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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

And we thought Seminole City Hall was a smoke-free environment

SEMINOLE -- Former council member Tom Barnhorn became this city's newest council member tonight, but not before some official feathers were seriously ruffled.

A split council chose Barnhorn, the runner-up in Seminole's March election, to fill the seat left vacant by longtime council member Patricia Hartstein, who resigned last week.

The four council members who voted for Barnhorn reasoned that he was the first runner-up in the election and should therefore be chosen, especially as he had previous council experience and even served as vice mayor.

But Dan Hester and Patricia Plantamura, the two who voted no, saw Barnhorn as a man who had been voted out of office.

Hester was especially scathing, saying that other council members could not make up their minds about an appropriate way to fill vacancies on the board. At times they would advertise and take applications. At other times, they'd choose the runner-up in the most recent election. 

In this case, Hester said, "it just to me smells of very bad backroom politics. ... It just reeks of bad backroom, smoky room politics."

Mayor Jimmy Johnson called for a vote when Hester was finished speaking.

After the meeting, Johnson and council member Leslie Waters condemned Hester's comments.

"I found the backroom politics comment insulting," Waters said.

Johnson concurred, saying it was unconscionable of Hester to imply that such a thing could happen in a quiet community like Seminole.

"I never heard of such a thing," Johnson said. "It offended me."

Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

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[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:52am]

    

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