Last fall was a very bad season for charities not involved in post-9/11 relief efforts. This is why the Florida Philharmonic's ballsy, successful campaign to raise $2.5 million was so remarkable. Coming on the heels of so much bad press for the philharmonic -- the musicians' strike in 2000 and its ensuing tensions, James Judd's abrupt resignation in November 2001, the resignation of its executive director in December 2001, continued budget deficits -- it's simply amazing they pulled it off. Robert Levinson, past chairman of the orchestra's tricounty Governing Council, ticks off the campaign's three dimensions: The orchestra's 84 musicians donated part of their salaries; the front office staff cut costs largely by laying off employees; and board members past and present both donated their own funds and leaned on their friends for about a million dollars -- while checks in small denominations totaling $20,000 to $30,000 rolled in. Voilà! $2.5 million found, roughly half in cost savings and the remainder in donations, in six short weeks. The orchestra is saved. Suddenly, for the first time in years, everyone involved with the philharmonic is playing from the same sheet music, and what you hear is the sound of success.
Last fall was a very bad season for charities not involved in post-9/11 relief efforts. This is why the Florida Philharmonic's ballsy, successful campaign to raise $2.5 million was so remarkable. Coming on the heels of so much bad press for the philharmonic -- the musicians' strike in 2000 and its ensuing tensions, James Judd's abrupt resignation in November 2001, the resignation of its executive director in December 2001, continued budget deficits -- it's simply amazing they pulled it off. Robert Levinson, past chairman of the orchestra's tricounty Governing Council, ticks off the campaign's three dimensions: The orchestra's 84 musicians donated part of their salaries; the front office staff cut costs largely by laying off employees; and board members past and present both donated their own funds and leaned on their friends for about a million dollars -- while checks in small denominations totaling $20,000 to $30,000 rolled in. Voilà! $2.5 million found, roughly half in cost savings and the remainder in donations, in six short weeks. The orchestra is saved. Suddenly, for the first time in years, everyone involved with the philharmonic is playing from the same sheet music, and what you hear is the sound of success.
Back in the year 2000, this newspaper reacted with well-justified righteous indignation when Judie Budnick, vice chairperson of the Broward County School Board, came out with her campaign slogan: "This Bud's for Us." She also threw in a play on the Budweiser frogs: "Bud... Nick." We asked her if aping beer ads was appropriate for a leader in public education. Angry that we would dare raise the issue, she said it was simply a good way to market her name to the voters. We wondered if she'd had a few too many King of Beers herself. This past February 6, while addressing students at Plantation High School, Budnick's tacky streak reared its ugly head once again. In front of the kids, she blurted out curses like a sailor at a Tourette's syndrome conference. She "damned" a bunch of people, said some school administrators were "spewing shit" (helpfully spelling "s-h-i-t" for the assembled youth), and compared her opponents to Hitler. We have an idea: Let's pour this Bud down the drain.
Back in the year 2000, this newspaper reacted with well-justified righteous indignation when Judie Budnick, vice chairperson of the Broward County School Board, came out with her campaign slogan: "This Bud's for Us." She also threw in a play on the Budweiser frogs: "Bud... Nick." We asked her if aping beer ads was appropriate for a leader in public education. Angry that we would dare raise the issue, she said it was simply a good way to market her name to the voters. We wondered if she'd had a few too many King of Beers herself. This past February 6, while addressing students at Plantation High School, Budnick's tacky streak reared its ugly head once again. In front of the kids, she blurted out curses like a sailor at a Tourette's syndrome conference. She "damned" a bunch of people, said some school administrators were "spewing shit" (helpfully spelling "s-h-i-t" for the assembled youth), and compared her opponents to Hitler. We have an idea: Let's pour this Bud down the drain.
