Donald J. Trump did America a huge favor by winning the White House in November. If Hillary Clinton had won, there would have been little stopping America from turning into a one-party country, a national political equivalent of California. As it is, California is turning into San Francisco, where outsiders stand zero chance of penetrating the liberal-only wall that surrounds City Hall.
What does it mean to live in a one-party state? Donors and insiders decide elections and stack the decks.
Consider the only statewide office for which Californians voted this year -- the U.S. Senate seat won by state Attorney General Kamala Harris. That race was decided in January 2015 when Sen. Barbara Boxer announced her retirement and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom phoned Harris to inform her he would not run for Boxer's seat because he plans to run for governor in 2018. Harris enlisted a crack team of political consultants (who also have worked for Newsom and Gov. Jerry Brown) and she owned the field.
Harris now likely owns that seat for life. Many tried to unseat Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein since they first won their seats in 1992, but no rival came close.
In a one-party state, elections are boring and fewer people vote. In 2014, with Democrats only running for top state offices, California saw a record low electorate turnout of 42 percent. Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis, crunched the numbers and found that only 8.2 percent of Californians age 18-24 cast a ballot in November 2014.
In a one-party state, there is no such thing as a "temporary" tax hike. In 2012, Brown brought before voters a ballot measure to raise income and sales taxes designed to balance a state budget burdened with a $25 billion shortfall. He promised the measure would not be permanent. This year the usual big government groups put Proposition 55 on the ballot to extend the 2012 tax hike for the state's 1.5 percent highest income earners. Because only a sliver of Californians make enough to feel that squeeze, it was no surprise that 63 percent of voters approved the measure.
In a one-party state, the party in power stacks the deck in its favor. In 2011, the Legislature and the governor determined that ballot measures would no longer go before voters in June, but in November only. Voters have to wade through the ballot measures all at once because crammed voting benefits Democrats in the Capitol.
The air of unaccountability permeates everything. For example, this year Brown signed a bill that allowed felons to vote from jail while serving their felony sentence. Hmm. I wonder which party expects to benefit.
On paper, a Trump presidency with a GOP Senate and House may look like one-party rule -- except that Trump has no problem messing with his party's leaders or cozying up across the aisle. He has written checks for the campaigns of Harris, Newsom and Brown. Before he is a Republican, you see, the showman is a party of one. And that's not all bad.
Debra J. Saunders
From the get-go, Google was never intended to be some simple internet research tool, just a search engine. Its creators, and there were many, had much bigger fish to fry. Research was begun by the two fellows publicly credited with being its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, but like so many entities these days that somehow just seem to come out of nowhere fully blown, they had serious backing. In their case, government backing.
They were “assisted” by no less than DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the secret tech development and testing arm of the Dept. of Defense). Now, to this day, Google’s close relation to diplomatic, military and intelligence branches of the government go intentionally unnoticed by its users and the media.
Point: Many reports in 2015, ahead of our own election, warned that Google’s algorithms could affect the results of not only our election but elections around the globe:
Robert Epstein, a psychologist with the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, an author of one of the studies, said, “We estimate, based on margins in national elections around the world, that Google could determine the outcome of upwards of 25 percent of all national elections.”
Made known by a Freedom of Information Act request by Wikileaks’ Assange, Brin, along with Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt, had frequent and casual email correspondence with National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander during 2012, regarding a program dubbed “Enduring Society Framework.” Alexander at one point wrote to Brin, “Your insights as a key member of the Defense Industrial Base are valuable to ensure ESF’s efforts have measurable impact.” Sounds just like the kind of activity you would expect your internet search engine to be involved in, right?????
