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Local dialogue mirrors national, state

After last weekend’s candidate forum, voters should have a good sense of where the candidates stand on classic issues like taxes and spending as well as more recent hot-button ones like sand mining, medical waste incinerators or the closure of Barber Road.

What struck me about the forum were its parallels to the intense political battles at the state and national level. As Theresa Rhoden points out in her letter this week, the local candidates’ messages sound very similar to those emanating from the campaigns of Mitt Romney and President Obama; and I don’t think that’s coincidental.

“The incumbents are failing us,” all the challengers say. “We’re improving, not as much as we’d all like, but things are progressing and the sky’s not falling,” seems to be the call of those in office.

It’s like we’ve become so politically polarized, and there’s so many ways to be exposed to the propaganda of the right and the left, that realistic solutions to the day-t0-day challenges of local government get lost in this giant echo chamber we’re all stuck inside thanks to the Internet, social media, cable television and supped-up smart phones.

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Are ‘live signs’ really a hazard?

The City of Macclenny would be well advised to dump the proposed ordinance bannng “live signs” and instead concentrate on ridding its streets — most notably busy South 6th — of the hodge-podge of ugly signage that is truly a distraction to motorists and the eyes of anyone driving, riding, walking or in the case of late night bar patrons, stumbling along the thoroughfare.

The city commission believes “live signs” that feature warm bodies waving them for pawn shops, restaurants, cellphone companies, etc. pose a danger to motorists because they are often waved directly at oncoming traffic.

Maybe so, but they’re no worse than electronic signs that grace several financial institutions and, more lately, the health department office on Lowder St. Those are  placed in attractive settings and except for one are close to the ground — at eye level — and don’t constitute eyesores.

The commission passed the proposed ordinance on first reading on July 10 and it’s scheduled for a second hearing and final passage on August 14.

Hopefully, business interests affected by the ban will show up, along with others who see this is a further intrusion by government on private small businesses at just the wrong time.

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‘Snazzy’ celebration for teachers of the year

Pretty snazzy.

That’s the best way to describe my trip to the annual Teacher of the Year celebration at the Universal Hard Rock Café this past weekend.

I was there to celebrate with my wife Kelley, Baker County’s District Teacher of the Year. It was quite a soiree.

The venue was amazing. Macy’s puts over $100,000 into the three-day celebration hosted by Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville and Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson.

Macy’s makes no bones about why they throw their corporate support behind the event. The president of Macy’s said that out of 180,000 public school teachers in Florida, the ones being honored at the gala were judged to be the top 68 in the state.

Pretty heady stuff.

Kelley made me wear a tuxedo for the event and I worried that I might be overdressed. I should have listened to her. I fit right in with the event’s tone.

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Cash mobs to support local businesses

So what’s a cash mob? It’s like a flash mob, in that a lot of people met up at a seemingly random location, but instead of dancing and such, they support a local business by spending $10 to $20 there.

It’s a way to support local restaurants, bars and retailers, and meet new people. Readers would vote online as to where/when the cash mob will take place and the business with the most votes would be announced online the day of the mobbing.

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