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BWS November 8: Professionalism

Welcome In! Coming to you from the Concurrent Media Studio in the heart of Citrus County. However you’re making this part of your day whether it’s Apple Podcasts, Spotify, the iHeartRadio app or even through the Concurrent mobile app or website I’m sure glad you’re joining us.

Happy election day to all of you. It feels like a storm is brewing, and that might be because a storm is literally brewing as Nicole bears down on the east coast and could potentially reach us later this week, I mean a storm brewing tonight although I don't think election results in Florida are going to be particularly close. If you attended the incredible event for First Lady Casey DeSantis on Saturday then you heard the voter turnout numbers which have Republicans with about a 300,000 vote lead with early voting and mail-in ballot voting and that is typically what Democrats win. The fact that Republicans are not only ahead but ahead by a margin two and a half times the size that Governor DeSantis won by 4 years ago going into election day means we're going to see some pretty, pretty convincing numbers tonight. And why wouldn't we?

No county commission meeting today because of election day there was one yesterday. It was Chairman Ron Kitchen and Commissioner Scott Carnahan's last as well as being the last of County Administrator Randy Oliver. Each of these three men has served for roughly 8 years and have been commanding presences throughout that time. You could feel it in the room yesterday that this is truly the end of an era. So while that might be the case in Citrus County yesterday, statewide I'm looking forward to seeing the continuation of an era here in Florida. Let's get right into it today.

A common term you'll hear in election advertising rhetoric is candidates calling themselves fighters. I'm a fighter, for you, I won't back down from the fight. And I know what you're thinking, maybe I would know what you're talking about If I had heard just one more election to add, but I didn't quite get my fill this season maybe in 2024 I'll watch more TV. Haha jokes aside, we like our politicians who have a little grit, have some toughness, got that dog in them.

Politics itself can be seen as a bare-knuckle knock down drag out battle so it feels like the comparison is an apt one. I agree but for different reasons. I didn't grow up in the Golden age of boxing but I was in high school and college for the coming of age of the UFC. Before it was UFC, there were several splintered mixed martial arts groups, they called them MMA, and all of them were competing for audiences. This is important because they weren't competing for legitimacy, they were competing for views, for popularity.

The common thought at the time was that it had to be raw to be real to viewers. Even the UFC is it was in competition with some of these lesser leagues would allow eye-gauging, and biting, and all these truly grotesque now illegal moves in order to preserve this idea of intensity that they thought audiences demanded.

And then along came Dana White. Dana White is now a billionaire who sold the UFC to the fertitta family and to ESPN for, I forget how much it was, something around for billion dollars but the value that Dana White gave to the sport was not brilliant promotion, although he did that too, but rather standardized professionalism. He got rid of all this stuff that MMA purists thought made the sport different from boxing, and he packaged what could be an arguably deluded version but one that was far more palatable by Mass audiences and more specifically by corporate advertisers and that's when the UFC started to gain traction over its competitors.

This isn't unique to UFC. Football right now is almost unwatchable to anyone who grew up watching it in the '70s and '80s. You can't hit anyone, you might say, it's like they're playing powderpuff out there, tell Tom Brady looks younger today than he did when he entered the league. Football more than any other major American sport is keenly self-aware that it is a television show, not a test of athletic competition. It knows that keeping its stars on camera is going to keep people watching and you can't keep the stars on camera if they are injured so it keeps tweaking its rules and tweaking its rules and eventually you have football today which is as successful as it has ever been, these franchises 20 years ago were worth $400 million And now Jeff bezos is going to buy a team in Washington for $6 billion dollars that hasn't one a playoff game since 2005. That's 17 years and three name changes ago for the franchise. Call it what you will, not the game you want to watch, soft football, a ruined version of something you used to love, but you know what the owners call it? Valuable. That's what professionalization does.

And I truly believe that's the difference between competing wings of the Republican party right now. This isn't just locally, but it feels like it applies locally Just as much as it would anywhere, and that is not that one side of the party is better than the other, but one side is clearly more professional. They understand what it takes to get corporate sponsors to events, to attract VIPs and guest speakers the caliper which we had on Saturday, but Bobby! You're just talking about selling out to the elites. No, it goes deeper than that. It's about understanding the whole process.

