Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers:

Tampa Bay Times — Tougher regulation needed of training colleges

For-profit training colleges have their place in the world of higher education, typically appealing to nontraditional students who are older, perhaps juggling work and family, and looking for a leg up. Some schools provide a solid education and a fast track to a good job. But a recent Miami Herald investigation uncovered a pattern of fraud, high-pressure enrollment tactics and questionable education standards in an industry more focused on profits than producing high-quality graduates. Federal and state governments should give this industry, which has the power to help and hurt so many, much greater scrutiny.

In “Higher-Ed Hustle,” the Miami Herald’s Michael Vasquez exposed disturbing practices in the career training industry, which is dominated by for-profit colleges that promise to quickly connect students with solid jobs. The Herald found some of the colleges had enrollment and retention quotas, falsified documents to secure federal money even after students dropped out, and failed to disclose details that would later impact graduates’ ability to get a job, such as that hospitals and doctors don’t typically hire workers with criminal records. That didn’t matter at Fort Lauderdale’s campus of ATI Career Training Centers, for example, where recruiters routinely enrolled people without clean records.

A great number of career training schools or degree programs are accredited by national groups held in low esteem by other academics and potential employers, many of whom have blacklisted the graduates of some schools. Students in for-profit colleges without accreditation from respected organizations also find it nearly impossible to transfer their credits to more traditional colleges.

But reforms have been hard to come by and even harder to make stick. In 2010, the Obama administration launched a worthy effort to better regulate for-profit colleges. Under its gainful employment proposal, the administration would stop federal funding to for-profit programs where students struggled to pay back student loans. To get around the new regulations, several for-profits — including Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser University, which has a campus in Tampa — switched to nonprofit status. That move makes them eligible to receive 100 percent of revenue from federal financial aid and allows them to sidestep property and sales taxes, the Herald reported.

Although the Obama plan takes effect in July, the new rules were watered down by aggressive lobbyists in Washington. In Florida, many of the same interests have donated $1.2 million to politicians since 2008. Florida has failed to adequately police the schools and made it easier for them to operate outside of regulations. In 2013, for example, the Legislature passed a change that allows schools to offer unaccredited physical therapy assistant programs. Among states, Florida has this dubious distinction all to itself.

Students get the worst end of the deal at private career training schools. They fall victim to high-pressure marketing campaigns, rack up huge amounts of student loans for the expensive programs and receive substandard instruction. And when colleges shutter — as the government ordered Everest University’s parent Corinthian Colleges to do — students are often left with big bills and little hope of finishing their schooling.

The Bradenton Herald — Time for big ideas to relieve Anna Maria Island parking, traffic congestion

The sandy beaches on Anna Maria Island are treasures to most everyone in Manatee County and well beyond. The worldwide acclaim is priceless. When Conde Nast Traveler selected Coquina Beach as having the best island beach sand in the United States and fifth best in the world this year, that distinction earned Bradenton Beach — home to Coquina — quite an honor.

And that could come with more visitors. And more vehicle traffic. And parking issues.

Holmes Beach, home to the popular county-owned Manatee Public Beach, is grappling with the parking conundrum with the idea of instituting a decal program in congested parts of the city and eliminating street parking unless signs give permission.

Under the proposal, those decals would be issued to residents and property owners. City officials welcome beach-goers but want to discourage vehicle overcrowding in certain neighborhoods — a very reasonable policy given the overbearing crowds.

Holmes Beach should proceed with caution and be certain that any ordinance does not jeopardize government funding of beach renourishment. The city would be held accountable for violating federal and state regulations that demand specific public parking availability.

Beaches are critical to tourism. That sand is also critical to property values, not just on beachfront properties but everywhere on the island.

Beach renourishment costs millions. Erosion happens, especially during storm season. Sand washes away. Groins, like the new project to replace the ones on Coquina Beach, diminish wave action.

Coquina, though, was once lackluster until a 2012 sand project that extended the beach out into the Gulf and put a sugary surface over the old foot-aggravating tiny sea shells. How else would Conde Nast Traveler have awarded the beach global significance?

Parking access is central to beach renourishment funding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection brook no nonsense in determining eligibility for project money.

