Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Changes in Latitudes

We elected a new president under the mantra of "change" and "Yes we can!” There's no doubt there's going to be change and with the right balance I'm confident that change will do us all good.

I didn't vote for Mr. Obama (or McCain) but reading up on the subjects in the "love triangle" (environment, health, food), in the wake of his win, I'm optimistic he gets the connection. Of course that's speculation mixed with high hopes. (I'm not too happy with his pick for USDA chief but I'm willing to give him a chance.)

One subject I know will be sure to cause a lot of discussion (to put it politely) when Mr. Obama becomes president is climate change. In case you didn't know, "they're" trying to replace global warming as the term because climate change helps convey that there are changes in addition to rising temperatures (and probably because it flies in the face of the extreme cold and heavy snow in some parts of the country and world.)

I like to live by the phrase "don't sweat the small stuff" and try to keep focused on the big picture. But in the case of climate change, it's the opposite. I can't say one way or another with certainty whether we're affecting the climate or not. But to me it doesn't matter because every reasonable step we take in the name of thwarting climate change is a step we take to better health, a lower cost of living, and leaving a sustainable planet to future generations.

Changes in Attitude

And that's the point I'm hoping climate skeptics will think about when the debate starts up. One trend I'm suddenly seeing is almost every environmental issue is now attaching itself to climate change. In the beginning I thought it was great. For some reason a lot of people who had no care about air pollution suddenly were interested in CO2 levels and reducing their carbon footprint. But now I'm afraid it's turning people off from better consideration of other important environmental issues. Issues that will no doubt be coming up for public/congressional debate.

For instance, an article the other day pointed out how the entire Southeast is under threats of water shortages in the not too distant future- and climate change is going to worsen it.

And another article reported new coal powered plants are being held up not so much because of their terrible air pollution or for the other perfectly good reasons (as I pointed out in last Wednesday's Green Acres post) but mostly because of possible new rules for climate change under the Obama administration.

Anyway, I just ask that when you hear some new law or regulation being debated in Congress with climate change attached to it that it doesn't cloud your judgement and you consider the small picture. Please consider addressing water pollution/shortages and air pollution whether from coal plants, factories or CAFO's (confined or concentrated animal feeding operations) on their own merits even if they're attached to the coattails of climate change.

Now what in the name of climate change can Mr. Obama’s change possibly mean for IRC?

To be honest, I don't really know. I just know there's talk about a stimulus plan costing nearly a trillion dollars and a lot of it is in the name of holding off climate change. But it's mostly going into infrastructure, green technology, green jobs, alternative energy, health care, education, and food. You know we have to stop looking at growth as a driver of our economy. If there's a windfall for us from a stimulus package I'd like to see it used to set ourselves up sustainably for the long haul. It might be for naught but is there any reason we shouldn't start putting together an outline of possibilities should Mr. Obama's plan come to pass?

Infrastructure: If we could, what would upgrading our rail system do for us? Would a bridge to beachside in Sebastian improve business the same as new industry? What other infrastructure needs attention? How about public transportation? Does it serve everyone? Is it practical to use to get to work? Especially for those in the poorer neighborhoods?

Education: Most of our out of work construction people are ready for green jobs. A lot of other green jobs don't need a college degree but they do need training. Can we find (clean) industry in need of skilled workers and put them out for them as an incentive to locate here? Also, can we adopt vocational training for other green jobs? Can we reduce our recidivism rates through educational or vocational programs for those same jobs? (Funding is already slated for next year for the training of green jobs.)

They'll go along with what some are saying may be a green energy corps. Who in our community should be the first to have their homes or small businesses retrofitted to be energy efficient? Or which non-profit offices or publicly owned buildings should be first?

Not the last or the least, alternative energy: Is it possible for the county to build and own its own solar panel manufacturing plant? Or how about a county owned solar power plant? Is it possible to use federal dollars to help fund rooftop solar for county residents? (Some places are loaning homeowners the money interest free or low interest, to put solar on their roof and spreading the bill out on their property taxes.)

What possibilities can you think of?

With wishes of a happy, healthy New Year, TTFN, LDouglas

P. S. My apologies to Max. I didn't mean to pilfer your signature. It's just that I could think of no other headings that fit as perfectly as they did. (In my defense I've always thought there was a song title or lyrics about most any subject you could think of.).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It was a tough decision, possum drop in Tallapoosa,Georgia?

Or drag queen drop in Key West?

Possum or drag queen, possum or drag queen? An impossible and agonizing decision for Miss Vero! Thank goodness, the Secret Squirrel came to our rescue and promised to whisk us away to a place that involves the Eiffel Tower and fireworks! Oooohh Paris?


Yes, in a strange and fascinating tradition, the Squirrel and Miss Vero have tacky-ed up every New Year's celebration that we can get our little paws on. Last year the Squirrel somehow convinced Miss Vero to do some major tacky tourist things in New York City. Honestly who goes to New York City on New Year's Eve, only the crazy people, right? So count us in! Now, we weren't completely out of our minds to stand in the "pen" for ten hours. No, the Squirrel saw fit to install us on a very lovely rooftop with libations (and a warm apartment) close at hand.

And the year before, it was Las Vegas! All we are permitted to tell y'all about that trip is that it didn't involve Donny and Marie.

So this year Disney? Never, in Miss Vero's wildest dreams (and believe us hunnies, they do get wild), would we admit or agree to going to Disney World, especially on New Year's Eve. But our beloved Secret Squirrel has manged to book a little party that begins just before midnight at the French pavilion in EPCOT and continues at a very luxurious hotel, wha-la!

We do love our Squirrel! Until we met the Squirrel, Miss Vero had always considered New Year's Eve "amateur night" and we stayed home, so that others may finally take the opportunity to catch up with us. But no more. Because of the Squirrel we have found the true meaning of the holidays, the reason for the season, the keeping the "New" in New Year and that, kids is a tacky, yet fabulous, New Year's Eve celebration!

Now, because of our little tradition we did not make plans to stay in town, but if we did, y'all know we would be at the Epicenter of Cool - Undertow. There's a great band that night and Miss Kitty will be makin sure y'all have a rockin time, so yes, if we were in town that's where we'd be. So if y'all find yourselves in town tomorrow night, go to Undertow.

In fact, call right now and make a reservation.

Don't argue with Miss Vero, just do it.

And for the love of possum and drag queens, don't drive! A cab is ALWAYS cheaper than a DUI! And no, we are not speaking from experience, Miss Vero just knows this as a universal truth - just like the fact that the sun will rise every morning and annoy our beauty rest.

Now we do have a few things that we will address concerning some stories over in the Press Journal and the fact that Mr. Lemmon did not mention us in his "Choice Morsels from '08" column today. We are not miffed that we were overlooked, just amused that for all the "tracking down" of Miss Vero that went on this year over at the PJ, that we should at least garner a honorable mention. We suppose it's their new strategy, that if they just ignore us, we'll go away. Guess again.

We'll give y'all our list of "Scoops and Predictions for 2009" and our year end retrospect on Friday, when we're sufficiently detoxed. Until then, enjoy LDouglas' Greetings from Green Acres tomorrow and we'll share a tasty Southern tradition on New Year's Day.

Oh! And one more thing...


Monday, December 29, 2008


What y'all get for Christmas? Miss Vero is just thankful that Max didn't get somethin that would shoot his eye out, cause y'all know he's just that kinda fella...


Max Newport

Before y’all get the idea that Max is getting all uppity and highfalutin while finger pointing at some recent prime examples of idiocy; when someone knocks on my door it is more likely to be a probation officer than a recruiter for Mensa. Before reaching back to Aretha Franklin for a headliner, I did a little search to find the word used to describe a gathering of fools, you know like a “gaggle” of geese, a “pride” of lions, a “murder” of crows, etc., and found this informative website:

You need to be careful how you use some of those terms. “Honey, look over there at that ‘pace’ of asses!”