Schmidt comes with his own pedigree, not surprisingly. No one becomes involved in operations of this sort and scale by accident. According to Forbes, Schmidt’s personal wealth exceeds $11 billion. Schmidt worked with CFR and State Dept. member Jared Cohen to author a book originally called “The Empire of the Mind” (which was later more benignly renamed “The New Digital Age: Reshaping The Future of People, Nations and Business”). They both arranged to “interview” Assange outside of London, purportedly in support of their upcoming book, a meeting Assange later called “naïve” after realizing just how interwoven with US government agenda Google was. Most problematic with Google’s activities was that they intentionally promoted American imperialism, believing that “our way is best, you must follow.”
Assange wrote in “When Google Met Wikileaks”, “They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them… they believe they are doing good. And that is a problem.”
Schmidt made a position in 2009 for Cohen, which was at first called “Google Ideas”, but later became “Jigsaw”, which the two used to further increase the company’s interconnection with the government through articles, political funding and Cohen’s connections at the State Dept. That year the two also paired for an article in the CFR journal “Foreign Affairs” entitled “Coalitions of the Connected”, which stated, among many things, “In an era when the power of the individual and the group grows daily, those governments that ride the technological wave will clearly be best positioned to assert their influence and bring others into their orbits….. Democratic states that have built coalitions of their militaries have the capacity to do the same with their connection technologies.”
Assange later wrote three years later when publishing the “Global Intelligence Files”, containing internal files for Stratfor, a private security firm:
“Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and ‘corporate responsibility’ work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could wryly be named Google’s ‘director of regime change’. According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints of some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising of the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey--- both of which, claimed Stratfor emails--- were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky. Only a few months before he met with me, Cohen was planning a trip to the edge of Iran in Azerbaijan to ‘engage the Iranian communities closer to the border,’ as part of Google Ideas’ project on repressive societies.”
Moreover, and even more significantly, Fred Burton, Stratfor VP for Intelligence, who was a one-time official with the State Dept. (surprise, surprise), wrote in one of the released emails:
“Google is getting WH (White House) and State Dept support and air cover. In reality they are doing things the CIA cannot do… (Cohen) is going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming up-risings to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge and Google is left holding the bag.”
Thank you, Julian Assange, for trying, at your own risk, to give us a little more information about the world we live in, unlike our search engine Google.
North Fort Myers
By the end of 2016, our national debt will be more than $19.5 trillion, and on our current path, it will probably reach $22 trillion by the end of the decade. Last year our federal government spent $223 billion, or 8 percent of all discretionary spending, on interest payments alone. By the start of the next decade, we will spend more on interest than we do on our national defense. For many Americans the dollar figures are so large that it is hard to actually fathom how massive they really are.
So here is another way to look at it, in the last fiscal year, 2015 the federal government spent $439 billion more than it took it in. Sadly, this year the feds have already spent over $590 billion more than we took in and we have 10 more days left in the year as of our going to press, overspending now is almost routine. However, if Congress were able to balance the budget, keep it balanced, and create a yearly surplus of $50 billion per year, it would still take 460 years to pay off our national debt. Let me give you a moment to let that sink in.
Our current spending habits are unsustainable and irresponsible. Members of Congress from both parties--with cooperation from the President have a moral obligation to our children and grandchildren to leave them a country on a path to eliminate its overwhelming national debt.
Here are just some examples from "Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the Government has dropped the ball" By James Lankford US Senator from Oklahoma
1) Kids prefer food that has not been sneezed on!
National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently invested almost $2 million in a grant to study what influences a child’s views on food.
For instance, the grantees intended to study whether a person’s gender, race, or accent influenced which food a child will select. For the one-year-olds, the grantee planned to test whether the emotion of the person providing food influenced the child’s eating habits.
NIH has funded this grant since 2012, and the grantees have published 7 papers discussing their results.
In April 2015 the grantees published a paper slating that when children aged 5-8 were given the choice between allegedly sneezed-on food and clean food, they chose the clean food.
In 2014 the grantees published a report stating that when given the option. children prefer being wealthy as opposed to poor. Finally, earlier this year the grantees published a report that children who learn more than one language tend to have better communication skills. This is all Clearly ground braking research.
