- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

(MIAMI) — The half-cent tax increase for sales in Miami has kicked in … approved last November in an area referendum. The tax increase brings the local sales tax up to 7 percent.

According to the Miami Herald, the tax level has been "creeping up" in recent years. Even though the increase was only half a point, the hike means that shoppers on the fringe of south Florida jurisdictions with lower sales taxes might be tempted to drive a few miles to pay less on big ticket items.

It's estimated that the increase could generate more than $150 million in the coming years to build transit lines to take some of the crush off Miami's overcrowded highways.

One state tax watchdog group tells that publication that the average south Florida family, if it shops consistently in the new "higher tax" area, would end up paying about $79 more this year because of the increase.

The head of one Miami-based food chain, Miami Subs, says that the increase could not have come at a worse time. Don Perlyn says he hates having to pass the cost along to the customer.


(PITTSBURGH) — Football fans in Pittsburgh are learning that former collegiate standout Jo Jo Heath literally led two lives. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Heath was stabbed to death Monday in what police are characterizing as a "fight over drugs."

He was a former key player for the University of Pittsburgh. His death has been a major topic of conversation in the Steel City this week. Heath's body was discovered in a wooded area in suburban Washington County. A suspect has been arrested.

What the killing revealed was that Heath — considered to be the all-American husband and family man — actually spent part of his time in the drug underworld.

It would appear, in the words of the paper, that "his addiction cost him his life."

Heath, ironically, was expelled from his high school's football squad. But he went one to fame in college and spent much of his NFL career in Cincinnati. He also played in Canada.

Jo Jo Heath was only 45.


(SEATTLE) — A major over-water link between Seattle and its far western suburbs is being severed … ferry service is ending. Officials with Washington State Ferries tell the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that service is being phased out on a passenger ferry between a terminal in Seattle and one in Bremerton.

Additionally, service between Bremerton and Vashon Island will end in June.

One frequent rider tells the publication that a lot of people will have their lives disrupted. And many people who are tourists in Seattle have relied for years on the ferries to discover additional parts of the area.

The Seattle Metropolitan area is split by the waters of Puget Sound and its inlets.

A referendum on last November's ballot that would have saved much of the ferry service failed. The only way to keep some of the service going was to eliminate part of it and the Bremerton service is getting the ax.

Many have used the ferries into Seattle as commuter links over the years to get to work in Seattle's downtown companies. Some will be left with no alternate, affordable, quick route.


(INDIANAPOLIS) — Not all air travelers are happy with new, stricter regulations concerning checked luggage. A check at the Indianapolis International Airport, made by the Indianapolis Star, found many passengers who think that some of the new rules are too invasive.

Indianapolis is only one of the more than 400 U.S. airports that had to meet a New Year's mandate for the installation of new baggage-screening equipment … machines designed to sniff out bombs.

At Indy, though, several told the publication that they did not like the new rules that require travelers to leave their checked bags unlocked. One frequent flier, a former aircraft engineer who uses hard-sided locked bags, noted that if the rules are going to be enforced, he might not fly as often.

The concern over locked bags is that if a suitcase that is "behind the scenes" is thought to be suspect, checkers will need to manually look at the contents, even if they have to force their way in. And since the newly installed machines have up to a 30 percent error rate, many false alarms have prompted a lot of hand checking.

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