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Winners & Losers: Sanity, Jacksonville’s Taxpayers

WINNER: Insanity has posted some major and disturbing gains in recent weeks. This weekend's over-the-top “International Burn a Koran Day” in Gainesville is a clear indication of that. Pastor Terry Jones is a grandstanding antagonist – he is capitalizing on recent hysteria and attempting to divide any Christians and Muslims who might possibly be getting along for a few seconds. Recently the event has been on, off, on, off again. Westboro Baptist Church, long infamous for protesting military funerals, has announced that it will not be upstaged in the crazy department by Jones and will do its own Koran burning anyway. In the meantime, maybe JSO should monitor sales of axe handles at local hardware stores.

LOSER: Cracker Barrel at River City Marketplace, for not handling its personnel issues well. Two waitresses were recently fired from the restaurant after complaining to management that a hostess and a waiter, who were dating, were conspiring to segregate black people into areas that the waiter was not working in, and was also giving him more tables to wait. The waitresses are pursuing legal action, but the other two employees in question are still working at the location. This is exactly the type of volatile dispute that managers should work to defuse before it has the chance to begin.

WINNERS: Citizens who are getting their grass cut at taxpayer expense. According to WJXT, some homeowners who cut their own right-of-way are subsequently seeing that grass cut by workers hired by the City of Jacksonville. Even the grass in front of Councilman Don Redman's barber shop is being cut, although he says he cuts it himself and would like to see the practice ended. Burning the grass would prevent them from trying to mow it. Anyway, my grass is ten feet tall, but I have shifty guys who pay me an armload of money to cut it and carry it away.

LOSERS: Screaming children on Carolina Beach, who cannot possibly eat at Olde Salty's Restaurant. The business specifically forbids the presence of screaming or whining children with large, prominent signs posted inside and out. During an interview, one of the owners, who is clearly very mature (and rather salty) went outside to confront a family being interviewed, and then gave her impression of a “screaming child”.

WINNER: Southern Co, which is on track for building a nuclear power plant outside of Atlanta. The plant would be the first in the United States in decades and is still awaiting final approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear power is still a viable, safe and relatively clean form of power that generates a type of waste that can be contained and stored, rather than allowed to run rampant in the environment. It's also a science and tech-heavy industry, which is good in the long run as it encourages more science and math education, something which we are greatly in need of in the United States.

LOSER: Local taxpayers, logic, the Hare Krishnas...who knows? Everyone is a loser here except for a few contractors and vendors. True to its name, the Wonderwood area has got us all wondering what's up. City Councilman Bill Bishop says he doesn't understand why JTA decided it would be a good idea to plant trees right next to existing trees and install an irrigation system next to a marsh. Naturally, this was all done at significant cost to the City - $1.4 million, which cannot be reclaimed.

Generally, huge expensive projects have to go through a review process before being approved, and are typically the subject of criticism and public comments. Why didn't anyone catch this one earlier?

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In addition to offering up his weekly winners and losers in The Jacksonville Observer, Graham Wellington enjoys bacon, fancy hats and prank calling apartment complexes on Park Street.

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