June 24, 2008

Dodgeball



This sounds like a fun time! The Central Florida Boy Scouts will host a Corporate Dodgeball Tournament on Saturday, August 16th. More information is available at www.dodgeball.cfcbsa.org.

Orange, let us vote

The Orange County School Board will decide tonight whether or not to allow voters to decide if the position of School Board Chairman should be elected. The School Board previously refused to place the issue on the ballot, but a group called Let Us Vote Orange collected the necessary 51,411 petition signatures (10 percent of the registered voters in Orange County) to require a referendum vote. Four of the School Board members previously voted to file a lawsuit to block the vote. They will decide tonight whether or not to proceed with the lawsuit.

Personally, I don't see why an elected Chairman is needed. I live in Seminole County, which has excellent public schools and manages just fine without an elected Chairman. But ultimately, the voters should decide, especially since the ballot measure was approved through a legitimate process. The School Board should stop its efforts to block the vote, and then the debate about its merit can begin.

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the School Board building. Click here for more information.

No diversity under 40?

The Orlando Business Journal just published its annual 40 Under 40 list, which recognizes 40 outstanding businessmen and woman under the age of 40. The list includes exceptional professionals, representative of the talent in Central Florida. But of the 40 honorees, only one is African-American. Surely Orlando is more diverse than that?

June 23, 2008

UCF orders fans to start drinking earlier

The Orlando Sentinel reported over the weekend that UCF will ban tailgate drinking after kick-off at football games. The idea is to encourage people to actually attend the game and to discourage non-fans from being on campus. That all sounds good to me. But what about after the game? Will tailgating after the game be allowed. The article didn't specifically address this question, but according to the new rule, it sounds like drinking will end after kick-off, period.

As a side note, the Sentinel interviewed two students who were opposed to the new rule. The article stated both were 18 years old. Um, isn't there another law that they might want to debate?

June 19, 2008

Orlando's best theme park

Every year, millions of tourists come to Orlando to visit Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World, but almost all of them miss Central Florida's best park: Wekiwa Springs State Park. Located on the Wekiva* River, this park offers an escape from urban life and a glimpse into what Florida once looked like. I strongly believe that you haven't truly experienced Florida until you have taken a canoe or a kayak on one of its rivers. Canoeing on the Wekiva is something every Central Florida resident and visitor should experience (granted if that ever happened, the crowds would ruin the experience.) So if you haven't done so already, take a trip to Wekiwa Springs and enjoy the real Florida.

* Don't ask me why, but the springs is spelled Wekiwa and the river is spelled Wekiva.

June 18, 2008

Public art in Orlando

The Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs office has come up with a unique way to promote awareness of public art in Central Florida. Tapping in to growing interest in letterboxing, they have hidden letter boxes* near public art locations throughout Orange County. the idea is to encourage letterboxers (is that what they're called) and art enthusiasts alike to search for the letter boxes*, thus also discovering some of the public art venues in the region. They've posted clues online. Here's more info from their Web site:
Public Art Treasure Caches
Find clues from this website to hidden caches near various sculptures and public art objects around the county. In each box is a journal where you can leave your mark and the date you found it. There is also a stamp that you can use to stamp your own journal or "public art" passport. After you have written in the journal, and drawn something or stamped it, put the cache back where you found it so the next person can have the pleasure of finding it and putting in their mark.

Cache Instructions & Clues
* Orange County is calling their letter boxes "Public Art Treasure Caches". There must be some legal reason for that.

June 16, 2008

Blinkers & broken windows

With increasing traffic congestion caused by an ever-growing population of residents and tourists, driving on Central Florida's roadways is bad enough without having to share the road with bad drivers. I drive on Interstate 4 every day, and I have noticed more and more people changing lanes without using their blinkers.

What are they thinking? Perhaps that is the problem: They aren't thinking. They aren't thinking of the other drivers. They aren't thinking about safety, and they especially are not thinking of the traffic jams they will cause when their dangerous behavior results in an automobile crash.

Furthermore, I do believe that non-use of blinkers leads to a much bigger problem. Bad driving begins with not using directional signals, which eventually leads to habitual speeding, red-light running and aggressive driving. Not using a blinker helps create a culture in which safe driving is not valued and aggressive driving is increasingly permitted and pervasive.

The non-blinker epidemic is similar to the "broken windows" theory developed by George Kelling and James Wilson of Harvard University. Kelling and Wilson theorized that if broken windows in any given neighborhood are not repaired in a timely manner, they will help create an environment of social disorder, which will provoke more vandalism and encourage other crimes.

The theory was tested in the 1990s in New York City under the leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, NYPD Chief William Bratton and David Gunn, head of the New York City Transit System. By strictly enforcing smaller crimes, such as subway-fare evasion, they created a culture of order. The result of their efforts was a dramatic decrease in the city's crime rate.

Applying the same theory to I-4, I have come to the conclusion that people who do not use their blinkers are dangerous. Their inconsiderate driving creates social disorder, leading to more reckless driving, which causes high numbers of automobile crashes. And as every driver in Central Florida knows, car crashes produce severe traffic james. On the other hand, blinker use encourages a culture of safety and courtesy.

Certainly, serious infractions such as impaired driving, red-light running and speeding deserve continued and increased enforcement, but a concerted effort to crack down on blinker violators could help restore order and safety to our roadways. As Malcolm Gladwell declares in his best-selling book, The Tipping Point, "Little things can make a big difference." If every driver were to use directional signals every time when turning or changing lanes, I am convinced our roads would be safer and less congested.

The next time you are driving on I-4 or any other road in the region, pay special attention to how may drivers do not use their blinkers. These people are rude, they are bad drivers, and they are to blame for many of the car cashes and traffic jams on our roads.

(This was originally published in the Orlando Sentinel on September 6, 2005. I'm posting it here to give it an online home.)