In 1917, Brooklyn-born Al Ross decided to join the U.S. Navy when he was barely 16 years old. As a seaman first class during World War I, he patrolled the Atlantic coast from Norfolk, Virginia, to Jacksonville, Florida. When the war ended, he worked as circulation manager for a publishing company. After the stock market crash of 1929, he started the Albatross Chemical Co. in Long Island, New York, which is now headed by his daughter and other family. As a member of the Jewish War Veterans, he worked in 1938 to break up street-corner meetings of Nazi, Communist, and fascist teen organizations. A few years later, as the United States entered World War II, he cracked down on draft dodgers as an investigator for the Selective Service. Ross had been coming to Florida since 1927 and moved to the Sunshine State in the '40s with his wife, Edie, with whom he would share his life for more than 70 years. She succumbed to Alzheimer's disease four years ago. "She's a lovely girl," he sighs. Now an even 100 years old, the five-foot-tall, small-framed veteran still wears his original medal-covered uniform, giving speeches all over South Florida championing patriotism and educating the public about the importance of war veterans. Refusing to retire, he continues to work in public relations for the Palm Beach Daily News, a position he's held for 14 years. Ross has dedicated his life to patriotic causes and frequently dresses in red, white, and blue. "Veterans Day, by the way, is every day of the week, not just November 11," he stresses. "It saddens me that people don't ever think to say 'thank you' to a veteran. But the average person does not honor the veteran properly. If it wasn't for them, they wouldn't have freedom of speech or freedom of the press." The walls of Ross's Palm Beach condo are covered in accolades he's received from George W. Bush, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, former President Ronald Reagan, and veterans groups. Among them: a certificate that the American flag was flown over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., in recognition for his courage and bravery in WWI, a piece of wood from the USS Constitution during its restoration in 1974, and a letter from the Town of Palm Beach designating him as the town's first "Legendary Living Landmark." Ross, the last surviving member of Barracks 507 West Palm Beach WWI veterans group, starts reciting one of his speeches, which he says brings people to tears and has earned him a medal from the Navy. There are "172 veteran hospitals overloaded with veterans who are blind, deaf, and in wheelchairs. If you look them over, you'd think they were panhandlers. This is because they served and went through hell. That's why you never hear what veterans' duties were in the wars. When they go to bed at night, they have nightmares," he says. "You know what it is to lay on the ground trying to kill the man in front of you or avoid being killed yourself." He shares with his audiences the origin of the song "Taps" and the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance. So how does Ross feel about reaching his age milestone? "It isn't so good to get into your 100s. It's good that you can reach 100, but it's bad, because you have to give up golf, swimming, biking, and tap dancing -- all the things that I love." He doesn't necessarily give away his secret to longevity. "Oh, I'm happy. I don't have any enemies. I have loads and loads of friends. It all comes out in the work I do," he says. The only thing he regrets is not buying Florida land when it was $1 an acre. Even with a lifetime of achievements, medals, and honors, he still remains modest. "I've been asked to write a book. I say, 'Who's interested in just a little guy from Brooklyn?' But they could make a movie," he suggests.
In 1917, Brooklyn-born Al Ross decided to join the U.S. Navy when he was barely 16 years old. As a seaman first class during World War I, he patrolled the Atlantic coast from Norfolk, Virginia, to Jacksonville, Florida. When the war ended, he worked as circulation manager for a publishing company. After the stock market crash of 1929, he started the Albatross Chemical Co. in Long Island, New York, which is now headed by his daughter and other family. As a member of the Jewish War Veterans, he worked in 1938 to break up street-corner meetings of Nazi, Communist, and fascist teen organizations. A few years later, as the United States entered World War II, he cracked down on draft dodgers as an investigator for the Selective Service. Ross had been coming to Florida since 1927 and moved to the Sunshine State in the '40s with his wife, Edie, with whom he would share his life for more than 70 years. She succumbed to Alzheimer's disease four years ago. "She's a lovely girl," he sighs. Now an even 100 years old, the five-foot-tall, small-framed veteran still wears his original medal-covered uniform, giving speeches all over South Florida championing patriotism and educating the public about the importance of war veterans. Refusing to retire, he continues to work in public relations for the Palm Beach Daily News, a position he's held for 14 years. Ross has dedicated his life to patriotic causes and frequently dresses in red, white, and blue. "Veterans Day, by the way, is every day of the week, not just November 11," he stresses. "It saddens me that people don't ever think to say 'thank you' to a veteran. But the average person does not honor the veteran properly. If it wasn't for them, they wouldn't have freedom of speech or freedom of the press." The walls of Ross's Palm Beach condo are covered in accolades he's received from George W. Bush, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, former President Ronald Reagan, and veterans groups. Among them: a certificate that the American flag was flown over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., in recognition for his courage and bravery in WWI, a piece of wood from the USS Constitution during its restoration in 1974, and a letter from the Town of Palm Beach designating him as the town's first "Legendary Living Landmark." Ross, the last surviving member of Barracks 507 West Palm Beach WWI veterans group, starts reciting one of his speeches, which he says brings people to tears and has earned him a medal from the Navy. There are "172 veteran hospitals overloaded with veterans who are blind, deaf, and in wheelchairs. If you look them over, you'd think they were panhandlers. This is because they served and went through hell. That's why you never hear what veterans' duties were in the wars. When they go to bed at night, they have nightmares," he says. "You know what it is to lay on the ground trying to kill the man in front of you or avoid being killed yourself." He shares with his audiences the origin of the song "Taps" and the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance. So how does Ross feel about reaching his age milestone? "It isn't so good to get into your 100s. It's good that you can reach 100, but it's bad, because you have to give up golf, swimming, biking, and tap dancing -- all the things that I love." He doesn't necessarily give away his secret to longevity. "Oh, I'm happy. I don't have any enemies. I have loads and loads of friends. It all comes out in the work I do," he says. The only thing he regrets is not buying Florida land when it was $1 an acre. Even with a lifetime of achievements, medals, and honors, he still remains modest. "I've been asked to write a book. I say, 'Who's interested in just a little guy from Brooklyn?' But they could make a movie," he suggests.
