Observer Today June 15, 2017

Published on: June 15, 2017

Good morning!

The seemingly frayed fabric of our nation was tested yesterday and…we passed, although not without bloodshed and terror.

A 66-year-old mass of insanity, holding a rifle and a handgun, opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers, their aids and others on that side of the aisle. They were practicing as part of the Republican Congressional baseball team.

Five people were shot, two remain in critical condition, according to the latest reports. One of those, shot in the hip requiring surgery, is House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. As part of Congressional leadership, Mr. Scalise had a security detail who returned fire, and both of whom were among the wounded as a result. A congressional aide and a former congressional staffer were also shot. The gunman, ordered to drop his weapons by police, refused to do so and is dead.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, in a statement, said that, “For all of the noise and all the fury, we are one family.” He added that lawmakers do not shed their humanity when they enter congressional chambers.

Here’s a note from a former congressional staffer (me): There is far too much vitriol from those on both sides of the aisle (I’m not just talking lawmakers here). Except for leadership with small security details and some in the line of succession with protected travel, Members of Congress do not receive special perks. They wait in the same lines that we do in airports, they go to get their cars fixed. They go shopping. They hug their kids and grandchildren. Regarding security details, I’m sure that most lawmakers would agree our nation was not designed for that. They are people just like you and me, except for their awesome responsibilities. Yes, some take those to heart better than others but all are human beings, just like us. Flaws and all. No matter what party you have chosen to affiliate with, an attack on a group of Republicans practicing for a friendly, charity baseball game is an attack on each and every one of us. We are all Americans and we’re in this together.

Despite the attempts by a madman to…I have no idea what he was attempted to do beyond trying to kill innocent people, the Congressional Baseball Game will go on today, just as it has most years since 1909. It is a casual, friendly, and increasingly rare bipartisan event that raises money for three Washington, D.C. charities.

Today’s game will be played in Nationals Park — and I sincerely hope the stadium is full of proud Americans and the U.S. Flag flies high over it.

May God bless the wounded. May God bless the game today.

Today’s weather: I think we should just be aware that the people at the National Weather Service Office in Ruskin are the very best at what they do but Florida in the summer can be rather….unpredictable. And prone to tantrums. Here is the (current) line up for today:

“Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 89. Southeast wind 5 to 7 mph becoming west southwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 40%.”

There is a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms into the evening hours as we scoot for a low of 74 (I’ve seen that number before!).

Personal forecast: Expect damp — either from rain or sweat. Have sunglasses. Have an umbrella.

Eye on the tropics: Yep, we’re in hurricane season. The tropics are throwing some tantrums, too. This isn’t a threat at the moment but when “Gulf of Mexico” is included, it’s something for everyone in the Bay Area to keep an eye on. According to the National Hurricane Center:

For the North Atlantic…Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:

An area of disturbed weather associated with a tropical wave is located well south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. Some gradual development of this system is possible during the next few days while the wave moves westward near 20 mph over the tropical Atlantic.
* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…10 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days…low…20 percent.

A complex area of low pressure is expected to form over the northwestern Caribbean Sea and the adjacent Yucatan peninsula by the weekend. Conditions appear to be favorable for some development of this system while it moves slowly northwestward toward the southern Gulf of Mexico by early next week.
* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…near 0 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days…medium…40 percent.

What to do?

Call me a geek but math is cool. And when it’s at the Glazer Children’s Museum, it’s seriously cool. Take a quick trip downtown at 10 a.m. to check out Mathalive! It is a program where kids can experience math in real life situations ranging from sports to music, movie making to dancing; nature to robotics (sheesh — robots again!). Admission is $15, $12.50 for military and seniors $9.50 for children. Your child under the age of one, capable of hacking into major banks with an iPhone, is admitted free (in fact, your infant could have just coded that right now).

