Plant a sea oat and save a beach

Published October 28, 2006

On "The 13th Juror" lawyer Jacqueline Dowd writes about social justice and related court cases. Find this and other reader blogs at blogs.tampabay.com.

Treasure Island is inviting everyone to Sunshine Beach today, but there's a catch: the city wants to put you to work. To curb beach erosion along the northern end of the island, the city is trucking in about 1,000 sea oat and sea grape plants and could use some help planting them. They say it takes about a minute per plant. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at 124th Avenue. Bring your own shovel.

Bush joins call for legislator to resign

State Rep. Gus Barreiro already has called on Republican House colleague Ralph Arza to resign for the racial slur and obscenity-laced message he left on Barreiro's voice mail concerning the superintendent of Miami-Dade schools, who is black. Now Gov. Jeb Bush has called for Arza's head, too. "I think he should resign because he's going to be expelled," Bush said Friday. "Might as well do it gracefully." Arza told the Associated Press he was "deeply sorry" and asked forgiveness, but he sidestepped a question about whether he'd considered resigning. It takes a two-thirds vote of the 120-member House to expel a member.

Hazing complaints being investigated

Another week, another college hazing incident. Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Central Florida was suspended this week during an investigation of alleged hazing, alcohol- and drug-related misconduct and disorderly conduct. Three members were sent to a hospital Thursday after campus police showed up at the frat house to check out noise complaints. The chapter was suspended three years ago after a suspected hazing incident in which two trucks collided on campus, injuring several students. Meanwhile, FAMU is investigating alleged hazing by members of its famous marching band. At the University of Florida, the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter, already suspended once before, is in trouble again for allegedly drugging three girls at a party.

Tax man's accuser to drop charges

The Tampa woman who says Hillsborough Tax Collector Doug Belden kissed and groped her at a bar will ask prosecutors not to pursue a criminal case against him, according to her attorney. "She does not want to continue on with the criminal case," attorney Jeff Brown said Friday. Julie Irwin, 38, a Harbour Island jewelry maker, and Brown plan to write a letter Monday asking prosecutors to drop the case against Belden. On Thursday, Belden publicly apologized for his behavior and admitted to an alcohol problem.