The standards are simple. There must be a certain number of public parking spaces open within a quarter mile of a beach. Every single parking spot is counted. Paid parking is acceptable under the rules.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A big step forward in beach’s rebirth

By approving three ordinances regulating beach driving, the Volusia County Council on Thursday added a valuable tool to revitalize Daytona Beach’s core tourism area.

However, the problem of beachside blight isn’t simply a nail to be hammered. The community must employ several strategies to modernize its tourist corridor.

The County Council should be applauded for supporting measures that struck an acceptable balance between promoting beachside development and maintaining public access to the beach. The three ordinances that created standards for developers to have vehicle-free beaches behind their properties each passed by 6-1 votes — an emphatic affirmation of the council’s vision for the beach’s economic future, especially considering the difficult politics surrounding the issue.

Councilwoman Joyce Cusack was the lone dissenter, and even she acknowledged in pre-vote remarks that she saw merit in the proposals of attracting upscale hotels at the cost of some beach parking spaces. Cusack ultimately voted no on each ordinance, citing her desire to remain faithful to her campaign promise to oppose efforts to further restrict beach driving — an admirable principle.

The Florida Times-Union — Readers debate signs on public buildings

Controversial ads will be coming down from Veterans Memorial Arena.

The city’s general counsel ruled they violate state and local laws. However, that doesn’t end the debate.

Where should lines be drawn about advertising on public facilities, especially one dedicated to veterans?

So we asked members of the Email Interactive Group for their insights.


Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is really not the place to plaster someone’s picture or message in an obvious attempt to sell a product or service.

Let’s put a sign in front of the new courthouse that reads: “Brought to you by the justices within these walls who will fix your problem.”

The adage “Fools’ names and fools’ faces are often found in public places” is applicable here.

Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena has a wonderfully dedicated name.

It needs no further adornment.

Richard W. Belmont, Ponte Vedra Beach


I kind of like ads on public spaces.

It makes me recognize the place where the teams are playing.

Maybe it’s just me.

Or do we think the Koch brothers will want to put up political ads?

That may be more tricky.

Martha Backer, Jacksonville Beach


It all depends on the appearance.

Nothing should detract from the building’s appearance.

Charles Cason, Jacksonville

Florida Today – Gulf looks fine, but wait till next time

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up, the Chandeleur Islands look alive off the coast of Louisiana.

The beaches are sugary white and unstained by oil. The water is green and full of fish. Birds are everywhere — laughing gulls, willets, terns, skimmers, egrets, oyster catchers and herons.

A rookery that some feared would be annihilated by the spill is thriving, the mangroves bobbing with hundreds of pelicans, old and young.

It’s glorious to see, yet also deceiving. For 87 straight days in 2010, crude oil gushed nearby from a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico — 172 million gallons, according to the U.S. government, though nobody really knows how much.

And nobody can say how much of it remains in the water. Most of the oil has likely dissolved or evaporated, but panels of scientists assert that millions of gloppy gallons still spatter the sea floor.

The Chandeleurs, a crescent barrier chain that’s part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, were among the first to get oiled after the BP blowout. It was also the first place where dying sea birds were found.

A six-foot sand berm was hastily constructed to contain the oil at the northernmost Chandeleurs. Whether it was because of that, the tides or favorable winds, the islands were not hit as brutally as some coastal areas.

Seeing all this life on the water at sunrise, one can’t be blamed for thinking everything’s fine, pretty much back to normal. That’s what you hear from BP, too, but it’s not entirely true.

Since the spill, bottle-nosed dolphins have been dying at about three times the normal rate in the northern Gulf. Deep-water corals have shown lasting damage. Oil traced to the BP blowout has been found in the livers of red snapper and tilefish. Unexplained lesions and tumors have been observed in bottom-dwelling fish.

The Gainesville Sun – Cheers and Jeers

In just the last couple years, a number of Gainesville’s major institutions have seen changes in leadership.

The trend continued this month as Gator men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan and Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce President Tim Giuliani announced they were taking jobs elsewhere.

Cheer: Donovan and Giuliani, for their good work in Gainesville before moving on to greener pastures.

