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State Sen. Greg Steube conjures up a fanciful picture of local governments “running wild” as they attempt to rein in the excesses of short term vacation rentals, although he in fact is the true avatar of overbearing government. This may not be immediately obvious.

The senator is apparently in thrall to an extreme property rights philosophy that makes the maximum extraction of revenue from one’s property the single virtue that trumps all others, including the right of neighbors to secure a peaceful existence for themselves. In many beachside communities like my own, there are areas zoned for tourism development (normally fronting the Gulf) and areas away from these zoned for single-family dwellings. The expectations of property owners in each district are not the same: in one they accept the hustle and bustle of tourism, in the other they desire the peace and quiet of a family-oriented neighborhood.
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IS ANYONE ELSE GETTING TIRED OF the Alec Baldwin show on Saturday Night Live?

For more than a year now he’s been doing a sometimes-funny spoof on Donald Trump, complete with facial tics and cement hairdos. But the election results have been final for more than three months, and repetition seems to have set in. Baldwin is on the verge of committing the same sins SNL has been guilty of for many years: over-exposure and trying too hard. Whenever possible, humor should be served up with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.
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Tuesday, February 14
Marketing is a contest for people’s attention, and state tourism marketing is no different. However, the detrimental impacts of removing a powerful marketing mechanism mean a world of difference when your state budget revenue depends on your share of the market.

The proposed bill spearheaded by the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee that eliminates VISIT FLORIDA will have severe and irreversible impacts on the state’s hospitality industry. We must protect the tourism industry, Florida’s top employer and chief economic driver, not only for the industry’s 1.4 million employees, but for the local communities whose livelihood is contingent on bringing tourists to the Sunshine State. In 2015, more than 106 million visitors came to Florida, spending $108.8 billion and generating $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.
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The recent TV documentary by actress Leah Rimini triggered some long-ago memories of the years in which I wrote several dozen Clearwater Sun editorials about the Church of Scientology.

The Scions (as we used to call them) arrived in Clearwater in 1975, pretending to be some other organization. Before long they were exposed by the Sun, Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares and others.
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Tuesday, February 7
I have spent a lot of words arguing that Tampa and Hillsborough County should welcome the ride-share companies Uber and Lyft instead of fighting to preserve a monopoly that has been enjoyed by traditional cab companies.

I still feel that way.
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I once read of a depressed young woman who was trying to think of a suitable inscription for her tombstone. She finally decided the best one she could come up with was, “She read a lot of magazines.”

I may borrow that line for my own gravestone, if I ever bother to fool with it. As I review my life history I see a number of unifying elements (that’s a term you use when you’re an English major trying to write a description of a book you can barely understand). One of the threads that highlight my essentially run-of-the-mill life is the magazines I was exposed to by my parents and later through my own choice.
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Tuesday, January 31
People make mistakes. They do stupid things. Sometimes, they make bad choices because they are down on their luck and don’t feel they have another option.

But it is important to realize there is a big difference between people who do bad things to purposefully hurt others and good people who make an error in judgment because they are young, immature, or in a bad situation.
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During the past 24 months, Donald Trump has shown the world that it isn’t a capital crime to say whatever comes into your mind, no matter how shocking or disconnected to the truth your statement may be.

In fact, a freewheeling, damn-the-truth style of speech could actually help a guy get elected to the presidency.
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WASHINGTON - Hang on, friend. This is going to be a bumpy ride. President Donald Trump’s first full work week began with action and drama.

Trump had planned to assume office with executive orders that showed his commitment to making good on key campaign promises. He delivered.
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Tuesday, January 24
When I read about debates over the economic value of sports franchises to communities, I’m prone to daydreaming.

It’s 1965 and I’m on third base, taking a big lead.

The pitcher makes a wild throw to the plate, and I’m off. My Little League coach barks at me, ordering me to stay put.

Too late.

My coach forgets that my hero is the great Maury Wills, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ shortstop known for sliding headfirst when he stole some bases.

The catcher tags me and I’m out by a mile. I taste leather and sawdust, and all I have to show for it is a bloody elbow that carries a scar for years.
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Is it wise for an old man, lying on his back in bed at 5 a.m., to allow an 8-pound cat to climb up on his chest and stand there, applying pressure to his heart, for more than a few seconds? I believe the correct answer is “no,” and I think my cardiologist would agree with me.

The cat in question is Ellie. She is mostly black, and beautiful. I’ve had custody of her for several months. Her rightful owners are my daughter Barb, her husband, and their three teen-aged children, plus an older son who’s away at college. A final family member is a brainless but loveable girl dog named Kuna whose life purpose is to find people and other animals (including resident cats) to chase and adore.
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With the inauguration of Donald Trump, it is a good time to review the electoral impact of eight years of the Obama White House. One of the impacts is the election of Trump, which surprised the entire political universe.

Whatever Obama may have achieved in public policy, it is that policy which is in great part responsible for setting “the post-World War II record for losses by the White House party,” according to Larry Sabato. Democrats lost over 1,000 seats at the state and national level.
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Tuesday, January 17
Opioid abuse is a growing medical problem in the nation and in Florida. In 2015, 52,404 Americans died as a result of drug abuse, or about 142 individuals every day.

This makes opioid abuse a greater killer than automobile accidents or gun-inflicted homicides and suicides. About one-third of the deaths are from opioids prescribed by physicians.
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This week America will install Donald Trump as our 45th president. He will begin what is perhaps the toughest job on earth. Regardless of whether or not we voted for him, the least any citizen can do is to wish him well.