It was Christmas Eve in the Newport household around 7:30 P.M. and children were hanging their stockings by the chimney with care with hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there and what did their tender young ears suddenly hear? St. Bobby of Bowden tried to remove all their cheer. Mom may or not have been wearing a kerchief, since I’m not even sure what the heck that is, but I was certainly capless (I repeat capless). Even though my head was bare, I was watching my favorite network, ESPN, and the talking heads were doing a live interview with Florida State University’s head football coach, Bobby Bowden. Since Bowden has been coaching at FSU since the Warren G. Harding administration, they decided to ask him about some of his favorite Christmas memories. I was hoping he would share memories of the discovery of fire or what Christmas was like before the emergence of the “horseless carriage”, but no. He mumbled and dadgummed about a few choice presents he received and then unleashed this nugget, "of course that was back when I believed there was a Santa Claus".

Stockings were dropped by the chimney with abandon and soulful eyes peered on the verge of tears. I had to provide comfort by explaining that it was just that crazy old man who always looks lost wandering the sidelines at football games and is always blowing his nose whenever he gets a television close up. Thankfully there was a paper towel nearby so that I could do some exaggerated honks and quickly change the subject, just like the interviewers were trying to do on ESPN. Thanks Coach. In spite of that little snafu, the Newports hope that you coach at FSU for many, many years to come and let’s keep that “head coach in – waiting”, Jimbo Fisher, awaiting for a long, long time. Just don’t mess with Santa.

After calming down the mini-Newports, I drifted over to TCPalm where the list of fools would fill a moderate sized auditorium. They were pushing one of their ever so accurate polls for their readers to vote on what they consider the top local story of 2008. One of the choices, the last one I believe, was; “Jim Mayfield dies after election as tax collector.” Who is manning the control booth here? Stan Mayfield served on our school board for four years, spent eight years as our voice in the Florida House of Representatives and was elected as tax collector in August shortly before he died of cancer at the premature age of 52. I met Stan back in the early 1990’s when he was on the school board and considered him a friend. What an insult to Stan’s memory that after years and years of public service his “hometown” newspaper can’t even remember his name and yet believe that his death is one of the top stories of the year?

Who are these boneheads? The next day, I checked the story again and it was still “Jim” in spite of a spate of reader comments. They have since corrected the error but it was up way too long. Long enough to know that someone forgot to inflate the auto-pilot.

It would be charitable to forgive a mistake, but there is not enough space on my hard drive to begin a well needed tirade on the pure garbage produced by the Press Journal. I feel one coming. It is just too bad that the pompous attitude displayed in print and online does not translate to a degree of quality one would care to read. When I was a first grader, I would read the Miami Herald every morning before school. The Press Journal is a paper you want to hide from the kids.

Santa Claus did bring the Newports iPhones for Christmas. It was good to have some kids around to show us how to use them. The instruction leaflet in the box was about as helpful as a fortune cookie. It gave us a website where we could find a 154 page owner’s manual. It is in a PDF format so there is no search (that I am aware of).

So after passing out insults to St. Bowden and the Press Journal, I will say this. When it comes to the iPhone, I am a fool. A capless fool . . . on autopilot. Someone just rang the doorbell.

It must be Mensa. Happy New Year!!!


Sunday, December 28, 2008


Sorry hunnies, but it should only last one day and not an entire season! Please wake Miss Vero when it's all over and somebody please let us know when something excitin is going to happen, because we are just bored to tears!

Perhaps we'll get started on all those emails y'all have sent us. We haven't answered any in the past month, goodness, what can we say? We'll just have to put that on our list, with all the other of those little ole New Year's resolutions!


Thursday, December 25, 2008


Y'all just never know who's gonna drop in to visit with Miss Vero!
A glass of cheer and eggnog to everyone today!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Naughty or Nice?

Will there be coal in our stocking? There are a few versions of how coal in the stocking of naughty kids came to be. One version claims as Santa was filling stockings hung over the fireplace he simply reached down to the bucket for a handful of coal to fill the naughty kids’ stockings. Another version claims a woman wanted to bring baby Jesus some toys but passed up the offer of the wise men to accompany them to find him and got lost. Every year as she continues her search she leaves toys along the way to the good children and coal for the naughty children.

Fast forward to 2008-2009 and the coal industry would like to re-brand coal as nice and put it in every child's stocking.

Despite what they tell you in the slick multi-million dollar advertising campaign, coal is not nice. Or clean. Never has been. The coal industry is just trying to greenwash it. Though I'm sure if we were to invest billions more in clean coal technology it's possible we'd figure it out. But I don't see why we would want to.

If you ask me, investing in the coal industry would be like investing to save the company that makes typewriters instead of the one that makes computers. Only 1,000 times over. Sure there are a few old diehards who like their typewriters but they're a dying breed.

I'm hoping the same is true for coal supporters. I understand the importance of being energy independent, but even if coal was clean, it wouldn't compensate for all the other strikes against it.

I'll list those strikes but I'll have to pretend for a minute. I'll have to pretend we did invest billions into technology so coal burns cleanly and it no longer pollutes the air with cancer causing smog and mercury creating acid rain, killing lakes and oceans, making fish too polluted to eat. And quite possibly causing the high rates of autism and other brain diseases. I'll also have to pretend that we did it in a way that doesn't merely shift the pollution under the ground.

Batter Up

It's becoming harder to mine as well as more expensive to mine. To that end they're blowing the tops off mountains to get it, burying entire streams below.

Mining and burning it for energy requires 70 to 260 million gallons of water a day, contaminating most of it. Some of it in forever highly polluted ponds.

Burning coal produces 120 million tons of solid waste every year.

Coal production would have to increase 40% to replace 10% of our oil use.

Increasing coal production wouldn't increase jobs. Over the last ten years mine production rose 32% but the number of mining jobs dropped by 29%. (Which is a good thing.)

In a ten year period about 12,000 miners died of black lung disease.

Coal plants can cost $1 billion and up to build using today's "cleaner" technology.

New estimates say we only have a 100 year supply- and that's if we don't add any new power plants.

8 strikes and your out?

The EPA projects a loss of more than 1.4 million acres – an area the size of Delaware – by the end of the decade. Destroying the natural beauty of communities for generations to come by blowing the tops off mountains, burying streams and leaving behind forever polluted lakes is unconscionable. Especially when there are alternatives.

And new coal plants are only being considered because coal is cheaper than natural gas and oil --as long as it receives government subsidies and is not forced to pay for environmental and health damages.

At our current rate of population growth, our need for electricity doubles every 10-12 years. (Another good reason to push for a population policy?) So we do need to add more power but regardless, coal energy prices will continue to rise, whereas renewables will decline over time. Just because coal is there doesn't mean we have to use it, does it? Because if that's an argument, then the sun is there too and will be around a lot longer than coal.

No matter how coal got its reputation for being a replacement of little gifts for naughty children, it's never been more deserving of it then it is today. Are we going to allow the coal industry to tell us differently and fill every child's stocking with coal? Or more realistically, are we going to invest in typewriters for our kids’ future or computers?

The good news.

Bank of America will phase out financing mining companies whose "predominant method of extracting coal is through mountaintop removal".

Also, the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board kind of put a freeze on the construction of as many as 100 new coal-fired power plants that were on the table around the U.S. They did this to give the Obama administration time to develop rules on carbon dioxide emissions from them. (Something to do with the Supreme Court ruling saying the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.)