Donovan — who became head coach of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder — put Gator basketball on the map without tarnishing the program with scandal. Giuliani — who will be taking over as president of the Raleigh, North Carolina, chamber — helped recruit businesses here and led the chamber to look into important local issues such as utility governance. While we’re sad to see them go, we wish them the best.

Jeer: National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, for refusing to take “no” for an answer on a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on state college and university campuses.

Despite the measure dying in the Senate due to a lack of support and opposition from university police chiefs and other college officials, Hammer insists the legislation will be brought back — and pass — in next year’s session. We hope she’s wrong.

Cheer: The University of Florida, for opening the Field and Fork Food Pantry for staff and students uncertain of where they’ll get their next meal.

A UF survey found that 10 percent of students did not have enough food in a given semester to the point that their studies were affected. The shameful statistic speaks to a significant problem that deserves greater attention from the university and society as a whole.

The Lakeland Ledger — No Time to Wait: Scott Must Sign ‘Right To Try’ Act

By most accounts Brittany Maynard had everything to live for. She was an attractive 29-year-old school teacher, married to a handsome executive, volunteered at an animal rescue and consumed with a zest for life, having climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and taught in Nepal.

Zest aside, unfortunately, Maynard was not going to live. She had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January 2014 and passed away at her home in November.

In the interim, though, Maynard became a household name. She publicly announced last year that her death would be planned, on her own terms. She ignited a national stir by revealing that she had moved from her native California to Oregon in order to take advantage of the latter’s 20-year-old law permitting doctor-assisted suicide.

Maynard said publicly she looked at all options after her diagnosis, including conventional drug therapy and hospice care, before settling on her ultimate path toward euthanasia. No doubt many in her situation might ponder the same outcome. For example, in Oregon, which has allowed people to choose their own death for a generation, more than 750 people have opted for a similar fate.

Yet what of those who are irreversibly sick like Maynard, and want to hold on to their dignity, but don’t want a house call from a Jack Kevorkian-like helper? What of those suffering from terminal illnesses who want to “rage, rage against the dying of the light,” as the poet Dylan Thomas penned?

The Miami Herald — Let’s be honest about Obamacare

Given the hard feelings in the Legislature over the failure to complete a budget during this year’s regular session, we offer a modest hope for the upcoming special session: that lawmakers can engage in an honest discussion about Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.

They owe at least that much to the people of Florida. Until this year, the very mention of “Obamacare” ignited a knee-jerk rejection of the law among the Legislature’s Republican leaders. They refused to consider the benefits that federal law bestows on eligible citizens who need health insurance.

The result has been a callous denial of Medicaid services to 850,000 uncovered Floridians. This year, however, Senate President Andy Gardiner and his colleagues decided enough was enough. They crafted a Florida-specific Medicaid expansion proposal that contains free-market provisions and allows Florida to accept Medicaid expansion and up to $51 billion in federal dollars over 10 years.

But House Speaker Steve Crisafulli wouldn’t budge, or even bring the measure up for debate in the House. Mr. Crisafulli is entitled to his political objections against the law, but he’s not entitled to his own facts. So far, the explanations he’s offered don’t withstand scrutiny.

He told a radio interviewer last month that Floridians don’t want it — “Medicaid expansion isn’t necessarily a very popular issue on the street.” But PolitiFact Florida found polls showing that a majority of Floridians do indeed favor expansion. Most Florida Republicans don’t like it, but that is clearly not the same thing as a statewide popular majority. PolitiFact rated his statement “half true.”

Then there’s the phony allegation that the federal government surprised Florida by denying it money to support hospitals that help the indigent so as to “force” the state to accept Medicaid expansion. In fact, state officials were warned in no uncertain terms in April 2014 that the feds would not fund the current version of the Low Income Pool program — LIP — after one more year.

Even so, Gov. Rick Scott made a vain attempt last week to negotiate an extension of that program — with the federal agency that he had earlier sued! Not surprisingly, he failed. He had more than a year’s notice that this was coming down the pike and chose to ignore the impending crisis.

The Orlando Sentinel — Don’t stifle flight choices at OIA

Orlando International Airport is starting to realize the potential its name suggests; its international air travel has been soaring.

