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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Logrolling in Pinellas Park for Jack Latvala

PINELLAS PARK -- Council agendas in this city, as in most others, have a section at the end for members to report on meetings they've attended and other items. Here in Pinellas Park, council members use that portion of the meeting not so much for reports about what they've been doing but to boost some activities, like the upcoming Kiwanis Fishing Derby for kids. They've been known to sing Happy Birthday to city officials and other council members, mourn the passing of some Pinellas Park residents, and asked for prayers when some residents are ill. They've even used the time to make snide comments or blast state and county officials.

But Thursday's council report turned into a love fest of sorts when Republican Rick Butler took the opportunity to endorse the state Senate campaign of fellow Republican Jack Latvala.

"Jack Latvala, which is former Sen. Jack Latvala, is in the audience," Butler told the television audience. "You hear me rant and rave about folks in Tallahassee. And when Jack was a senator in Tallahassee, he helped this city tremendously on getting funds for Park Boulevard and other projects that we had in the city. ... Jack's going to re-run for a seat (and) I want to publicly thank him for everything he's done for the city and, hopefully, he'll get back there because we need him back in Tallahassee. And he's done such a great job for us. He's here in the audience. He's involved in our city. And he's just a great guy. So, thank you, Jack, for all (your help)."

Council member Ed Taylor chimed in: "We need a strong voice up there, without a doubt."

Council member Jerry Mullins suggested getting Latvala on television. One of the cameras duly turned to Latvala.

"He's a handsome guy," Butler said. "I always said in 1998 [that two candidates had beards]. ... He was my mentor. He had a beard and I had a beard."

But it is not only PInellas Park meetings Latvala has attended. He was at the Lealman Community Association the first Wednesday of the month. You know, Lealman, the unincorporated area next-door to Pinellas Park that has a long-running feud with the city over annexation and the Pinellas Park Water Management District.

-- Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:54am]


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