TS Karen, motorcycle laws, U.S. shutdown: It's about being prepared, being fair and doing your job

October 5, 2013 

It's been a while since we asked you to make sure you're prepared. Tropical Storm/Hurricane Karen will probably just throw Manatee County some rain, but here goes:

Water, check. Milk, check. Wine and beer, check. Evacuation route, check.

Give yourself a test, and make sure you have taken care of the essentials. Here's the short checklist before any storm:

• Gather important paperwork, including insurance policies, medical records and prescriptions.

• List your valuable household items and gather receipts in case you have to make an insurance claim.

• Know what your insurance policy covers. If you don't have flood insurance (you know, that pricey policy that's about to get outrageously pricier), you're out of luck this time because homeowners' policies no longer cover flooding, and flood insurance must be in place before a storm is named.

Seriously, if you didn't save the Herald's Hurricane Survival Guide 2013, you can find it on Bradenton.com at www.bradenton.com/special-publications/

Fundraiser for a cause

Annette and Diana Bernal are humble but determined in their mission: They don't want the death of Ernie Bernal, their husband and brother to be just one more motorcycle fatality.

They reached out with a simple request mid-week, asking the Bradenton Herald to publish a short notice: "We are holding an event this weekend for my two young nieces who lost their father in a tragic motorcycle accident..."

But when reporter Richard Dymond got in touch with the family, he learned that they are working diligently to change Florida law to bring stiffer mandatory penalties, including jail time, when someone kills a motorcyclist.

Florida law does exist for victims to receive damages in a motorcycle accident if certain thresholds are met. But most fatal accidents don't result in jail time simply because they are considered accidents when alcohol or drugs aren't involved. Ernie Bernal's death apparently falls into that category.

His family and friends have organized a "Rollin' For Ernie" Poker Run today at Peggy's Corral, 4511 U.S. 41, Palmetto. The event is to raise money for the two young girls left without a father: Kloey , 8, and Kalie, 5. The cost is $20 per couple and $15 per person. Registration is 10 a.m. to noon. Show your support. And heed all those bumper stickers: Watch out for motorcycles.

No more finger-pointing

With the U.S. government shut down now for a week, Letters to the Editor in the Bradenton Herald have been split between blaming the Democrats and blaming the Republicans. But one sentiment is unanimous: Quit acting like children, and do the job you've been elected to do. Govern. Create jobs, don't eliminate them with this shutdown. The furloughs forced by the sequestration had already taken their toll before federal buildings, parks and other operations were shuttered this week.

The media have been taking a beating, too, with many columnists and editorial boards blaming the shutdown on the GOP. Frankly, we're tired of the finger-pointing. Get back to work, find common ground and work on healing this great country.

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