Thursday, February 7, 2019

From file, “You can’t make this up!”

Remember that story in the Post last week about a really, really big alligator removed from nearby Lake Osborne between the Village of Palm Springs and the City of Lake Worth?

Well for those planning a visit to Garlic Fest on Saturday and/or Sunday in John Prince Park there is good news. That gator named “Ripples” is gone but not completely. By the time Garlic Fest rolls around there might be an appetizer called Ripples O’ Garlic, or garlic infused gator nuggets on the menu. Ripples will live on.

And there is an update about Ripples too. Do you have deep feelings about this topic? Do you feel safer having your children and dog near the edge of the lake? Maybe you are happy and strongly support Ripples being removed? Then contact your representative in the Florida House of Representatives and let them know.

People all over were shaking their heads wondering how that story about Ripples made it past the editor(s) with all those ridiculous quotes and then made front page news in the ‘LOCAL’ section in the print edition? How is that even possible?

You may be interested to learn it’s been complete silence ever since at the Post, like that gator story never happened. Not a peep from their beat reporter or the editor(s) either. No follow-up on the story. Nothing. Not even a letter to the editor waxing see you later alligator.

That alligator has become persona non gator at the Post.

So let’s revisit that story today! And hope everyone has a good laugh. And then shortly thereafter remember that gators can be very dangerous and actually nothing to laugh about at all.

So the story starts off with. . .

What may be the dumbest headline EVER in The Palm Beach Post,

“Harmless or harmful?”

Folks, if the front page headline in The Palm Beach Post wasn’t so stupid the story that followed would probably have escaped the attention of most of the public in Palm Beach County.

But what that story in the Post demonstrated is just how ignorant and cavalier many in the public are about the dangers of alligators. Not just to people, your pets as well.

Very important: If you have a problem alligator, or think you have a problem, please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission ASAP. That information is below.

Now to that absurd headline in the Post about a 12′ alligator, an editor at the Post ponders the question, “Harmless or harmful?”

Really? Is the headline editor serious?

About a 12′ alligator in Lake Osborne with kids all around? Does the name Lane Graves sound familiar? A woman named Shizuka Matsuki?

One person quoted in this ‘news’ in the Post on p. B1 ‘LOCAL’ about a 12′ gator caught by trappers in Lake Osborne said, “My heart went out to that gator” which is downright disrespectful to families and friends of victims injured and killed by alligators. Read even more ridiculous quotes later on.

‘Harmless or harmful?’ That is even a question about a 12′ gator in an urban public park?

Gatehouse Media* is the publisher of The Palm Beach Post. Are they OK with a stupid headline like that?

In the Post story another one said, “Gators really don’t like humans to eat.” How clueless is that! Another one commented on, “[H]ow mild-mannered this gator must have been.”

How would anyone know the state of bliss for an alligator? Only from Lake Worth would come ‘The Gator Whisperer’. Just like a horse whisperer in Wellington but for reptiles instead of mammals. What’s next, “The Iguana Whisperer”?

After that gator was removed another said, “It broke her heart.” How do reporters at the Post find these people?

However, for the vast majority of you who actually care about public safety and the very real risks from alligators here is very important information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission:

Persons with concerns about an alligator may call our toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286). . . . Generally, an alligator may be deemed a nuisance if it is at least four feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property.

The News Chief daily newspaper, also owned by Gatehouse Media up north near Orlando, had this much more appropriate and accurate headline:

Monster 12-foot gator dragged out
of Palm Beach County lake

Back here in Palm Beach County nearby in the Great Walled City of Atlantis would they be OK with a 12′ gator trolling their golf course? Or how about Lake Wellington? Would anyone in those places pause to ask the question, “Harmless or harmful?”

First of all, Lake Osborne is in John Prince Park. This park IS NOT in the City of Lake Worth. It is located in unincorporated Palm Beach County (see map below).

Secondly, questions in headlines are a big no-no in professional newspaper editing.

Thirdly, Garlic Fest in John Prince Park is coming up on Feb. 9th and 10th that will attract thousands of people from all over the County and state of Florida. The headline editor wonders if that alligator is “Harmless or harmful?” Gee wiz, folks!

However, there is a way that 12′ gator in Lake Osborne could actually contribute to the excitement at the upcoming Garlic Fest.

Fourthly, a little boy was pulled under water and killed by an 7′ alligator in Orange County not all that long ago and the headline editor at the Post asks the question. . .

“Harmless or harmful?”

Would any editor at the Gatehouse Media-owned newspaper News Chief located near where two-year-old Lane Graves was killed by a 7′ alligator wonder even for a moment if a 12′ gator in Lake Osborne was a catastrophe just waiting to happen?

See map below. Would anyone in the public in the Village of Palm Springs wonder if a 12′ gator in the lake was dangerous or not? What are those people smoking in Lake Worth? What would PBSO think? However, the City of Atlantis has less to worry about. Atlantis is surrounded by a big giant wall.

Lake Osborne and John Prince Park are west of the City of Lake Worth and east of Palm Springs. The unshaded areas are unincorporated PBC.

And what about the homeless! A lot of homeless people congregate in John Prince Park and wash themselves in the lake. Is anyone wondering about their safety? And how does a gator get to be 12′ long? Think about that for a moment or two.

Click on map to enlarge:

Gatehouse Media is the new publisher at The Palm Beach Post. Would any executive at Gatehouse really ask the question whether or not a 12′ alligator in nearby Lake Osborne is “Harmless or harmful?”

If so, then things do not look good going forward with Gatehouse Media, the Post, and public safety.

*The Post was put up For-Sale in Nov. 2017 and was bought by GateHouse Media on May 1st, 2018. Today is February 1st. May 1st will mark the one-year anniversary of Gatehouse running the Post.

Maybe in the meantime Gatehouse can try to find out what is right at the News Chief up north near Orlando and what is wrong at The Palm Beach Post located in West Palm.