A first step would be for every one of us to tweet him: “Good luck, sir!” However, such an avalanche of computer-based messages would surely make the World Wide Web collapse. Among other things, this would screw up Vladimir Putin’s hacking network and might cause him to invade Latvia in retaliation, thus launching a nuclear war and the end of civilization as we know it. So scrub that idea about the tweet.
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Community Calender
• Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017
Coloring group meeting
PINELLAS PARK – The Pinellas Park Senior Center, 7625 59th St. N., holds Color Me Calm, coloring get-togethers, every Tuesday, noon to 3 p.m. Colored pencils will be available at the center. Call 727-369-5694.
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Florida Herb Society meeting
CLEARWATER – The Florida Herb Society will meet Tuesday, Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m., at Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center, 2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater.

There is a $1 suggested donation per person. For information, call 727-793-2976.

Registration and herbal swap will be at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will get under way at 6:45 p.m. Attendees may bring herb cuttings, seeds and plants to swap along with a favorite herbal delight to add to the tasting and herbal swap tables.

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Friends of Clearwater Beach Library annual meeting
CLEARWATER – Friends of Clearwater Beach Library, Recreation Center and Pool will hold their annual meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21, noon, at the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center, 69 Bay Esplanade.

Board members for 2017 will be elected in a short business meeting. Following will be a reception to honor retiring Clearwater Beach Librarian Joyce Kirchoffer. “The public is invited to join in the celebration to thank Joyce for all her helpful assistance in keeping the Beach Library an important part of the fabric of Clearwater Beach,” a press release said.

Refreshments will be served.

For more information on the Beach Friends please visit or call Linda Owens 260-894-0270.
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Gulf Beaches Public Library fundraiser
MADEIRA BEACH – The Friends of the Gulf Beaches Public Library will hold a “Love Your Library” fundraiser from 5-7 p.m. on Feb. 21. The event, at the library, 200 Municipal Drive, will be highlighted with gift basket raffles, musical entertainment, some surprises, and, of course, wine and appetizers. A $3 donation per person will be requested at the door.

For information, email
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Island Estate Women’s Club’s monthly luncheon
CLEARWATER – The Rev. Janet M. Reynolds, a certified spirit medium and ordained minister with a private practice in Tampa, will be the guest speaker at the Island Estate Women’s Club’s monthly luncheon, Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Clearwater Yacht Club.

The social hour begins at 11 a.m. and the lunch price this month is $23 per person. To make reservations, download the reservation form at or call chair Wendy Bouffard at 727-441-8211.

Reynolds specializes in practical channeled guidance from the spirit world. She is a graduate of the mediumship certification program of the College of Metaphysical Studies in Clearwater, the Metaphysical Academy in Tampa and the Arthur Finlay College of Psychic and Mediumship in England. She is an ordained minister of Harmony Church in Tampa, and serves the Peoples Spiritualist Church in St. Petersburg. She is certified in clinical hypnotherapy with advanced instruction in hypnosis, and past life regression. She is also a certified Reiki master.

The reservation deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 15, and reservation forms and check may be dropped off to Bouffard in the Porch Locked Mailbox at 421 Palm Island S.E. on Island Estates or at the Horizon House, 31 Island Way, during normal business hours.

The club is seeking new members. With 145 or more members, the club raised a total of $15,188, at three luncheon events. The entire amount was donated for the benefit of local charities.

To learn more about the club and its activities visit the club’s website or call membership chair Joan Landreth at 727-812-8078. President Lynne McCaskill is also available any time to answer any questions at 727-430-1911.
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Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole meeting
SEMINOLE – The Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole meets on the second, third and fourth Tuesdays of the month, 7:15 a.m., in the third floor card room at Lake Seminole Square, 8333 Seminole Blvd. The group features speakers from different organizations. Visit or call 727-319-8343 for more information.
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Living Well: Cancer
LARGO - Living Well: Cancer, Tuesday, Feb. 21, noon, at Largo Public Library, Jenkins Community Room B, 120 Central Park Drive, Largo. Medical oncologist Dr. Ben Yan will discuss ways to prevent cancer, how to live well with it and tools for a quicker recovery. To preregister for this free health seminar, call 727-953-6877 or visit
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Pipe organ concert
PINELLAS PARK – The monthly Wurlitzer pipe organ concert will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the City Auditorium, 7690 59th St. N. The performance is free to the public. Bring lunch and enjoy the show. Call 727-541-0895.
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Seminole-SPC Toastmasters meeting
SEMINOLE – Seminole-SPC Toastmasters meets Tuesdays, 6:15 to 7:30 p.m., at the Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St. N. Guests ages 18 and older are welcome. This event is free and open to the public.

This personal development program is ideal for supervisors and leaders – or those aspiring – to learn vital leadership and communication skills. Contact Dennis Hamel at 727-374-2612 or visit
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Smoking-cessation classes
LARGO – Free smoking-cessation classes will be offered Tuesdays through Feb. 28, 5 to 6 p.m., at the Bardmoor YMCA, 8495 Bryan Dairy Road.

Sponsored by Gulfcoast North Area Health Education Center and Tobacco Free Florida, the program provides a free class to help participants quit any form of tobacco through an in-person group class and free nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum or lozenges while supplies last and if medically appropriate. The program is funded by the Florida Department of Health.

Members and nonmembers are welcome. Space is limited. To register, call Nicole Kelly at 813-929-1000, ext 204.
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