2) Exempt from effective
government oversight, CFPB has questionable spending practices that cannot be reformed through
Created in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank Act, The Consumer Financial Protection Board was formed to implement, supervise for compliance, and enforce federal consumer financial laws. Dodd-Frank intentionally made CFPB super-independent and put all of its powers in the hands of a single director whose only oversight constitutes semi-annual meetings before Congress. Evan though its still in its infant stages, CFPB's regulatory agenda has already imposed 49 final rules at a price of $2.8 billion.
The rules adversely impact critical consumer credit products. such as mortgages, auto loans, and payday loans. 'While CFPB often bypasses standard rulemaking procedures by simply suing and setting precedent, when they do follow standard procedures, they roll out rules at an astounding pace. One report found that on average, the CFPB rulemaking process is 3.5 times faster than other agencies.
Unlike most federal agencies, CFPB receives its fundin directly from the Federal Reserve Bank, rather than through the regular Congressional Appropriations process. Each year CFPB is authorized by law to draw up to 12% of the yearly earnings of the Federal Reserve System. In fiscal year 16 CFPB was allocated 605.9 million dollars and is slated to receive it 630 million dollars in fiscal year 17. The Federal Reserve is required to turn over the money to CFPB and cannot provide oversight into how the funds are utilized, where the spending is appropriate, and where the money is used efficiently. That means neither Congress nor the Federal reserve has oversight capabilities of CFPB spending. Recently the federal courts have even ruled that the current structure of CFPB is unconstitutional.
CFPB’s freedom from congressional budgetary oversight has created questionable spending decisions by The Bureau. A report from The Wall Street Journal found that in just the first half of 2016, the bureau spent more than 15 million on internet just to direct browsers to its website. The cost included a 12.5 million contract for the same advertizing firm used by the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The CFPB spends more than twice as much of its Budget on advertising than most agencies spend: where most federal agencies use less than 1% of their budget on Advertising, the CFPB has used 2.5% of its budget.
In 2013 chairman and Jeb Hensarling of the US House of Representatives finance committee estimated that CFPB spent almost 12 million on employees travel when the bureau employed 1,168 people. That represents more than $10,000 per employee in one year. It is not surprising that CFPB is outside the authority of OMB guidelines and rules, which helped ensure effective and efficient use of federal dollars.
While there is merit to laws that protect consumers from unscrupulous financial practices, the creation of a $600 million per year federal agency empowered to create and enforce regulations impacting millions of Americans and companies and that it is completely immune from any oversight or accountability is anathema to our nation's Democratic principles.
Almost everything the CFPB does is redundant to another Federal agency; it should never have been created. The best use of funds would be to abolish the CFPB and spend the available dollars to reform and appropriately staff the other regulatory entities.
At a minimum, the CFPB authority should be reined in by making it accountable to Congress through the appropriations and authorizing process. In October 2016 the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia ruled some of the CFPB broad power is unconstitutional because there are few executive of congressional oversight authorities written into law. The Obama Administration has vowed to appeal the ruling making the certainty of congressional reform legislation essential. In May 2015 Senator Purdue and 17 other Senators introduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accountability act. The simple legislation brings additional oversight and accountability to the CFPB by requiring it to seek appropriations from Congress through the normal budget process instead of receiving funding from the Federal Reserve.
3) National Science Foundation funded multiple grants,
totaling nearly $500,000
to find the connection between
religion, politics and cemeteries in 12th century Iceland
Norwegians and Celts first settled Iceland in the 9th and 10th centuries. A Danish colony for centuries, Iceland gained full independence in 1944. Its economy is primarily based on fishing, and although not a member of the European Union, Iceland is part of the European Economic Area, which allows free trade and travel with Europe. Iceland has also been the focus of countless American federal grants over the years.
Some of the grants NSF authorized for studies in Iceland this year include $61,000 to study volcanoes, $375,000 to look at the “calcium and strontium isotope geochemistry of weathering,” $1.1 million to look at the flow of water from Denmark to Iceland (and Greenland), and $102,531 (so far) to study the spread of flies at a lake in Iceland.
