Signs Of The Times

* Last Friday a car plowed into five children and two adults waiting at a school bus stop. Fortunately, they all survived. Police officials said the crash did not appear to be intentional. Imagine having to say that?

* A substitute elementary teacher in Largo was recently arrested in the aftermath of carrying a loaded, 9 mm handgun to work. It fell from his front waistband on the school’s playground. The school was placed on a brief lockdown. A Tallahassee yoga studio became a multiple-murder scene. A place synonymous with tranquility became a venue of unspeakable violence. The murderer was a former substitute teacher in two counties. This can’t be the new normal.

* Tampa’s plan to turn highly treated wastewater into drinking water is on hold. That’s the upshot after Pinellas and Pasco officials indicated their misgivings about how the Tampa Augmentation Project  might impact their communities. One obvious issue is image. It hardly helps that the media routinely references the project as “toilet-to-tap.” Yuck.

* That was good news that Jeff Vinik’s development company (Strategic Property Partners) and Cascade Investment finally closed the deal to buy the 3-acre, 80-year-old ConAgra flour mill. It’s an anachronistic eyesore in an area under urban lifestyle reboot and Water Street Tampa revitalization. It is, as Mayor Bob Buckhorn underscored, “the last missing piece of the puzzle.”

But it will still be a few years before a new, relocated, state-of-the-art mill is built. And I still think some mural artists would help in the transition from butt ugly to urban aesthetic.

* I’m skeptical about autonomous, driverless cars. Hardly a fan of computerized chauffeurs and the like. But then I’m reminded–all too graphically–that driverless cars are immune from texting and huffing and boozing. They don’t do wrong-way u-turns, and they don’t traffic in road rage. How’s that for a market niche?

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