I Love has a petition you can sign to ask president-elect Obama to end mountaintop removal in his first 100 days. You can find it here:

Sierra Club has a petition to president-elect Obama to "Repower, Refuel, and Rebuild America". You can find it here:

BTW, turning coal to liquid is another dream of creating a new industry but one that will require billions in investments. Right now one ton of coal produces only two barrels of oil. That's a lot of destruction for something that will be consumed in a flash.

TTFN, LDouglas

And big holiday MWAH! to everyone from...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


As y'all know by now Miss Vero loves to celebrate, all holidays are equal in our book. So we just finished up with our first two nights of Hanukkah and now it's time to replenish our supplies.

Honestly, the one thing we truly like about this time of year are the house parties. Holidays seem to have everybody invitin everybody else over to their house for a party. We just wish folks wouldn't limit it to this time of year because this is one tradition that we enjoy. Good thing we got all that nasty seasonal sickness out of the way, because we have need our strength to attend four house parties in four days! Hey, we are not complaining.

Of course we did manage to put on our Ray Bans and get out into the sunshine on Saturday to attend Winter Fest at Pointe West. And what a lovely event it was! Over at the VIP tent we spotted Mr. Wesley Davis and we were told that we had just missed some of the other commissioners that attended. It would have been easy to miss them, because there was a crowd of over 10,000 people there. Yes, that's right TEN THOUSAND! Now wouldn't y'all think that a gatherin of that many joyous, happy festive folks, at an event open to the public, with resources from the county be covered by the PJ? Wouldn't ya? And especially since the Press Journal was a "sponsor" of the event, wouldn't you think they would have some pictures of the happy children frolicking in the snow? Yes, SNOW! We're sure that some staff photographer would have much better photos that the ones Miss Vero snapped with a cellphone. Just sayin...

All right, so here's what Miss Vero would like for Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa or just for the heck of it) - A NEWSPAPER THAT COVERS VERO BEACH! Yes, we know we're yelling, it's intentional.

Now Max Newport loves to talk about Vero history and legal stuff (we'd bet the farm that he's gonna have a field day on January 7th , when both Ira Hatch and Damian Gilliams have court dates) and that suits us fine. While LDouglas reminds us that we should be more environmental aware. But yours truly would just like to pick up a paper or click online and find out what the heck is goin on around this town, from folks who report and not opinionate. Is that too much to ask? It is Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Whatever, after all.

Santa Baby are y'all listening?


Monday, December 22, 2008


Today is the first in our holiday postings and of course, since it's Monday, we start with an offering from our own Max Newport. Max didn't choose this picture to go with his article, Miss Vero did, but that's us - always stirrin up trouble.
Max Newport

Many a winter solstice has passed uncelebrated since I graced the stage of Beachland Elementary School’s cafetorium in December of 1962 as a wise man, of which I was neither. Due to a magical combination of bathrobes, sandals, crepe paper and aluminum foil, three ordinary sixth graders were transformed into Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, also known as the three kings, the wise men or the Magi. Although our dialog didn’t involve calling each other by name, Max was Balthazar, the king of Ethiopia and stunningly sang to the audience of captive parents and siblings:

“Frankincense to offer have I Incense owns a Deity nighPray'r and praising, all men raisingWorship Him, God most highO Star of wonder, star of nightStar with royal beauty brightWestward leading, still proceedingGuide us to Thy perfect light”

Balthazar had chosen to bring incense to a newborn, which is the modern day equivalent to bringing a Lawrence Welk album to an AC/DC concert. Go to the local maternity ward, fire up some incense and see where that gets you. You will suddenly have a file created as thick as the Manhattan phone book and it will be public record guaranteeing a color photo on the front page of the local newspaper.

In 1962, Christmas in Vero Beach was most certainly a holiday dedicated to celebrating the birth of Christ. There were no protests outside or inside the cafetorium. JFK was in the White House. We began each school day with a few verses from the Bible, a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and a salute to the flag. There was a lot of prayer in the classroom that year both sanctioned and unsanctioned. In October, we were certain that we would all be dead before Christmas due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was an alarm installed and when we heard it, we were instructed to dive under our desks. Every time a jet would fly over, the teacher would stop in mid-sentence and we would all look out the window. We had evacuation drills. When we would cross the original Merrill P. Barber Bridge we would see barge after barge of military equipment flowing south. There was also this woman who fished off the bridge every day. Every day. She might have hooked a jeep during that month. At Beachland, we were some scared kids. Everyone else seemed pretty frightened too, except for that lady on the bridge. Knowing that the adults were just as terrified as us sixth graders was not at all comforting.
Things have changed. I can only imagine what a Christmas Pageant would be like today at Beachland Elementary. It’s a safe bet that you won’t see a manger or shepherds or, my personal favorite, Balthazar. Dancing reindeer? A 12 year old Santa Claus? A lot of fake snow? Can you even sing songs with the word Christmas anymore? How many times can you sing “Winter Wonderland”?

The Newports are grateful Christians but we also understand that many folks are not and choose to celebrate what we call Christmas in a totally different manner. We have many friends who are not Christians and some who have no beliefs at all. I still wish those I see a “Merry Christmas”, since I am not a “Happy Holidays” type person. I am trying to share the joy of my holiday with you, not convert you to my religion or disrespect any belief or lack thereof you may have or not have as the case may be.

Max has the kind of job where I see at least a hundred persons a week and shake a lot of hands. So far no one has punched me during the past week for wishing them a Merry Christmas, but I can tell for some it is not a welcome greeting. To them I say, get over it. If I were trying to offend you, you can bet that I would know how to do that. But Max is not that kind of person, especially during this season offering tidings of comfort and joy. One gentleman did respond to my greeting by telling me that he and his family celebrated Kwanzaa rather than Christmas at which point I wished him a most joyous celebration of Kwanzaa.

But honestly, I do miss the school Christmas pageants with Balthazar and company and would like to see them return; at least from a sentimental, historical perspective. After all, our nation was founded on Christian principles.

Well Max, you might say, what about the separation of church and state? Read the constitution folks, it ain’t in there. The first amendment reads, and I quote, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The courts have created an ever evolving separation most notably what is known as the Lemon test based upon a 1971 U. S. Supreme Court case Lemon v Kurtzman (403 US 602). The court articulated a three prong test for the utilization of government resources for parochial purposes: “First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.”

That explains the disappearance of nativity scenes on public property. A few years ago, I had a business meeting in Jackson, Mississippi in December. The ACLU had successfully fought to have a nativity scene removed from the lawn of the state capitol building. There are many buildings in Jackson that are quite tall, not by Manhattan standards, but tall enough that there were dozens of buildings in the city that left office lights on in the shape of a cross. I thought that was kind of cool. Take that ACLU. There was nowhere you could look on a Jackson night where you did not see a cross.

Let’s not forget the commercial value of a secular Christmas. Mrs. Newport told me that she heard “Happy Holidays” (the song) playing over the sound system at the local Walgreens while shopping for Halloween candy. It seems that a good portion of our economy is based upon spreading good cheer, in the form of expensive gifts, on Christmas. Where would the retail industry be without the "holiday season"? Many a business would go belly up without the "good tidings we bring to you and your kin". We understand the now diversity of what was once a holiday primarily celebrated by Christians and certainly hold no ill will toward a business who instructs the employees to greet shoppers with a "Happy Holidays" rather than a "Merry Christmas". We understand. Balthazar was on the Santa Claus prowl a few days ago looking for some incense to deliver to the hospital and was so greeted. I responded with a thank you and a "Merry Christmas". (Be on the lookout for my mugshot). Where would the economy be without Christmas?

