Pinellas Park: It's Heine v. Butler
PINELLAS PARK - Randy Heine, Pinellas Park's perennial provacateur, struck again and again during Thursday's council meeting.
First he spoke against a proposal to allow the expansion of the Radisson Hotel on Roosevelt Boulevard, insulting Housh Ghovaee,owner of Northside Engineering. That spurred council members to jump to Ghovaee's defense. Rick Butler said he was always especially pleased when he drives by the hotel and sees the wall that proclaims it is in Pinellas Park. Butler said, "There's no question about where it's at. Now, in Randy's World, on the other hand, anytime something is successful that can bring jobs to this community, that can be expanded because you're successful, it becomes negative and dirty."
Council member Sandra Bradbury had a different take on Heine's accusation. As the council prepared to cast its expected unanimous vote, she said, being sarcastic, "Should we pass the graft out, please?"
Then Heine stood to protest the awarding of a $75,000 contract for electrical work at the England Brothers Band Shell and surrounding park. Butler attempted to explain the work was necessary.
Heine: "I appreciate your governmental rhetoric."
Butler, whose voice began getting louder and harsher: "Mr. Heine, you can call it rhetoric. You can call it common sense or you can call it just the damn right truth. But that's right where it's at. I don't give a damn what you call it."
Heine said he was trying to express his views: "You really get so hot and bothered. Maybe you should to back to anger management. I don't think they did a good job on you."
Butler: "Why don't you stick to the issue, Mr. Heine?"
Heine: "You could clean up your business before you talk about other people."
City attorney Jim Denhardt sought to intervene, but Heine protested, "He's the one who went off on it."
As Heine went to sit down, he glared at Butler. Moments later, Pinellas Park Police Lt. Kevin Riley asked Heine to step out of the council chambers with him. Heine went with Riley and police Chief Dorene Thomas.
In the hall outside the chambers, Heine protested the police actions, declaring he has a First Amendment right to express himself in anyway he wishes, even if he uses the F-word.
Thomas suggested he not do that.
Heine threatened to sue if his right to speak was curtailed and said that, while he did not have to obey Riley, he had done so because he felt intimidated by the officer and his weapons.
Thomas reiterated she just wanted Heine to calm down. Heine said Butler needed to calm down and that the council member should also have been asked to leave the meeting. "Why is it always (me)?" Heine asked.
Thomas and Riley allowed Heine to finish his rant, then stepped away. A reporter for a weekly newspaper then asked Heine about the briefcase he'd left behind and whether there was anything like a bomb in it.
"A bomb?" Heine asked. "Only the Arabs have bombs. White people don't have bombs."
He was allowed to return to the meeting.
--Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer