Peanut Surprise.

first_imgIf a current forecast holds true, Georgia farmers will producemore peanuts this year than last year. Considering drought hasdominated the state for three straight years, the crop this seasonhas turned into a pleasant surprise.According to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, peanutproduction for Georgia is forecast at 1.42 billion pounds. Thisis 8 percent more than an earlier prediction for the state,and 1 percent better than the crop last year.”I was quite surprised that the estimate jumped that much,”said John Beasley, a University of Georgia Extension Service agronomist.2,800 Pounds per AcreFarmers are expected to yield about 2,800 pounds per acre. Thisis 200 pounds more than last month’s forecast and 225 pounds morethan the 1999 yield.Looking back over the growing season, Beasley said this type ofproduction year seemed unbelievable.”Considering the way this year started out with drought andall the problems we were having and even though we got timelyrains in August and September, we were still way behind on rainfall,”Beasley said.Problems, ProblemsGrowers not only battled weather this season. They also had todeal with weed pressure, the plant-crippling Tomato Spotted WiltVirus and other yield-reducing diseases.Though the timely rains kept the crop from going downhill formany growers, Beasley said, some farmers were not able to combatthe extreme weather and had to abandon some fields.”But overall, as we continued through harvest it seemed everybodywas pleased with their total production,” he said. “Andthe quality (of the crop) has been excellent. We’re a lot betterthan average on quality this year.”Finally, Good WeatherWeather conditions favored the farmers getting into their fieldsand getting out the crop.”Harvest conditions were excellent: clear, breezy and withlow humidity,” he said. September rains hurt some peanutsready for harvest, but for the most part, improved the peanutsstill maturing.”We’d love to get back to the 3,200 (pounds per acre)we made in 1985. But if you told the farmers at the start of thisseason that with the drought and all the problems we were having we’d be making 2,800 (pounds per acre), they’d have thought you were crazy,” Beasley said. “It was a surprisingly good year.” Photo: Dan Rahn The peanut combines finished their dusty harvest in November in Georgia. The final numbers aren’t in, but farmers are giving thanks for a better crop than they expected.last_img read more