Mathalive! runs through July 9. Visit:

Closer to home, the Figure Drawing Group will be meeting at the Firehouse Cultural Center from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The program is open to all, 18 years of age and up. Each session is $10, which includes working with a live model (bring your own materials). The group is monitored by famed artist Bruce Marsh. For information call 813-645-7651 or visit

And speaking of our very own outstanding Firehouse Cultural Center, it’s probably a sell-out but might it might be worth calling to find out if tickets are still available to the last Firehouse Pub before resuming next fall. The locally popular, nationally successful Victoria Ginty and Ladyhawke will be on the stage tomorrow night. A cash bar and refreshments are available inside the pub. Visit:

Somehow, Observer Today entered a time warp yesterday. There were Leggo Robots there! Just kidding, yesterday’s event listing from the SouthShore Regional Library in Ruskin was actually for today, Rug Hooking Club, Magic show, Readers, Robotix, Teen Tech and all. My apologies. But please give them a shot today:

The SSRL calendar is found here:

MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa is offering free admission to exhibit galleries to active duty military personnel and up to five immediate family members from today through Aug. 13. Proof of service is required.

Thursday means it’s almost Friday! What better way to celebrate than with a great, first run movie under the stars at the Ruskin Family Drive-In.

Happenings in Hillsborough:

The Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission is celebrating 50 years. Meetings are (usually) held the third Thursday of the month at County Center in downtown Tampa. Visit:

At 11 a.m. at the Wimauma Senior Center there will be a Roundtable Discussion for members only. Call 813-671-7672 for information about joining. Visit:

At the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Tampa will be a free seminar entitled Federal Contracting 101 from 1 to 3 p.m. today. It is a free event. for information call 813-259-6024 or visit:

Happenings in Manatee:

For those with quadruped family members (or are looking to add to the family) — today is the day:

Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA is kicking off summer by celebrating their 59th anniversary and you’re invited! On Thursday, June 15th the animal shelter will be hosting their anniversary celebration from 9am-4:30pm with $10 adoptions all day. The shelter invites the public to enjoy free snow cones and hotdogs and a pet photographer on premises to photograph you and your pet for free. The One Blood bus will be at the shelter from 11-4pm giving out vouchers for a free adoption with every blood donation. This pet-friendly celebration will have a splash zone for dogs to cool off from the summer heat.

  • Free snow cones from Kona Ice of NW Bradenton, 11am-3pm
  • Free hot dogs from Jays Hot Dog Cart, 11am-2pm
  • One Blood bus at the shelter from 11am-4pm
  • Free pictures with your pet from Photography by Lisa E., 9:30am-1:30pm

The shelter houses a variety of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, birds, guinea pigs, hamsters and much more. All adoptions are only $10 on Thursday, June 15th. Bishop Animal Shelter encourages the community to come to the anniversary celebration even if they’re not looking to add an animal to their household. Guests can walk their dog along the wooded trails on the property, get their photograph taken and enjoy a refreshing snow cone while their dog plays in the sprinklers.

For more information on Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA and their history in our community visit their website at  Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA is located at 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton across from Blake Medical Center.

Free pet photos! Free snow cones! It doesn’t get better than that! The shelter is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that receives no funding from tax dollars. Check ’em out.

And, in the end:

Two years ago today Donald Trump launched his campaign for President of the United States. MITCH TRAPHAGEN PHOTO

June 15 has seen some interesting moments:

In 1215, Britain’s King John signed the Magna Carta. The document maintains its significance even today but, as many believe, it may not have been an overly important influence on the Founding Fathers in the formation of the U.S. Constitution. Still, it’s cool that a document from centuries ago remains today.

In 1775, George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the American Army. He would later, after victory over the British, go on to be *elected* commander in chief of the American nation. Although he probably wasn’t called that as presidents often are today. In fact there was a good bit of discussion about *what* to call him. Mr. President, for the most part, would suffice. Other possibilities, such as “Your Majesty” didn’t fly for obvious reasons.

And just two years ago today Donald Trump descended the escalator in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan and launched his campaign for President of the United States.

Have a great day! See you tomorrow!

By Mitch Traphagen