There's this idea among some that we need unity. There's too much infighting in the Republican party and it would be so much better if we just all came together. I like the sentiment, if that's actually what they were saying. It's not unity some people are after, it's conformity. It's join us or else we will get rid of you through accusations of not being Republican enough. I don't think the people doing this are bad people, I think they misunderstand the importance of professionalism. Some likely don't even know certain ways about how it all works so they aren't acting out of malfeasance but rather out of ignorance and while that sounds condescending and bad, I really only mean it as a reason as to why this is happening. You're always going to get people who think Dana White ruined the purity of UFC rawness through the outlying of skin scratching, those who turn the channel away from CBS at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday because they can't bear to watch the watered down version of the Football they once loved, and those who are willing to point the finger of republicanism at others and demand more orthodoxy but in reality, at the end of the day, professionalism will always be more valuable. It just is.

Getting to topic 2 but first,

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Has anyone noticed how nice I've been being to the Chronicle lately? On Saturday had a Facebook post which acknowledged their great placement of a recent announcement from the Sheriff's office, on Sunday I defended their wrap around ad we call them a spadia from the city of Inverness after there was unfounded speculation that it was an electioneering tactic, I have been nothing but chronicle friendly for at least 72 hours. And it all ends now. It's not that I want to be unfriendly, but the Sunday editorial exemplifies what drives me insane about the Chronicle opinion journalism.

Sunday's editorial was about the need for a baker act facility blaming the County commission as well as the Citrus County hospital board for not having already willingly turned over $2 million each without any stipulation on the non-profit that would be using it for the Baker act facility. A couple of things here before we get to why this editorial needed another rewrite.

First, there are factual and accuracies within the editorial. The piece states that live stream has already committed $2 million dollars to the project. This actually undersells what life stream has put up, they've paid one and a half million for what the land will be on and have agreed to front half of the project at 6 million in addition to the cost of the land. Errors like this undermine credibility of the author's voice, and since the author is the entire editorial board representing the most informed voice of the people, mistakes like this are an excusable. I'll always cite December 2020 when the chronicle editorial casually stated that the chamber and the United Way could facilitate CARES act funds cheaper than what the county was doing, which at best is a misrepresentation of the reality, and at worst was an outright lie. That's one of the defining moments that led to the concurrent in the first place.

There's also incredibly poor word choice throughout this for anyone who has been following the project closely. The editorial calls the $2 million dollars a donation which it most certainly can't be from the county in order to use the American rescue plan act or ARPA funds that they would want to for this. It has to be defined as providing a service, in this case the service is keeping deputies in county rather than having to expend resources transporting Baker act patients to Leesburg as they do now. This feels like semantics and oh who cares well, lawyers do, the public should.

Lastly there's an error by omission. Editorials are meant to take a stance and argue a point, I get that, but to outright ignore the opposing viewpoint is unhelpful too the county discourse. LifeStream likely is the right organization to deliver us this facility, but there have been concerns. If the paper is truly acting as the watchdog for the people, the ultimate Fourth estate, these need to be at the very least mentioned. LifeStream so far has failed at delivering contractually obligated performance metric reports and when called on it about 2 months ago they assured commissioners that it was an error in a middleman and that they would deliver them immediately. As far as I know, the reports have still not been filed.

There's also an opportunity for the county to gain some value in return of this deal. Right now why it is not sitting well with some commissioners and most of the hospital board is because it does feel to life-stream friendly and there is room to provide greater equity, the concurrent has often suggested one in the form of scholarships for local citrus behavioral science students to study out of the facility.

The Chronicle editorial board has a lot of new faces, a lot of aging writers, and no one can be an expert on all things, which is what is expected when you have to produce daily arguments in favor of certain positions. But this was bad. and it pains me to say that because it feels to me, I'm just speculating here, but as a writing professor this has all the hallmarks of someone who hasn't been doing this very long so I'm guessing it was one of the newer faces to the editorial board and I respect the hell out of people they recently chose to add so Im sorry if I'm crushing inexperience because I'm sure it will get better. But the paper has an obligation to the public, in the Sunday editorial more than any other column inch of the paper including the front page, to deliver clear, factual editorial journalism and this fell well short of that.


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