Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31: South Florida Should Start Olympic Dream With Pan Am Games

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Aside from rooting on local athletes every four years for the Summer Olympics, South Florida gets the opportunity to evaluate its own chances of hosting the world some day.

They've gotten a bit better during the past four years.

Actually, they've gotten a bit better during the past four months, with the Miami Marlins' new stadium and now the opening of the Metrorail extension to Miami International Airport.

A first logical step to South Florida's Olympic dream would be the Pan American Games and the Parapan Am Games, which Miami has already bid on a few times and will likely do so again for 2019 or 2023.

Some factors would have to change, though.

Factor 1, of course, is the situation in Cuba, which probably won't let an entire Pan Am or Olympic team come to the Miami area anytime soon. Compound that with some Florida and Miami-Dade County politicians who won't put out the welcome mat. One can only hope this issue is resolved favorably by the next decade.

Factor 2: The economy would have to improve locally, statewide and nationally.

Factor 3 is probably the most important for a successful bid at any time: Regional cooperation. In this case, a Miami bid cannot just mean the city of Miami or Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties don't even have consistent weather at times, much less consistent agreements over how to address logistical issues.

Among the four counties, there should be plenty of facilities appropriate for such a competition. There must be cooperation to match.

South Floridians already know this community can throw a party. Now's the time for elected and civic leaders to join forces to convince others that a three-week welcome to the athletes and fans across the Americas will be a successful one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24: Time For U.S. Gun-Obsessed Culture To Change

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Perhaps President Barack Obama doesn't want to be reminded of his 2008 statement about certain voters clinging to guns. But he was right.

At some point, it's become more important to so-called gun-rights advocates to have their guns, period, than to have them for the priorities of safety and hunting. That has been exploited by the National Rifle Association, which has gotten politicians from both parties to bow for their money and cower to their will. All of the above has translated into legislation or loosening of legislation that helped lead to last week's mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

The entertainment industry people mistake for liberal is actually the NRA's best friend, having spent decades glorifying movie, television and video game violence and shootings. They've slacked off at times after violent attacks, but then picked right up again.

Only a traffic citation was on James Holmes' record before he was arrested for murdering 12 people and injuring 59 others at a movie theater early last Friday. That was why he was able to purchase guns and ammunition through the mail so easily.

Holmes may have been re-creating a scene from the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in the massacre. Despite plenty of warnings and discussions, directors still film such scenes in glorious Technicolor, with glittering makeup given to the baddies - without any thought of possible consequences. And while it's true that most people who watch films, shows or video games won't go out and commit such violence, many still become desensitized to it.

But the biggest problem is still the nature of guns in this country as more security-blanket than genuine security - a nature of obsession. An atmosphere that has made it more important for Person A to have any kind of weapon than for Person B to be able to go into any public space and be sure no one will fire that weapon at them. An atmosphere that caused Florida lawmakers to try to put a gag on doctors asking about guns in a home until a federal judge put a halt to that law. An atmosphere that has cost many good men and women votes at the ballot box because a lesser opponent will supposedly protect the Second Amendment.

That attitude doesn't protect anyone. It sure didn't in Colorado last Friday.

We are horrified at the occasional news of a similar massacre overseas - such as what happened in Norway a year ago. But such events are a rare occurence in other countries.

Here, they are much too common - not just mass shootings such as last week's, but the shootings that are a nightly occurence in many inner cities - inner cities being restricted from enacting laws that would take guns off those streets.

How many more shooting deaths and injuries do we have to take in the United States because of this obsession? How many more families have to mourn?

Would an NRA representative, an elected official who accepts gun lobby dollars or a producer of a bloody film look members of the families affected by last week's tragedy in the eye and continue their shpiel?

Or would they be willing to listen to those families, for once?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19: Is Iran Giving Israel an Excuse To Attack?

By Sylvia Gurinsky
Israel's great statesman Abba Eban was alternately quoted as saying that the Palestinians, or the Arabs, "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." It appears Iran can be added to that list.

Hezbollah, one of Iran's terrorist surrogates, may be behind yesterday's bus bomb in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists, the bus driver and the bomber, and injured 33. It's one of a series of attacks or attempted attacks by Iran and company targeting Israel or Israelis worldwide.

For months, there has been talk that Israel would try to bomb Iran's suspected nuclear installations to prevent the creation of a nuclear weapon. For the most part, the world community has tried to stop such an attack, with the idea that a pre-emptive strike by Israel would lead to no good in the long run.

A pre-emptive strike would not. A retaliation is another story. When Israel loses its own, it retaliates.

The terrorist attacks are giving Israel what it didn't have: A concrete excuse to attack Iran.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17: Sniglets on 595, Coconut Grove Playhouse and a Personal Note

By Sylvia Gurinsky

There wasn't enough notable warning for the people who got stuck around Interstate 595 in Broward this weekend.

News stations went on and on about the I-595 construction and some closings, but weren't specific enough. Neither were Detour signs on site, leaving many motorists frustrated.

North Broward and South Broward basically got cut off from each other in a central meeting point, since University Drive and Pine Island Road were closed at I-595.

Do better, Florida D.O.T.


The saga of the Coconut Grove Playhouse is as dramatic as some of the plays the structure has presented - and apparently not close to being solved in a satisfactory way yet.

The latest twist comes from a creditor, Aries Development (with an appropriately named executive, Gino Falsetto), which says it wants to build a new theater behind the historic front of the 1926 building and add retail, residential buildings and an underground parking garage, according to The Miami Herald. Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is once again making his constituents wonder just whose side he's on by supporting the proposal.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who has been trying to settle a county takeover of the historic theater, has reached a bump with this move.

Now, Florida House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez Cantera of Miami is trying to persuade Attorney General Pam Bondi to exercise a clause so that the state can take over the theater.

Let's try this, everyone: Sit down at one table - maybe over a nice lunch - and resolve this in a way that will fully preserve, restore and reopen the building to the public. Sometime in our lifetimes would be nice.


Finally, a personal note: Sunshine Statements and the Twitter #SunStatements will  end after the November election.

I've been in a career evolution that's been taking me away from journalism. It is in the best interests of that evolution that I will end the continued blog and tweets, though I will likely pop in now and again to comment on something of extraordinary community interest.

More to come.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday July 10: We Want Our Health Coverage, Governor Scott

By Sylvia Gurinsky

As Florida Gov. Rick Scott and others (Texas Gov. Rick Perry among them) do their best George Wallace-at-the-schoolhouse-door imitations on not enforcing the health care law, perhaps a lesson from the classic television show "The West Wing" would be persuasive to Floridians, if not the man who is supposed to lead them.

It comes from a first-season episode, "Mr. Willis of Ohio." One of the subplots features Donna Moss (Janel Moloney), faithful assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), pressing her boss on the budget surplus (Remember when there was a budget surplus, both real and fictional?).

"I want my money," Donna repeats throughout the episode. None of Josh's reasons moves her from her position.

Thanks to Aaron Sorkin's writing, Josh's logic made sense, but so did Donna's argument. Scott's rationale for not implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes no sense.

Scott refuses to even do the most simple part: Setting up a registry through which consumers can determine the best and most cost-effective insurance, and purchase it.

A cynic might suggest that Scott is trying to protect his buddies in the health care industry as much as he's trying to score tea party points.

A realist could suggest Scott will further bankrupt the state with his refusal to participate and Florida probably will wind up in more costly lawsuits because of this.

But the rest of us, millions of Floridians, will say something for which Donna Moss would be proud:

Governor Scott, we want our health coverage. We want our health insurance access. Either cooperate, or get out of our way.