Over the last several years, NSF also provided more than
$500,000 to study the impact of religion in Iceland, focusing on locating church cemeteries from centuries past for excavation. One grant, totaling more than $400,000,
looked at how religion impacted “the development of political
power in Iceland between AD 870 and 1300.” The researchers recognize that in the 12th century a transition occurred from family churches to communal churches.
The grantees would like to know whether community churches were originally placed on prominent farms or located on farms that later “became important political and economic centers.” The other grants, one for $46,68836 and the other for $26,680,37 attempt to determine the best method to scan the ground for churchyards and cemeteries so archeologists know exactly where to dig during excavations.
Iceland is certainly an important NATO ally and friend to the US. But that friendship does not require adding to our national debt to study the county's 12th-century cemeteries. It is difficult to justify to many hard-working American families spending more than they make in a year to fund one grant to study how to locate cemeteries in Iceland. If the Icelandic people, who already have an extremely high tax rate, view this project as important, it is one in which they should invest their own money. NSF should fund important research projects in the US or in places where it will provide a benefit to the American people to invest our hard earned tax dollars. While our families continue to struggle to make ends meet" and our national debt continues to skyrocket, we should not spend money on archeological work in other countries.
Even though the federal government spends $80 billion a year on IT, much of that money goes to support legacy technology that
could be more than 50 years old
It is perhaps the greatest understatement that technology has changed a lot over the last few decades. Our cell phones can do more than any computer could manage just 10 years ago. It is now cheaper to talk to someone on
the other side of the planet than it is to drive to the next state. As technology advances, so does the type of technology Americans use. Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 who own computers decreased by 10 percent
from 2010 to 2015, while the number of Americans using smart phones almost doubled.
The federal government spends $80 billion on technology-
related expenses each year. Approximately 75 percent of that goes solely to the cost of operating and maintaining existing technology, and that percentage has continued
to increase over the last few years. As a result, the government invested less and less in new technology, which would provide enhanced capabilities and potentially decrease the cost of operation and maintenance.
In fact, Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in Fiscal Year15, federal agencies and departments planned to spend $55 billion of their $80 billion technology budgets on “services that do not use solutions
often viewed as more efficient.” That is to say, the agencies spend money on older technology instead of utilizing cheaper and more efficient options like cloud-based computing and storage. According to GAO,the Dept of Defense still utilizes 8-inch floppy disks for a computer system that controls our nation’s nuclear weapons. Treasury
utilizes a computer code from the early 1960s to catalogue taxpayers, and the VA utilizes programing code written in the 1950s to track veteran claims for benefits and employee timecards and payroll.
In 2014 Congress passed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which required OMB to develop a method—with metrics—to ensure agencies updated their technology, but unfortunately agencies
have not yet universally adopted the rules. GAO reports that while Office of Management and Budget has put out a metric for agencies to follow, It has not fully developed the goals to go with the metrics, and "agencies may be limited In their ability to evaluate progress" in updating their technology. In fact, GAO states that DOD, Treasury, and the VA have not yet even set a plan to update much of their oldest technology."
If an agency believes the technology it currently has is the absolute best to complete a task, the agency should retain it. However, spending on operation and maintenance for technology continues to expand, and investment in new technology continues to decrease. Mix that with the fact that some agencies use computer systems older than the average American, and it is mostly likely time to look for something new.
Since 2011 GAO has made 800 recommendations for agencies to update their technology. By the end of October 2015, 68 percent of those recommendations had not been implemented. With more than $80 billon spent each year on technology, American taxpayers have the right to know that money is spent responsibly and efficiently. As.of now, It does not appear that they receive the best return on their investment
Another year is about to turn the page on the calander and the busy season is upon us once more. While I have been in this area for the past 23 years, I have come to love this small community of Fort Myers Beach that I call home.