But there could be an uncomfortable descent ahead, if the Obama administration yields to pressure from the three biggest U.S. air carriers.

As the Sentinel recently reported, international passenger volume over the past 12 months at OIA reached 4.4 million, a record 12 percent of the airport’s overall count. The surge has led the authority that oversees the airport to dust off a plan to build a second, $1 billion terminal that would primarily serve international travelers.

In March, airport leaders announced that daily nonstop flights from Orlando to Dubai on Emirates airlines would begin on Sept. 1. Those flights alone would pump $100 million into Central Florida’s economy, the authority’s chairman said.

Tourism is still the bedrock of Central Florida’s economy. Visitors from abroad, who stay longer and spend more than U.S. travelers, are especially valuable. Their economic impact has been estimated at $2 billion a year.

But the three biggest U.S. airlines — American, Delta and United — want to stop any new flights to U.S. airports from Emirates and two other Persian Gulf carriers, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. The Big Three argue the competition is unfair; they contend the Gulf carriers receive a wide range of subsidies from their governments. Unions representing the Big Three’s pilots and flight attendants agree with management.

In a letter last month to the U.S. secretaries of state, transportation and commerce, the CEOs of the Big Three urged the Cabinet members to tell the Mideast carriers to put on hold all expansion plans, dating back to mid-January, until an official ruling is made on the charge that the carriers are unfairly subsidized.

The Ocala StarBanner — In a losing corner

Florida House Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott are harming the state’s hospitals, residents who lack health coverage and taxpayers in general by their stubborn stand on Medicaid expansion and the resulting budget crisis.

Scott has displayed a stunning lack of leadership throughout the budget stalemate. He balanced his budget proposal using federal health care funding that was set to expire, flip-flopped on supporting Medicaid expansion and was absent from budget discussions until they descended into a crisis.

He worsened that crisis by bullying Senate lawmakers by threatening to veto projects that they supported and Florida hospitals by launching a commission to investigate their finances. He also filed a dubious lawsuit against the federal government last week to try to get his way.

All that said, it’s hard to see how the uncompromising position of Scott and House Republicans is helping improve the lives of average Floridians.

Their position is certainly harming the more than 800,000 Floridians who lack health insurance and the hospitals where they now must go to get care. Emergency rooms are forced to deal with issues that should be addressed by primary care doctors, or were allowed to unnecessarily fester until becoming more serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

Hospitals had received funding to care for those patients from a $2.2 billion program that is set to expire in June. One Florida hospital, UF Health Jacksonville, has said it could be forced to close if the money isn’t renewed or replaced.

The Pensacola News-Journal — Florida men must fight domestic violence

From video games to movies to even the nightly news, violence seems to be pervasive in our country. Sadly, many people use violence to intimidate, control and hurt others – this is not new, but it seems we are seeing it more and more with fewer consequences. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my father and my faith have taught me that violence is never the answer. It is not how we should handle adversity in our communities, and certainly should never be tolerated in our homes.

One in four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, and it is the leading cause of injury for women ages 15-44. That means that someone you know has experienced violence by a person that is supposed to love them most. Your sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother and niece are all at risk of being a statistic. We cannot disregard these stunning statistics anymore, and we cannot wait a moment longer to do something about it.

Domestic violence is a disgrace to our country, our state and our communities. And it is a disgrace in our homes. Domestic violence flies in the face of the equality we all hold dear. Now is the time to take a stand. Now is the time to treat each woman in your life with the dignity and respect she deserves.

As men, we are a part of the solution. We cannot simply take a seat or look the other way when we see our sons, business associates or even our friends engaging in disrespectful or violent behavior toward women and girls. We are done sitting on the sidelines, and we ask you to join us.

We need strong men who are willing to step up and speak out on violence against women. Domestic violence destroys lives and we must be the men of character we say we are—ready and willing to do something about it.

As the conversation about domestic violence continues to escalate, I am eager to be a man who steps up. I want to be a man known not only for football, but also for showing dignity and respect toward all people—especially women. I want to be known as a man of integrity and character before any athletic accolades or accomplishments. Because of this desire, I am excited for All Pro Dad to partner with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) in an effort to take a stand.

