Chapter I – I’m From Polk County B*tch

by The Liars' Den

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former” – Albert Einstein

Being a news junkie, I have a habit of checking the news sites from places I have lived in the past. After moving to Michigan, I regularly checked the Tallahassee Democrat Online for years, and probably still would if they hadn’t started charging. So naturally, having been a former resident of Tampa, my daily dose of news includes Tampa Bay Online. I caught a story yesterday pertaining to the release of the 2012 state budget plan by the Senate Budget Committee. The gist of the story was the fact that the budget plan included cuts to all state funded universities in Florida. Not just cuts, but somewhat significant cuts at that. For example:

  • University of Florida: 26%
  • Florida State University: 22%

Both of those numbers represent a reduction in funds that will no doubt have a  impact on many programs, but in the end tuition will be raised, a couple of Intro to Marketing courses will be cut and no one will notice the difference. A janitor may get fired, but if Newt Gingrich gets elected then 12-year-old kids will be replacing all janitors anyways, so no harm no foul right? That’s what I thought, until I noticed the cut for my alma mater, THE University of South Florida.

The reduction in state funding for USF: 58%

The number five miraculously paired with the number eight. Two percentage points shy of sixty. Eight percentage points over half. Two and a quarter times UF’s cuts. Over two and a half times FSU’s cuts. Hey, at least it’s not 85%.

Hogwash!

In order to clearly recognize the reasons USF was blatantly picked to be the black sheep of the Florida University System, one need only look at a certain state senator from the wonderful county of Polk, a Mr. JD Alexander. Quick background on JDA and USF: USF has a  couple of “satellite” campuses around Central FLA, with one particular campus known as USF Poly (or Polytechnic) residing in JDA’s district. So to make a long story short, JDA has been pushing for USF Poly to split from USF altogether, thus establishing another public university in the state. There are any number of reasons this is probably not the best thing to spend tax-payer money on, but my feeling is that  it would basically place another state university right in the middle of two schools with a combined enrollment of over a hundred thousand, which sit no more than 100 miles apart from each other. But I don’t live in Florida any longer so what do I care. The big story is that JDA wants USF Poly to separate from USF, USF President Judy Genshaft (whose last name incorrectly implies she is getting the gentle shaft from JDA) fired USF Poly’s chancellor in December (fired may not be the appropriate wording – but close enough) creating a shit storm for JDA and thus making his dream less of a reality in the near term.

In response to President Genshaft’s move in December, JDA – who coincidentally serves as the Chair of the Budget Committee and the Joint Legislative Budget Commission – apparently thought it was in his best interest to drop the hammer on USF and the thousands of students who attend the institution in an effort to better their education. It also appears as though JDA has in some way acquired, either through coercion or through monetary exchange, the biggest set of gonads the state of Florida has ever laid witness to.

The fact that he would attempt to play this hand in such an inconspicuous way should indicate that A. he is the dumbest politician alive or B. he really thinks he would get away with it unscathed. In all honesty though, I would consider option “B” to be a direct result of option “A”.

Furthermore, the fact that USF is having to waste more time and more money trying to rectify the situation only causes further damage to the institution as a whole, and thus proves that when it comes to politicians, there is nothing they won’t do to further their own agenda.

More to come on this later. Here’s a link to a TBO article highlighting the details around this whole fiasco and appropriately labeling it as an “ambush” by JDA.

In other news:

  • Floyd Mayweather took too many hits to the head (Yahoo! Sports)
  • AT&T sticking it to the man their customers (Boston Herald)
  • “Birth Control” and “Abortion” now mean the same thing. Oh, and Obama hates Catholics  (Fox News)
  • I am succeeding at making a decent wage yet still appearing poor compared to these folks (WTOP)

Interesting tidbits:

  • Republicans on birth control: “We stand 100% with the Catholic Church and will not tolerate a war on religious freedom.” Republicans on extending unemployment benefits: “We do not hold the same beliefs as the Catholic Church.” (Crooks & Liars)

Shouts:

  • Happy Valentines Day to my wonderful girlfriend. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts the decision has been made to cancel the normal celebration of VD on the day that Halmark chose (today). Steps will be taken to ensure the “holiday” is celebrated tomorrow. Plus, everything will be 75% off, so it’ll be like we’re saving money twice!
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