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Fly on the Wall, Edition No. 6


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

That's an order, reporter!

Standing around and waiting for the town hall on jobs the economy and health care to start last Saturday, the Fly found some down time at the Parrish Community Center.

He was leaning against a very old organ in the back of the room when an elderly man approached me with a stack of papers. "You in the press?" he asked. "Yes," the Fly replied.

He held out a sheet with a commentary on raising "Corporate Average Fuel Economy" (CAFE) standards and demanded, "Print this."

The Fly presumes he was expected to break out the portable Linotype and start setting type.

That incident reminds the Fly of the time someone called the office at The Bradenton Times and informed him that an article by a player on a travel baseball team was coming over the fax, and that he had to run it. The fax finally arrived, with a story from the Bradenton Herald's Web site in which the player was not the author and was mentioned in just a couple of paragraphs in the middle.

The Fly called the sender and explained why it wouldn't run (something about plagiarism, journalistic ethics, etc.) and he asked why he couldn't just rewrite it and put his name on it (see above). He said he thought that's what everyone in journalism did.

Can you hear me now?

The same leaflet bearing gentleman mentioned above decided to speak out on the need to increase CAFE standards, so he took the stage at the Parrish Community Center and gave a brief speech, complete with hand gestures.

The only problem was that the microphone wasn't connected and the air conditioner made such a racket, hardly anyone could hear him.

The Fly made a dope of himself before the town hall, attempting to interview a woman who turned out to be a reporter for one of those small weekly newspapers. She gently set him straight, and the Fly buzzed off to find other non-journalists to pester for quotes.

Punctuated equilibrium

Even though the Fly is basically a hack reporter, he's an editor at heart. So when press releases come in from big companies, he expects that they'll be pretty close to perfect in terms of English language usage.

The Fly is doomed to disappointment, though, as he's the recipient of releases that would make an English teacher cry. A release last month about an event at an elementary school came from a major American corporation, but was a mass of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. The Fly remembered it because last week there was a day set aside as National Punctuation Day.

Now, what's needed is National Possessive Form of It Day; National You Form Plurals with S, not 'S Day; National Affect and Effect, There's a Difference, Day; National No You Don't Capitalize Every Noun in English Day; National Please Stop Setting Off Every Clause with Commas Day; National The Town on U.S. 301 After Ellenton Is Called Parrish, Not Parish, Day; and National the Punctuation Goes Inside the Quotation Marks Day.

Power of the press?

Last week's commentary about the ragged, one-stripe-short flag over a car dealership on U.S. 41 appears to have gotten some response, because the bad flag is gone now and a nice new one is in its place.

Maybe it's the Fly's devastating commentary, or maybe a customer complained, but either way it's good to see that awful, ripped flag gone.

The Fly occasionally drives on State Road 70 to West Palm Beach to see a relative, and when he comes back on State Road 70, there are two landmarks that he looks forward to as signs that he's getting close to home, hearth and cats. First is the DeSoto Correctional Institute, and then there's the large American flag on the tall pole at the car dealer on the eastern edge of Arcadia, which means home is about an hour away.

It sure is a beautiful sight after that long drive.

Kids called out on strikes

The Fly had never actually seen Norma Lloyd Park complex until Thursday, when he buzzed out from the just-adjourned land use meeting and, after a brief stop in the office, headed out to see the opening of the new ballfields.

There were two professional baseball players, some local elected officials, community officials and some folks from the community and fans of the Rays, but something was missing.


OK, the Fly knows the FCAT is all that matters nowadays in public education, but would it have killed officials to let a few kids out into the beautiful sunny day to watch the events? The Fly can just imagine how cool it would have been for a kid to meet Rays star James Shields and maybe, just maybe, take a few swings at a pitch thrown by Shields.

A few adults were talking about their desire to run the bases or grab a bat and glove and play an inning, but the realities intruded, including the fact that the Fly's bald head was turning a nice shade of red. Still, it was a thrill meeting Norma Lloyd, whose dedication has done so much for the community.

Not now, please

Thursday's Land Use meeting was fast, and the Fly kidded County Commission Chairman Dr. Gwendolyn Brown that he thought there was a reason it only lasted less than an hour: so she could see the new ballfields get dedicated.

County Commissioner Carol Whitmore tried to have a little "Commissioner's Comments" party at the end of the meeting, but Commissioner Joe McClash pointed out that, in an earlier vote, they had agreed not to have comments at land use meetings.

"I'm afraid we'll be talking about stuff we already talked about," Commissioner Ron Getman said.

"If it's on the agenda, and if it's something that is part of the agenda, it's not fair to the people who left," McClash said.

A motion to allow comments if it's related to land use issues on the agenda was made, then withdrawn, and Brown banged the gavel to end the meeting, and the Fly was free at last.

That's all for this week.


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