Lawyers in the Legislature

first_imgBenson enjoys bipartisan praise Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Ask Rep. Holly Benson, R-Pensacola, if she’s been sailing lately, and she’ll give a rueful and wistful laugh. She notes the questioner must be reading her member page on the Florida House of Representatives Web site which, among other things, lists her hobbies as guitar playing and sailing.But that information was posted “back when I had time to have hobbies,” Benson said.A check of her legislative activities shows why the municipal bond lawyer from the western Panhandle has little leisure time. First elected in 2000, in her second term she was appointed chair of the special House committee that oversaw the transition of funding from county to the state for trial courts to carry out a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1998.That intense two-year effort, stretching over the 2003-04 sessions involved balancing the needs of judges, lawyers, clerks, public defenders, state attorneys, and court users amidst the normal partisan pressures of the legislature.Benson poured herself into the job, at the end winning praise from Republicans, Democrats, and all the other players for her fairness, mastery of the details, and efficacy of the final plan — worked out with the Senate — for making the funding transition.Benson credits the help of others for the success.“The nice thing is we have incredible members and incredible staff and if you do your homework and ask the right questions, you can find creative solutions to problems,” she said.With the Article V funding, everyone had the same goal, she added.“Florida has an incredible court system that is the envy of other states and it was a wonderful opportunity to work with all sorts of people to make the courts work,” Benson said. “We shared a common goal of preserving this outstanding court system and, with any luck, enhancing it. And so we worked together to do that.”Since that undertaking, Benson has also played leading roles in procurement reform for the state and this year’s Medicaid reform that will use HMOs to try to reduce costs for the state while maintaining quality.Benson’s work in the legislature has been widely praised. Her work on the Article V funding earned her a special recognition award from the Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges, as well as plaudits from the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida Association of Court Clerks/Comptrollers. She has also received several awards from business and medically-related groups.Despite recent accomplishments, challenges will persist for the state, both generally and specifically for the legal system.“Florida continues to have unprecedented growth and we will continue to be pressed to meet the needs of all these Floridians,” Benson said.She noted there have been conflicts between the courts and lawmakers, and expects those may continue but also expects those frictions don’t have to have a negative impact on either branch of government.“The court system will continue to evolve to meet the very diverse needs of our state that range from all sorts of societal pressures. In Miami Dade, they’re expected to be able to interpret 85 languages on any given day. You have the mentally ill who continue to clog our jails and court system on any given day,” Benson said.As for relations between the courts and lawmakers, she noted that “[Bar President] Alan Bookman is a constituent and we’re going to work on that. Chief Justice [Barbara] Pariente has done an outstanding job of continuing to build legislative-judicial relations.“We all believe in checks and balances but we will continue to play important roles in developing good policies for the people of Florida,” Benson added.She said her legal training was good preparation for legislative work. Benson has filed for a fourth term, which will be her last under the state’s term limit provisions. And plans after her House service? “Right now, to be a bond lawyer,” she said.Benson is an advocate for other lawyers to get involved in the legislature.“Having a law degree is a real asset in interpreting bills quickly,” she said. “I have been consistently impressed by the caliber of lawyers with whom I serve.”And for lawyers who might be considering a run, Benson had this advice: “Serving in the legislature is one of the most meaningful things you will ever do.” Kottkamp follows Lincoln’s lead Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Growing up in Indiana and hearing all those stories about Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood in the Hoosier state left its mark on Jeff Kottkamp.“It left an impression on me since I was five that I not only wanted to be a lawyer, but I wanted to be in public service,” said Kottkamp, a personal injury lawyer in Ft. Myers who has been a state representative since he was elected in 2000.“I was one of those children that when the others wanted to go out to play, I wondered what we were going to do in Congress.”Now that 45-year-old Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral, is chair of the House Judiciary Appropriations Committee, he is focused on funding the full 66 judges the Florida Supreme Court has certified the state needs.“For several years, we didn’t create any new judges. The phrase ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ rings true for many people. The backlog is making it harder and harder for judges to get cases to trial. It is important to fully fund the need for judges,” Kottkamp said.“Along those lines, in doing so, it’s important to send the message that the legislature has the proper view of the judiciary, which is that it is a branch of government and not a state agency.”For Kottkamp, it doesn’t matter whether those new judges are elected or appointed. He just wants to make sure the legislature funds the positions this session.Another important issue on the radar screen for lawyers in the civil arena, Kottkamp said, is joint and several liability.“One approach may be what was attempted last year, which is outright repeal. That approach has very little support in the Senate. I cannot possibly say how that will come out. This is a typical issue where term limits come into play because you have all of these legislators not in office when the legislature took up joint and several liability the last time, in the late ’80s,” Kottkamp said.“way of background, what everyone points to as the poster child of the problem was a case in the mid-’80s when Disney World was found 1 percent at fault, but because no one else in the case had any money ended up paying the whole 100 percent. The legislature stepped in and said, ‘Someone with one percent fault can never be found 100 percent liable.’ They fixed the problem in the late ’80s. But a lot of legislators don’t know that.“That’s one of those things where you have to work hard in educating legislators on the full spectrum. And that’s why it is important for lawyers to run for office. Other legislators know you practice law and rely on you in many respects to explain the law,” Kottkamp said, just as he relies on Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, a doctor, when he needs insight on medical issues.A graduate of the University of Florida College of Law, Kottkamp clerked for two “brilliant” federal judges, the late Sidney Aronovitz, father of former Bar President Tod Aronovitz, and Joe Eaton, a senior judge in the Southern District of Florida.Kottkamp said his career as a lawyer-legislator is “incredibly rewarding and fulfilling” because “every day is different and exciting, and I get to do some neat things.”One thing he is especially proud of is working with Attorney General Charlie Crist on passing a civil rights bill in 2003, which Kottkamp said “will make a lasting impression on people’s lives.”Kottkamp served on the Bar’s Journal and News Editorial Board, and was president of the Lee County Bar Association in 1998.Those experiences, he said, gave him “an important view of everything that the Bar does beyond the day-to-day practice.”The legislature needs more lawyers, he said.“If other attorneys in the state are considering public service, I would strongly encourage it. A legal education and experience from the practice of law is a tremendous benefit to be able to sort through the incredibly complex issues.”He serves on the Lee County Republican Executive Committee and is a member of the Sanibel-Captiva Republican Club.Kottkamp is also affiliated with the Christian Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Florida.Among his awards are The Florida Bar “President’s Legislative Award” in 2004, the Christian Coalition of Florida’s 2004 “Faith and Family Award,” and the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers “Legislative Leadership Award” in 2005.In 2004, he was honored by the Florida Supreme Court Trial Court Budget Commission for “exceptional service to the trial courts of Florida during the transition to state funding mandated by Revision 7 to the Florida Constitution.”He is married to Cyndie Kottkamp, and they have one son, Jackson. February 1, 2006 Regular Newscenter_img Lawyers in the Legislaturelast_img read more