Many of you have called the paper office to tell us what a great job we are doing, and the letters to the Editor have been very supportive of all the changes we have implemented over the past three months.
We are slowly increasing our local writing staff of Al DiPasquale and Patsy Berliner, writer and Editor Jennifer VanderWest, recently bringing in Sarah Nicholson from Bonita, Alexandra Sargent from Kelley’s Treats at the Lani Kai, also getting regular submissions from William Wehunt from Fort Myers, Dave Bowman of Fort Myers, and Mark Stiggs from North Fort Myers.
We have also added some classic comic strips and syndicated with world class writers to bring more variety of topics to you.
Our Sunset Photo contest has been well received and we have over a dozen entries for this week’s contest.
We thank you for your support and look forward to improving with each new issue that hits the street.
The many changes you have notices are due to a change in ownership of the paper. The Sun Bay Paper was co-founded by Trent Townsend and Carl Conley last summer, I came on board as the production manager and have been putting it together since July, 2015.
The original plan was that Carl would be involved full time for the first year to a year and a half and then he would retain a small percentage of the paper but 90% ownership would be with Trent, well things changed and that didn’t happen.
This past April, Carl approached me about coming on as a partner with him and we came to an agreement.
When June/July came around Carl started talking about his original plan to get out after a year or so. We started negotiations on the subject of my buying the whole paper. As of October this year we came to a deal and I have been the sole 100% owner of “The Sun Bay Paper.”
Carl will probably submit some stories as he did submit the Editorial, just after the election when Trump won on Nov. 8th.
Many people don’t remember my working at the Sand Paper with Carl back in 2000-2002, I started there as a volunteer and worked my way up from selling ads, taking pictures of bands, writing articles, to doing the production work, the paper was getting busier in 2002 and Carl told me if I wanted to stay involved I would have to be full time but my other business -Armando’s Day Spa- was also getting busier and I could not do both so I stopped working at the Sand Paper and focused on my Spa.
Now my spa is well established, I only work on clients that specifically request me so my time is available to focus my attention with the paper.
My name is Robert Mimmo, most of you know me as Bobby, over the past 16 years, I have lived on the beach, I have tried to be a positive influence in our Community. I have supported every fundraiser that has presented themselves to me at Armando’s for donation or gift certificates, I have no axes to grind and only hope to bring you a good read.
We are not trying to be like the Sand Paper or the Observer, they have the beach politics and town hall covered. Having said that, we will be covering the beach, but also a much larger distribution area. Thus, we hope to bring a broader prospective and while we will be printing opposing views, we are trying to bring a much needed conservative voice to our area.
I waited until now to announce the change of ownership because I wanted to make some changes slowly while improving our content.
For those of you who are good friends with Carl, I hope you can see we are still putting out a good paper (since we took over in October) and still welcome your continued input, comments and submissions.
For those of you that do not consider yourselves friends of Carl, I hope you will take another look at us and know we welcome your comments, input and submissions.
Like President elect Trump,
I also believe that political correctness is out of hand, it has become a bane
to our society, Correct in it’s
original form, meaning lets not be mean to people who are not able to look after themselves, it has now arrived to a place where you can’t say anything
criticle about anything without it being labled as cruel or offensive to someone.
There are over 70% of
Americans that identify themselves
as Christian so I believe using the
traditional Merry Christmas greeting
To my Jewish friends
Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays
to everyone else!
“We hate because we're taught to hate. We hate because we're ignorant. We are the product of ignorant people, who have been taught an ignorant thing. Which is, that there are four or five different races. There are not four or five different races. There is only one race on the face of the earth! And we're all members of that race - the human race! But we have separated people into races, so that some of us can see ourselves as superior to the others. We thought, it would work. I guess it hasn't worked! That has been bad for everyone! It's time to get over this business!
There is no gene for racism. There's no gene for bigotry. You're not born a bigot! You have to learn to be a bigot. Anything you learn, you can unlearn. It is time to unlearn bigotry! It is time to get over this thing. And we best get over it pretty soon.
