So much to talk about. So little space. We'll do this edition of the Friday Files in rapid-fire fashion, somehow managing to connect the NBA All-Star game to killer bees.
With an NBA strike looming, Orlando is now worried it won't get to host the 2012 All-Star games — an event that the "Spend it all, Spend it Now" crowd often touted as reason to spend gobs of taxpayer money on the $480 million arena. The threat of an axed All-Star game comes after the arena's inaugural concert by The Eagles fell apart. And now we find out the thing doesn't even have an operating permit?! I swear, this arena's looking more snake-bit than the cast of "Anaconda."
Speaking of arena subsidies, it's hard to decide who to root for in the battle between the millionaire players and billionaire owners — all of whom get taxpayers to help pad their pockets. After much consideration, I have come up with the following sophisticated analysis for all parties: Shut up and play ball. Some Americans aren't even sympathetic to underpaid teachers fighting for their retirement benefits. If you think anyone is going to be shedding tears over which side gets the better end of a $100 million contract, your head's hit the hardwood one too many times.
Speaking of the Magic, the team deserves some love for helping set up a high-tech reading and learning center at the Colonialtown Neighborhood Center near downtown Orlando this week. This could make a real difference in the lives of deserving kids. And, as Dwight Howard has often said, the most important legacy anyone can leave is "off the court."
Speaking of charities, an impressive crowd of more than 700 gathered at the Buena Vista Palace last weekend to help raise money for United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida. The crowd helped raise more than $300,000 for this agency that makes life-changing differences for very deserving kids. Line-of-the-night honors went to the evening's classy host, actress Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"). Hines mentioned that she had recently voiced an animated part for the sequel to 2008's "Space Chimps." "Have any of you seen 'Space Chimps 2'?" she asked the audience, receiving a smattering of applause. "Oh, that's nice. I haven't."
Speaking of the UCP ball, one of those eagerly working the room was Bill Nelson. I told the senator that I was enjoying seeing a more fiery side of him in this fight between him and Gov. Rick Scott over high-speed rail. Nelson responded that he's often fiery. I nodded in the polite way one does when one is at a charity gala. But I also recalled some of the "fiery" press releases he sent out last year — like "IRS Guidance Welcome News for Drywall Victims" and "Women Pilots Flying High." Real scorchers. Still, credit where it's due. Nelson has taken a lead on this one, even traveling around the state to get in the governor's face. Heck, I'm not even sure I dig high-speed rail. But I do enjoy seeing some extra pep in the senator's step.
Speaking of rail pep, state Sen. Thad Altman's got some. It took real political fortitude for the Brevard Republican to file the lawsuit telling Scott to take the rail money. Two years ago, most legislators supported it. Now, with visions of Tea Parties dancing in their heads, many GOP legislators have developed acute and convenient cases of amnesia. Altman isn't one of them.
Also speaking of rail pep, where is Buddy Dyer's? He actually stepped it up a bit Thursday — and may be saving his best fight for SunRail. But would you like to see his official statement in reaction to the rail lawsuit? "I am aware of the lawsuit and that it has been filed. I will allow it to run its course through the judicial process." Wow. Give 'em hell, Buddy!
Speaking of the governor and rail, I was impressed with his office's formal response to the legal challenge. Based on Scott's personal history, I just figured anytime he got anywhere near a courtroom, he'd instinctively plead the fifth.
Speaking of instincts, don't most of us already know to use our hands when riding a bike? Well, in Florida, it's the law. But fear not, nanny-state foes. Melbourne Republican State Rep. Ritch Workman has filed a bill titled "Removes requirement to keep one hand on handlebars while operating bicycle." I'm not sure which is stranger — that we have this law on the books or that we have reps fighting it.
And finally, speaking of fights, did you see that Floridians may now have to combat killer bees? We already have hurricanes, sinkholes, shark attacks, pythons and droughts. And now swarms of bees? I swear, if the Econlockhatchee River turns to blood, we all may need to seriously consider moving.
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