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Joe Henderson: Coming clean (I’m no Democrat) on who I am and what I stand for

By Joe Henderson, Special to the Times
I still put money in the Salvation Army kettle to honor my late mother. She was a bell-ringer. [Times file]

We share a common belief in this business that our leaders must be transparent about why they make the decisions they do. The public has a right to know.


But until I read a piece the other day by the fine Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell, I hadnít given a lot of thought about the other side of that argument.

He carried on a new yearís tradition at that newspaper by being transparent with readers about himself. He shared his own beliefs with readers. Columnists are supposed to express an opinion, and people also have a right to know the personal motivation behind what they read.

Makes sense.

So here goes Ö

I am not registered with any political party. I was a registered Democrat until several years ago, but changed. Both major parties do some things right, some things wrong, have good people, criminals and wackos.

I have never donated to a political candidate. I did give money once on a PBS pledge drive and promptly got inundated by representatives from other worthy causes. Never again.

I still put money in the Salvation Army kettle to honor my late mother. She was a bell-ringer.

I voted for as many Republicans in 2016 as Democrats.

I am an active member of the United Methodist Church, to which I contribute my money and time. I write and produce Christmas and Easter plays at my church, and have done that for about the last 10 years.

I believe in Jesus and plan on meeting him some day. I want to know how he feels about those who judge and condemn in his name.

I am more inclined to listen to religious leaders who preach charity and service than those whose theology stops at the book of Leviticus. Iím convinced people agree with that thought after I drive past the full parking lot at the Hard Rock casino on my way to church.

I recoil against one-issue voters ó no matter the party, no matter the issue.

I donít understand why itís necessary to keep repeating that we donít have to be afraid of Muslims.

I have never owned a gun and donít plan on buying one, but it doesnít bother me if you do. Just donít take it to the movies.

I wish lawmakers who talk the loudest about protecting the unborn would care as much about what happens after the child enters this world.

The easy acceptance and sharing of outright lies on the internet scares me more than North Korea. I believe Donald Trump colluded with the Russians. It will take more than Sean Hannity to convince me Iím wrong.

I think public school teachers are the best hope for this country. I wish bureaucrats and lawmakers would leave them alone.

I am repulsed every time I see that monstrous Confederate flag by Interstates 4 and 75. The war is over, guys. Join us humans in the 21st century.

We need a modern rail system in Hillsborough County. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

I think pro sports has gotten ridiculously expensive. If that means telling the Rays to pay a lot more for a new stadium or go somewhere else, Iím OK with that.

On the other hand, Iíve never seen this town as united as when the Bucs won the Super Bowl. And the Lightning do it right, pretty much all the time.

USF football is the best sports value in town. And womenís basketball is the best sports story no one talks about.

I think Hamilton coming to Tampa will be one of the great events here in 2018.

Finally, I have hope. Sometimes Iím not sure why, but I do. I hope you do, too.

And if sometimes it seems too much, fret not. I believe we can outlast them.

Happy new year.