Cone of Uncertainty
Re: Scene & Herd, “Got Up and Voted,” by Scott Harrell (Sept. 8-14)

I liked the ankle-level shot of the enigmatic "CONE" in Scott Harrell's story. The author was a first-time voter on that day, and the misinformation he was fed is all too typical of the confusion that our elections officials sow. The article has some minor mistakes; for example, elections workers are not volunteers, they get a day's pay. But "temps" likely don't know their job as well as they should, so it is sad but not surprising that more important facts were explained wrongly to the author.

On Election Day citizens do not give up their First Amendment rights. The author should not have been told "not to interact with voters on their way into the building." FL statute 102.031 defines the 50 feet from the poll-room entrance as the zone where elections officials regulate activity. Beyond 50 feet our usual civil rights laws apply.

Unfortunately, this law was written poorly by our legislators, so there are endless accounts of wrong and conflicting actions by poll workers regarding the "OFFICIAL POLITICAL ACTIVITY AREA." One part of the law says "Solicitation shall not be restricted if ... conducted from a separately marked area within the 50-foot zone. ..." (i.e., near the CONE). Thus the CONE may be inside the 50-foot mark if the geography of the polling place calls for it, at the discretion of the elections staff. Improperly trained poll workers have been known to scream at solicitors that don't stay within an arm's length of the CONE, not understanding that their jurisdiction ends at the 50-foot mark.

The purpose of the law is to define a balance of the voter's right to be free to enter the polls and the rights of citizens to lobby for their cause. It is unfortunate that poll workers, out of ignorance or malice, sometimes misuse the law to harass people.

On Nov. 2 there will be hotlines set up by groups such as the ACLU so that an immediate response can be made to any reports of intimidation or harassment. You can help ensure a fair election by taking a personal holiday and volunteering to monitor the polls. Better yet, you can sign up with a local political party or candidate to be a "Poll Watcher," a watchdog inside the polling place. Get plugged into the process and help guarantee a fair election!

—Arlin Briley
St. Petersburg

Years and Ears
Re: “They Were New Music Lovers Once … And Young,” by Scott Harrell (Sept. 1-7)

I don't normally write to periodicals, being a busy mom of two, but I had to respond to your article about how people react to music as they get older.

I was born in '59, so I was a teenager in the '70s, and in my twenties in the '80s, had children in my thirties and just last year my oldest has became a teenager herself. Classical music was played in my childhood home, but I also listened to Top 40 radio, which at the time ranged from the Carpenters to Sly & the Family Stone, from Marvin Gaye to Led Zeppelin (had to turn those guys down, so my dad wouldn't take my radio away). In college, I was exposed to a lot of different music that I might not have sought out myself. When my daughter was a baby, I used to dance her to EMF's "You're Unbelievable" and Michael Jackson's "Black & White," but I listened to everything else in between, too.

All this time I have continued to pay attention to new music that comes out. Some stuff I like (anything that shows musicianship), some I don't (screaming, manufactured, or lyrics about bling-bling and/or T&A). Many other moms I know have no clue about current music except what they hear their children singing along to occasionally, and they don't seem to care (as long as it's not obscene), but I have kept up with it for two reasons: 1. I like music, and 2. I wanted to see what was coming out when my children were old enough to take an interest. But you never can tell — last year, my 12-year-old was listening to Top 40, 93.3 FLZ; this year, as a 13-year-old, she has switched to 105.9 the Buzz. Go figure.

I do find that, as I get older, I like less and less of the new music that is emerging. This year I turned 45, and I feel like it's a turning point, where occasionally I'll like a song or two, but most of it I just don't care for. For example, the last three songs I really reacted to were Cake's "Short Skirt, Long Jacket," Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" and the Beastie Boys' "Ch-check It Out." What I can't figure out is, is it a matter of age, and not being able to relate anymore to young tastes, or am I just getting pickier (i.e., not willing to go along with the popular mass opinions)? Or is the reason what you wrote about, how the music industry markets itself most aggressively to younger people, so, obviously, it's not trying to win ME over and, therefore, I'm not going to like it?

I just feel like all the new bands out there sound the same ... I feel like the music industry is going through the same kind of boring dry spell as in the years of the hair bands (before Guns 'n' Roses brought back raw rock 'n' roll) or manufactured music (before Nirvana got everyone excited again), with only the occasional gems getting through. I have to admit, though, I may be stuck in the '80s, as you might deduce, because that is still my favorite decade.

Anyway, your article just stirred up all kinds of thoughts in my head and I'm still churning them around. Just wanted to let you know that someone out there had a strong reaction to your article and thank you for writing it.

—Natasha Lanie
Via e-mail

As an avid reader (well, usually) of your music column, I would just like to note that this week's column really cut the mustard. It's been a long time since I've agreed wholly with a journalist's opinion (nothing personal!), and I'd just like to say thank you for an excellent, excellent article.

—Emily Grim
Music columnist,

Terrapin Times
Tampa Preparatory School

Hooked On Jeff
Re: “Punching Their Tickets,” by Eric Snider (July 28-Aug. 3)

I thoroughly enjoyed the article on Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy! I am a lover of the sport of boxing, and have been since the age of 9. I have been following Lacy for about a year, and am very excited to hear that he will be fighting for the championship against Vanderpool. I enjoyed how the interviewer captured the more personal side of Jeff, while still keeping me informed with the progress of his career.

—Katrina Walters
Queens, N.Y.

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