If you are ever in the hubbub of commercialism, New York City, make sure you go and see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. It will set you back a few bucks but it is one great show. It concludes with a nativity scene of Biblical proportions. Cecil B. DeMille could not have done a better job. We forked over the money for prime center seats in the orchestra section and it is the most impressive stage show I have ever seen. (“The Lion King” is a close second.) The Radio City folks aren’t shy about what they consider the true meaning of Christmas. With those prices, there were certainly no protests.

“Bring your entire family! Audiences of all ages will delight in this multifaceted spectacular including Santa flying high above the crowd, childhood dreams coming true in the Nutcracker and touched as the true meaning of Christmas is brought to life with the awe-inspiring Living Nativity - the beautiful story of the first Christmas.”
Spend the extra bucks for the good seats. This is a show you will never forget.
Well, Max has taken a long road to reach a somewhat brief and post-flu induced conclusion. No matter how you celebrate December 25th, the Newports wish you a joyous and happy Christmas.
. . . of peace on earth, good will to men.”

And a Merry Christmas to you, Max Newport!

Friday, December 19, 2008



It's that time of year when family members fly into town. Just this morning Miss Vero's brother was picked up at the airport, luckly the authorities were kind enough to return him home. He's just your average pesky little brother, we wish he would just stay out of our closet and off our computer, but y'all know - family is family...


Big rumors abound and it's so seldom that we hear one that is wrapped up in a bow and handed to us! It was reported to Miss Vero that last Sunday, in the late afternoon, some lush-ish young women made the very brave and high-larious decision to cavort around nekid in the front waterfall entrance at the Costa D'Este! The very gracious and professional security personnel politely handed them towels and offered the back heated pool as an option to continue their festive behavior! A situation with noodity and cocktails that did not end in handcuffs and tears! WE LOVE THAT! It just shows extreme class all around don't y'all think?

Have a fabulous weekend!


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Did y'all hear about, read about it, know about it? No?, well Miss Vero (as usual) is not surprised.

But don't worry kids, y'all didn't miss a thing because the county is still paying Mr. Bill Fruth of Policom a lot of money to tell y'all the exact same thing that we heard ten years ago about economic development in Indian River County. If fact, somebody stood up and told the entire room "Hey, I remember hearing the same thing ten years ago!"

There was a lovely package given out with a lot of dated, incomplete, but very impressive graphs and information (like the one that showed an increase in construction business, never mind that the latest figures were from 2006). The impressive folder had a picture of two men playing golf on the cover, because when y'all think of community leaders and job creation the first thing that comes to mind is, well, playing golf!

And such an important gathering of movers and shakers in the community and the entire Indian River County Commission would be covered by the local press right? Ok, let me check TCPalm again - Nope, nothin there.

And talk about Dodgertown? No, no, no, not allowed according to Joe Baird, who said that he preferred not to entertain any ideas regarding the use of the facility because he is still in the process of negotiating with baseball principles. What? Huh? Did we hear that right? Maybe we were still laughing from him telling everyone that he doesn't know why Russ Lemmon keeps writing about him because he's NEVER talked to Russ Lemmon.

Oh, the hilarity and high jinx of those community leaders! Hunnies if we didn't laugh we'd just cry. But Miss Vero is not all naysayin, because we have a little suggestion. How about revitalizing downtown? Shops, restaurants and a cute little historic citrus town that could easily be accessed by train. Yep, that's what we said...train.

Florida was built by trains and a new system over the existing rails makes sense, it's "green" and many new technologies will be used to update and expand the system. Why couldn't Vero Beach be the Florida home of new rail tech? Because of Mr. Obama's plan to stimulate the economy with the rebuilding of infrastructure, this could happen. Oh wait... maybe our Republican leaders didn't get that memo. Oh well...we'll get back to y'all in ten years and talk about what were going to do for jobs.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We thought we were feeling better! Miss Vero can't speak for Max Newport but we think the little flu epidemic is finally over here at the Beach House. LDouglas has us thinking about our health again, although to be honest we really prefer not to, thank y'all very much. And when that day comes when Miss Vero is finally called to the big blog post in the sky, y'all can put us in a biodegradable hefty and kick us to the curb, cause well, we 'll be dead and we won't care! So put us down for the big ole cardboard model and two tears in a bucket.


How green are you willing to go? All the way to the end? What I mean is when your time comes, or the time of a loved one, would you choose a green burial for yourself or them? In case you’re not familiar with it, a green burial is where you are returned to the earth to decompose naturally. There are no chemical preservatives to preserve you. The caskets are simple or not at all. You can be buried in a shroud or your favorite blanket. Your site is marked by a flat stone or none at all- though it is mapped using GIS. (You can also be cremated and interred, but it's not as green.)

You can do a green burial with the help of a regular funeral director or you can do it yourself. Some states allow you to lay out and have services in your own home. I suppose that's just going back to the old days when it was customary to be laid out in the parlor of your home.

Still reading? Yeah I know. Your intent is to live forever and so far so good, right? (Thanks Steven Wright) I know it's not the most pleasant subject but unfortunately not too many people get through life without planning a funeral. And nobody gets through life without being the recipient of one.

Here in Florida, you can direct any part of the process yourself, right down to filling the hole. (As long as it's not literally for your self- haha.)

They do have a few rules though. Green cemeteries don't allow embalming. And they don't allow traditional caskets citing all the pollutants and non-decomposing parts that go into them. If you still want to be buried in one, you have several green options. You can buy a simple green casket from a carpenter or build your own.

Now the good part. Unlike most everything else that is "green" a green burial doesn't cost you as much $green as a conventional burial. And in some places, you’re allowed to have your pets buried in your plot.

Here's a link to what sounds like a really nice "memorial preserve" in Florida:

Here are instructions for building your own (or a loved one's) casket ala Mother Earth News (my favorite magazine):

Here's an interesting website "Be a Tree" with a lot of information about green burials.

This is the website of a green cemetery in Maine. It has quite a few interesting articles about green burials as well. One of which is an article about "do it yourself" funerals. Another is about a guy who builds simple "green" bookcases that convert to caskets- you know- for practical people.

Oh, and if your not too fond of forests but like the ocean, your cremated remains final resting place could become part of an artificial reef.

Now tell me if the thought of a funeral hadn't crossed your mind while you were down with the flu....

TTFN, LDouglas

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Chef Lamm, Mr. Ralph Sexton and hostess, Mrs. Marcia Loewinger,
at the grand opening, while members of the Sexton and Tripson families
gather to hear the presentation.

Hunnies, if y'all were goin be one place this season, last night at the grand opening of the new Patio restaurant was the place to be. When Miss Vero tells y'all that anyone who is anyone in Vero Beach was there, we mean it! This was the Vero old guard, not the new beachies with attitude, not the midwestern and yankee "reporters" and not a politician in sight! (Ok, Miss Carole Jean Jordan was there, but not in political capacity, so that doesn't count). This was an evening of true Vero aristocracy and a party that celebrated what we all remembered -Vero as it was and as it still could be.

Mr. Ralph told a few stories that everyone was strainin to hear over the noise of people greetin and chattin. But they just couldn't help themselves, everyone was just so happy to see each other. As we stood next to our beloved Queen Mother of Vero, Miss Alma Lee Loy, folks were trippin over themselves to greet her - and rightly so.

Miss Hildie Tripson was the most gracious hostess, who at one point scouted every room with Miss Vero in tow, to introduce us to Mr. Milton R. Benjamin of Verobeach32963 and Miss Willi Miller of WQCS' Arts Spotlight, because after a few cocktails this seemed like a good idea! Unfortunately, Mr. Benjamin and Miss Miller had already left, so a meeting of the minds never transpired. However there were a few others (especially one of our favorite people, Mr. Mark Wygonik!), that Miss Vero had a fabulous time with and as usual, we were one of the last to leave.

