surprise the people who want you to stay home, who want to silence you. Vote!

In the meanwhile, I am appreciating the near-miraculous benefits of my DVR that allows me to fast-forward through every single one of those mud-slinging TV ads. Thirty some years in the state with the first in the nation primary taught me a few things. Caller ID and a DVR are the finest inventions of the modern age, allowing me to ignore the awful mud-slinging TV ads and the robocalls. Who has ever had their opinion swayed by some recorded voice that disturbs your precious few hours at home to tell you how great their candidate is or how evil their opponent is? No one, I suspect.

Here on the beach, we will see a ballot for two Beach Fire Board seats, with two candidates vying for each one. As the campaign has heated up, it occurs to us that it’s time for us to explain our Campaign Policy.  
2 weeks ago, 10/09/2014 at 3:40pm Delete

Fire

This week is Fire Prevention Week. The theme – "Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!” speaks volumes about how far fire prevention science has come.

The timing of Fire Prevention week is not random. It’s held each year during the week that two massive fires claimed over 1300 lives in two massive fires in the Midwest. The Chicago Fire may be best known, possibly for the long-held, but erroneous belief that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern to start the fire that would sweep through the urban city, killing over 250 people and leaving 100,000 homeless. Recent research has vindicated that poor cow though no one expects the myth to fade easily.

The same day that fire was sweeping through Chicago, October 8, 1871, a fire begun accidentally by some workers in Northeastern Wisconsin grew into the most devastating forest fire in American history, the Peshtigo Fire. That fire burned down 16 towns and killed over 1,100 people, leaving over 1.2 million acres scorched.

In 1871, devastating fires were much more common than they are today. Homes were built of wood and lit by the open flames of candles or lanterns. Firefighting equipment consisted of blankets, buckets and horse-drawn wagons. In 2014 we have amazingly high-tech tools to prevent, detect and fight fires. We also have the power to protect ourselves in our homes and businesses by utilizing inexpensive fire detection tools, like smoke alarms - the focus of this year’s Fire Prevention theme.

Two out of three fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm.

Smoke alarms can be purchased starting at under $10. Most homes have them.
3 weeks ago, 10/02/2014 at 5:24pm Delete

Right to Vote Threatened

Nothing defines the American experience more than citizens voting freely for their representatives. From directors of the local library to the President of the United States, voters expect to have a say in who is elected.

This is so much a part of the American fabric that it’s taken for granted. Too often, to the extent that citizens don’t vote at all, tossing their hard-earned right to vote aside.

World news watchers have seen the uprising in Hong Kong as students and other citizens fill the streets demanding to have the right to vote without China’s interference.

If your right to select the candidate of your choice were taken away, what would you do?

Here on American soil, those that would suppress the vote of those they don’t agree with are not nearly as bold as the Chinese in their suppression of Hong Kong democracy. Here, we have voting laws that define who can vote, when and where they can vote and how those votes will be counted.

The American way to control elections, other than throwing billions of dollars into attack ads, seems to be tweaking election laws.

In darker days some states required voters to own land to vote or pay a poll tax or pass a literacy test or prove that their grandfather had the right to vote (the origin of the term ‘grandfather clause.’) All to control who they felt had the right to vote and what candidate they might vote for.

Not very American, land of the free, home of the brave, was it?
4 weeks ago, 09/25/2014 Delete

End of Summer

This is the last weekend in September. We should have a name for this -- some way of marking the end of the slowest month of the year for most of our Island businesses and residents. Not that it’s been as slow as some recent Septembers, it’s still the month when we see the fewest visitors and least traffic on the boulevard.

Other parts of the country mark the changing of the seasons with colorful leaf shows or combines churning through cornstalks, Harvest festivals and such.

Here on the beach, we mark September as the month when we can start to think about opening up our windows because the humidity is finally easing up even though it’s still full-on summer as far as temperatures are concerned. September means vacation month for many, prep season for others. There are fewer visitors here; traffic is as slow as it will be all year. For those reading this up north, who have never been here other than during season, there are no traffic jams in September. Drivers can easily turn left from anywhere on Estero. If traffic stalls, it’s only because the school bus or trolley has stopped. September is a beautiful month.

October is another nearly perfect month. While the few businesses that closed for a break begin to reopen after renovation, cleaning or vacation, most everyone begins to see an uptick in customers and visitors - the lifeblood of every business and resident employed by a beach business.

We will barely be out of September when Islanders will notice that the sleepy season is over.