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The Miami Herald Fred Grimm column
[December 11, 2012]

The Miami Herald Fred Grimm column

Dec 11, 2012 (The Miami Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Here we are in the midst of another momentous election in Florida. Voting ends Friday, with the usual questions lurking about. Will we be able to count the votes Will we know the winner by, say, Christmas Has Charlie Crist decided which way he's going on this one Not that anyone much cares about the outcome. In this election, no one likes any of these remarkably bland candidates, all four more nondescript than usual.

The Florida public, hardly recovered from a prolonged, nasty, tedious political campaign, has been asked to choose a new design for the generic Florida license plate. The four choices are so spectacularly insipid that it's no easy decision. It would be easier picking a favorite from Rick Scott's most electrifying speeches.

Three of the tags feature a piddling orange in place of the O in "Florida." Two of those fruity Os depict only orange slices, rather than the whole fruit, perhaps a metaphor for our times. Some feature a splash of green around the borders. All have that famously witty "Sunshine State" motto. But mostly we're looking at black numbers and letters on a white background. (You can see them at You can also vote there, once you recover from the shock.) Suddenly, one appreciates the venerable Florida tags adorned with -- count them -- two whole oranges and a sprig of orange blossoms. Other states, meanwhile, offer designs with come-visit-us whimsy. Arizona depicts a cactus and desert scene, Alabama a marsh. Colorado, Tennessee, Nevada, Idaho, New Hampshire, Alaska and Washington have their mountain vistas. Utah offers a red rock formation, and South Dakota gives passing motorists a glimpse of Mount Rushmore. Illinois is still content with Lincoln. Other states feature cowboys, covered wagons, buffalo, Indians, state trees, pelicans, farm scenes, lighthouses, rainbows. But Florida Florida must do with either a tiny orange or worse, a slice of an orange. The choice, dear voter, is up to you.

Another troubling aspect haunts the tag vote. The Florida Department of Transportation's vote-4-floridatag website includes no means of verification. This election could be utterly corrupted by illegal immigrants. Or convicted felons. Who knows what sort of nefarious, low-down voters are deciding our tin-tag future Fraudulent voters could be sitting down at computers anywhere. Florida's next automobile license tag could be chosen by Scandinavian socialists or Massachusetts liberals or Californians all hopped up on medicinal marijuana.

For all we know, a cabal of Hialeah boleteras have their own designs on this election.

The DOT claims that bland tags on flat metal are needed so the state's army of robotic tag readers can more accurately sap toll booth runners and red-light camera evaders. Humdrum tags, DOT claims, will bring another $4 million a year in tolls and fines.

Or maybe this is just another North Florida rejection of South Florida values. The good ol' boys don't want anything like that zany Art Basel stuff stuck on the back of their pick-up trucks. So they fixed another election.

___ (c)2012 The Miami Herald Visit The Miami Herald at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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