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Fly on the Wall, Edition No. 4


Here we go again, as the Fly buzzes around town and sees what's up.

Ragged American flag
An American flag deserves better. A whole lot better.

Fly it right

As a veteran of Uncle Sam's Marines (I fixed airplanes) from the late '70s and early '80s, I am a bit upset when I see the flag not flown properly, though I won't do what I remember one fellow doing when I lived on the east coast of the state and take down the flag from a post office one night (they forgot to lower it) and return it the next morning. He was charged with theft.

In any case, a car dealership on U.S. 41 really needs a lesson in flag care. Car dealers seem to be firm believers in flying enormous flags. I guess that means they're real patriotic.

But when they flew the flag at half-staff for the 9/11 anniversary, it was frayed and the bottom red stripe got tangled on the pole near the flagpole. So now, that stripe is basically wrapped around the pole, and the flag is a few feet from the top of the pole, and it has 12 stripes.

Makes you wonder who's minding the store.

She who better be obeyed

County Commission Chairman Dr. Gwendolyn Brown has the power. That much I know, and I guess the commissioners know it, too.

During the cell tower discussion at Tuesday's County Commission meeting, Commissioner Donna Hayes was reading a message she got in which the cell tower builder said that most of the people at a public meeting about the Palm-Aire cell tower were in favor of it. When Hayes reached that point, an audible sound of derision arose from the seats where the residents were.

"Madame Chairman," Hayes said to Brown, "I trust you'll deal with that."

At one meeting some time back, Brown warned a loud group that didn't like something a speaker said, "You're not helping your cause." Incidentally, she did vote on their side.

Going back to school

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed there was no school board meeting story this past week. The Fly buzzed into the meeting but had to leave to watch and cover the circus (not John Ringling's, but the one in Palmetto called the Palmetto City Commission).

Forty-five minutes in, and the school board was still congratulating high-performing students and staff. It's a good thing to see the kids and their teachers doing so well, but some of us have places to be.

Standing-room only

The Fly thought he'd have to use his super powers and hang on the wall at last Monday night's Palmetto City Commission meeting. The place was packed with angry parents, and if a future New York Met doesn't make the bigs because those ballfields aren't built, they won't be the only ones mad.

The Fly inherited a love of the Mets from his late dad, and it's sad to see the kids treated like the ball in a game of "pepper."

Anyway, an old pal from one of the Fly's former (and now late) newspapers popped in and there was a historic sight for many eyes: Two Vinnies in one room.

I worked at the Boca Raton News with Bradenton Herald columnist Vin Mannix back in the day (late 1990s). I still remember the first thing he said to me when I came in for an interview (my second or third at the paper, but first under a new managing editor): "We have a rule, only one Vinny to a newsroom." (Or something like that.)

The way it goes with Vinnies, who never get their way, is that I got the job and the Fly's brilliant career in print journalism was launched. It was fun when the editor would call out "Vinny" from her desk and she'd get two "What?" responses, one from either side of the newsroom.

It was a blast editing Vin Mannix because he is such a good writer. I still remember the time he brought Bucky Dent to the newsroom after a parade.

But the late chain Knight-Ridder sold the Boca Raton News, Vin Mannix headed off to another K-R paper in Bradenton and the Fly soon buzzed off to Bankrate.com in North Palm Beach. Vin and I stayed in touch occasionally but even after I moved to Sarasota in 2004 we didn't get together.

So Monday night was special. We had some laughs, and talked about old times and old friends in journalism.

Those were the days.

Talking my pen off

The Fly likes to think of himself as well-equipped, and you'll never see him without that Poynter bag, a gift from the journalism institute in St. Petersburg to a group of laid-off journalists who attended a free seminar in November 2008.

So twice in three meetings of the County Commission, the Fly saw his pen run out of ink. The worst was the second incident, which happened at a Port Authority meeting. The fly searched his bag and there was no backup there. Fortunately, they were into board comments so the meeting was almost over, but the Fly needs to take notes. Good thing he has a small recorder, plus a TiVo at home to record televised meetings like that one. Too bad the Fly recorded the wrong channel.

By the way, the Port Manatee meeting had a court reporter, and sure enough it was an interesting meeting in which the topic she was there for wasn't deferred but dealt with.

That's all for this week.


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