Rep. Hooper on local projects: "No way to sneak one in."
The Pinellas County Commission and the Pinellas Legislative Delegation got together this morning for a meeting characterized by some affable yet sharp exchanges. Both groups took time to report on their dire financial prospects and the likelihood of significant cuts to government services.
Delegation chairman Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, was talking about the broad challenges the state faces when he told commission members not to expect funding for local projects in the coming budget.
"We're not going to get any projects funded this year," Hooper said. "They didn't even print up the forms, so there's no way to sneak one in."
Hooper seemed to be making a reference to a comment by County Commissioner Susan Latvala earlier in the meeting. Latvala and Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole, had pleaded with the delegation to put its legislative might behind efforts to consolidate fire services in Pinellas County. That help didn't come, though the delegation promised to seek a study of the consolidation issue.
Obviously, Latvala was looking for action with a little more teeth.
"There are ways to do it," she told Hooper. "You can slip something through the back door and get it done this year."
"That'll get you on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times," Hooper replied.
"Well, too bad," said Latvala.
-- Will Van Sant, Times staff writer