Today we have another round of hugs and slugs — for everyone from politicians who are uniting to help needy kids to politicians who are united in their hypocrisy. And we'll top it all off with a few thoughts from readers, and even Jimmy Buffett.
A slug to State. Sen. Gary Siplin, who has an amazing knack for finding new lows. This week, the Orlando Democrat was the only senator in the entire state to oppose efforts to reform the Public Service Commission, the state agency that has been more of a lapdog than watchdog for power companies eager to jack up your rates. Siplin was the lone holdout in a 39-1 vote to, among other things, ban secret conversations between power-company execs and state regulators. With votes like this, Siplin is more than just an embarrassment to his party: He's an embarrassment to the state.
• Double-fisted slugs to Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist — a couple of political hypocrites who preach fiscal responsibility to everyone but themselves. Rubio continues to yammer on about wasteful spending, even as he makes headlines for racking up more than $100,000 worth of credit-card charges on the GOP's American Express — everything from the simply pricey ($600-a-week car rentals, according to The Miami Herald) to the seriously questionable (plane trips for which Rubio double-billed both taxpayers and the Republican Party). A lot of people can rightfully criticize his spending … but Crist ain't one of 'em. This is the guy, after all, who managed to spend a whopping $430,000 on a European "trade mission," during which his wife helped him rack up $1,300 worth of room-service and mini-bar bills. Yet, in criticizing his opponent in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, Crist actually had the audacity to claim: "I'm the most frugal, cheap guy you'll ever meet."(Only if Paris Hilton and Donald Trump are the only two people you've ever met.) Basically, what we have here are two so-called "conservatives" accusing each other of being fiscal frauds. How about we find some common ground and agree they're both right?
• A hug to the many politicians staging a bipartisan show of support for needy kids this weekend at United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida's annual fundraising gala. Politicians of all stripes — from Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to Republican Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty — are slated to gather at the Buena Vista Palace on Saturday to raise money for this worthy organization that helps kids whose accomplishments and struggles are as inspirational as they are humbling. The group is set to honor former homebuilder Bob Mandell, who helped raise money for the group's new campus in east Orange County. Also being honored for their help: Southern Wine & Spirits, Premier Beverages and Republic National Distributing Co.— meaning there'll be plenty of booze around … which sometimes helps the bipartisanship go down even smoother.
You can find more hugs and slugs — including a hug to Lynx, which is giving away free advertising space on buses to local nonprofits, and a slug to cowardly politicians who rely upon "across-the-board" budget cuts rather than making the kind of tough choices that require both spines and brains — at OrlandoSentinel.com/takingnames.
The last words
Reader Roberta B. got riled up after reading Wednesday's column about Florida's pitiful funding of mental-health issues (48th in the nation) — which creates even higher costs for hospitals, jails and taxpayers down the road. "With the Rolls-Royce health insurance they get in Tally," Roberta said of the legislators' premium-free plans, "they certainly can afford eyeglasses to better see how shortsighted these policies are."
And finally, at last week's Jimmy Buffett concert, the legendary singer lamented the imminent passing of Orlando's Amway Arena, saying: "I'm going to miss this place. I think I'll just buy it." Unfortunately for Buddy Dyer, that's seems to be the most interest anyone has expressed so far.
Scott Maxwell, whose profound love for Parrotheads grew even stronger last week after he tailgated with a woman who actually brought her own homemade toilet … from Pittsburgh, can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6141.