That Miller wrote more than 250 articles between January 2001 and April 2002 doesn't qualify her as best writer, even though that's a heap of stories. Interpret the quantity as a sign that Miller stays doggedly on top of her beat. For a year, Miller followed a story she broke on April 12, 2001, on the use of powerful psychiatric drugs to control hard-to-manage children in the state's foster-care program. On March 14, 2002, she reported that a bill to curb the use of such drugs passed the Florida House by a vote of 114-1. This year, Miller has been reporting on statewide problems with investigations into child abuse and neglect reports. After stories by Miller, the Florida Department of Children & Families fired a private company in March whose employees allegedly had cleared cases without investigating them in order to meet quotas. She also reported later that month that the backlog of child-abuse and -neglect reports in the state had soared from 4000 to 50,000 in two years due to an increase in calls to the state hotline and that because of that, thousands of cases had "remained untouched by investigators for over a year." Miller keeps finding stuff we need to know and then hammering it until something is done to make it right. And that's good.
That Miller wrote more than 250 articles between January 2001 and April 2002 doesn't qualify her as best writer, even though that's a heap of stories. Interpret the quantity as a sign that Miller stays doggedly on top of her beat. For a year, Miller followed a story she broke on April 12, 2001, on the use of powerful psychiatric drugs to control hard-to-manage children in the state's foster-care program. On March 14, 2002, she reported that a bill to curb the use of such drugs passed the Florida House by a vote of 114-1. This year, Miller has been reporting on statewide problems with investigations into child abuse and neglect reports. After stories by Miller, the Florida Department of Children & Families fired a private company in March whose employees allegedly had cleared cases without investigating them in order to meet quotas. She also reported later that month that the backlog of child-abuse and -neglect reports in the state had soared from 4000 to 50,000 in two years due to an increase in calls to the state hotline and that because of that, thousands of cases had "remained untouched by investigators for over a year." Miller keeps finding stuff we need to know and then hammering it until something is done to make it right. And that's good.
This kid ain't one of those prima donna, two-story-a-year, long-lunch types. He cranks. From Enron to citrus canker to mortgage fraud, he reports the hell out of events and writes 'em like a champ. In just the past couple of years, he's told us that Florida has more lightning per square mile than any other state, that employees of the Miami Seaquarium chowed on a rare leatherback turtle, and that Coral Springs is a particularly easy place to get busted if you don't pay attention to water restrictions. While his prose is nothing flashy, everything's there. Perhaps our favorite recent story of Fleshler's alerted us to the fact that developers were able to win themselves a very good deal on Florida's West Coast by flushing a rare creature called the Big Cypress fox squirrel, Sciurus niger avicennia, down the River of Grass. The point of view was subtle in this piece, but it convinced us that he's on the side of the little guy.
This kid ain't one of those prima donna, two-story-a-year, long-lunch types. He cranks. From Enron to citrus canker to mortgage fraud, he reports the hell out of events and writes 'em like a champ. In just the past couple of years, he's told us that Florida has more lightning per square mile than any other state, that employees of the Miami Seaquarium chowed on a rare leatherback turtle, and that Coral Springs is a particularly easy place to get busted if you don't pay attention to water restrictions. While his prose is nothing flashy, everything's there. Perhaps our favorite recent story of Fleshler's alerted us to the fact that developers were able to win themselves a very good deal on Florida's West Coast by flushing a rare creature called the Big Cypress fox squirrel, Sciurus niger avicennia, down the River of Grass. The point of view was subtle in this piece, but it convinced us that he's on the side of the little guy.

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