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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Today is a day to remember our missing soldiers

Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day around the country. It’s set aside to remind us of the cost of living in a free society and, in particular, those thousands of Americans still listed as missing in action.

There is going to be a short ceremony this evening at the Egypt Shrine. It will be put on by their Legion of Honor, which is made up of veterans. It will be the eighth year the group has done this impressive ceremony, which will include “The Table for Fallen Comrades,” a special presentation called “The Lost Patrol” and even some brief remarks by a former enlisted-grunt-now-columnist.

It begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

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From the mailbag comes this story of meter madness:

“Mr. Otto, I have enjoyed reading your stories for years, but now it’s time I ask you something. For the past 20-some years I have been riding my bike along Bayshore Boulevard. I live in South Tampa, retired from MacDill AFB. Just the other day as I was riding at the end of Bayshore by the Gasparilla ship. I happened to see that the city has put paid parking in that area. I now believe that we as citizens of Tampa will see rewards in this with the city’s budget shortfall. I believe that after the city gets its return on investment in about 10 years from all the money they will receive, these meters should also offset the budget for all the lawn maintenance on Bayshore. Where do the citizens have to park to enjoy the Bayshore? Unless you live a couple of blocks off the boulevard, there is no free parking. I should call the mayor and let him know that some people are parking down by the Ballast Point Pier. Maybe he could install meters there also.” ­— William R. Atkins.

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There may be a hint of satire in Mr. Atkins’ letter, but I probably should have left out the part about meters at Ballast Point.

You may not be aware that down at the city’s parking division there is a war room with a giant map of the city. The department subscribes to a GPS satellite company, which tracks people gathering in crowds. That information is immediately fed into a meter-positioning software program and a new meter team dispatched to the site.

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On Wednesday, USF President Judy Genshaft made her annual “How Great We Are” speech.

And by the numbers, the University of South Florida is doing very well indeed, especially if that measurement is in research dollars.

“We are defying the conventional wisdom,’’ she said, “by being more competitive in a year when the federal budget cuts have made grants more difficult to win.”

What I thought was more impressive was when she spoke about USF as an economic engine for regional development and job creation. During 2012-2013, the USF Tech Transfer Office has launched nine new startup companies. She added that the university’s Tampa Bay Technology incubator has added 10 new companies with more than 200 jobs with salaries in the $65,000 range.

Of course, all of that probably didn’t come close to the coverage they might get if they happened to win a football game one Saturday this fall, but then you can’t have everything.

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