Y'all will be so happy to hear that the interior is just like y'all remember it, all of the priceless treasures of Waldo are still in place, although not a speck of dust to be found. Some items were "found" and brought back safe and the very fascinating Mr. Clemmer Mayhew, from the Addison Mizner Museum, was on hand to point out the spectacular artifacts around the room. The interior is now spic and span and most of the renovations are unseen because the kitchen got most of the makeover right down to the cement foundation!

And the food! The food children was fabulous, we not only enjoyed every tasty shrimp, chicken and meat dish, prepared every way imaginable, we also enjoyed the company of Chef Lamm, who will make this place hum. The offerings were endless and each one more delicious than the last, only to be topped by the fantastic pizzas!

We had such a wonderful time, but it was all over too soon, so we tried to continue our cocktailin and cavortin elsewhere. We went over to the beautiful Costa d'Este for a nightcap and a little company, because we just happen to love the staff and they always take such wonderful care of us. It turns out that only Miss Vero goes out late on a Monday night and we had the entire bar all to ourselves! Everyone gathered round and was interested in our tales of the Patio and all our pictures. Yes, it was a good night in Vero.


Monday, December 15, 2008


We're all sick here at the Beach House and we've got the flu too! Everyone in or around Miss Vero has been ill, is under the weather, or is coming down with somethin. Miss Vero is just about over it, but honestly, we are still a bit draggy. Our poor friend Mr. Max Newport has also been ill, but he somehow managed to dose up real good and write us a clever article.

Max Newport

Max woke up Wednesday morning with a raging fever, chills and other good stuff and felt that soon someone would be knocking on the door saying “bring out your dead”. I would have gladly jumped on the pile. Since my eyes were not focusing, I thought it best to avoid going to work and spreading this plague and/or making any type of decision in a feverish fog. Later, I found out that Wednesday was some kind of a national call in gay sick day then remembered that we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home. Since the song was about when Johnny comes marching home again, why weren’t we gay when he marched home the first time?

Yes, this is Max on meds. It’s not going to be pretty. This is the kind of writing I detest, but since I have the attention span of a gnat, this is as good as it gets.

Thankfully, my doctor is not gay and was able to see me on short notice blessing me with a shot and some prescriptions. The diagnosis? “That thing that is going around”. The cure? Plenty of rest, liquids and time. Yes “time” is the cure. Wait long enough and it will go away. The good doctor said the meds should have me feeling better in about 48 hours.

The real down side to this, other than the fever, chills, etc., was the inability to sleep. So I was propped on the couch in a stupor, perhaps drooling, watching daytime television on a weekday for the first time in recent memory, but more about that later. I did consider taking NyQuil because that will put your sorry butt to sleep. Years ago I took some NyQuil and I swear that actress Ruth Gordon came into my room, dressed like a nurse, with a ziplock baggie filled with water and several teabags. “Make the fever work for you, my boy, make it work for you.”

Since then I have avoided NyQuil. If you haven’t seen Denis Leary’s take on green narcolepsy, here is the link. It is rated “R” for language so be therefore advised.

I’m glad Denis mentioned Christmas because our favorite Christmas movie is “The Ref”. Mrs. Newport and I watch it every year and stars Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis are all fantastic. As a side note, the guy that plays Leary’s partner in crime “Gus” was also the infamous Al Neri character in the Godfather movies. He’s the guy that killed Fredo in part two. My personal favorite Christmas flick is the original “Die Hard”. I’ve got in on DTS 6.1 surround sound and can’t wait to watch it when my brain starts working again. You might think that since the Newports are fine church going folk that we would enjoy more traditional holiday fare. We did go see the movie “The Nativity Story” a couple of years ago and in a moment of spiritual triumph purchased the DVD. It sits on our shelf yet today in its original child resistant, bullet proof plastic wrappings. Put “The Ref” on your Netflix list. You’ll be glad that you did.

Back to daytime television. With the inability to focus on anything, I watched the triad of MSNBC, Fox News and ESPN and parts of a few movies. Here are a few observations:

1. I’m not buying this Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s hair for a second. It seems that Chicago’s political reputation for corruption is reaching new heights and that Barack Obama is the new Al Capone.

2. Cristy Lane is pushing hard to sell a 3 cd songfest with 53 tunes. She sings, “Shake me I rattle, squeeze me I cry…” right before an urgent Fox News Alert that the remains of Caylee Anthony had been found in Orlando. Who is this Cristy Lane? She looks like she has been around for awhile. From what I heard, I would be looking for a firearm somewhere between the second and third song knowing that there were 50 more to go.

3. I’d keep the firearm handy for this video professor dude urging you to “try my product” that he is literally freaking giving away folks. Only if you deliver it personally prof, so that I can use my firearm.

4. I saw enough of the movie “Juno” to understand why my daughter acts as wacky as she does. No, she is not pregnant, but at least I know where all of the posturing and hand gestures are coming from.

5. Memo to attorney Laurie Goldstein. Get rid of that TV ad. On hi-def big screen, it is about the scariest thing I have ever seen. I emitted an audible gasp when that commercial attacked my screen. My dog ran into another room. If there had been small children in the room, they would have cried.

Enough of me and the flu. Here are a couple of pages I want you to ponder while thinking about the death of the local newspaper to follow up on points made by Miss Vero and LDouglas.

The Press Journal has an awful lot of writers for such a measly output. Of course, when I say “awful lot”, I mean it in the most positive way.

Being sick sucks on so many levels, but I did find a way to get some sleep. I downloaded an audio copy of the book “Downtown Owl” and put it on my iPod.

Audio NyQuil.

Thanks so much Max, hope y'all are on the mend and we have to admit, we kinda like you slightly medicated! Feel better real soon and...

Friday, December 12, 2008


If this looks familiar this evening, y'all are either one of the 220 guests at Gubna Charlie's wedding tonight or one of the many protesters. Of course Miss Vero had to decline the invitation, because well, we just couldn't be in two places at one time!
Let's take a little trip down to Jose Lambiet's page2live for all the details:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

BEEP..., BEEP..., BEEP..., FLATLINE --------

Well, we've just finished reading our mail from the past month. Now, while some of y'all might think it's crazy to only read your mail once a month, Miss Vero somehow finds it liberatin that we are not a slave to most correspondence, which mostly, just wastes our precious time. Did we mention that we pay all our bills online?

Among the satellite tv offers, coupons for useless things and a Christmas card from President and Mrs. Carter, there were a stack of Verobeach32963, that we took the time to sit down and read.

Let's see what we found...Beautiful Beachies doin the Beautiful Beachie things that they do...Real Estate ads...Very good restaurant reviews that don't make us gag...Real Estate ads...Michelle Genz does a profile of our favorite Jose Lambiet, hmmmm, interesting....Real Estate Ads...Oh, and here's our favorite part - the Editorial.

We especially liked that an entire page, in the December 4th issue,was given to remedy the shameful way that Mr. Ken Daige was treated by the Press Journal, which could possible have lost him the election. We would have preferred to see Mr. Daige and the young fresh Mr. Kevin Sawnick, both able to serve Vero while Mr. Tom "running with scissors" White, got the boot.

Yet, the most interesting for us, was the November 13th editorial, "The Incredible Shrinking Press Journal", which Miss Vero found "ink spot on". Last Sunday, after we had emptied the PJ of all it's annoying advertising fliers, we noticed that the paper was tissue thin, hardly any bigger than the Hometown News. And yes, it seems to get smaller and weaker in physically size and journalistic content as each week goes by.

Perhaps the powers that be, at the parent company, E. W. Scripps, are just planning for the future by economizing on ink and paper. After all, way back in January of 2007, this idea was presented.

