Darts and laurels

Published: Saturday, January 29, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 10:02 p.m.
LAUREL: To the Board of Governors of the State University System, for declining to authorize America's first university-affiliated chiropractic school at Florida State University. The $9 million a year project had been pushed by influential state legislators in a way that impinged on the board's constitutional responsibility to set priorities for the universities. The rejection is an important step toward establishing the board's autonomy from legislative meddling.
"We understand the role of the Legislature and will continue to be respectful of that," board chair Carolyn Roberts said after the vote on Thursday, adding, however, that "this board has a role to play and has been given its power by the citizens of the state of Florida."
DART: To FSU President T.K. Wetherell, for a series of contemptuous memos he wrote in which he seemed to dare the Board of Governors to reject the chiropractic school. "It will be fun (to) watch them try and impound the money that they don't have or control," Wetherell wrote in October. "I hope (the BOG) tries to stop us."
Oddly, Wetherell seemed to have lost all his hubris on Thursday, as the board did exactly that. Arrogance, it seems, has a short shelf-life in academia.
LAUREL: To the presidents of the State University System, who agreed this week to work more cooperatively in lobbying the Legislature in the face of Gov. Jeb Bush's proposal to raise funding for the system by only $20 million. "If they (lawmakers) keep hearing the same message over and over again, it will show great strength," John Cavanagh, University of West Florida president and chair of the presidents' association, said this week.
Hopefully the agreement will hold; this is no time for universities to engage in cut-throat lobbying against each other. To paraphrase Ben Franklin; they must all hang together or they will most assuredly hang separately.
DART: To the state Department of Education, for its reluctance to estimate the true cost of a state constitutional mandate on smaller class sizes. State lawmakers this week reacted in frustration after DOE officials refused to provide solid numbers. "If this were a business plan, we couldn't get through the front door," state Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, said. "It is almost an embarrassment."
Lawmakers are wondering if the DOE's reticence to provide sold cost estimates may be related to Gov. Bush's desire to ask Floridians to repeal the amendment on the grounds that it is too expensive.
How expensive is it? Don't ask.
LAUREL: To County Commissioner Paula DeLaney, for her decision this week to refrain from any further votes regarding the improvement of SW 24th Avenue until she can obtain an opinion from the state Ethics Commission in regard to whether her ownership of land in the area might pose a conflict. DeLaney is the swing vote in a controversial decision to four-lane SW 24th, and although her decision may delay action on the road, it seems a prudent move.
The fate of SW 24th is a red-hot topic in this community, and fellow Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut has already been fined by the Ethics Committee for accepting a ticket to a UF fund-raising event from developer Clark Butler, who stands to benefit from the road-widening.
DART: To the Ocala Police Department, for grossly overreacting when Wyomina Park Elementary School officials found a stick-figure drawing of two boys stabbing and hanging a third. The boys responsible for the drawing, a 9-year-old and 10-year-old, were arrested, handcuffed and charged with a second-degree felony to wit; making a written threat to kill or harm another person.
"You have to be safe and you want to inquire about things like that, but kids are going to be kids," Eric Storch, assistant professor of psychology at UF, told the Ocala Star Banner this week. "Does that warrant felony charges? I'd say no."

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