Sales tax extension proposal comes under fire from Ax the Tax

The anti-tax group Ax the Tax is campaigning against the half cent sales tax extension that Orange County voters will decide on Aug. 26.

The anti-tax group citizens group Ax the Tax is campaigning against the half cent sales tax extension that Orange County voters will decide on Aug. 26.


ORLANDO – With just 10 days left until voters head to the polls for the Florida state primary, members of the Orange County School Board have been busying trying to get out the message that voters should approve the referendum on the ballot to extend the half cent sales tax — needed, the board members say, to help build new schools and renovate 59 existing ones.
As the School Board members have been quick to point out, this is an extension of an existing tax that Orange County voters approved in 2002, and not the introduction of a new one. As a sales tax, it’s expected that it will be paid for largely by tourists coming to the area, and not just local residents.
But the referendum is not without opposition. This week, the grass roots political action committee Ax the Tax came out swinging, urging a no vote. The measure will be decided by voters on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
Doug Guetzloe, the chairman of Ax the Tax, also took aim at Orange County Public Schools and accused them of violating Florida law by putting pro-sales tax signs in front of public schools in Orlando and Orange County – a move that Guetzloe said he plans to challenge legally. Continue reading

A summer spent in the oyster beds

Long before oysters make it to local restaurants, their populations in Florida's lagoons must continue to be plentiful.

Long before oysters make it to local restaurants, their populations in Florida’s lagoons must continue to be plentiful.


ORLANDO — In Central Florida, there are plenty of ways to spend the summer: at the beach, taking in the theme parks, or hitting the golf course.
Linda Walters is looking for folks to spend their summer days in another way: visiting some of the region’s most spectacularly beautiful outdoor parks, and checking out the oyster beds.
Walters, a biology professor the University of Central Florida, is looking for volunteers to help out this summer on a crucial ecological project: to restore Florida’s eroding shorelines, and to help oysters in the lagoons.
Walters is sponsoring a variety of community projects that involve native plants and the rebuilding of colonies of oyster beds in the Mosquito Lagoon.
These projects are being done in June and July. Continue reading

A shocking case of murder — or history being made?

Rachel K. Wentz's book "Life and Death at Windover" examines a remarkable anthropological case in Titusville in the 1990s.

Rachel K. Wentz’s book “Life and Death at Windover” examines a remarkable anthropological case in Titusville in the 1990s.


ORLANDO — Rachel K. Wentz spent 13 years working as a paramedic for the Orlando Fire Department. In that time, she covered some of the area’s poorest neighborhoods, and saw some horrendous cases of violence, and some terrible injuries.
“I worked in bad neighborhoods, I saw a lot of traumatic injuries,” she said.
But that never prompted her to get out of this field. In fact, Wentz admits she was fascinated by the whole subject of injuries to the human body.
“We can see social interaction through traumatic injury,” she said. “Trauma speaks for us.”
Her work as a paramedic was good training, she said, for her second career – she graduated from Florida State University with a Ph.D. in anthropology, and today Wentz specializes in the analysis of human remains, with a focus on ancient disease and population health. She has done skeletal work in St. Croiz, England and the Ukraine, and has experience in forensics at the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida-Gainesville.
She is also an author, and her experience as a paramedic and anthologist proved to be the perfect background, she said, for writing her nonfiction book “Life and Death at Windover.” Continue reading

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