The Palm Beach Post — Local GOP sends wrong message with invite to anti-Islam pol

The only other detail left for Palm Beach County Republican Party leaders, as they seek a new venue for their bash-the-Muslims dinner, is to invite the Quran-burning pastor down from Gainesville to do the introductions.

The Boca West Country Club, citing security concerns, has canceled the county GOP’s $125-a-plate August “Lobsterfest” dinner featuring right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Wilders’ inflammatory claims, such as that “Islam and freedom are totally incompatible,” belie the thousands of Muslims who love freedom enough to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. When he says “Islam has declared war on us, on our Judeo-Christian civilization,” he’s counting on a lack of familiarity with Islam, which reveres the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus, and including his mother Mary, and in fact is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

The obvious reality is that among the more than 1.6 billion people claiming to practice Islam, in societies around the world including Palm Beach County, violence is anathema except to the relatively minuscule murderous element who kill even Muslims as political strategy.

But count on Wilders to note that his criticisms of Islam have made him a target of violent extremists such as the two men shot and killed in an attack shortly after Wilders’ speech at a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest last week in Garland, Texas.

Wilders was invited there by virulently anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller, who likes to promote herself as a champion of free speech, but is simply hiding behind one of the great pillars of our democracy to promote hateful speech that incites violence. Here in America we should, and do protect her First Amendment right to do that too. It’s in the name of free speech that the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups still rally today to promote their brand of hate.

The Panama City News-Herald — Nuisances shouldn’t be illegal

For the past several years the Panama City Beach City Council and the Bay County Commission have swatted at the scooter issue like you would a few flies in your home on a summer day.

Panama City Beach and Bay County both changed their insurance requirements and improved some aspects of the experience in regards to rider safety. However, it now seems Panama City Beach is ready to burn the whole house down to eliminate the pesky problem.

The Beach Council is considering a ban on two-wheel scooter rentals starting in 2018. They say scooter business owners will still be able to rent four-wheel vehicles (like golf carts), but the business owners point out that nearly all of their rentals are two-wheeled scooters.

For those wondering why such drastic measures were required, the City Council talked about safety and PCB Councilman Rick Russell said recently that he gets more complaints about scooters “than just about anything.” It was a head-scratching statement given that mobs of people have shown up to recent PCB Council meetings to complain about Spring Break. We suppose that prior to scooters, the biggest threat to beachgoers were engined-powered paragliders, and we know what happened with them.

Although our memories may fail us, we can’t think about anyone in the past few years who came to either a PCB Council meeting or a Bay County Commission meeting solely to complain about scooters.

So, The News Herald’s Editorial Board requested the city and the county turn over any written complaints. The city had not yet responded as of Friday afternoon. County officials turned over 48 pages of emails. Although there were a few complaints solely about scooters, most of them were complaints about Spring Break that included a line or two about the wheeled contraptions.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel – Gov. Scott’s political malpractice

Gov. Rick Scott continues to duck responsibility for the health care crisis he has created.

The governor met last week with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and begged her to keep sending Florida money from the Low Income Pool that reimburses providers for treating the uninsured. After Burwell made no commitment, Scott said, “The federal government should not just completely cut off a federal program for low-income families that has been working for years.”

Scott is wrong to blame Burwell. He’s the problem.

Washington has warned Scott since his first year in office that the Low Income Pool money would end. In 2011, the money was extended for three years during negotiations over Florida’s continuing Medicaid reforms.

Unlike the Federal Government, Florida is Constiututionally bound to balance the budget, which Scott has accomplished with a surplus. Who pays for this once the Feds steps aside?

After passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, however, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified Florida that the state had to spend Low Income Pool money better. Rather than simply reimburse hospitals for covering the uninsured in emergency rooms, Florida could expand Medicaid — in any form the Legislature could accept and Washington could approve — and thus provide insurance to about 800,000 of the state’s working poor. The federal government would pay 100 percent of expansion costs through 2016, and scale down to 90 percent by 2020.

