St. Petersburg police horse takes crap on sidewalk

Police horse lightens his load onto a downtown St. Petersburg sidewalk. Photo property of Sadie Hewitt

St. Petersburg, Fla.

If you’re a St. Petersburg local, then you’re no stranger to the new additions to the St. Petersburg Police force seen clopping around downtown.

The two new additions are Police horses Brooklyn and Jacob donated from the Boston Police Dept. and were formally inducted into the St. Petersburg Police Dept. on Sept 15, 2009.

The horses and the two officers that are assigned to them are part of St. Petersburg’s Mounted Unit. The Mounted Unit acts as crowd control for downtown events.

While eating at Burrito Boarder on 3rd Street recently I spotted the Mounted Unit galloping across 3rd Street and onto the sidewalk next to Burrito Boarder. As soon as the horses made it to the sidewalk, one proceeded to drop a large pile, forcing the officer to stoop down and scoop up the horse droppings.

I was fortunate to have my camera on me and shot a quick photo.

Ah, the things you see in downtown St. Petersburg.

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Scott Wagman not charged with violating Florida election law

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Scott Wagman, former St. Petersburg mayoral candidate, will not be charged with violating a Florida election law.

Wagman was notified in July that he had violated a state election law that requires

106.143 Political advertisements circulated prior to election; requirements.—
(1)(a) Any political advertisement that is paid for by a candidate and that is
published, displayed, or circulated prior to, or on the day of, any election must
prominently state: “Political advertisement paid for and approved by (name of candidate),
(party affiliation), for (office sought).

Wagman was said to have violated section 106.143 of the Florida state Election Laws for not including the “political advertisement paid for and approved by Scott Wagman” dialogue in his Google campaign ads before the Sept. 1 mayoral primary election.

The former mayoral candidate argued that the number of characters allowed in the hyperlink were so few that he didn’t have enough characters to put the political disclaimer.

From the St. Petersburg Times article published just a few hours ago:

The candidate said there wasn’t room on those small, hypertext links. One click on those ads led to his campaign Web site, which Wagman said did run the disclaimer.

“Obama and McCain were doing the same thing,” he said. “We didn’t think it was hoodwinking the American public to see an ad on the side of a (Web) page. They know what happens if you click on it. People get it.”

The Florida Elections Commission has reviewed Wagman’s case and ruled that the former candidate did not willfully leave out the disclaimer, according to the St. Petersburg Times political blog, the Bay Buzz.

Ohio switches death penalty method, man faces execution by new method today

Ohio

Formerly using the three drug cocktail to execute the inmates on death row, the state of Ohio will now use a single drug injection.

The first person that will receive the death penalty by this new one drug injection is Kenneth Biros, who was tried and convicted for the murder of 22-year-old Tami Engstrom in 1991.

Biros argues that the new method could cause severe pain, as it is said to take longer for the recipient to die.

Experts say that there will be no pain involved in the process of administering this new drug. From the St. Petersburg Times:

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction estimates it will take from 15 to 30 minutes for Biros to die, prisons spokeswoman Julie Walburn said Tuesday.

“Every person’s body absorbs drugs and processes them differently, but we don’t really expect a demonstrative difference,” she said.

…All 36 death penalty states use lethal injection, and 35 rely on the three-drug method. Nebraska, which recently adopted injection over electrocution, has proposed the three-drug method but hasn’t finalized it.

Biros was sentenced to death at 11:00 a.m. today. He is dying as I write this. How morbid.

Unfortunately this man will not have to spend the rest of his life in prison and face what he has done, because in the U.S. we let criminals take the easy way out. I am definitely not a proponent of the death penalty and do not think it constitutional for the state to be able to sentence a human being to death.

What do you think? Is this new death penalty method humane? Is the death penalty humane?

I want to hear from you.

New Jersey senate bill to legalize gay marriage passes 7-6 in Senate Judiciary Commitee

From NY Times: The crowd reacts as the committee vote was taken on a bill to legalize gay marriage. The bill cleared the committee, 7-6, and will be voted on in the Senate.

New Jersey

Today a New Jersey Senate bill proposing the legalization of gay marriage passed in a 7-6 Senate Judiciary Committee vote.

However, proponents of this bill say there is still much more ground to be covered before gay marriage is legal in New Jersey.

The bill will now pass on to a vote by the full Senate on Thursday, Dec 10. According to an article in the NY Times, the bill will have more trouble passing the full Senate vote.

…even supporters concede that they do not yet have the 21 votes needed to pass it. If it does pass, it will go to the Assembly, where passage is considered more likely.

…After the New York State Senate rejected a gay marriage bill last week, the front line in the national battle over same-sex marriage shifted to New Jersey. And the uncertain fate of the bill there, in one of the most liberal states, has cheered many conservatives.

What are your thoughts? Will the bill make it past the full Senate?

I wish the proponents of this bill luck and hope to see Florida with a bill to legalize gay marriage soon.