"...the company's management "spoke much more positively on the possibility of reducing its exposure to the newspaper industry"

Just this week, E. W. Scripps has put a Pulitzer winning paper on the market, with little chance of finding a buyer:

And more newspaper trouble a little closer to home, with news of the Miami Herald for sale:

We especially like the little blurb in Gawker that gives the Miami Herald -"Odds of survival: 2-1. If you do not consider a two-page weekly digest of Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen columns to be "survival," we lower its odds to 3-1.":
(See? We told y'all that Mr. Hiaasen had lost his humor mojo)

And here's a final nail in the coffin from Editor&Publisher, "America's oldest journal covering the newspaper industry", who proclaim this week that -"'Several Cities' Could Have No Daily Paper As Soon As 2010...":

While the VB332963 politely offers helpful suggestions to the PJ -"Hire some real reporters and editors.", but concludes that "we confess to doubts that it is going to happen in this difficult economy" and continues with the promise "we intend to continue our news coverage of the local area, particularly as it impacts the Vero Beach barrier island." (yes, we know y'all have to justify those Real Estate ads), we think the future of news is right in front of y'all.

Now of course, at this point we would give y'all a link to the VB32963 article, but we can't and here's where Miss Vero would like to offer a little suggestion to the VB32963. Update your online edition!

And while the VB32963 acknowledges their neglect of this, they counter that they are "focused on getting our print edition into your mailbox each Thursday." Because, guess what? Those Real Estate ads have got to get to you!

The unfortunate truth is that relying on advertising for print media is not a good idea and that if someone doesn't figure out how to make some muhlah on this internet thing (and believe me, Miss Vero hasn't figured it out yet, but we believe that Mr. Milton R. Benjamin is smart enough to), the future of news will be akin to neighbors talkin over a fence, better known as "blogging".

Cocktail in hand, we've got that covered!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A little note - To any of y'all that recognize and support the human rights of certain LGBT individuals, Miss Vero applauds you!
And to all you hateful, sorry, narrow minded people (and some of y'all call yourselves Christians, the nerve!), many of whom have made yourself clear in the comment section of today's TCPalm:

Miss Vero sends y'all a great big...



Today, our final installment of...


Treading on a taboo

Somehow and for some reason, it’s almost taboo to talk about population, or more specifically limiting population growth. I know why some politicians and some businessmen favor it; growth has been good for the bottom line. What I don’t understand is how in a world where it’s estimated that 25,000 people starve to death every single day, where jobs are getting scarcer and it takes all adults in a household to work to be comfortable, when the environment is getting ever more polluted and depleted, when the gap between the fabulously wealthy and the fabulously poor widens, when we’re putting rations on water and we have people dying due to lack of basic health care among other things-- it’s taboo to talk about it.

I do see a change creeping in but still the first thing that comes to some people’s minds is a sci-fi movie or book, or China. But here we are and though I think we’re on the brink, I believe we have time to do it in a way that doesn’t mandate family size or take on desperate measures.

Other countries are taking up population policies. Egypt is encouraging a two child policy and is using a slogan that says: “Before you add another baby, make sure his needs are secured”.

In some parts of India, they’re paying young women a modest sum to wait until they’re 19 to marry and another small sum if she waits until she’s 21 to have a baby.

Yemen has approved a plan to implement a national population strategy to reduce their fertility rate (one of the highest in the world).

A number of Muslim-majority states are issuing calls for more family planning. Even Iran has a population policy. Their fertility rate is at replacement level.

In the United States our population grows faster than some of the countries we send aid to in the form of birth control. In 2007, we broke our record for the number of births since the height of the baby boom (1957). But the main driver of our growth is immigration- and the higher fertility rates of new immigrants. And yet we don’t have a population policy and we rarely bring it up other than to cite statistics. I think that needs to change- and soon. (Incidentally, I read somewhere that adding one person to the population in the U.S. is like adding 15 people to a 3rd world country.)

I think the first thing we could do as a country is enact a moratorium on all immigration for 5 years or until we come up with a better policy. (But still allow 100,000 a year for humanitarian reasons, etc.) This will be challenging as I believe president-elect Obama supports amnesty though he is calling for reforming our immigration laws. The trouble with amnesty is two-fold. First, it was the amnesty in the 80’s that led mostly to the millions that came illegally since. Also, the way our reunification laws work, once you give citizenship to one person it opens the door to the rest of his/her family. Therefore unless we change our laws, granting amnesty to 10 or 20 million illegal immigrants could open the door to 5 or 10 times that many legal ones. Besides, amnesty will do nothing to change the reasons people cross our border illegally.

Above I mentioned some countries that were taking up population policies through promoting family planning. But also noteworthy is quite a few countries mostly throughout Europe have already or are starting to restrict immigration too. France, Denmark and Austria have all tightened up their reunification laws and Norway and Sweden are working on it as are a couple of others.

The 2nd thing we could do is encourage making access to birth control affordable for all men and women who wish to use them at home and abroad. (Including permanent forms of birth control.) We’ll have an easier time of that with president-elect Obama. I think the other things that need to take place will happen once we have time to stop and re-collect ourselves. (Like improving education and opportunities, etc.)

There are many ways to get involved if you feel it's time to make population growth an issue. It can be as easy as typing in your name and address on a pre-written letter to our elected officials and hitting the send button. Check out some groups and sign up for their e-mail action alerts.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform has started a website called They want to start a national debate about population growth and point out the link between immigration, over population and environmental degradation.

Negative Population Growth (NPG) is an organization working to get the U.S. to create a Commission on Population Growth “that will help steer our nation toward a more sustainable population and a livable future”.

Population Connection is another organization working to help people see the connection between most any issue and population growth.

NumbersUSA works mainly on reducing immigration. There are many, many others working to reduce immigration but NumbersUSA seems to be the most grounded. (They’ve been cited by a pro-amnesty group as not being bigoted or racist- which is the right way to be because our melting pot heritage is one to be proud of and the effects of illegal and mass immigration hurts us all equally.)

For further reading, a web page titled “Why Population Matters”:

The Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population Clock:]

The Population Media Center website with links to NPG, Population Connection and a lot of other related organizations:

Numbers USA:

TTFN, LDouglas

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Good mornin kids, or for all of y'all that have a nine to five schedule - good afternoon! Now we don't know if any of y'all have picked up on this, but Miss Vero has been sicker than a dog, since just past Thanksgiving and we have had very little energy to do our regular cavortin and carryin on. Thank goodness this all came to an end last night when we were so graciously invited to the home of a prominent and very important artist and his lovely wife- a brilliant designer. Who knew that such fabulous people could reside right here in little ole Vero? But of course Miss Vero is teasin, we all know that there are many facinatin and artistic people in town. One of the reasons they choose to live here is for the peace and quiet and dadgum, we sure do have a lot of that!

When we last logged in with y'all we had a little burst of energy on Friday afternoon and we decide to get ourselves over to the Epicenter of Cool - Undertow. And speaking of celebrities lookin for peace and quiet, just who do y'all suppose was there? Miami Herald columnist and used to be funny writer - Mr. Carl Hiaasen. He was there with his teeny, tiny Mrs. and we can't imagine that they were there to eat because, they are probably the skinniest people we have ever laid eyes on. Ain't no fried chicken in the Hiaasen house, we can tell y'all that for sure. And no, Miss Vero did not speak to him again, not that we didn't have the opportunity, we were still probably not up to feelin like our ole vinegar veined self at that point.

We're still mad at Mr. Hiaasen for playin that elitist golf game at that resource drainin, private club, Quail Valley. We talked about our encounter at the Costa back in June. Maybe someday we'll get over it, we know Mr. Hiaasen's not holdin his breath.

