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Missy Layfield - Editor
01/24/2013 at 4:05pm Delete

Down the Rabbit Hole

For those of us who watch election law and state government, this week has had some of us wondering if we’d fallen down a rabbit hole when Governor Rick Scott backpedaled on the 2011 Election law that he proudly signed in 2011. Then Scott suggested raising teacher pay.

In May 2011, the Florida legislature passed House Bill 1355.Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law within a month and Florida joined the cavalcade of states tilting at the invisible windmill of election fraud. Not that there isn’t any election fraud-there is always someone breaking any given law. There just isn’t any proof that it is or was a serious problem. Certainly not serious enough for several states to start tinkering with their election laws risking disenfranchising thousands of voters.

In Florida, the 2011 election law, cut early voting days from 14 to 8, eliminated the Sunday before Election Day as an early voting day and placed strict rules and timelines on those helping register voters.

There was an immediate cry of foul by many groups whose sole focus is on encouraging voting by everyone.

Several groups stopped voter registration drives rather than risk violating the law requiring registration of anyone helping to collect registration forms. They didn’t want their volunteers to risk the penalties if you failed to turn in the forms within 48 hours. Two teachers in Florida were charged under the law.

Several courtroom challenges later, the part of the 2011 election law that restricted community-based voter registration drives was blocked by a federal judge saying the law violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
01/17/2013 Delete

Island Safety

As we stroll the beach and the boulevard, it’s unanimous, season is here and it’s big --bigger than it has been in several years. And that is cause to celebrate here on the beach.

With that increase in population comes an increase in traffic and, unfortunately, an increase in crime.

No, I’m not suggesting that our seasonal visitors are responsible for a local crime wave. I suspect that thieves and assorted lowlifes are also aware of the increase in population and find the beach a target rich environment for thievery.

According to crimereports.com in the last 2 weeks, there have been 9 thefts and 8 breaking and entering reports made on Fort Myers Beach.

Does this surprise you?It does many. Our visitors come to our island for rest and relaxation, for sun and sand, for a slower pace of life, for a laid-back comfortable break from their regular life.

All of those things can be found here. But it’s important to not abandon the common-sense safety precautions you use in other places just because you’re at the beach.

Lock your car and your house. Don’t leave valuables lying in plain sight. Get to know your neighbors and watch out for each other. Be aware of your surroundings.

Another aspect of island safety that cannot be emphasized enough, is pedestrian safety. We are an island with several pedestrian heavy areas without enough separation between car traffic and sidewalks. That is an issue that is being addressed ever so slowly in the planned rebuilding of Estero Blvd by the county.
01/10/2013 Delete

It's All About Business, or Is It?

The Island Sand Paper is a locally owned business. We are not part of a large conglomerate or owned by some absentee investor. Our staff is small, but talented and dedicated. A missing link in our organizational chart due to our size is a Business Editor. Like many of you who own or operate a business, or formerly did; we recognize the value of having someone focus on covering business related topics. Then we look in the mirror and realize the only candidate to do that is staring back at us in the mirror. Such is the glamorous life of small business ownership, we know.

One business topic has literally sailed into our community and deserves some mention and reflection within the business community. Part of what we do as Your Local Newspaper, is to promote what we feel is good for our Community. Not one group or neighborhood, but the entire Community. Sometimes we get applause for that, sometimes an arrow in the back, but we understand it goes with the job.

Today’s question is this: "Can History Be Good for Business?”

We have had a long fascination with American history. Maybe it’s because of an interest with genealogy. Or perhaps it’s because long ago we learned that there is no better way to see where we might be going than to view where we have been in the past.

A business and historical opportunity sailed into Matanzas Bay last week in the form of the Privateer Lynx, a replica of an 1812 Clipper Schooner. The article in last week’s Island Sand Paper explains it well.Here through January 24th, we all have an opportunity learn and share some important early American history.Opportunities exist for deck tours, public sailaways, and private party rentals and/or excursions.
01/03/2013 at 4:34pm Delete

School Prayer

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre the national conversational focus has been on gun control, mental health care and how we got to this point.

One recurring theme picked up by many is the downward slide of society in general, the recurrent tragic headlines being but the latest indication of that slide. Many of those who feel our society is falling apart pin the blame on the removal of prayer from our schools.

I am a veteran of both Catholic and public schools. I know about prayer in schools. Don’t be fooled into thinking that there is no prayer in public schools. There’s plenty-it’s just not led by teachers.

Those who demand a return of public prayer in schools are generally Christians. I’ve never heard a Buddhist demand public prayer in schools or a Muslim or a Jew. No, it’s generally people who feel that American society is a Christian society-meaning everyone around them is just like them. And while they may give lip service to non-Christians, they don’t put themselves in a non-Christian’s shoes in the school prayer debate.

Americans come in all religious varieties from atheists to Mormons to Sikhs to Methodists to Wiccans and more. Over 20% of Americans are non-Christian.

Those calling for public prayer don’t seem to think it would be a problem for those that don’t share their faith. They think prayer can be generic and not offend anyone.

I’ve been present at a lot of supposedly "non-denominational” prayers in public settings. Most of them end with "in Jesus’ name,” which makes it a decidedly Christian prayer, despite what came before.