Florida in need of high speed railway, some say will create new jobs

Photo courtesy of chinadaily.com

Florida

The debate over whether or not Florida should build a high speed rail system that would link major metropolitan cities in Florida like Tampa and Orlando, should be a no-brainer.

Not only will the building of this rail system create jobs, it will require many employees to maintain. Creating a high speed rail system in Florida would be an economic stimulus as well as a better way to keep traffic moving in Florida.

Ever been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the infamous I-4? A rail system would decrease traffic on the interstate which would allow for faster travel for road-trippers as well as decrease air pollution caused by the emissions from cars.

Business men and women would be allowed a faster and a more environmentally conscious way to travel between major cities in Florida, something that could prove to be a economic stimulus in the future as the railway becomes more efficient and can travel to more cities within the Sunshine State.

You think that most of the U.S. would have a high speed rail system by now, as we are definitely a country that likes to stay up to date with technological innovations. Why is it that most of Europe employs this faster means of travel but Florida has yet to get on the bandwagon?

What do you think, readers? Is a high speed railway something you’d like to see come to life in Florida?

Publix refuses to pay farmworkers extra penny a pound

Protestors camp out across the street from a Publix on US 41 on Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of naplesnews.com

A St. Petersburg Times article published today details the Publix super market chain’s refusal to join forces with other corporations in Florida that put pressure on tomato farm owners to pay farmworkers an extra cent a pound.

The farmworkers who pick the tomatoes in Florida fields that Publix sells by the ton make an average of 45 cents for every 32-pound bucket, a wage that has stayed essentially flat for a generation.

Publix won’t join a campaign to pay farmworkers just an extra penny per pound, even though its participation would put real pressure on Florida tomato growers to better farmworkers’ lives.

…Corporate giants such as Yum Brands Inc., which includes Taco Bell and Pizza Hut; McDonald’s Corp.; Subway; Burger King; and the Whole Foods supermarket chain have agreed to pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes — with most agreeing to an extra 1.5 cents per pound to cover program administrative expenses — and buy from growers who will work with the program.

But not Publix.

Publix has taken a “talk to the hand” approach. Corporate spokeswoman Shannon Patten says that the company won’t get involved in “a labor dispute between the farmworker and farmer.”

Even after it was reported that two of the farms Publix has bought tomatoes from, Pacific Tomato Growers and Six L’s, used bosses who were convicted of enslaving farmworkers from Mexico and Guatemala — holding them captive and brutalizing them — Publix does little more than shrug.

Patten says “nobody’s in favor of slavery,” as if this absolves the company of its duty to reject suppliers who employ shockingly abusive labor tactics.

Publix uses its collective buying power to negotiate low tomato prices with growers but refuses to unleash some of that corporate might to help workers who toil day after day in the withering Florida sun for the same per-bucket wage their parents earned.

We all remember how many years it took for Taco Bell to join forces and pay up an extra cent to the tomato farmworkers. The coporation was seen as greedy and exploitative. I can even remember boycotting Taco Bell as a child. Publix can afford to pay one extra cent that would dramatically improve the lives of these farmworkers. Especially during the holiday season, it just makes this ubiquitous super market corporation look like a Scrooge.

What do you think, folks? Is it time for Publix to get with it and pony up a penny a pound?

Abortion doctor steps in for Dr. Tiller providing late-term abortions

Since Dr. George Tiller was killed in May 2009, Dr. LeRoy Carhart has taken Tiller’s place in providing late-term abortions.

Carhart was a colleague of Tiller’s and feels that since Tiller’s death, there is still a need for late-term abortions, and that someone has to step up to provide that service.

From the article in the NY Times:

Abortion-rights advocates say the need exists for late-term abortions, in cases of extraordinary genetic defects and other dire health circumstances, and some had worried that only a few physicians would be willing to provide such care after Dr. Tiller’s killing, an act prosecutors say was carried out by an abortion foe.

…Dr. Carhart, who has been performing abortions since the 1970s, is no stranger to the debate; he has been a litigant in two abortion-related cases decided by the United States Supreme Court over a particular method of abortion referred to by critics as “partial-birth abortion.” And immediately after Dr. Tiller’s killing, Dr. Carhart offered to continue operating his clinic, but the Tiller family decided to close it.

I think it is valuable that another doctor skilled in performing abortions has stepped up to take Dr. Tiller’s place. There is an obvious need for late-term abortions and there will always be circumstances in which there is a need. Unfortunately anti-abortion groups such as Operation Rescue will continue to harass abortion clinics and attempt to thwart Carhart’s effort to open a late term abortion clinic in Wichita, Kan.

“They have never targeted me more,” he said of abortion opponents. “But to me, the most dangerous response would be for me to stop what I am doing. The thought that killing Tiller might also succeed in closing another clinic — that’s my main reason for keeping open.”

What do you think, readers? Should Carhart move ahead with his plan to open a new clinic, or should he continue performing abortions in Omaha, Neb?

The abortion debate continues. Let’s hope there won’t be any more tragedies like the death of Dr. Tiller.