Chivalry is dead and you killed it, ladies.

first_img Sharing is caring! Share 31 Views   no discussions Share Sitting in traffic sucks, but it’s the ultimate observation capsule for people-watching. Might as well scrutinize while you’re stuck between a ditzy chick in a monster SUV and a tourist trying to snap pictures of the White House from the driver’s seat.It’s where I spied a young couple out on a date. He cracked a wry joke, she giggled daintily, and they held hands as they strolled up a block in the heart of downtown D.C. How in-the-honeymoon period adorable are they? I thought. But when Cute Couple paused to enter a restaurant, my foot almost slipped off the brake: he all but broke his neck to get in ahead of her and let the door slam—I mean, physically slonk her—on her shoulder.I sent her a telepathic message to turn tail, hail a cab, and end that date immediately. But she didn’t. She grimaced and limped in after him. And that’s one of the reasons why chivalry is dying a slow, brutal death.I’m not shy about telling y’all that I passionately believe manners are the glue of society, the thin line that keeps us all from going ape you-know-what on each other in social settings and public arenas. Not that that line isn’t fraying. If you’ve stood in line at Walmart for any length of time or taken a ride on public transportation, it’s like being on the frontlines of how dismally bad manners have really gotten.For some reason — I don’t know if it’s global warming or residuals from the Bush administration or the pull of the moon or what it is — but people have absolutely abandoned good, sound, traditional act-rightness. And that lack of decorum has bungled the dating scene. Like it wasn’t already like walking through a dog park with no clean-up laws in the first place.I’m as hip and trendy as the next fun-loving gal, but I’m super old-school when it comes to the application of manners. Feminist agenda be darned: I believe that men should walk on the side closest to the street when we’re out on the town, that they should pull out women’s chairs when we sit down at tables, and — for the love of all that’s even remotely cool — that they shouldn’t let the doggone door crush any part of our persons as they scurry in to slosh back their weight in nachos and beer at a local eatery.I believe being a gentleman is still one of the sexiest qualities a guy can possess and because I don’t see it as often as I’d like, it makes the trait all the more valuable when I do.Watching that girl go into her hell date made me want to scream like a scary movie fan watching a character about to get gutted in a slasher flick. But it’s typical of ladies in this day and age to let that kind of madness slide. I guess the pool of eligible, compatible, marry-able guys has been slimmed so close to depletion that we’ve learned how to settle for not having the little niceties like being respected and even a little revered.I mean, even if we’re not vying for a reception of royal proportions, the least us gals can demand is to be given the greenlight to go through a doorway first. But if we don’t insist on that kind of treatment, it’s not just going to magically manifest. We have to set the expectation early on that that’s how we want to be treated.My boyfriend’s gentlemanliness is one of the things I adore about him and his cute self. In fact, it’s something that all of the few guys I’ve dated had in common (I’m more of a commitment girl, so I’ve only been on a handful of outings that would qualify as a casual date). And if I did so happen to be out with a dude who apparently didn’t know better, I’d stop at the restaurant door and wait. And wait. And wait some more until he got the drift. Same thing at the table pausing for a chair to be pulled out. Same thing at the car door.In a way, it’s like doing my part to remind guys — or teach them if they never knew it in the first place (shame on their mamas, by the way) — that some women expect a higher standard of treatment. It’s not being bourgie or bitchy or snotty or snobby. It’s called being a The StirYahoo Shinecenter_img Share Tweet LifestyleRelationships Chivalry is dead and you killed it, ladies. by: – April 14, 2011last_img read more