So perhaps we'll just mosey on over to Lake Wales on Friday, to see our favorite Florida author Mr. Tim Dorsey. He'll be at the Lake Wales Public library, all friendly and accesible at 6:30 pm.
And his new book is comin out on January 27th! Can't wait. Y'all know he'll be coming to Vero and of course, Miss Vero will make a day of it, cause we love Mr. Tim Dorsey and we are on his mailin list - so there, Mr. Hiaasen!

Hissy fit complete. Time for a cocktail!


Monday, December 8, 2008


Hey kids, it's that time again for Max on Monday! Max is fixin to learn us a little more about the dangers of winkin cougars and has a few follow ups to some of last weeks comments...

Max Newport

Last week’s column left a few questions unanswered which were asked in the well thought out comments posted by the Beach House residents. I do want to applaud Miss Vero for her allowing comments. Just compare the intellect of the responses to Miss Vero to those at TCPalm. You guys have class and have asked some legitimate questions that I will try to answer.

On the subject of class, Max was at home for lunch on Friday and saw the O. J. Simpson sentencing live from Vegas. You have to love that Judge Jackie Glass. She was just too cool. Right in the middle of imposing the sentence, when Simpson looked like he was about to soil himself, she takes a long slurp through a straw of what looked like a Big Gulp. She definitely looked comfortable on the bench. Before sending “The Juice” away, for what will probably be a life sentence, she put it on the record that he was both arrogant and ignorant. She made Judge Lance Ito look like Pee Wee Herman. Max would not want to get on Judge Jackie’s bad side. If I ever go to Vegas, I will definitely behave. Maybe I will go see Donny and Marie and count construction cranes.

Back to our sexual predator cause célèbre Denise Harvey. It is pretty easy for Max to get free legal advice. Since we bought that 74 inch hi-def television, I just call a couple of old buddies from college, tell them I have a cold case of Fosters, and invite them over to watch our Alma Mater battle it out on the football field. College football season is over, except for the upcoming bowl games, so if y’all have any legal questions; time is running out.

Now you can’t talk about sex crimes without some pretty explicit commentary on some pretty grungy stuff so be forewarned. This will not be polite cocktail party conversation. I will try to keep it clean but this can get ugly fast.

First there is the general crime of Sexual Battery, commonly referred to as rape. For this crime, the state must prove that the victim did not consent to the sexual act unless the victim is under the age of 12, where the lack of consent is presumed. What is a sexual battery? It means “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object”. Union means contact and penetration means, well, penetration.

Denise Harvey was convicted of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, where consent is not an issue and only applies to a victim who is 16 or 17 years of age. The definition of “sexual activity” is the same as “sexual battery”. The perpetrator of this crime has to be at least 24 years old. So a 23 year old can have sex legally with a 16 year old but a 24 year old cannot. How did they arrive at the magic age of 24? The Newport legal experts have no idea. The age of consent in Florida is 18. Prior to the enactment of this law in 1996, the state had to prove that the 16 or 17 year old was of “prior chaste character”. This was difficult, if not impossible, to prove since the victim was usually a willing participant (or it would be a sexual battery) and the only folks pushing for prosecution were the parents of the usually female victim. Prior to 1996, my hypothetical 16 year old daughter could have sex with a 40 year old and claim that she lost her virginity before hooking up with this guy, and there would be no crime. Under that scenario, I would have been a very unhappy parent of a 16 year old. The 1996 law eliminates the prior chaste character element and states specifically that the “victim’s prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in a prosecution under this section”. That means the victim could be turning tricks on the corner and the jury would never hear about it.

Bottom line . . . a person 24 years or older cannot have any sexual activity with a 16 or 17 year old. That is pretty much absolute, unless there is a court approved marriage before the crime occurs. You can’t get arrested, decide to marry the victim and make the crime go away. My judicial shark friends told me a lot of folks got married under those circumstances with the mistaken impression that the marriage would obviate the crime. Not gonna happen and Florida does not have conjugal visitation. If you are 23 and have a 16 year old girlfriend, you better get married before the stroke of midnight on your 24th birthday or either buy a chastity belt or wait until she turns 18 if you want to resume your “relationship”. If you continue to play after you turn 24, you better hope that your 16 year old girlfriend remains very, very happy with you because, friend, you are at her mercy.

There is another chapter of Florida law to protect children under the age of 16 from anything remotely sexual by an offender 18 years of age or older. Believe me when I tell you, if she’s under 16 and you’re over 18, you might want to consult an attorney before even asking her out for a date. This law is very, very broad. Since it does not relate to the Harvey case, I will spare you the details.

Another Beach House commenter referred to the appellate process. The appeals court can only overturn an illegal sentence. They cannot second guess the trial judge’s imposition of a sentence as long as it is legal under Florida Statutes. Since Harvey received the minimum legal sentence, they cannot do anything about that. They can, however, reverse the conviction based upon any error that is raised by the defense attorney on legal or procedural issues. If the case is reversed, it would be sent back to the trial court for a new trial. The Fourth District Court of Appeals has been known to be very creative in finding trial error if they disagree with the sentence, but it is not their job to reconsider a legally imposed sentence.

Others have pointed out that women convicted of similar crimes have received much lighter sentences. I read about a few cases here in Florida where very repentant defendants got probationary sentences based upon a plea agreement worked out between the defense attorney and the prosecutor. It seems that many of them violate their probation and end up in the big house anyway. The judge can accept a legitimate uncoerced plea agreement as the basis for a downward departure. The state made Harvey an offer she chose to refuse of eleven years in prison. Since there was no plea agreement, Judge Vaughn had no choice but to impose the sentence that he did. Why was the plea offer 11 years?

I have no idea, but usually any plea offer is reached with the cooperation of the victim. In this case, an offer would not have been extended without the full agreement of the victim. Many times somewhat lenient plea offers are made in sex cases to avoid further trauma on the victim by having to testify about the embarrassing details of the criminal act in front of a group of strangers. Was 11 years a reasonable plea offer? It really doesn’t matter what you and I think. The victim thought it was appropriate and his opinion is one that counts under the Florida Constitution, especially when the state could have made no offer and gone after the 75 year max.

Denise Harvey pretty much told the prosecutors to shove it. She remained unrepentant and defiant. I’m pretty sure her attorney went over the scoresheet with her prior to taking the case to trial and she knew going in that she was facing a minimum of 30 years if convicted as charged. This was a stupid move on her part. The evidence was overwhelming. The state had a taped confession, an eyewitness and her DNA found on a condom at the victim’s house. In addition, it is doubtful that her defiant attitude impressed any of the jurors. She was, and continues to be, a person who thinks she is above the law or maybe that the laws just don’t apply to her.

George Sigler has the right idea; if you don’t like the law do what you can to change it. I think he is going about it in a proper and perhaps effective way, but of course, I disagree with him. Changing the law because you disagree with one sentence imposed on one defendant will result in a bad law that will affect everyone. I don’t know what suggestions George has to change the law other than he doesn’t want it to apply to Denise Harvey. Do we want to go back to the “prior chaste character” standard and make all 16 and 17 year olds fair game for adult sex play? Or should we go back a few years where only females could be victims of sex crimes?There should not be a double standard in sex crimes based upon the gender of either the victim or the offender.

If you get a chance go to the law library and look at the 1970 Florida Statutes (that’s 1970 not 1870) where sexual battery or any unlawful sexual activity could only be imposed on a male defendant and a female victim. Do we really want to go back there? And it wasn’t really that long ago.

If the appellate process plays out as it should, the only chance Denise Harvey has is a pardon from the governor. Since Governor Crist was formerly the attorney general, that just ain’t gonna happen. The law is the law and Denise Harvey did exactly what the law was designed to punish.

