THE TOP STORIES LAST WEEK
MAGIC PLAYOFF PREDICTION
The Orlando Magic started their season with two wins and two losses. But in an Eastern Conference that is weakened by the departure of LeBron James, I predict that the Magic will improve over last year. In fact, you heard it here first: With the players who are coming off injuries, with the maturing veterans on the team, and with the team's new class of rookies, I predict the Magic will contend this year for one of the final playoff spots in their conference. Good news for Magic fans who have endured a lot of losing seasons.
WHO IS A WINNER?
Commenting on seating his latest Supreme Court appointee, the president said, “We won. It doesn't matter, because we won.” Years ago, I was in a car with my friend Sue Prosser when I voiced a fear that I was losing the battle to keep the nonprofit concern I had founded afloat. Sue said she had learned a valuable lesson while, as a mother with an infant son, she earned a college degree and worked full-time. “It's doing the right thing in search of a good aim that matters,” she said. “Winning or losing is ancillary.” Mrs. Prosser, call the White House please.
GOOD NEWS ON OPIOIDS
The terror that swept the United States this week with the discovery of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and CNN understandably eclipsed a major announcement of federal help with the opioid crisis. Addiction and death from opioids are one of the major simultaneous battles our country, and especially Florida, must face. Nearly a third of Americans are touched by this monster to some degree. Wednesday, the White House signed rare bipartisan legislation that, while imperfect, is a good start to making treatment more accessible and — shockingly — to help stop the flow of the synthetic drugs through our postal system.
DEBATE TIPS FOR GILLUM, DESANTIS
The DeSantis-Gillum debate, nationally televised by CNN in Tampa, did not disappoint. Here is each candidate's major impediment. GOPer DeSantis has to find a way to warm up. Add a dash of vulnerability. The education and credentials are impeccable; we want to feel it, Congressman! Your opponenent's closing story about his grandma hit the mark; take note. For his part, Dem Gillum must account for his boondoggles to NYC and Costa Rica. What's the deal, full sunshine? This race is a wamperdoodle, Florida ... Which guy can rectify in the shortest time? He'll be our next governor.
TAX CHEATS Andrae Bailey, Rudolph C. Cleare, Earl Crittenden Jr., John L. Evans Jr., Ted Maines,
: No room for immigrants? How about we figure out a way to swap out some Americans who don't care enough about their country to vote or pay taxes with some people who desperately want to come here, become citizens, and who will vote and pay their fair share of taxes? Just a thought.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING Anna McPherson,
Wednesday evening, approximately 100 concerned citizens gathered at the Aloft Hotel for a screening of "In Plain Sight," a film on human trafficking presented by the Junior League of Greater Orlando in partnership with Florida Abolitionist. Human trafficking happens right here in Central Florida; children born in the U.S. are being bought and sold by for anything from cash to drugs to automobiles and forced into sexual slavery. Junior Leagues in Tampa, Daytona Beach and Orlando are uniting to say no to this horrendous practice in a coast-to-coast initiative launching this January to raise awareness of this issue in our communities and along the I-4 corridor. If you see something suspicious call the National Human Trafficking hotline: 1-888-373-7888.
WATER MAIN BREAK: BIG NEWS
While an aging water main exploding may not seem like a big story to some, others are seeing it as a tip of the iceberg for Orlando's aging infrastructure. One pipe exploding in Lake Eola Heights this week washed out the street for blocks, like a bizarre sandman bomb had gone off. It begs the question, "What other ticking time bombs are lurking under the lawns of our historic neighborhoods?"
Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder, FundEducationNow.org: We stand at a crossroads that affects both national and state politics. Who is a socialist? If you enjoy your street, your public schools, police and fire protection, then you value the projects taxpayers fund for the greater community good. It's painful to see so many citizens ignorant of the facts. The study of history must be an agnostic, unflinching quest for truth. Instead, we've sunk to social media "laugh emojis" and the thin football team metrics of "I won, you lost" currently permeating politics. Is it really “socialist” when citizens pay for clean, safe well-educated cities and counties?
BEAT CANCER — ALL CANCER
María T. Padilla, Orlando Latino blog: Why don't people focus on other forms of cancer, not just breast cancer? My cancer-stricken mom posed that question to me recently, and she has a point. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month wraps up, don't forget that other types of cancers afflict women. Yes, breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women, but lung and colon cancer are in second and third place. And some cancers, frankly, are far deadlier. Any type of cancer, from first to last, is brutal, inflicting much pain and robbing loved ones of health and time on Earth. Let's beat this cancer monster. Period.
STUDENTS NEED MENTAL-HEALTH SERVICES
Joseph F. Pennisi,
Two preteens at Bartow Middle School were charged with conspiracy to commit murder when they were caught in a school bathroom waiting to attack smaller children, stab them to death and drink their blood before turning the knives on themselves. They planned to kill 15. In what may be the understatement of the decade, Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall noted, “There may be some mental-health issues here that have to be addressed.” Fortunately, the attack was thwarted, but the need for additional support for mental-health services, where Florida ranks last among the states, remains.
RED-TIDE RESPONSIBILITY Joanie Schirm,
The red tide reached the Brevard County shores where I grew up, and I'm steaming mad. Florida State Parks' website confirms red tide is the culprit; stinky dead fish and mask-adorned volunteers cleaning up the beach prove the fact. A full moon and stronger tides make the conditions worse. For decades, Republican governors and Republicanled legislatures haven't cleaned up this mess. Gov. Rick Scott had eight years to fund the Algae Bloom Task Force, which started in 1999 and was defunded in 2001. Sure, there are many culprits, but cutting funds to organizations that gather and report facts worsens the problem, which now will take decades to fix.
WEARY OF ELECTION ONSLAUGHT Ed Schons,
We entered the home stretch last Monday when early voting began. Voters weary of the constant onslaught of mostly not-so-nice commercials and oversized post cards filling their mailboxes can take heart. It will soon be over. No matter the outcome, we must take advantage and cast our vote. It is our most precious privilege.
LOTTO LOSER BLUES Michael Slaymaker,
Wednesday, Oct. 24 can be equated to Feb. 18, 2001. Dale Earnhardt died on that day in 2001 and a large part of the Florida citizenry went into depression. Last week millions of us learned we did not become a billionaire overnight. There is a psychological effect that transpires. We found solace in that the South Carolinian didn't get all the money. My household won $4.
QUIT WHINING, MIKE BIANCHI David D. Swanson,
Mike Bianchi is an unabashed “homer” when it comes to UCF football. Every hometown journalist should be, but it's helpful to keep that within the bounds of credulity. The incessant whining about what UCF has not gotten or been given credit for only solidifies its “little brother” reputation. That's what little brothers do: They whine. AD Danny White has not helped the situation by taking on ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit who makes a perfectly rational argument that UCF is not alone among nonpower 5 schools in their pursuit of the playoff. UCF would radically raise its standing – and chances – if it stopped complaining and let its winning make the case.