Yet Scott has ignored every yellow light, the most recent flashing last year when the federal government said the Low Income Pool money — roughly $2 billion, about half of that to hospitals — would expire this June. The Legislature adjourned on April 28 without passing a budget because of differences over health care funds. A special, three-week session is set to begin June 1.

So what’s the governor doing? Forming a commission to investigate taxpayer funding of hospitals. He says the commission will “gather essential information that could inform the building of a budget before July 1.”

The Tallahassee Democrat – Mothers, as in movies and books, are the centers of our lives

Charlie and Julie will celebrate this Mother’s Day without my Pat, their mother. These past six months, my children and I have seen our first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, birthday and a would-have-been 50th wedding anniversary without her. In time, she will be a most cherished memory and we will all move beyond noting firsts.

But I find it fitting that Pat’s date of death (Nov. 10) is also the birthday of my mother. Thelma Melton was a third-grade teacher at Kinder Elementary (Louisiana). One of her former students wrote of her, “Mrs. Melton was probably my all-time favorite teacher. I never forgot when one boy started stealing our spending nickels. Mrs. Melton picked him up by the heels and shook him and nickels were rolling out all over the floor. Something like that would get you a lawsuit today.” That was my mother, who raised four boys and hundreds of third grade students. We honor her and Pat as we remember.

Pat’s last book was “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, which won a Pulitzer Prize. Pat mentioned often that the last chapter had a message for us. The book is a story of a boy and his relationship with his mother. Among the many other characters is a small painting of a goldfinch. The Pulitzer Prize had to be earned with the last chapter and the line: “We don’t get to choose our own heart . . . We don’t get to choose the people we are.” I found the message to be a path of understanding and hope.

I hope you have seen three movies: “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Sergeant York” and “To Hell and Back.”

The “Grapes of Wrath,” is based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The film centers on Tom Joad and the Great Depression, but the real hero is Tom’s mother, Ma Joad, who holds the family together. Sergeant York is the biographical film about Alvin York, the World War I Medal of Honor winner. But the story depends on Ma York,whose strong beliefs in her family and church were the foundation for York. “To Hell and Back” is the autobiographical story of lead actor Audie Murphy, the World War II Medal of Honor winner. Murphy was one of 12 children, whose mother’s death when he was 16 was a defining moment in his life.

In 1963, I was a senior in college. On a blind date, I met and fell in love with my Pat. She was the rock that helped me through the recent deaths of my mother and father. A 50-year journey led us to Tallahassee and our 45 years here.

The Tampa Tribune — The uncommonly restless United Kingdom

In London, David Cameron had much to celebrate after Thursday’s general election. His Conservative Party managed to seize an extremely narrow majority — winning only two more seats than the minimum required for a majority — in Britain’s parliament.

Their surprise triumph means that Cameron — whose Conservatives needed to form an awkward coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010 in order for him to become prime minister — no longer needs to join forces, however uncomfortably, with any other party in order to preside over the uncommonly restless United Kingdom.

So, having observed the formality of consulting with Queen Elizabeth, Cameron gets to keep the key to No. 10 Downing Street, which in some respects is Britain’s equivalent to the White House.

The Liberal Democrats, who had hoped their reluctant partnership with the Tories would enable them to moderate their partner’s conservatism, were so soundly trounced Thursday that their leader, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, promptly resigned.

Similarly, the embattled leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, handed in his resignation after presiding over his party’s dismal showing.

Although Cameron and his colleagues are all smiles now, it is almost certain there are stormy seas ahead.

For example, Cameron and his crew have to figure out how best to respond to the other major surprise in Thursday’s voting — the stunning success of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which came mostly at the expense of the once-robust but now listless Labour Party.

(Interestingly, there had been speculation that Labour and the SNP might form a coalition government had they, together, gained enough seats in Parliament. But the day belonged to Cameron.)

“I want my party, and I hope a government that I would like to lead, to reclaim a mantle that we should never have lost — the mantle of one nation, one United Kingdom,” Cameron said, clearly alluding to the widely held belief that inevitably Scotland will again seek a referendum on separating itself from the union it formed with England in 1707.

Yet the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, sounded an altogether different tone in the exhilarating aftermath of her party’s strong showing in the election. She said nothing about independence for Scotland.


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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