Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Shock jock's outrageous trial has cost him $1 million

First came the endless trial with one loud radio DJ accusing another of being really, really mean. (Isn't that what they do?)

Then we heard allegations of lawyers plotting against lawyers, using a comely young paralegal and a buddy cop to get opposing counsel arrested on a drunken driving charge. (How nice for the image of ethical lawyers everywhere.)

If there wasn't enough to get outraged about in the defamation case Todd Schnitt lost to rival Bubba the Love Sponge, here's this tidbit from post-trial filings: Schnitt already has paid more than a million dollars for lawyers and costs, and is now objecting to paying nearly a million more.

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The fight for an open Hillsborough commission seat in 2014 has everything but the popcorn. Current Commissioner Al Higginbotham faces serious contenders — School Board member April Griffin and Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern. Add the delicious possibility of fierce former commissioner Rose Ferlita and you have a race. Potentially intriguing as well is Commissioner Victor Crist's also-up seat. Because guess who lives in the district, too? Stormy Ronda Storms, she of the anti-gay and anti-abortion causes as commissioner and state senator. Storms finds herself without a political home after being trounced in a run for property appraiser. Might she be eyeing another run?

Maybe this is why Crist seems to be treading carefully lately, making that final controversial vote for millions to get Bass Pro Shops here without saying why, helping nix a basic-rights registry for unmarried couples. He was noticeably absent last week when the aviation board took up increasing Tampa Airport CEO Joe Lopano's pay because other cities might be interested in him. Whither Crist? He said he had to take his 92-year-old father to the hospital.

Crist says he would have sided with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the lone voice who argued there's nothing wrong with Lopano's current well-paid deal.

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Last week when the unimaginable happened — a sinkhole opened beneath a Seffner home and took a man's life — it made national news. Before the cameras — CNN, the works — stood County Administrator Mike Merrill, speaking for us.

And, county administrator? Really? Maybe it's Merrill's seminary training, which must come in handy working with seven let us call them strong personalities on the commission. He was a calm, steady, empathetic presence on the national stage speaking of the terrible thing that happened here. (Here being "in Tampa" or "near Tampa," depending on what channel you watched.)

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Best correction to a press release in recent memory comes from Hillsborough school officials on students who aced the SAT: The four students … scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT, not a perfect 2400. The 1600 includes the traditional math and reading portions. They scored a perfect 800 in math and a perfect 800 in reading. For the last several years, the SAT has included a third section for writing. …For many years, 1600 was the gold standard. The students are still perfect in the two traditional areas. The Communications staff, however, is not perfect. We apologize for the error.

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Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hernando Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD: Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill was the recipient of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals that have prevented the occurrence...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian before fleeing the scene on Sunday night.Police say the driver struck an unidentified woman near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida Aquarium continues coral restoration research in Cuba

Florida Aquarium continues coral restoration research in Cuba

At the current rate of restoration work, some estimate it will be 550 years before certain types of coral are removed from the endangered species list."I don’t know if that timeline works for you," Scott Graves, director of the Florida Aquarium’s Cen...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

A man who was swimming off Lido Beach got caught in a rip current and drowned Sunday night.According to the Sarasota Police Department, the unidentified man was swimming with a woman near Big Pass, a boater channel, around 10 p.m. before becoming cau...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

RUSKIN — A 1-year-old child was killed Sunday night and four family members were hospitalized when their vehicle overturned into a ditch.Deputies, responding to the scene after receiving several 911 calls around 6:30 p.m., located the overturned vehi...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hernando Religion Calendar for June 22

Religion calendarBrooksvilleProvidence Church is offering a free weekly water-themed Kid’s Summer Fun Series that features Biblical stories, worship music and activities for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The group meets at 6:30 p.m. W...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hernando Bloodmobile for June 22

BloodmobileLifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week.June 22: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Surge Suppression, 15424 Flight Path Drive, south of Brooksville; 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sam...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hernando Government Meetings for June 22

Here is a listing of public meetings scheduled for this week:TuesdayHernando County Commission, 9 a.m., commission chambers, Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St., Brooksville.Southwest Florida Water Management District, 9 a.m., district ...
Updated: 2 hours ago