Hopefully I have addressed the unanswered questions from last week. So far the info I have received from my Fosters legal team has been pretty good but time is tight.
My apologies to Randy and the Rainbows for the title of this article. I hope they don’t sue. My lawyers appear to be drunk.

MWAH! (Miss Vero would give y'all a wink too, but Max has just scared the bejeebees out of us!)

Saturday, December 6, 2008


As promised a special Saturday post -

Okay, here's the list. Just so you know, right now there is enough food grown in the world to feed the world. It's more a matter of distribution and affordability. It's in the context of population growth on top of the constraints listed below what concerns me for the U.S. Along with figuring out where we'll land in a global economy. Right now most of us can afford the food that's distributed. But will that still be if we have to adjust our wages to be able to compete in a global economy? On top of increasing demand?

1) Water: All over the world, aquifers and rivers are being pumped dry or intruded with saltwater. Even in the U.S. we are scrambling if not fighting over water. Latest example is the Great Lakes Compact. The Great Lakes hold 90% of our freshwater but only 1% of that water is renewed every year. Once the remainder is gone, it’s gone for good. Already in peril through pollution, the Great Lakes region is using groundwater faster than it can be replenished and the compact is to enact better conservation measures for bordering states- as well to protect them from other thirsty states. Currently our food production accounts for nearly 70% of our water use. Water shortages mean a future of food shortages.

2) Soil: “Where Food Begins” according to a recent article in National Geographic. On top of it being totally depleted or blowing away from overuse in some areas, in our biggest farm belt, it’s being compacted in a way that isn’t conducive to farming and takes years to recover.

3) Honey Bees: They’re suffering from what’s been termed “Colony Collapse Disorder” or CCD. It’s a significant disappearance of entire colonies and no one yet knows why for sure. They pollinate a third of our food crops.

4) Agricultural Land: There’s only so much land on the Earth’s surface suitable for cultivation. As the population grows, that number shrinks due to sprawl as well as overuse which lead to less productivity or worse, advancing deserts. According to an article in Popular Science last year, more than 30% of the land west of the Mississippi River shows signs of desertification. It’s even worse in Asia and Africa despite efforts to thwart it.

5) Fish stocks: Many of our fish stocks are collapsing and commercial fisherman for many species are no longer able to fill their quotas. Reefs being the nurseries of many species of food fish as well as home to 25% of all fish are in decline all over the world and under threat of dying completely.

6) Oil: Rising oil prices equals rising food costs. Sometimes it’s not the availability of food that leads to people starving. It’s the price of it. Agriculture the way we know it is currently heavily dependent on oil. According to Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, in 1940 we produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy. It now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food. He put it this way “when we eat from the industrial-food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases”. (Oil prices have dropped since I wrote this. Not because we increased supply by more drilling, but because we or rather the economy, reduced demand.)

7) Grain stocks: Are at their lowest levels in 30 years. Due to ethanol mandates, this year's world grain harvest will fall short of consumption by about 60 million tons. That has led to hoarding of grains in some countries.

8) Fertilizer: Just like with oil, demand is outpacing supply. This not only makes it unavailable for some farmers, it makes it too costly for others. Its supply is also heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

9) GE Foods: Genetically engineered foods are being hailed as the answer to feeding a growing population. But so far they’re not proving to be good for people or the planet. IMO, the only thing they are proving is that some corporations will go to great lengths to control the future of food.

10) Monocultures: GE foods and factory farms have little diversity. This is a time when we need more adaptability and natural diversity. For instance, lack of diversity, or a monoculture, led to the severity of the “great potato famine”. Currently, banana plantations across the world are being decimated because their genetic uniformity makes them vulnerable to disease. (Bananas are a main staple in East Africa for 50% of the population.) Large factory farms are also leading to polluted ground water and are wasting what could be put to better use.

11) Climate change: That’ll have an impact on our ability to grow food in a couple of ways. Advancing deserts and rising seas will not only claim agricultural land, but it’ll push people to relocate to where we grow food. It will also take time to adjust to new growing conditions. It is also a Catch 22. The more people, the more forests will have to be cleared for farming, the more forests are cleared, the faster the climate changes. In some parts of the world, already they can’t clear forests fast enough to compensate for the increased need for agricultural land. And already the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than anything else we do.

12) Geopolitics and Food Security: Water poor countries as well as land poor countries including Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, India, Korea, Libya and Egypt (among others) are buying up agricultural land in other countries like Uganda, Brazil, Cambodia, Sudan and Pakistan (among others) to feed their nations. Multi-national corporations like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Louis Dreyfus, along with plenty of others are also doing the same but for profit. Have you heard Haiti’s story about the dirt cakes? What you may not have heard is that besides population growth, another factor was shifting from being self sufficient in growing food for their nation to relying on cheaper imports. When droughts and floods destroyed rice crops in other parts of the world, it wasn’t so much that there wasn’t enough rice for them to buy; it made rice too expensive for them to buy. In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced some sort of food riots due to the same reasons- food insecurity. When a country loses the ability to substantially feed itself, it is not only at the mercy of global commodity markets but of other governments as well. At issue also is not only the availability of food, but its safety too.

Don't dream it's over. Everything mentioned above is at this point reversible. A population bubble hasn't happened yet and doesn't have to happen. But we'll have to talk about it. Other countries are talking about it. More on that next time.

TTFN, LDouglas

Friday, December 5, 2008


Well hunnies, we waited and waited for our new guest at the Beach House to show but no call, no mail, humph, it's been a long time since Miss Vero's been stood up y'all! All we can do now is think of ways that he will it up to us.

So, we decided to go out and about and here's a little recap. First, we ran out west to our new favorite party supply store - Crown Wine and Spirits, where we picked up a few pre-wrapped (oh, how we love that) gift baskets and, in what seems to be the custom, they were having a little wine and snack tasting! Yummy.

Then we got a call from our friends in Sebastian, who think that the lighting of the holiday things and open houses of stores and businesses event tonight, would be a fun thing to do. Ho-hum, we declined that invite.

A quick drive over to Home Goods for some Hanukkah supplies (a party's a party, right?) and who do we run into, but our favorite Vero gadfly, Mr. Muse of The World! And hunnies, he just looked so cute and clever in his cashmere scarf, sporting around in his hot and fast, rag top sports car! Oh, he is just someone who always brightens Miss Vero's day! Well, seems our Muse was gatherin his own party supplies for a little hot cocoa soiree (and whipped cream? Oh, we forgot to ask...) while watching the boat parade tonight!

We had both noticed a little construction going on in the parking lot, so Miss Vero - with camera always in hand, decided to do a little exploring and high heeled it, right in to a cluster of a half dozen Asian men, none of whom spoke English. Finally after much smiling and nodding we gathered that the new Japanese Steakhouse will open "next month" and honestly that's all we could get. They were kind enough to let Miss Vero have a peekaboo and we can tell y'all that the place will be HUGE. Hmm, interesting another chain restaurant makes it's mark in Vero? Well we always did miss the Japanese Steakhouse that used to occupy the space that now houses, the salon, Calvetti and Co. Any of y'all memba that?

Even though our dear Muse invited us to watch the boat parade, we're in a rather naughty but nice mood and prefer a chocolate martini instead. We'll just have to go poke into the Epicenter of Cool, for children it's been a while and a pilgrimage must be made! Call us a creature of habit, we don't care, it's off to Undertow tonight!


P.S. Now if any of y'all recently emailed us and we haven't gotten back, just keep your britches on, we'll get to y'all! We have just gotten over a nasty flu bug and we have priorities, cocktails before correspondence and never drink and blog!