I'm an educator and as my business as an educator it is, to lead people out of ignorance. The ignorance of thinking, that you're better or worse than someone else, because of the amount of a pigment in your skin. Pigmentation in your skin has nothing to do with intelligence or with your worth as a human being. It is time to get over that!” --Jane Elliot
Two months ago, the liberal media erupted in horror after the third presidential debate. Fox's Chris Wallace challenged Donald Trump on whether he would accept the result of the election, and Trump said he would wait and see. NBC described a "flood of condemnation" and cited President Obama accusing Trump of "(undermining) our democracy." "Today" co-host Savannah Guthrie called it an "earthquake."
Guthrie turned to retired anchorman Tom Brokaw to denounce Trump. He said: "This is not a banana republic. We've got more than 200 years of presidential elections and graceful and peaceful transitions to the new administration. As you saw, even Richard Nixon, Al Gore, the people who were caught up in very close races, said, 'I accept that this is the new president.'"
Trump won the election handily with 304 electoral votes, and Democrats flip-flopped, sullenly refusing to accept the results. And so did the "objective" media. On Dec. 18, there was no "earthquake" at NBC when Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta refused to say that President-elect Trump won a free and fair election. He said instead that it was rigged by the Russians.
And it was the ballot errors. And FBI Director James Comey. And the fake news epidemic. And the Constitution -- that “blasted Electoral College “! Nobody brought in Brokaw to lecture Team Hillary about banana-republic behavior.
Back in October, The New York Times issued a front-page alert, saying, "In a remarkable statement that seemed to cast doubt on American democracy, Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he might not accept the results of next month's election if he felt it was rigged against him -- a stand that Hillary Clinton blasted as 'horrifying' at their final and caustic debate on Wednesday."
Two months later, the Times was eagerly giving oxygen to any protest against Trump, no matter how fanatical. It said: "In Florida, protesters swarmed the Capitol rotunda, one hoisting a 'Trump Is Too Rusky' sign featuring a hammer and sickle. In Wisconsin's statehouse, a heckler shouted, ''We're all going to go to war and die thanks to you.'"
This was somehow democracy in action. There was no remarkable or horrifying adjective at the top of the story. Instead, the Times turned to Adam Jentleson, a top aide to retiring Sen. Harry Reid, who warned, "There's not going to be a grace period this time because everybody on our side thinks he's illegitimate and poses a massive threat."
Even the leftist late-night comedians showed the double standard. CBS "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert mocked Trump in October, saying: "Oh, suspense! Democracy's going to end in a cliffhanger! I guess we're all going to have to wait until Nov. 9 to find out if we still have a country -- if Donald Trump is the mood for a peaceful transfer of power or if he's just going to wipe his fat a-- with the Constitution."
After the election, Colbert said: "Walking around the streets of New York today, a lot of people (were) a little rough. You know, you could see it in their eyes. ... This is what it feels like when America's made great again." The crowd laughed. He continued: "And I was really hoping it would feel better because this sucks! And I don't know if you guys had any trouble getting in here tonight because right now, tonight, thousands of people have taken to the streets in protests in cities all over America."
Colbert told his audience to accept President Trump (how noble). But the protesters still drew screams and hearty applause. Somehow they weren't fat dictators using the Constitution as toilet paper.
The Times insisted on Monday that "the uneasiness with Mr. Trump has hardly receded in the nearly six weeks since his election." That is because the press will not stop agitating, and all the while they call it "news."
That, folks, is also "fake news."
L. Brent Bozell III
& Tim Graham
Local resident and brother, Fred Wright (holding award) has been chosen Master Mason of the year by the Masters and Wardens Association, representing the 28th and 29 Masonic districts.
Pictured here with the 29th District Deputy Clay W. Taylor (on the left) and District Deputy for the 28th District, Fulton J. Smedley (on the right) and SW FL Masters and Wardens Association President, Dan Akard at the annual Table Lodge/Award Dinner held in Lehigh Acres last week.
