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Miranda Wilkerson ruling: Not about ‘good guys or bad guys’

As displayed by this week’s letters to the editor section, emotions are running high regarding last week’s story on the Miranda Wilkerson custody case, and that’s understandable considering the involvement of Donald Coleman, a registered sex offender now responsible for the 4-year-old girl’s well-being.

Let me take this opportunity, however, to respond to some of the criticisms and questions posed in the letters published this week.

Our goal was certainly not to portray Rita Manning, Miranda’s paternal grandmother, as “the good guy” or “the bad guy,” or to defend or assail Circuit Judge Phyllis Rosier’s decision to award custody to Mr. Coleman.

Rather, with extensive coverage of the case by First Coast News for nearly a week before last week’s edition was published, we hoped to offer readers information that might help to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Why did the judge rule the way she did?

In most cases, a judge will explain his or her decisions in writing and those records are open to review by the media and everyone else. In this case, however, the court files were not open to public inspection, the judge had not spoken publicly about the case and reporters were barred from entering the courtroom during a hearing that followed the custody decision. Thus, we had to rely on other court records and comments from those present at the protest July 18, all of which were reflected in last week’s edition.

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Prop up farmers market

Dear Editor:

What makes a successful farmers market? We need both vendors and customers!

From the vendors’ point of view, the day starts well before market opening; preparing goods for sale, figuring out the best pricing, deciding on the proper display and getting to the market by 7:30. A good sale day would include making contact with customers and potential buyers and selling a good part or all of the stock brought for sale.

From the customer’s point a view, looking forward to going to the market to buy unique, fair priced, fresh goods that are not available elsewhere.

In today’s economy, we must be committed to buying local, to support the residents of this area. Baker County and the surrounding area are full of crafts people, farmers and nurserymen who produce high quality goods for sale.

We as members of the Farmers Market board are committed to keeping this great market open and are asking you, the community, to make the commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit of the small business owner, by making the market a Saturday morning destination.

Vendors come and sell! Community come and buy!

Helene Guest
Farmers Market board member

Was Anthony verdict really a miscarriage?

Indulge me, please, in yet another take on the Casey Anthony case to add to the hundreds you’ve already read and heard in the print and electronic media.

Last week’s verdict, absent of the widespread outrage that Ms. Anthony is indeed responsible for the death of her child, has great value as a lesson in our system of jurisprudence.

The raw emotion brought forth by the real-life tragedy conditioned a large portion of the American public to assume Ms. Anthony’s guilt, and subsequently, the jury’s “obligation” to affirm that guilt.

It didn’t happen that way, and for a reason.

People are confusing their instincts about her culpability with what the state of Florida — and all other 49 states — requires to render a guilty verdict.

The state never connected her directly to Caylee’s body and never firmly established a motive. That leaves the door wide open to “beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt.”

The jury walked right through that door.

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Governor sending conflicting signals

Protesters demonstrate against Rick Scott in St. Petersburg July 1.

The forecast called for rain, but there was another reason a young woman protesting Governor Rick Scott during his visit to the Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg July 1 had on pink galoshes — they matched her “Pink Slip Rick” T-shirt.

The governor delivered a statement in the hotel’s banquet hall to attendees of the Florida Press Association’s annual convention, mostly reporters, editors and publishers.

He touted the 70,000-plus jobs the state’s added since he was sworn into office this year and said nothing of the 1300 jobs eliminated from the state’s payroll that day, including 70 or more at Northeast Florida State Hospital.

Then he took questions from the audience, and as Governor Scott does so often, failed to answer them.

For instance, he was asked about his office’s policy of responding to public records requests as slowly and expensively as the law allows, a stark contrast with his campaign pledge to increase transparency in state government. The governor answered by saying he plans to make more records available online.


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