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A day to honor veterans — and shun silly politics

ElectionsLaws and LegislationVeterans AffairsDefense

We have the normal amount of political tomfoolery to highlight in today's Friday Files. But since it's Veteran's Day, throughout the column, I'll also be offering seven meaningful ways to commemorate the day.

Veterans idea No. 1. Do something to help the family of a deployed service member. Make dinner. Mow the grass. Offer to watch the children.

Poll peeking. So the latest Quinnipiac poll shows that Florida Republicans are still sweet on Herman Cain (27 percent), with Mitt Romney in second place (21 percent) and Newt Gingrich gaining ground (17 percent). Way behind at a surprisingly unimpressive 5 percent was Rick Perry. Why? Well, GOP voters had three problems with Perry: 1) His debate performance. 2) His vague answers. And 3) … um … um …

Veterans idea No. 2. Make a donation to a group that helps vets, like the Wounded Warrior Project nationally or the Camaraderie Foundation locally.

Poll peeking, part II. In the same poll, only two of candidates were deemed "honest and trustworthy" by a majority of Floridians — Romney (51 percent) and Barack Obama (52 percent).

Veterans idea No. 3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. A disgracefully high number of this nation's homeless are veterans — more than 100,000 according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you know a veteran who's struggling to make ends meet, share this number: 1-877-4AID-VET.

New blood needed. Beleaguered expressway authority director Mike Snyder isn't even out the door. And already, legislators like Sen. Andy Gardiner are suggesting a replacement with potential conflicts of interest. Enough already. Is it too much to ask to hire someone who has not made — and will not make — money off the public agency he'd be running? You know, in some communities, when they're looking for top-notch talent to run an agency, they scour the nation, looking for someone who has effectively run a similar agency elsewhere. Orlando leaders should do the same.

Veterans idea No. 4. The next time you hear a politician pledging to support veterans as part of a campaign pitch, ask him or her specifically what action, bill or piece of legislation they plan to pass. And ask it in public.

Really? Here's a headline from the News Service of Florida last week: "Senate ponders service cuts for developmentally disabled." Thank goodness. Those greedy disabled people have been living high on the hog for far too long.

Veterans idea No. 5. Send a care package to someone serving abroad. Groups like operationshoebox.com make it simpler. Doing it yourself is nice. Even better is organizing a group of neighbors, church members or friends to send a collection of packages.

Not really. Here's a headline I haven't seen anywhere. "Legislators ponder cut to their own health-care package — one of the most generous in the nation at $8 a month." And you won't see it either. Florida legislators love their bennies. It's the other public employees — and apparently the developmentally disabled — who should sacrifice.

Veterans idea No. 6. Do something to help your children understand the sacrifice vets have made — and the cost of war. Take them to a ceremony. Or help them make thank-you cards.

A hug to the voters of Altamonte Springs for rejecting the heavy-handed and nasty campaign tactics in their mayoral race. Two weeks ago, I said I hoped that residents would reject these underhanded and cowardly tactics. On Tuesday, they did, re-electing Mayor Pat Bates. Let's hope that sends a message. More on this one at orlandosentinel.com/takingnames.

Veterans idea No. 7. Thank a veteran — personally and directly. Look them in the eye while telling them you appreciate their service. Too few people do.

smaxwell@tribune.com or 407-420-6141

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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