We're giving hugs and slugs today, starting with a round of hugs for a trio of Republicans who started their new terms the right way.
Sure, the governor made the biggest headlines for kicking off his first day in office by sucking up millions of dollars in special-interest money and granting perks to those who cut the biggest checks.
But some other newly elected pols bypassed the lobbyists' largesse and trite slogans and really did get to work.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and congressional freshmen Sandy Adams and Dan Webster among them.
Jacobs hadn't even been sworn into office 24 hours before she was talking about stronger ethics reform, trimming unnecessary bureaucracy and scaling back toll increases.
And up in Washington, while some members of Congress were busy feting themselves and collecting donations for their next campaign, Webster opted for an informal meet-and-greet in his office. Adams actually started looking for legislation to sponsor. What a novel idea.
Slogans are easy. Actions mean a lot more.
A hug also to Attorney General Pam Bondi for immediately vowing to make open government a top priority — and backing up that talk by hiring one of the state's best-known open-record experts, Pat Gleason.
A slug to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who, after donating a bunch of public property to churches, said: "I don't see atheists doing a dad-gum thing for this community." Sheriff, I'm a lifelong Christian, former Sunday-school teacher and guy who spends a good deal of space in this column praising faith-based philanthropy. With all that said, I also feel qualified to say this: You sound like an ignoramus. (And I mean that in the most Godly way possible.) Do you have some sort of superhuman atheist-detection skills? Are you really unaware that atheists volunteer in soup kitchens, help battered children and even … wait for it … serve in law enforcement? Sheriff, you're free to bluster all you want for the TV cameras you so love. But stereotypes without facts don't make anyone look good.
A hug to U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio for behaving like distinguished gentlemen during Rubio's swearing-in. Not only were both polite, but Democrat Nelson walked Republican Rubio down the aisle. (No, not in a way that would alienate some of Rubio's supporters.)
Loser of the week. Perhaps you saw that The Florida Bar has asked the Supreme Court to discipline spotlight-seeking finger-wagger John Stemberger for going on TV to misrepresent his role in the case of runaway teenager Rifqa Bary — and for making unsubstantiated claims about terrorists supposedly connected to the case. Stemberger called the charges baseless, saying: "Muslims have become the new protected class, and the institutions of society are bending over backwards to accommodate them." You know, the Bar doesn't usually pursue complaints to protect Muslims. It tries to protect the public from unethical attorneys.
And finally, a hug to Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and city officials for trying to clean up the southern side of State Road 436. It's always been a shame that one of the gateways to the city has looked like an armpit. If we can clean up Orange Blossom Trail, we can certainly do something about this congested stretch of road where one of the few things to distract you from run-down shopping centers are the $5-a-gallon gas prices. We can do better, Orlando! (And hey, while we're griping about that stretch of road, how about better timing for the stoplights while you're at it? I think there's been some improvement through the years. But boy, does it steam my clams to sit at one stoplight after another when there's no one else on that road.)
Scott Maxwell, who actually prefers fried oysters to steamed clams, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.