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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tax cuts and education

Local education officials are scrambling to figure out how the potential tax cuts -- those we will vote on in January -- will affect our schools. They make some valid points. As a mother of children who have gone through public schools, I can tell you that some areas are woefully underfunded. And my kids have attended top schools and gotten into top colleges. My 22-year-old once sat in a Spanish class with 45 students and not enough books, for instance.
Nonetheless, I think the school board staff needs to look very closely at waste in the system, at teachers who don't belong in the classrooms, at pet projects that benefit a select few. That effort would go a long way in helping their cause.
As my mother used to say, God helps those who help themselves.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DCF: Helpless and hopeless?

Here's another story by the fantastic Carol Marbin Miller about the Department of Children and Families making dubious decisions -- yet again. Remember that 2-year-old who went missing from a foster setting and was rescued in Wisconsin in a home where a tortured 11-year-old was stuffed in a closet and his mother buried in the backyard? We come to find out that the foster placement was questionable in the first place.
Who's minding the store? Gov. Crist should make child welfare a priority -- above tax property relief. They're our future. Unfortunately, kids don't vote.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Paris says about us

Paris has been released from jail and will be a guest on Larry King tomorrow night. I don't even bother with last names because Paris is probably the most famous non-entity in the world. I had to turn the news off this morning when the channel I was watching kept rolling the same video of her sashaying out of jail and into her parents' arms. I wanted to keep down my coffee.
Society's values are skewed and media's are no better. Since when is Paris, who has done nothing except hog up perfectly good air, deserve all this attention?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Don't you have anything better to do?

I love my pets and miss them plenty when I travel. Several months back I wrote about the pain of putting my old dog to sleep. I still think of her.
But for the life of me, I can't understand the mutiny in Davie over Take Your Pet to Work Day. I didn't even know such a day existed, but it just goes to show how we've gone off the deep end on a day for this and a day for that and equal rights and mainstreaming etc. etc.
They're pets, not people, for crying out loud. Unless they're seeing eye dogs, I really don't want them in the office. Let's stop humanizing these poor animals. In the office, are they learning something? Will they grow up to work as a pharmacist, journalist or teacher?
That, after all, is the original intent of signaling out a day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Figuring out the property tax puzzle

If you're a Florida homeowner, reading this story about the proposed property tax cut is very, very helpful. Plug in some numbers in the calculator, too, to figure out if you want the super exemption or to stay with the current SOS cap.
I spend some time doing this and it confirmed what I suspected. Because I've lived in my house so long and because it has appreciated considerably in those years, I'm better off with the 3 percent cap. But I wonder how many people are going to take the time to do what I did.
Proponents of this tax cut -- which must be approved by voters in a special referendum -- have their work cut out for them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Broken any commandments lately?

So the Vatican hands down the 10 religious rules for the road, and I realize I have sinned on a regular basis. How can you not driving in Miami? The only "commandment" I have remained very, very clear of: showing off with my car. I drive a Honda Civic, and before that I've always owned modest cars for very long periods of time. Like over 140,000 miles.
Nonetheless, for all my modesty, I've been known to speed, to cut other drivers off, to curse etc. etc.
Though they have no burning bush to announce them, these new commandments sure are getting lots of attention. But how many will truly follow them?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Doing nothing: part 2

For this past Saturday I wrote about my inability -- and yearning -- to do nothing. I feel like the Energizer Bunny, going going going going.
Reader response was very interesting when I checked my email this morning. My favorite: "If you have time to write about the problem, then stop complaining."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Promises, promises...

...and what do we get? Not much.
Tallahassee -- Rubio and Crist -- is warning that we may not get as much of a tax cut as expected. I'm not surprised. Reducing taxes will mean a reduction in services, and few politicians have the stomach for that.
Think of your family budget and then make it millions of times bigger. If your income is reduced in some way, your purchasing power will also be affected. Same holds true in a macroeconomic way.
This tax debate reminds me of the insurance reform a session or two ago. When I got my State Farm homeowners' bill, I was surprised by how little "reform" had affected it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So Burger King offers Spam in their restaurants in Haiwaii. Oooh! I love Spam! Loved it since I was a kid. It's very similar to the meat Cubans who arrived in the 1960s received from the government. We called it "carne del refugio" and our mothers learned to cook all kinds of delicious meals with it. Spam croquetas are great, by the way.
Here's to Spam!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Immigration saga continues

A poll shows that the majority of Floridians are okay with giving illegal immigrants a chance at legalizing their status if they first jump over a few hurdles. That's a relief. Most of the readers I hear from are very vocal against offering these immigrants what they call "amnesty."
If Congress ever passes immigration reform, I would like to see a few things: 1) more emphasis on family reunification instead of skilled workers; 2) a lowering of the $5000 fee because that is an impossible sum for the illegal immigrants I have met; and 3) teeth -- true enforcement of the law.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why we're all so tired

Every person I know complains that they have too much work at the office. Most have cut down on lunch time and breaks. Some work extra hours. Others forego vacations or come in when they're sick. Many also say that positions are not being filled when co-workers leave; supervisors then transfer those duties to the already stressed employees left behind.
Yet the government now says our productivity has slowed in comparison to other quarters. Really?
I want to know: So who's playing hookey on the job?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Naked Cuba

Is it me or does anybody else find it ironic that a former high-placed Castro government official is painting nudes now that he's officially cut off from the reins of power? Come on, there's nothing naked or transparent about the Cuban government.

Friday, June 01, 2007

You call this justice?

Here's more proof that we need to reform our immigration system. Researchers have uncovered that immigration justice is not fair. Judges grant asylum to applicants at differing rates -- depending on where you apply. Miami's judges scrape the bottom of the barrel.
Worse: If you're a Haitian asking for asylum in immigration courts in Miami, your chances -- in comparison to other nationalities and in other places -- is very slim.
Is justice color blind? Doesn't sound like it.