Brother Wright is the secretary of our local Ft Myers Beach Masonic Lodge #362 located at 17671 Pine Ridge Road, Fort Myers Beach and has been the secretary there for most of the past decade.
This award is given each year to the Master Mason who has contributed of himself to the relief of mankind and of his fellow brother Masons.
Not only has Fred been a unstoppable force in giving of his time and participation in our area but he also drives Veterans to the VA Hospitals in Miami and Orlando, visits with brothers in distress and is an all around good guy.
Congratulations my brother! This award is well deserved!
In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.
When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.
I take them out "for hot chocolate" at the local cafe. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people's feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.
Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? (lead the child from "cookies" to the good feeling of having done something for someone else). Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!" (in a whisper, leaning in.. make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.)
Then have the child choose someone they know, usually a neighbor or school mate.
The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it--and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving.
My oldest chose the "witch lady" on the corner. She really was horrible--had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She'd yell at them to play quieter, etc--a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were.
He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it "merry Christmas from Santa." After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate.
The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper--wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn't be a Santa.
Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend's daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son's face.
When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to--because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.
Dear readers: I offer a brief, fun Florida History Quiz:
When Juan Ponce de León stepped ashore in 1513 as Florida’s first undocumented immigrant, he reportedly said:
A) “Damn! If I’d known this place was so horticulturally challenged, I’d have brought along the lawn sprinklers and fertilizer.”
B) “Wow! I’ve never seen a place so stunning and lush. Let’s call it La Florida—the Land of Flowers!”
The point being that with our natural abundance of rainfall, sunshine and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen, Florida could justifiably have “In God We Trust” stamped on our landscapes and lawns, and not just on our currency and license plates.
This is the truth our trusted institutions and political leaders dare not speak: Really, we’d do just fine without the lawn sprinklers and fertilizer. And Florida would be a better place.
But artificially maintained lawns look so pretty, you say. And they’re good for the economy! They provide jobs for irrigation installers and the turfgrass and fertilizer industry and university researchers. Why would we want to upend the established order?
In a word, sustainability. Those six syllables are more than a marketing buzzword. What it means is that the old ways are destroying our waters and diminishing our children’s future.
Let’s wade in for a closer look, shall we?
Florida’s waters are in terrible shape and if you’re wondering where to point a finger, groundwater overpumping and fertilizer pollution are high on the list of culprits.
All of this is underscored in the alarming new WATER 2070 report by the 1000 Friends of Florida planning advocacy group, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida GeoPlan Center.
Here are the twin takeaways from the report: With a projected 15 million thirsty new residents due to arrive here in the next half century, we Floridians need to seriously reduce our water consumption or we’re screwed.
And this: "The single most effective strategy to reduce water demand in Florida is to significantly reduce the amount of water used for landscape irrigation.”
In plain English: The needs of tomorrow are more important than the lawns of today. And if we don’t change our ways, we can kiss our springs goodbye.
We knew—or we should have known—this moment of reckoning was coming. The world is running out of fresh water. And the reality of life on a finite planet demands a new way of thinking about water and Florida’s future.
Meanwhile, a 2014 IFAS survey shows that we Floridians are concerned about water and the environment and we’re willing to cut back—but only if it doesn’t affect our lawns.
How can this be, you may be wondering. Here’s a clue: When IFAS speaks, Florida listens.
Few institutions statewide rival the clout and credibility of the University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences, or have done more for the common good. But when it comes to IFAS and water conservation, what’s the message we hear?
Let’s be clear; if you find it incomprehensible that so many Floridians are hooked on chemically-dependent, irrigation-intensive lawns despite the well- documented collateral damage they exact on our waters, know that IFAS didn’t create this problem.
But their solution, the “Florida-Friendly” landscaping program with its supposedly “responsible” use of fertilizer and lawn irrigation—has unintentionally enshrined the normalization of abuse.
Think about it. “Friendly” means “able to coexist without harm.” If someone you love got lung cancer, would you encourage them to smoke “only when needed”? Or would you suggest they give up their harmful habit altogether?
We can’t irrigate and fertilize our way to a better tomorrow. It ain’t gonna happen. But IFAS stubbornly resists promoting ZEROscaping as the truly friendly-to-Florida option. Yes, ZEROscaping, which is to say, managing our lawns with zero irrigation and zero chemical inputs. For the love of Florida, mow the yard a few times a year as you wish but otherwise, let it be.
We have coddled our lawns too long. Stripped of their resilience per IFAS guidelines too many Florida lawns now live in a state of learned dependency.
It is a dereliction of civic duty to deplete and poison our springs and aquifer for the sake of our lawns, no matter how pretty they are.
And then there’s the spiritual component. I can think of no finer way to honor the Creator, however known, than by living sustainably here in Creation.
We who say we care deeply about this place are called to grow our ethical imagination and social responsibility. For as Lyndon Johnson said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
IFAS has led the way in creating beautiful lawns. Now comes the higher challenge: One authentically sustainable lawn at a time, we need IFAS to lead the way in creating a better Florida.
John Moran is a Gainesville-based nature photographer and water
In the latest string of incidents involving Southwest Florida law enforcement, a driver is accused of fighting with a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy after a Nov. 8, 2016 traffic stop. A man who fought with a deputy on Interstate 75 Exit 123 was shot by a passerby on Nov. 14, 2016. As well as man exchanging fire with deputies Nov. 16, 2016 in the Pine Manor neighborhood just south of Fort Myers.
On Sunday Nov. 20, 2016 at approximately 8 p.m. officer Jarred Ciccone was shot in his shoulder during a traffic stop. This is the fourth attack on a Southwest Florida police officer within the last two weeks.
Retired Sanibel police chief Bill Tomlinson, who worked the scene stated, “The suspect drove by and opened fire while the officer was working a traffic stop involving another driver near 2300 Periwinkle Way. The officer was in his vehicle when he was shot,” according to Tomlinson.
A SWAT team was called to the area, but then cleared once the suspect was taken into custody. The Sanibel suspect drove into The Dunes neighborhood, and exchanged gunfire with Sanibel and Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies. After, he then went to his home barricaded himself until he was surrendered. The suspect was shot and taken into custody along the 1400 block of Sand Castle Road, according to police, who issued an all-clear for the neighborhood shortly before 10 p.m.
Jarred Ciccone, was treated and released from Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, sources said.
“What we do know is that he definitely suffered a wound, definitely something to be very concerned about,” Tomlinson said. “We at the Sanibel Police Department are very concerned for him and his family, and we hope that he’ll be fine.”
Tomlinson added, “This incident is the first officer-involved shooting ever on Sanibel,
. It was similar to an attack earlier Sunday on an officer in San Antonio, Texas”
Sanibel resident Jeanne Vaughn said she heard six rapid-fire gunshots. Another resident said she heard sirens starting around 8:20, along with several gunshots and a helicopter.
“I heard a police siren and then, minute later I heard a bunch of shots. Bang, bang, you know, bang, bang, bang,” said Vaughn, who lives near the causeway. “And then I heard more police sirens and I see police coming up and down the streets.
Steven Chance, a resident of The Dunes .......“It’s unprecedented because I’ve lived on this island my whole life and I’ve never seen this many police in one spot,” Chance said. “It’s a little scary it was in my neighborhood. My dad is home. He’s elderly. I feared for his safety and I still don’t know how he is.”
Ed. Note: Let us be thankful that we have some of the finest police and sherriff departments that keep us safe, are they all perfect, probably not, but the violence against them will only make them more cautious and anxious as they approach potentially dangerous situations.
This holiday season, lets all remember our fallen officers and their families who now have to move forward without them.